My strategy at Prairie Views is to provide enough sources of Pollen and Nectar for the bees from March to October. With the native plantings and bee source landscaper I will be mongering what is available in used by the bees during these times. Last month the plumcot bloomed when we had a warm period. Later came the pear trees and dandelions which are still booming at this time. Now we have the the crab apples which will also provide beauty in the front as well as food for the winter for the birds and maybe a jar or two of crab apple jelly for us. The period I will be concerned about will be In July were there are fewer blooming plants due to the heat. It will be interesting if the seeds I planted will live to my expectations to provide booming plants during this time for my bees.
Since it was a very nice weekend, weather wise, it was very important to put a bee hive inspection at the top of the TO DO list. The hives are looking great. They are strong without any signs of swarm development. So you might wonder what I look for in my inspection.
- We look for the queen. If we cannot find her we look for brood and the brood pattern. After inspecting to first brood box we put that one aside and take a look at the second brood box. Most frames on the second brood boxes were empty or had a little honey on them. This is what we expected. I was surprised that the stronger hive had some brood in the second box. We set this box aside and then check the bottom screened board. This board was really clean on one hive but had quite a few bees on the first hive we inspected, We scraped any stuff and dumped any dead bees into the grass. This is not something we would worry about this early in the spring since we have just started having spring weather except for the rare January warm up. I think this might of happened becasue we had very warm weather in January that turned to snow the next day.
- After inspecting the hives it is time to put them back together. We moved the top box to the bottom and the bottom box to the top. The reason we do this is we want to give the queen more room. The queen usually likes to work up so it you switch it around she has move room to move up while making brood.
- On top of the hives we added one supper since we are already having pollen and nectar flowing from the flowering bush and pear tree in the Food Forest. The apple trees and more pear will bloom soon too. It it looks like they are not getting anything I will put syrup out for them. The only problem is if you have suppers on you take the chance of getting sugar water honey. Not good honey at all! Most of the supers were in the freezer all wither with a mix of capped and uncapped honey so they will have honey available if it gets a little too cool to go our or it rains too much.
- You might wonder why I have honey frames. The reason is you do not want to take uncapped honey from a hive becasue it will contain too much moisture. Later we will add more suppers to collect honey.
I like to watch the bees and noticed they had to go all the way in the red flowers to get the pollen and when I saw them going into the hives they had their pouches full of red pollen. Many had white pouches too which is from the pear tree. Dandelions are blooming too but I suspect that they prefer the other flowers. It made me remember to make some dandelion jelly this year. It was interesting to see the red and white pollen patterns in the combs. An interesting note during the inspection is I did not find one hive beetle walking around. There were some in the hive beetle traps. Getting rid of them would be great but I am only hopeful at this point.
It is the wrong time to plant winter wheat. It should had been done in the fall. However, I got behind doing those busy months and did not get it planted. So I planted on 3/2. I shall find out what will happen it the plants needs a dormant period to grow grain. The other I planted should allow for a decent harvest. The Finnish Sweetheart’s Rye is a new discovery. I have not been able to find much about the variety. If all goes well with this planting I am hoping to have some varieties of honey to sell in the farmers’s market. The company I purchased the seed plants the rye in December in southern California not very far from where I lived as a teen and they go the seed from the Finnish Landrace Association. Later this week I am planning to plant some oats and barley. I am hoping this planting will be useful to the bees with the clover and alfalfa. So I know it is a landrace from Finland.
I used a rototiller set to loosen up the top inch of soil to allow me to seed rows. At first I tried the Earthway planter but soon go too frustrated with the spacing. I went to using a trowel to make a farrow and then hand seeding. I went back with a rake upside down to move soil over the seen. Earthway now has a black seed disk I might try. This are was planted in wheat and corn so I left all lf the refuse to let in decompose into the soil and make an little cover for the seeds and plants as they begin growing.
On the other side of the sidewalk the seed mixture was planted.
Today, I planted another area with the Monarch Butterfly and Honey bee Mix I purchased from Sharp Seed Company. This area has Iris , day lilies , tulips and Periwinkle. I tired to remove most of the periwinkle but left the rest. Now all it needs to do is rain. I just might start watering this area since it is near the house.
In the fore ground is were some of the upland bird plants will be planted. The seed was planted on the other side of the fence.
Last month I had planted a mixture of prairie grass and this Monarch Butterfly & Honey bee seed mixture. We have not gotten rain yet so I am hoping for some soon to get the seed to germinate. In front and the side of the prairie grass and wildflower mixture I will be planting the Pheasant Bundle plants I ordered from the Kansas Forest Service. These will also be good for the quail in the area. My plan is to increase habitat for pheasants and other grassland-dependent species combined with habitat that will also increase populations of native pollinators,
Yesterday I transferred some wild plums to this area near the road. This will provide animal cover and a wind and dust break. There is some wild plums I transferred last year and other plants good for birds.
I also ordered a queen castle hive from Golden Prairie Honey Farm. This will be my new to go to place for ordering supplies. Golden Prairie Honey Farms is a beekeeping supply and honey production business that serves as a training program for veterans and transitioning service members. You can order and have items shipped or call ahead to get supplies. Later I will update about my queen making.