Pairie views <meta name="author" content="Lisa" Homestead Skills – Prairie Views

Prairie Views

~ Dreamy abstraction in Four Square House on the Pairie

Category: Homestead Skills (page 1 of 3)

Swarms and Flowers

 

 

 

Even with the best of prevention methods you will get a swarm. Earlier this year I had done a walkaway split to a hive to prevent it from swarming. Still a couple of weeks ago I walk outside only to find a swarm on a cedar tree next to the hive. We quickly set up another hive to put the swarm into. The swarm is doing well although it is not likely to build up enough this year to produce honey.  The property still has blooms all over blooming strong.

0

Prairie Views Updated Plans

Some times change is needed. I needed to do three changes to my plan. First I needed to add the quail and pheasant nesting, food and protection area.  I also needed to update my pasture paradise plan. Lastly I had to the way water moves in the property. I need to make plans to better get the water to move to an area I could make a very small pond for the dry seasons.

 

0

Late April Showers Bring More Flowers

 

I took a walk around to see what flowers were growing and being visited by bees.  The dandelions were still in bloom in areas and quite popular. The onions I left over winter to go to seed were blooming. The bees really like onions.  As yo can see in the photo above some plants had more than one bee at a time.

 

 

The huge poppies were very popular with the bees.   These were here when we purchased the property in a planted around a worn out cement little pond or pool. I tired to transplant some last year without luck.  They are not in a good area in the lawn so we have to mow around them until they stopped blooming.  I tried before blooming but this year I will try after blooming to see if I can get some in a  back yard planter.

 

 

 

The saliva was very popular last year and now that it is blooming it is very popular with the bees. There are at least three bees on the flowers in this picture. I really like this plant since it is easy to grow and a perennial.

0

SPRING IS HERE AND THE BEES ARE HAPPY!

DSC_1168

 

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. 

 

DSC_1175

 

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. 

0

Early Spring Planting of Wheat, Buckwheat, Hairy vetch, Clover, Alfalfa and Rye

DSC_1156

 

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.

0

Planting for Bees, Monarchs and Upland birds

DSC_1147

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.

DSC_1153

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,

DSC_1149

 

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. 

 

 

0

Candy Board for the Bees

dsc_1076

It is that time of year to put a candy board to make sure the bees do not starve during the winter.

This is a simple process. What you need to do is dissolve the sugar in the least amount of water possible and then cook it to remove most of the water. some just use water while others add vinegar and other stuff. I just do the vinegar and sugar. You heat up the mixture to a hard candy temperature and then pour into a mold. Some make boards like I have while others just use baking pans to pour the mixture into. The foil in the middle is a hole for the bees to crawl into to get the sugar. I made enough for two to three hive but one can double this recipe to make more.

Recipe:

5 lbs. sugar

1/2 quart water

1 Tablespoon vinegar

Prepare molds by spray, covering lightly with oil or covering with parchment paper. I just pour on these bee boards.  Put the on a flat, heat proof surface.

Measure the water and vinegar into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Pour in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.

After the sugar dissolves put the heat to medium high and stop stirring. Insert a candy thermometer into the pot. Boil until the thermometer reads 250º degrees. F.

Remove from the heat and carefully pour into your molds. Allow for it to cool completely and then store between wax paper until you put on the hive.

0

Quail and Sweet Potaotes

dsc_0947

 

It occurred to me the other day that I had not seen any quail for a while around this farm. This is one the areas of primary range for the Bobwhite quail so I like to keep some areas for them. There have been reports of declines in numbers for this bird. These are delicate birds  need a variety of habitats. Today I looked outside of one window and noticed some around the carport. Elated I went to grab the camera but when I got back they were nowhere to be seen.

What do I do to help with habitat management

Nesting Cover

They like clumps of grass. Native prairie grasses with their clump-type growth form are ideal nest cover . They need clumps they can walk to but give overhead protection.

Brood Cover

Most quail dye during the brood period. Quail chick need to be able to move at ground level but still have overhead concealment and a variety of green plants or plant parts within pecking reach.  This is about two to three inches high. The ground cover needs to be very open with greens to also attract all types of insects they will eat. Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects are most of their diet for the first three weeks. This is why burned areas and just till areas are popular with the quail. The area I saw the quail I had just cleaned out  the day before. The garden area is next to the row of wild plum bushes giving cover.

Prescribed Burning

I do not do a while lot of burning but I just might burn the acre I am not using for agriculture. It is mostly grassland. Burning make me nervous so I will likely not do it but I have years ago done so.

Disking and Mowing

I just might do a path mow in the grassland area to give the birds an easy travel route. I am still in the process of deciding where a good place for a feeder would be. You want it accessible but in an area safe.

