Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gardening and Beekeeping

So our next 8 raised garden beds are being installed next week in the community garden. That makes a total of 24. Last year we had 16. I am taking on a bed this year and am going to try the square foot gardening thing. The beds are 4 feet by 8 feet so they are the perfect size. I'm planting petunias, marigolds, okra, peppers, eggplant, basil, rosemary, tomatoes and cucumbers. My seeds were all delivered wednesday, and obsessive compulsive as I am, I already have my planting guide all figured out. Starting my pentunias indoors today!

We started our weekly work parties for the garden last week also. We need to prepare the hoop house for the gardners to use for starting seeds. The raspberry beds need to be cleaned out and we hope to add 3 more bushes. We hope to put up 2 more bat houses, work on our bulb bed, and compost bins. We are partnering with a local school and the 7th and 8th graders are going to have classroom instruction in the garden twice a week. We are really excited because these are urban kids who really haven't had a chance to see how the plants, the earth, the bees etc interact. We are also partnering with a local Eagle Scout troop and they are going to identify native plants, create a meditaion area, install some walking paths and create a bird sanctuary for us.

This weekend the temperatures are supposed to be close to 60 so it's time to start beehive inspections. I afraid that we may have lost another hive over the winter. It seems that everyone I've talked to has lost at least half of their hives over this winter.

We would like to go up to 5 hives this year, so we may have to start either 3 or 4 more depending on what I find on inspections tomorrow. Starting a hive is an interesting process. We order a mated queen and 3 lbs of bees (about 10,000) for each hive that we want to start. The queen and bees are installed in the hive and then you hope that your beekeeping skills are up to par. Once the hive is established and healthy (An established healthy hive has about 50,000 bees)it can last for years, with periodic queen replacement and maintenance. Bee society is amazing and will always keep you humble.

Last year we got about 60lbs of honey from our hives. Our first harvest in June was entered in the Kentucky State Fair and won 1st place in our catagory (light amber). Very exciting stuff. We should be so lucky this year!


Michelle said...

Winter is such a stressful time for bees, hoping you did not lose any. Do you feed them over winter? Do you have problems with coons destroying or damaging your hives?

Elwood said...

Usually we feed the bees until it gets too cold to open the hives, less then 50 degrees or so. Then they have to survive on the stored honey in the hive until spring. We haven't had any trouble with coons or really any preditors so far. We do have several different types of hawks that patrol the area, so maybe that helps.

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