Friday, August 7, 2009

The Good, Bad and the Sad

(Just a portion of my potato harvest.)

Well, it was another day in the garden, yard and hives.

The Good News:

My right bee hive is thriving. I put on another honey super (now I’m up to a total of three). The bees filled up the second honey super I’d put on two weeks ago, after having to build comb on wax foundation. When I put the second honey super on, I moved the filled honey super to the top and put the empty honey super just above the two brood chambers. This way the bees feel they have plenty of room and don’t become “honey bound”. I should have a good amount of honey from this hive. Before I harvest the honey I have to wait until the bees have capped (put a thin layer of wax over the top of) the honeycomb. Once the honey is capped, you can be assured that the honey is fully prepared and won’t ferment.

My hens are 14 weeks old now. So far we don’t have a crower (aka: Rooster). I read online that roosters can begin to crow as late as 20 weeks, particularly if they don’t have an older chicken to learn from, but generally they begin to crow around 8 weeks. Time will tell. At approximately 20 weeks (the end of September) they will start laying eggs. How exciting!

I have a LARGE amount of potatoes! I harvested them yesterday. My sister-in-law roasted some up with garlic, olive oil and salt for dinner last night and WOW were they good!!

The Bad News:

The reason I harvested my potatoes is that I had THE BLIGHT! Ugh. I’ve been watching my tomatoes and potatoes and didn’t see the tell tale spots on the leaves, but when I went back to work the garden yesterday, it was obvious. The leaves were all dying off, there were large brown spots on some of the tomatoes and stems. Sad. Even if I were to have tried to spray organically to fight the blight, I have a hard time believing that with all of the rain we have received, that the spray would have been able to stay on long enough day to day to be effective. I don’t know. It’s been a bad year for rain, bugs, plant disease, heat-loving vegetables and fruits, and trips to the beach.

So yesterday I pulled up all of my potatoes out of my strange potato towers (it is fine / safe to eat tubers (potatoes) from a plant with blight), and Victor helped me by pulling up all of our tomatoes -- all of those doomed green tomatoes -- all of the effort of nurturing the plants from seed. Bummer. Well, at least now I have plenty of room in my garden for lettuce, beans, carrots, beets, etc., etc.!!

The Sad News:

I mentioned recently that I’ve been concerned about my left hive. Something just wasn’t right. They were slow to build out the wax foundation (make comb) on the brood chambers (there are still about four frames that aren’t finished within the two eight frame brood chambers). Maybe my novice eyes just missed a poor brood pattern? (I guess I did mention my concern about it in my last post.) There were bees being born and capped brood, but perhaps I was missing the severity of its weakness. They’d fallen behind the right hive and then really took a major turn for the worse over the last two weeks. So, I had my wise bee friend Diane come over to look at my hives yesterday. The bottom line is: I no longer have a queen in that hive. It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since I did a full inspection where I looked at every single frame in the hive. What we found were 4 small swarm cells, and 1 small supersedure cell. Diane felt they almost looked unfinished because they weren’t as long as she’s seen. But what we didn’t find, is a new queen of any kind. So perhaps she is right, the bees tried to make a new queen, but by that point the hive was already too weak. Sad. The good new is, I am getting a new Italian Queen from a local guy in Rhode Island on Saturday morning. I wish he had some Purvis Goldline “organic” bees available, but he doesn’t and Purvis only ships out on Wednesdays and my little hive can’t wait that long. So, I’ll have to live with an Italian. Hopefully she’s nice.


Kristi said...

I'm happy you were able to harvest potatoes despite the blight. Will you do the towers again. My potatoes fell prey to caterpillars. I've been gone so much I missed seeing it. Here we can plant a second crop of potatoes, so I'm going to try again. Thanks for writing about your bees. I love following your progress. I'd like to get bees in the future.

Sarah said...

Our Middleboro CSA has blight too, and it's destroyed his (until now) AWESOME potato crop and all his slicing tomatoes. I think he was able to salvage his cherry tomatoes. Poor guy. He's having a tough time of it this summer.

An Italian queen...I hope she cooks! Heh.