Saturday, May 31, 2014

Birds and the bees- summer is a lot of WORK

Today was another warm one, but there were clouds around, so it wasn't bad at all.  Summer is making herself known!

Last week when the Mad-Middle son was here and we checked out the state of affairs inside the hives and things were rocking and rolling in there.  The frames are almost all full, just 2 in each hive are not started, so I guess this was just the thing to do.  The new "super" needs to be put on so there is plenty of room for the bees to continue their expansion.  If they feel cramped, they sometimes decide to pickup and move!  That would not be good.

So we donned the bee suits, which might be a good technique against the mosquitos!!  We then took a wheel barrel full of stuff over to the hives.  Frames for the super, the smaller honey boxes, and our requisite tools of the trade. 

Bee suit selfie!

All of the stuff 
 We had to unload the sugar water with the medicine for the bee runs (this still makes me snicker) from the super and then remove the divider from under that second box.  Then the super was replaced and the frames were inserted.  I think I am getting this vocabulary down!
removing the feeders

Smoking the little dudes to calm them

Giving the frames a quick look

Replacing the super

Inserting the frames 

I got to be the hander over person- I handed over all the stuff, all the while having my legs rubbed by this one down here.  She's such a lovey dovey. 
I also refilled the smaller jars with the rest of the sugar water- we will have to check the syrup later in the week, as they are going through it pretty fast.

Such a pest- lol

Sugar water feeders- you can see the bees getting the goodies.

You know you have to smoke the bees a bit when they are all lined up looking at you.  I hope you can see that

This is the divider, that goes between the brood boxes (super) and where we have the sugar syrup feeders.  The bees hang on until we replace it.

And we are in business- time to replace the door area and let them get back to work
 So after that was done, the MA finished the first of the bird houses.  A few weeks ago he totally rebuilt the horse fence.  While doing that some of our old bluebird houses were deemed unfit for habitation.  So using some old signage (the old Mathison and Oswald signs from the office) he cut all the parts for the houses, and then did some odd-ass stuff with yellow and black spray paint.  I did a lot of eye rolling this afternoon. Lol.

Anyway, I was there to witness the attachment of the first of 5 birdhouses that will be placed on the horse fence.  (reality: can I carry these things over to the fence and I "get to" see the birdhouse put up)
Finishing the roofing

Number one is in place!
With all this activity, went a lot of lawn mowing and weeding and garden planting and more weeding. Whew!  Gotta tackle summer with all the gusto that we can muster!

And that was a joy- and we will sleep well, too!  :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gardening in the Northwoods- the flower edition (and a side trip of trilliums)

The seasons change quickly up here and low and behold, it was snow flurrying about 2.5 weeks ago and now it has suddenly changed to  summer - we've had *2* 85 degree days- in a row!  What in the world happened to spring? Oh right, that was last week.   Silly me, thinking we might have some mild weather.  BUT I am not complaining about the heat, one bit.  I will complain about the mosquitos- that is the drawback of not having drought conditions....

A magnificent scene

Beauty in the north

Anyway, I have some lovely daffodils this year, but many of my clumps are getting a bit sparse, so it is time to divide them.  Well, not right now, I have to wait until late summer.  You need to let the foliage all die back naturally and really you should wait until at least August.  Then let the bulbs dry down a while and it can get quite cold before you replant.


Now the trick is how does one figure out where one's daffodils are without doing a proverbial "stab in the dirt"??  The MA thinks that I can take good pictures of their location, which totally doesn't work.  For a variety of reasons.  I have come up with a good way, though, and that is to put a layer of pea gravel (or this year it will be sand) around the base of the flowers while I can see where they are and which ones were lacking in floriferous-ness.  It worked several years ago, so I have no doubt it will work for me this year.  My technique is to then dig up the clumps, replant a bunch of them, then toss the extras aside to get all mixed up so no one can guess which kind is which!  :D  Or I will attempt to perhaps put them in separate piles and try to keep them identified, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you.
Fritillaria or trout lily

I did some major weeding last night and tonight, and I have found that not quite as much stuff died as I thought.  I lost the usual amount of sempervivum and some of the fuzzy grey creeping thyme, and I imagine I am missing a few things that I have not noticed in the rock garden yet, but I found some of my favorite things.  And then a few of those things I realize in my hurry to escape from the mosquito onslaught I forgot to photograph.  Well, just  BOO.  I can catch them tomorrow.

Pheasant eye daffs under the lilacs

And I discovered this guy flying around!  I've not seen a sphinx moth quite like this

One of my mini evergreens

Sea Holly (ignore the weed remnants)
Rock garden Gentian

My fern leaf peony- not sure if this guy is going to bloom this year

Another sea holly- haven't finished neatening up this area- mosquito issues!

We also took a drive a few days ago, when the weather was a little overcast and cool (you know, that week of spring) to see the trilliums in bloom on Lakeshore Drive between Butternut and Schnur Lakes. So amazing this year- seriously it is worth the drive if you are within an hour or so of here.  It is like a carpet of trilliums that go on and on and on for a couple miles.  It is a pretty road anyway, but this is just spectacular.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see all this green.  The leaves are almost fully developed, they are just a little on the small side yet, the crab apples and apple trees are starting to bloom and leaf out and the lushness that is the short season of summer in the Northwoods is upon us.  I intend to indulge in every moment of it that I can- at least until the mosquitos send me into the house.  But there is always tomorrow.

Until next time, find some joy and pass it along.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Grand babies and visitors

It has been a while since I did any sort of personal post- I have been rocking and rolling the last few months.  I saw my Ella-Bella 3 times in 5 weeks, and then just recently I met baby Greg one weekend and then spent extensive time with him and his parents over Memorial Day.  Life just doesn't get better than THAT! 

We had a bit of company with the new baby and his parents- and that was so much fun. 

An armful of LOVE

She's a busy little thing- I can't wait to see her running at full tilt!

4 gen pix- Great Grandma Kutz, Gramma Debi, Daddy Greg and Little Greg
The above pictures were taken a couple weekends ago in Waukesha- Had to make the trip down to visit Greg and Sarah.  I finished with an overnighter at Jon's place, too, and then headed home to prepare for the Memorial Day weekend, where I was fortunate enough to have the kiddos come here.
Momma Sarah and Greggy

This child was reaching for the rings at 2.5 weeks!!  
My sister and her hubs came on Saturday, bearing large gifts and that was just freaking awesome.  Their visit that is!   I didn't get a pic of her holding the baby or even of her with Bill!  Plus we had some local friends stop by- The Bablick families: Denny and Luann and Tim and Missy and kiddos.  The next day the Busbys and Joe and Brenda stopped over, so it was an action packed weekend.  Very fun to see all of them.  The baby did great- really.  He does like to eat, so his sleep time was pretty short.  He's growing fast!
A whole crew of Bablicks came over to say hi!

Joe and Brenda stopped by

Seester Rose and Lucky

Gramma spent a lot of time holding this little guy!

You just gotta love baby toes

I had to look for a pic of Grandpa holding Greggy, and this was all I found!  Gotta work on that next time

I tried to hang out with the little one so his mom and dad could go outside and not worry about things.  Greg also gave us a hand doing some work inside the garden shed, and Sarah is no stranger to powertools, so she was out there as well.  It was fun to be inside with the little one.  We all sort of took turns with him.

I, of course, managed to cook a LOT of food and the elusive Mike made several showings.  It has been a really great few months traveling a little and having guests and just experiencing a lot of JOY!

AND of course, it is not snowing so that is icing on the proverbial cupcake!!  :)

Checking in on the bees

Even though I was never super interested in the idea of bees- at least the beekeeping part, I liked the idea of having them, but not necessarily doing stuff to them/with them.  
Hello bees!

However, this is a pretty awesome project so I have been present for virtually all of it.  It is fun, because I do not have to be the expert or even somewhat knowledgable - I just get to listen.  Being a teacher, I am rarely in that position.  It's a delight!

Adding smoke to settle the bees

At Greg's place- he's prepping the smoker.
Smoking the bees at Gregs

Our job this weekend (and I was there when Greg did this too) was to check for brood (baby bees) and for pollen and all that good stuff.  I never got to see a queen, but they are there as evidenced by the eggs and grubs in the cells.

Rearranging the frames - you can see our bear resistant cage

Looking for babies, eggs, etc

Both sets of hives have eggs, babies, pollen and our hive had the beginning of honey!  There was something called a Burr Comb, which is a piece of comb that the bees started building  because there was too much space left between the frames- rookie error apparently.  So they (Greg) peeled that piece off and we had a taste of the new honey.  Who knew there was nectar out and about already!?!  Lord knows there is pollen, so those bees have a lot of energy!  


The burr comb is the piece that sticks out.  Bees build combs to fill their space.

The other thing we did was medicate the hives for some sort of disease that gives the poor little dudes the bee runs.  Lol.  So this is how we feed them sugar water with their medicine.  

The next step will be to put the next brood box on, as the frames are getting filled up with babies and pollen and honey.  VERY cool.  That will be happening this weekend.  

Sugar water with medicine- Sugar to water ratio right now is 1:1

And off we go into the summer and the bee adventure continues.  And this will be a joy!