Legume Seeding

I am preparing the area of the garden for legume planting.  Korean lespedeza, ladino clover, white clover, red clover, and subterranean clover and alfalfa. These can be broad cast seeded in the winter.

Half Cutting and Shrub Planting

I have planted hedge rows in areas around my property for birds. In the future I plant to do half-cutting of cedar and other plants to create a living bush pile. You do this by cutting a tree 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through leaving a hinge of bark attached so that the tree falls. Hedging laying  is an old fence method used in europe to keep livestock in and has the added advantage of serving as a habitat for birds.

 

Sweet Potatoes

Learning to grow sweet potatos and potatoes are important for growing vegetables for calories.  I suggest everyone with a garden grow a few to have the skills needed to grow them.

My sweet potatoes were harvested yesterday and are now in the curing stage. Now the best harvest this year but with the potaotes I should have almost enough for the year. The soil was still very moist so the soil stayed on. When they get dryer I will clean them better.  I put them in a cloth bag in the car port to help the starches form into sugars.  As soon as they are dry enough to clean I will clean them better and bring insde to finish curing to avoid frost damage. If you live in an area that freezes you will want to harvest before a hard freeze. This can damage the potatoes if frozen and decay from frozen vines can affect the potatoes.

Curing can be done in 10 to 14 day.  It is best to have them in a warm area. The temperature should be around 80-85 F with high humility.  Afte curing you can put them in a cooler area with lower humility. 

0

Buffalo Grass, Fall flowers and Garden Weed Contol

 

dsc_0944

I added some planters this year with mums still in their pots. I plant to plant them in the garden before it get too cold or bring them inside and plant them in the spring.  Someday I hope to have an inviting front porch.

It was warm enough to check the sugar syrup feeders in the hives today. One hive is not eating too much  while the other hive too two pints again in two days. I added two quarts this time. The vinegar really is keeping the mold away from the jars and the bees still really like the syrup. I will keep checking their intake until it starts freezing and will then put sugar boards and leave the hives alone the until late winter on a warm day.

Getting the Vegetable garden ready for the winter can be an arduous undertaking. Especially if the weeds get out of control like they did in my garden. As I mentioned before I plan on using landscaping fabric next year to keep up. I cleaned up two rows and piled some debris to burn later. It can be helpful to burn squash and other plant remains to help reduce insect populations. After cleaning up two thirty foot roll I decided I better get the Buffalo grass plugs planted. 

This became more difficult that I had planned. I figured I would just cut the sod off the soil and plant the expensive plugs. I was not happy with the amount of grass roots left over so I decided to dig up an areas instead. My rotortiller would had done a smooth job but I just did not feel it was worth it for such a small area. So now I have buffalo grass planted and I am hoping for the best.  Buffalo grass spreads by stolons and seed and,  if it grows as well as I hope since it is a native grass, I hope to be able to start taking plugs from the small area next year.
dsc_0934

 

I finished with the grass I decided to enjoy the fall flowers. It is great to have so many flower still flowering.  The Chrysanthemums fell over too much weight but sill look pretty.

 

dsc_0936

dsc_0938

As I turned the corner of the flower bed I notice how much the Mexican Evening Primrose had spread. I because worried about having another wayward plant on my property. I like easy to care  for plants. I looked at the label and it said can become invasive. Invasive! Oh NO! After reviewing the plant I remembered it is native to the central grasslands. So this perennial plant may spread a lot in the flower bed but likely will only spread on my property in areas that will work well.  Just as the vinca minor (non native) is sometimes a problem in garden beds it has not spread elsewhere. 

 

dsc_0939

 

dsc_0942


dsc_0946

0

Autumn Feeding of Honey Bees

dsc_0927

 

 

It was a weird concept for me to feed my bees in the fall and winter. I had been taught my a professional beekeeper to just leave the two brood boxes for the bees in winter. Here in Kansas we have winters and periods of no pollen or nectar. Your bees will starve if you do not feed them unless you are able to really get them to stockpile the brood boxes. So I have begun to feed my bees.

We are starting to feed a syrup and later will put a candy board on top of the hive  just before it really starts to freeze. Mr. Gadget made a board to put the jars on so we can feed them without opening up and exposing the hive. It has four holes to put four jars in.  I used to measure the sugar and water to make the syrup but now just fill the jar 1/2 full of sugar and fill with warm water. This makes a good syrup and save the time and hassle of measurements. This year I started to add vinegar to help keep the mold from forming in the jar. I am hoping it works as well as others say it does.

Yesterday I went in to take up the mite away strips. My hives look really good with bees on every frames just working away. At the same time I checked the hive beetle traps. I found the hive beetles were hiding under the traps. I might have to come up with a way to stop that.  I was still getting some in the traps.

0
Older posts

© 2017 Prairie Views

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled. Dismiss

%d bloggers like this: