Saturday, December 26, 2009

rain - can you believe it? (and bees)

Image Copyright David Hawgood. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

This crazy thing happened this Christmas. We woke up to RAIN. Gentle soaking rain that has lasted on and off for the past two days. The garden and the plants and the soil are so happy. Everything is moist and lovely.

Everyone is happy except Queen Malina on the front deck. I am not sure what happened but a few hundred bees were clustered below the hive entrance when the rain started and they are now all dead. I know that 50,000 minus a few hundred isn't much to worry about but it looks like a LOT. It is a HUGE STRONG colony but I am pretty sure there is enough room for them all in the hive. They may have been on fanning duty when the cold weather came in - leaving them too cold to move up into the hive.

Anyway I had a peek in there earlier in the week - there is another box ALMOST ready to harvest. Unlike the last box this box has CRAZY comb - the girls have ignored my starter strips and done a cool random thing so I will need to take the whole box rather than a few combs. The girls were calm and lovely when I opened the hive. Not buzzy at all and certainly not cranky. Yay Queen Malina. I am getting better at checking the hive without stirring them up at all. It helps not to have an psychotic killer queen for this though.....

I also checked Queen Aprilia down at the community garden. They have filled an entire full depth super with brood and honey and I am truly humbled and impressed. Just a few short weeks ago they were homeless and had nothing but the honey in their tummies.

They have also made a start on the other box I gave them a few weeks ago. I am trying something different with this hive - adding boxes to the bottom rather than the top, so they can continue to work downwards to establish their own brood areas just the way they like them. Next season when they are established enough to harvest, I should be able to take boxes of honey from the top (in 1 year old comb) and keep adding empty boxes to the bottom - sort of like a bottomless tree hollow. This will be good for honey but perhaps not good for honey comb as the comb would have been used to raise a few generations of bees.

This is based on the idea that given a choice, the bees prefer to raise brood in new comb and to store honey in old comb. This theory falls down a little when I also read that bees build small comb for brood and large comb for honey may be that when a big nectar flow is on I will need to put boxes on top as well and let them build larger combs as well. So much to learn but luckily I wont have to worry about this untill next spring.

In the meantime I will continue to run Queen Malina in a semi conventional way - leaving her three Manley sized boxes for her brood and honey storage with additional boxes on top during spring/summer/autumn for me! I am using a queen excluder between the third and fourth boxes. I have mixed feelings about these as well....but hopefully three whole boxes is enough for her to feel like there is enough space to do all the things she wants to.

I have been truly inspired by the folks at Backwards Beekeeping. This style of beekeeping feels intuitively right to me. My instincts dislike commercially made foundation, and I hate disturbing the girls any more than necessary and suspect that bees have a deep NEED to make their own comb in spring and that not giving them the space to do this frustrates them on some level and I like the low tech no machinery crush and drain method of honey extraction.

And oh how I LOVE the crazy curves and patterns of their natural comb.

Happy peaceful Christmas to you all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

fermentation update

Was in Condobolin most of the week. It was very hot here (and there!) and while Mr Duck Herder was awarded top marks for keeping the garden alive, he murdered the ginger beer bug.

On the UP side - Brian the DEMIJOHN of ginger champagne is bubbling away nicely. I have become an emitter of CO2 - or Brian has anyway. Will I have to purchase removal units for the manufacture of alcohol?

And a short message for dear Mr BVVF who has probably been fighting fires all you mean the home brewy shoppee in KAMBAH or is there ANOTHER one is KALEEN? And I am wondering if the piggies will get any Michelago Wild Apples this year if you become the proud owner of a cider press.......

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hoochie Mama

Fact: I love the internets and I love the little men that bring me the things that I buy on the internets.

SO it starts with the decision to not buy a farm, which leads to the decision to buy a shed so that the bikes and bee stuff can go from inside the house to the shed which means I can carpet my office which means we will have more space in the spare room which means that there will be room for another big bookcase which means (obviously) that it would be OK to buy another couple of books.


SO the little men bought me this book by Sandor Ellix Katz and it is really really cool.

