milkweed in the woods & a new bee watering station

It was M. who noticed them while I, deep in thought, walked right past.   From our book "Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses" (Miller & Miller) she identified it as Asclepias variegata - white milkweed. See picture above showing its distinctive showy 5-lobed petal crown. Milkweed is a favorite of the Monarch butterfly.  This is the only one we have seen in the woods and we resolved to collect its seeds and try extend its presence. Bees need water and I Read more [...]

growing update – tomatoes and bees

I noticed the leaves of my tomato plants in the greenhouse had white blotches. It has warmed up a lot and I suspect greenhouse heat and light is too much for the plants.  I could shade them or plant them.  A quandary is the average last frost day for Canton, a town to the south, is 4/21 to 4/30 and for Jasper, a town to the north, is 5/1 to 5/10.  So on April 10, what should I do?  The forecast anticipates no cold weather for the next 10 days.  I decided to chance Read more [...]

update – 1st blossoms, bees and goats

We had (until a few days ago) a very mild winter and blossoms on the pear and peach trees appeared early.  My Kieffer pear was the first to produce and the picture above was taken on March 1. We have kudzu in Georgia but in the suburbs English ivy is a bigger problem and not every one wants to use glyphosate.  So in the Atlanta suburb where we also have a house, we were intrigued when we saw a temporary electric fence installed.  Our neighbors feel much the same way we do about Read more [...]

bees – preparing for winter

You can see my bee hive above.  It faces south, has an umbrella for summer sun protection and a window on the west side to allow the winter sun but not the winter winds.  Now that Fall has arrived I begin my winter preparations.  There are 2 larger boxes at the bottom, the brood boxes, where the queen resides and the 2 smaller boxes above are supers from which I collect honey.  My last honey harvesting was from the top super and I returned the super and its 10 frames to the hive for the bees Read more [...]


Last week we took about 2.5 gallons of honey from the hive - not a lot since we wish to leave the bees sufficient stores for winter.  But enough for our needs for making bread, sweetening our uncooked oatmeal and tea, and a few jars for good friends.  Inevitably scraps of wax are left over and what to do with them has been a learning process for me.  The first year I placed them in a stainless steel pet bowl outside the hive.  Bad idea - the sun heated the bowl, melted the wax and killed bees Read more [...]

fogging controversy & some local pests

It all began when Bill, a club member with several hives 600 feet from the local school, learned that Zika inspired pesticide applications had occurred and would continue.  It was little consolation to Bill that the fogging occurred when school was out, since Bill's bees do not observe the school's calendar. The April club meeting was, as usual, well attended and our eyes swiveled to the young man (when you are 66 most look young), Max, who stood uncertainly at the front of the room while the Read more [...]

my bees and “Guns, Germs and Steel”

I just finished reading "Guns, Germs and Steel" by J. Diamond.  A well documented and persuasively argued book with the main conclusion  that peoples in different continents and in different areas in the same continent developed differently, not because of race/genetic/biology differences, but because of differences in their physical environments.  Food for thought. Last year I installed 2 packages of bees on the same day in very similar spots.  Both had Hawaiian queens.  I watched the development Read more [...]

spring time catchup

My recent visit to the west coast set me back on my spring schedule and I have been catching up. Foremost was to get my tomato seeds going.  Last year I collected seed from good heirloom tomato plants and this year, for the first time, I did not purchase any tomato seed.  Though I did buy "Surround" (Kaolin clay) which I will spray on my apple trees when the blossoms have set fruit, and the supplier included gratis, seeds for  Rainbow and Cherry tomatoes.  Plus I had some 2014 and 2015 packets Read more [...]

crazy weather

Now, 2 days after Christmas, the bees are out scavenging.  M. says wouldn't it be nice if they could find food.  I say bad idea - if they return with food to the hive, just as a dove returned to Noah's ark, it will signify good times have returned and the queen will be stimulated to egg bearing.  And with no food outside, the new bees will consume the hive's food supplies and threaten its survival. But the foraging bees have found food - the birdseed we provide for our winter dwellers (this Read more [...]

installation of 2 packages of bees

9am March 8, Sunday, was the big day.  The #2 packages would be available and I had ordered two (cost $78 each).   A package is a small wooden box which contains a lot of bees, a mated queen bee in a small cage, and a tin of sugar syrup. The syrup can has small holes in the removable top through which the contents are delivered to the supping bees. Sunday was a lovely day although 9am new daylight savings time meant an early start to be at the pickup point.  BJ our local professional Read more [...]