The kitchen has been taken over with an array of fermentations and fungal orgies. There is a little brew your own shoppee a few suburbs away where I found the most elegant thing....a second hand DEMIJOHN. Just the name is beautiful. A demijohn is the MOST ELEGANT glass bottle in the known universe with most pleasing curves. This one was second hand and a BARGAIN and is housed in a neato plastic basket for ease of carrying and to protect the glass.

Yesterday I batched up 10 liters of Ginger Champagne. "Brian" as this batch as been christened, is bubbling away nicely as we speak. I guess Brian can't sit here beside me for a whole year, so as soon as it cools down a little I will get the ladder and pop him up on top of our wardrobe.

Well, thats New YEar's drinks for 2010/2011 sorted.......

Friday, December 4, 2009

Raspberry Kisses

As spring turns into summer, our attention shifts from the cherries on the front nature strip (hmmm, delicious but all gone now ) to the raspberries up the back. (hmmmmm, delicious JAAYSUS theres HEAPS).

It is a particulary good crop this year.

There is something so opulent and decadent about bowls of raspberries for breakfast, a few more for afternoon tea and just one more handful on your way past to lock up the chooks at night.

There are some secrets to happy raspberries.
  • They like to be kept moist.
  • They don't mind a bit of shade.
  • They don't like hot dry winds.
  • They like a good dressing of rich compost, blood and bone and perhaps even mulch in late winter or early spring.
  • They are precious and special - they don't like competition or weeds.
  • They like to grow in a patch rather than strapped to trellis. This lets them get thick enough to shade out weeds and to keep the soil around the roots moist.
  • And lock those bloody chickens out! They have shallow roots.

The trick I reckon is when you first plant them, gather the first years canes together and tie them in bunches. Raspberries fruit on last years canes.

The annual maintenance is this: Each winter, removed any canes that are tied up in bunches. (These are the ones that would have fruited that year) Once the old canes are gone, gather up that years new canes and tie into bunches. These are the canes that should fruit the following spring. With the old canes gone, and the new canes bunched, this is the time to spread a layer of compost, manure, mulch whatever. The topdressing will help protect the roots from frost and cold.

The good thing about this system is that in winter when everything looks dead and it is hard to tell what fruited and what is new growth to fruit next year, what ever is tied goes, and what ever is left gets tied up so that the canes are supported by each other and the fruiting happens in big bunches rather than spread across the whole patch.

This works for my spring fruiting raspberries. I am not sure if the same system would work for autumn ones.......

but my gollygosh they are yummi.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

that feeling

you know that feeling? when you finally get that big report in. And its on time? And its not even that bad.

good even.

Kinda euphoric and light and dangling in the breeze.

And you know that other feeling. When on Monday morning you find out you have not only sent your annual report and financial statements to you funding body, but somehow have managed to send it to every GIS user in NSW DECCW by accident.

I have that feeling too!

In other news, this morning I am enjoying freshly made almond milk in my tea and it is quite lovely. recipe is here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

garden update

Trying something new this year. Black Russians and Black Krims growing in a hot house. Keeps the howling wind out a treat.

Gladalans - almost ready to harvest. These are short day onions - so they will be the first to harvest. They are starting to bulb up OK. I reckon once we have finished the bag of onions in the pantry we can start bandicooting these.

See! I can post about other things than bees.

In other news, Winky has hatched out one little Andalusian chick with what looks like a welsumer to go. I am surprised we even got one given the broken mess of gooey eggs that arrived in the post from Adelaide!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

an embarrassment of riches

Still too soon to tell if the girls have accepted the new queen. They have been MOST UPSET since last Friday - you know, the regicide day. (Forgive me Bruce) And then I went back and stole a box of honey.

The hot weather probably hasn't helped.

I will wait until Friday to go back in and see if Queen Malina of the White -Dot-On-Her-Head clan from Bathurst NSW (the peace maker) is still there. Then my darlings, I promise - no disturbances for as long possible.

The honey is divine. no, it really really is. And I should know - I have eaten about a liter of it already. I have paid off the neighbourhood with jars of honey and slabs of capped honey comb to make up for a week of suicide bombings and general anti neighbourliness.

Example 1 - Mr Duck Herder stopped on the street next door to say hello to the new neighbours who were just moving in. They were under the Cherry Tree. Whilst chatting, a bee landed on his thumb and promptly stung him. "Oh yeah", he said - holding out his thumb, "My wife keeps bees.............."

Guess I'd better give them a bottle too.....

Friday, November 20, 2009

goodbye Mrs Thatcher hello.....?

Well. It is done. Mrs Thatcher has been located and dispatched. That nice girl from Bathurst has been introduced. Fingers crossed she will be accepted.

Body Count - quite a few squished bees and three stings (none on me!)

In other news, behold the FIRST HONEY HARVEST. While performing open heart surgery in the hive looking for Mrs Thatcher I could not resist pinching one frame of honey.

Here is a picture of the capped honey. Because I didn't use foundation, all the wax is freshly made and chemical free - so it is immanently suitable for eating. The little dark cells have pollen in them.

I cut of some strips of honey comb and popped them in jars. I know Pa Duck Herder is especially fond of honey comb.

The rest I mashed up into a strainer so the honey could separate from the comb.

And here is my high tech honey harvester - a strainer held over a bowl in a saucepan.

Golly Gosh. Yum Yum.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

no vampires here

Behold the gargantuan garlic harvest. These are mostly the Australian variety called "glenlarge" and they are HUGE - all 97 of them. I am especially proud because they are third generation duck herder. I bought the parent bunches from Garlic Farm Sales three seasons ago - always keeping the largest best keeping cloves for planting the next autumn and each year they just get bigger and bigger (and purpler and purpler). Even though they are a hard neck variety they keep very well. If you eat the smallest first, and then all the ones that threaten to sprout first, then you continually improve your stock. love it.

In other news, Mrs Thatcher has had a reprieve - her behaviour has improved considerably when the weather changed. Eric the Bee Yoda and EVERYONE at bee club thinks she should get the CHOP but I must admit I don't feel good about it one little bit. I kinda like having a stoppy queen around - she fits right in with all the other stoppy queens around here. I really don't know what to do.

I know that as a complete newby I lack confidence and experience and only have my gut and my very learned friends to go by - and frankly at the moment they are telling me completely different things.

I played bees yesterday and had a bit of a poke around in her hive. I think that soon there will be some honey to harvest - there are some frames that are almost fully filled and capped. The hive seems VERY FULL OF BEES - most of them gentle but some of the stroppy. Some of them got squished - I am so clumsy and sorry! As I sit here I can smell the sweet lovely aroma of ripening honey wafting in the window. They are HARD at it. They tolerate my stupid clumsiness (mostly). They work ALL NIGHT ventilating the hive.

We also opened up Queen Aprilia's hive - they are going great too.

And I found a new and amazing blog: Top Bar Bees

Most of my bee boxes are kinda quasi topbar frames - with only little starter strips of wax. mostly the bees have been GREAT at drawing out the comb perfectly however sometimes not so much. There is one box that is going to be the biggest mess to harvest. Anyhoo - because the honey and the comb is harvested in these frames - it makes harvesting simpler and much more low tech and cheaper - crush and drain. The Top Bar Bee fellow shows this perfectly.

AND, my neighbour is going to help me make a topbar hive all of my own. (In exchange for honey that is!) So that is VERY exciting.

Anyway - enough about bees.

Bad news, poor Amelia lost her nest of eggs before they hatched. I think while she was off the nest having a break a naughty chook dug up her nest. Poor darling - she has reassembled some sort of nest but most of the eggs got crushed. I will give her another couple of days and then clean the nest out. Sorry EM!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mrs Thatcher

This comic has been stolen from first dog on the moon who is my hero and I hope will forgive me one day.

Despite my internal resolve to stop blogging about bees and return to gardening antics, it appears we have reached our first ethical beekeeping dilemma. There is great suspicion that the lovely Queen Atalia has been usurped by the furious Mrs Thatcher who has changed the general visitors policy. The end result is that we are no longer welcome in a 10 meter radius of the hive, which poses some logistical problems given they share our front deck. Mr Duck Herder, my sweet self and Ziva the cat have all been recent victims of un provoked attacks.

Now on the one hand, replacing strong and cranky queens with sweet natured ones is a long term recipe for disaster for bees in general as crankyness translates to strong and defensive - just the kind of characteristics bees need in the wild. These same characteristics are not so good on one's front deck and in such close proximity to the gas meter, innocent well meaning duck herders and small children (and cats!).

In response, we have taken out a contract on Mrs Thatcher, and her replacement is in the mail as we speak. (A nice young lass from a good family in Bathurst) The whole sordid transaction is scheduled to take place tomorrow. sigh. Lucky I have Eric to help me thought all this, I don't think I could squish a queen bee on purpose - even Mrs Thatcher.

In other news, I have progressed to 2nd Year Apprentice Bee Swarm Collector after removing a quite feisty bunch of girls from a nectarine tree in Weston ALL BY MYSELF! The lady of the house was called Alice, so of course, the hive has been christened Queen Alice. She is now located at the community garden as well. She is not mine - but it was good learning experience and my how my little heart was pounding.

Its all happening man.

In other news, the Issai hardy kiwi is flowering, and Mr Kiwi has just started. Miss Kiwis are not far behind. The peaches are growing well, and the apricots are sizing up nicely as well. The huge cherry tree on the nature strip has a small but still lovely crop of sweet cherries this year which is forgivable after the bumper crop last year.

The community garden had a working bee and BBQ last night which was very well attended. The garden is FULL of brown snakes which is causing quite a lot of discussion. We have decided to keep two compression bandages in the shed just in case although the shed is where quite a lot of snakes have been sighted so that definitely adds an additional challenge factor.

How would one stay calm if one was bitten? I have no idea.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today is so beautiful. Not too hot. Sunny. I cracked at lunchtime and went for a quick mtb ride. Good opportunity to check on the pine nut seedlings I planted yesterday. They all look very happy with the situation and not too shocked after their first night out of the glass house. One day when they are big they will help to protect the community garden from the west wind.

And here is a piccy of Queen Aprilia. They are going very strong. I really need to put another box on both hives. I can hear Queen Atalia and the girls humming along outside the window. They are spilling out onto the front of the hive - hopefully because they are happy and warm and not because they are planning on swarming soon.

Now I am worried. I'd better go and assemble those extra frames!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

lotions and potions

Time that WASNT SPENT EATING DELICIOUS BACON (thank you very very much for that little present Mr Bredbo Valley View Farm and The Cook!) included the making of another batch of moituriser.

In the interests of elegant frugality I have done away with the whole double boiler thingy and now heat up the oil component and the water component in separate stainless steel saucepans. It seems to work well and creates a lot less mess and stuffing around.

Basically this is what I do:

  • 4 parts water or tea or rose water
  • 1 part your favorite base oils (eg olive, macadamia nut, apricot kernel oil or a mixture)
  • 5% vegetable emulsyfying wax from here (ie if you have a combined oil and water total of 100mls, then use 5gms vegetable emulsifying wax)
  • Place wax in saucepan and melt gently. Add rest of oils.
  • Add water in separate saucepan
  • Heat contents of both saucepans to 75 degreees c
  • Add water into oil pan, whisking gently. Continue to whisk untill mixed.
  • Turn off heat. leave to cool, stiring accaisionally.
  • When mix is below 45 degrees add essential oils and preservative if you want to use it. (I don't)
  • Poor into clean jars


As for the Hair Conditioner - this one is even easier and it is just lovely on long hair.
Recipe for Hair Conditioner is HERE


In other news, the bees have been CRANKY.
I dropped in to visit the lovely BVVF folks and got to make friends with George the sheep AND taste The Cook's cooking and let me tell you I will be a repeat customer!
I bravely planted out the tomatos - Black Krims, Black Russians, Beams Yellow Pears, Siberians, Swifts, Sweeties and Romas. Stay back FROST!

that is all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Its all about the bees......oh and ducks too.

Queen Atalia

Its hard to get good photos, but if you look closely you can see the newly drawn out comb on these frames. Rather than full sheets of foundation, I give the girls thin little strips of "starter" wax along the tops of the frames, and hope/coax them to build out the whole frame themselves.
This probably definitely impacts on productivity, but I don't care. It means that the comb is all fresh and edible and doesn't contain chemicals or bad things that might be found in commercial wax foundation. And it is so beautiful and white. So far, despite the many warnings I have received, they seem to be building the comb out exactly in line with the frames. Good girls!

I checked them the other day and they were BURSTING at the seams. They had filled a WHOLE BOX of EMPTY FRAMES with comb AND HONEY in just a couple of weeks. Here they are starting to build comb in the roof - until I kicked them out and gave them another box of empty frames to play with.

As for the NEW HIVE - she has been named Queen Aprilia. They are going GOOD. I will try and get some photos of the new girls tomorrow if it isn't cloudy.

And in other news, Amelia and Esmond are in the family way. Amelia has been sitting for almost a week now. Here is her nest. 11 eggs.

And here is Amelia today having a well earned break from sitting and a quick porridge snack.

that is all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

there's a new Queen in town........

Cool change this afternoon. Rain even. Once it was dark Eric and I popped out to pick up the swarm. They are now safely down at the community garden under my White Nectarine tree.

The whole transporting the box thing went very well. The most obvious indicator of success being the distinct lack of bees escaping into the car while we were driving along.

So what is your name Your Majesty? Who are you? Will we be friends?

Does anyone have any suggestions?

What we know so far:
  • large swarm
  • quiet
  • friendly
  • no stings!
  • tough enough to survive my rather vigorous shaking into the box with no reprisals
that is all.

Swarm Collectors Apprentice

Eric the Bee Guru phoned me last night to see if I would like to come and collect a swarm from a backyard down the road. Well OF COURSE I did.

So, armed with all the gear we went off this morning. The swarm was in a bush about 3 feet off the ground. We put a box under the bush, up on a chair and then I took a deep breath and gave the branch a jolt and they all fell into the box. We put the lid mostly on, and will go back tonight to pick them up when all the scouts have come back.

There would have been photos but I was so excited I forgot the camera. The nice man whose backyard we were removing the bees from had the video camera out, but I felt a bit silly asking for some photos for my blog.

I can't believe how easy that was!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lacuna Sabbath

Early Moorpaark Apricots coming along nicely methinks.

Kiwi Gold seedling - second year in ground - doing very nicely this year. These guys leaf up MUCH ealier than the Haywards. I wonder if this will cause any problems with pollination. Assuming they ever flower of course. And assuming there is a girly one that flowers. Given that we need both a BOY and a GIRL, perhaps Murphy's Law doesnt apply, and we will serrendipitously end up with boys and girls.......Are you a boy or a girl?

The Princess Castle in spring.

Due to popular demand and a requirement to be in Cooma on Friday, the Lacuna Sabbath has been bought forward to Wednesday.


  • Try and make level area for new shed.
  • Prepare holes for pine nut seedlings at community garden
  • Water onions and brassicas at community garden plot
  • Prepare plot for tomato seedlings
  • Have a nanna nap
  • Crochet another outrageous flower for Carolyn's teacosy.
  • Finish weeding front yard
That'l do I reckon.

The Big Fella on redback control in the glass house. Amelia looking in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

more doing, less chit chat!

one million onion seedlings going great guns. (whatever does that mean?)

Told you I'd be back.

An unexpected gift arrived yesterday from my beautiful friend Pingring. THANKYOU PINGRING! A copy of the book "Animal Vegetable Miracle" which I have already started dipping into. I like the authors writing voice - especially in the narrative sections. Thank you for the gift and thankyou for thinking about me my love.

The other week I was invited to attend a dialogue on food security. I think I was invited because of my work in waste and composting, rather than the fact that we grow lots of our food and buy most of the rest from local folks. It was an interesting day. I have been mulling over the whole thing for a while now. It seems the day was attended by two types of folks - those who are JUST DOING IT - living the change they want to see, growing the services and options and markets and produce and activities that are part of a sustainable, vibrant, healthy future. These were the farmers, the graziers, the gardeners, the businesses using and selling local food. These were the drivers of local food production, nutrient dense food and the ESTABLISHERS of farmers markets. They were also people with their own veggies gardens, no mater how large or small, the lovers of trees, the members of community gardens and the organic growers.

The other half seemed to be folks that just wanted to WHINGE and WHINE and make speeches about the PROBLEMS and what EVERYONE ELSE should be doing. These people blame the big supermarkets, the government, the public, the poor people that make bad food choices - pretty much EVERYBODY except themselves. They were mostly academics (god bless them) and my assessment is that they REALLY need to get out more - perhaps just into their own backyard - with a packet of parsley seeds, or even seedlings.........

I think it would be sad to live in such a problem saturated world. Sad to feel so powerless (and perhaps arrogant and lazy) that problems and solutions are located OUT THERE SOMEWHERE.

But don't worry, I was on my best behaviour - mostly. I resisted asking people directly about their own eating and growing habits or exploring what part they played in either the problem or the solution. I was a little bit thrilled to see that one of my waxing lyrical quotes of the day made it into the draft report.

"Everyone has a tradition not too far beneath the surface linking them with food production. it is simple and easy to encourage people back to those roots. People are yearning for that connection. "

I think this one popped out because the whingers were whinging (or the problem identifiers were identifying that) Australia is made up of convicts and immigrants and therefore, there is no connection with local food production or any food production for that matter. piffle I say. Every country and every culture has a tradition of vibrant, fresh, beautiful healthy food. Even dreary old England. I suspect one doesn't even have to go back much further than their Nanna to find it either.

Anyway. I am determined not to despair about people that happily wait for the GOVERNMENT to fix things. hilarious. I do try to point out that governments are FOLLOWERS not leaders, and we would be very well served to remember that. And that we may perhaps DIE waiting for a public policy SOLUTION to climate change and local food security. Meanwhile, you just gotta get on with it. Why not LIVE as though it was normal to take a certain amount of responsibility for your own food security and fossil fuel addition? The worst that could happen is that you get to enjoy beautiful fresh veggies packed full of flavor, nutrients and antioxidants.

On a happy note, one outcome of the day, that folks agreed that could all commit to was to plant JUST ONE THING. Just one thing. That's how it all starts folks - just one thing.

meanwhile, I'm off the the garden to do some weeding.
rant over.

Proof that even an early spring ONCian garden can be generous cornucopia - spring garden soup of freshly picked leek, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, carrot, broccoli, bay leaves and the last of the stored garlic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

hello there

That whole linear concept of time thingy - take your eye off it for a second and all of a sudden weeks and weeks have gone by! Lets see..its been quite cold and very windy and a little damp.

Stupid things.... 5 days of continuous yoga and meditation whilst on a retreat (not the stupid bit) First morning home, cleverly tore the tendons that join muscles to my pelvis while guessed it - YOGA!

Tomatos in soil blocks waiting for the Melbourne cup!

Clucky Winky.

Actinidia Arguta "Issai" hardy Kiwi. Tiny flowers. Some fruit this year?

Kangaroo Apple - in flower. Bush food - but tricky to prepare without poisoning one's self.

Brassicas in toilet rolls.

Promise the next will be sooner xxxxx

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I just had to share this photo. This is my nephew Jack, Rani and Nessa. Rani was rescued from the RSPCA - no one wanted her because she had been beaten and hit by a car, and I am away too much to have a dog but my brother's family said they would have her and she fits in just fine. She LOVES them and loves my brother and ADORES Jack. She follows him everywhere - on the trampoline, behind his bike, and to bed each night. (She used to sleep UNDER the bed but things have obviously changed. Nessa (middle) was Jacks Christmas present. She also stops Rani from getting anxious during the day. It may not be immediately obvious, but my brother and his beautiful wife have a STRICT no dogs on the bed policy.......
After a very hard start, I reckon Rani's life has turned out OK after all.... but I think Jack might need a bigger bed.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Hello internets. heeellloooooo....

Sbinawhile. Sbinawhile. Whats happening?

Well, look at my beautiful pressie from Jacqui and Marjorie.

Have you ever seen a cuter little bundle. How cute are those salt'n'peppa shakers? And that little Christmas Doily? I am in cute heaven. And borrage for courage - I was gonig to have to buy some more borrage seeds - how did she know?
Thank you Miss Life in the Dome.

And meet Bitie (you know, from The Simpsons, when Homer has possums in the cupboard and says to Bart "I call the big one Bitie"...._

Here is Bitie eating his banana at a safer distance. He looks so soft. I can hardly resist the urge to pat him, cuddle him and rub my face in his fur. But I know that all his ends are very pointy and sharp.

Now, this is VERY SPECIAL.....could it be? YES. Mr Bacon the Avocado the BRAVE is actually about to flower. One step closer to growing avocados in the ONC my friends.

And for a closer look......

This is the rather ragged but brave Mr Bacon who made it though his first torrid ONC winter. HOORAY for Mr Bacon.

And could this possibly be baby Apricots?
Why yes, I think they are.

And surely these must be baby Angel peaches?

And other news? Well, Queen Atalia has a new box. She is no longer humble. She is CRANKY. I have been stung twice. She has an ARMY of front line soldiers who are very well briefed. But really she is very busy. It is still a bit cold. Eric says when the temperature climbs another few degrees and the nectar starts to flow properly she will be happier. They are FRANTIC - trying to build new comb and feeding all the babies and search for nectar to feed themselves.
To date I have been stung on my cheek, head and neck. Perhaps I should start wearing my veil.

Happy SPRING everyone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bee Confessions

Reprinted with kind permission from:

Sometimes I sit on the deck with a mug of chai just watching my bees.

I can sit for HOURS (well, minutes actually) with my ear pressed up against the ventilation hole on the hive just listening to the gentle but powerful humming and thrumming of Queen Atalia and her hive.

If I press my eye up against the ventilation hole on one side of the lid, with the light streaming in the hole on the opposite site of the lid, I can see my girls moving over the tops of the frames going about their bee business. And this makes me VERY happy.

Sometimes I rest my hand on the deck out the front of the hive entrance so I can feel the gentle wind from the bees wings as they come in to land.

No matter where I am in a 3km radius of home, I just assume all bees are my bees and greet them all with a heat felt "Hello my darling" just in case.

that is all.

The Rocketeer is BACK


Friday, August 14, 2009

Queen Atalia Reigns Supreme

These photos are from Wednesday. As soon as there is a bit of warmth or sun the girls are up and at it. Some days they just go nuts.

I wish I had a camera with a zoom. I am still feeding them from time to time. At bee club last night I learnt all about how this is the time that most hives die. (Don't worry Queen Atalia - not on MY WATCH)
I am excited and fearful about opening the hive. There seem to be SO MANY MORE BEES than in autumn. I have a small problem. The new supers I bought still stink of turpentine and linseed oil. I think I need to get some more boxes and just oil or paint the outsides. My little girls are RARING to go and I think they will run out of room if I don't have some boxes ready and waiting for when the weather gets warm and the nectar starts flowing. But I won't be able to check for a few more weeks yet - its still too cold to open the hive even for a peak. Did you know it's 37.4 degrees in there?
In other news, I became a "swarm collectors apprentice" last night. How cool is that?

Friday, August 7, 2009

soil blockers are HERE

So, whats that?

Hopefully that's my new soil blockers - all the way from the UK!

Oh, what are they?

Well,. they are little thingies to make soil blocks to plant seeds in. Look, there is a tiny one and a bigger one.


I know!

So how did you go?

Well, OK on my first attempt. I need some practice with making the soil mix I think. I used a mix of very fine compost from work, some coconut fibre and some sand. OH, and a bit of dolomite and seaweed. I think the tiny block mix needs to be quite wet and dense - less coco perhaps, and the bigger blocks perhaps need more coco...... Its all a bit exciting though. No plastic, no transplant shock. There is even a little attachment for the larger blocker that makes an indent the same size as the tiny ones on the top, so that I can stick the tiny soil blocks directly into the larger ones - sort of planting on the best seedlings.....

cool huh!

You take this whole food production thing very seriously don't you?

I guess.....!