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  • Bee Diary: August, 2011

    Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Checked the honey supers this morning.  On the two package colonies that I do not intend to overwinter, we have approximately four full honey supers.  That is, we have for harvest the amount of honey they would have needed for the winter, close to 200 pounds.  Figure that 40 pounds is not recoverable due to drips, stuck on honey comb even after extraction then that should leave around 16o pounds to harvest.

    If we chose to sell it at, say $7 a pound, that would create around a $1,ooo in sales after keeping some back for own use and gifts.  After the bee packages at $60 each and amortizing the honey extractor, supers and hive boxes, syrup, hive tools, smoker, pollen, queen excluders, honey jars, top and bottom boards and telescoping covers, we’d still be in the red for the first three years.  Don’t know what we’ll do with it this year, probably give away a lot again.  It’s good for barter and gifts for sure.

    Artemis Hives has produced honey two years in a row now, an artisanal honey created by bees aided by the beekeeper, me, and the bee equipment and harvest partner, Kate.

    Looking at the gardening year in total we will have a good, not great honey harvest, a good potato harvest, leeks, beets, chard, beans and possibly a decent tomato crop.  Kate has good success with her zucchinis and the decorative gourds have bloomed but produced no fruit yet.  The gardening and beekeeping year will wind down in September, just in time for us to finish our cruise preparations.  Caring for gardens and bees requires a lot of face time with the plants and hives, visits to nurseries, attendance at Hobby Bee Keeper meetings, not to mention all the work of harvesting and putting food by.

    I’m at the point in the year when my enthusiasm has run out a while ago and the only thing that keeps me active now is the need to finish, to harvest.  When it’s done, it’s over for the year.


  • A Flower Symphony

    75  bar falls 29.89  0mph N  dew-point 59  Sunrise 5:49  sunset 8:49  Summer

    Last Quarter Thunder Moon

    The garden speaks.  Last month, when I dug up my first garlic, it was not a head, but a single large clove.  What the?  Back to the garlic culture book.  Descaping?  Oops.  I forgot to take off the flower and seed forming stalk. It suppresses bulb formation.  Now, a month later after I descaped, bulb formation proceeds.  I do not know whether it will get where it would have, but I just pulled up one garlic bulb that looks pretty well defined, though not completely.  The individual cloves are not yet distinct, though their formation is clear.

    The tallest corn is now well over 6 feet high.  No tassels yet.  The beans have begun a very productive season and the onions are ready to dry.  After we dry them, we can story them in burlap bags in the furnace room.  The squash and watermelon have demonstrated their power to dominate territory.  Our garden paths and boulder walls are in danger of disappearing at some points.

    The Cherokee Purple tomato plants have fruits that have begun to turn a dusky red, shading now toward purple.  So far I have not noticed a tendency to disease which can be a problem growing heirloom vegetables.   I plan to save seeds and heads of garlic since these vegetables will breed true and not separate into warring varieties as most hybrids will.

    The lilies continue their quiet fireworks.

    I have had this idea for a long time about a flower symphony.  Each flower would get a lietmotif, as in Wagner, each color would have a note or a phrase.  The whole piece would have a somber, quiet opening, andante, for the slumber of winter.  Then an agitato as the ground breaks loose with the warmth of spring and, in their bloom succession, the flowers emerge, their leitmotifs varied by color phrases, until we pass out of the spring flowers into the early summer blooms.  This third movement is tranquil as the garden settles into its summer patterns, again the leitmotifs ordered by bloom time and varied by color phrasing.  The fourth and final movement returns to andante as the asters, the fall blooming crocus, clematis and mums emerge, then die back.  The final movement stops for a bit, then a presto sequence of lietmotifs, then grave, ending with bassoon, bass drum, and bass viol.

    Many do not like programmatic music and I understand why, being a fan of Mozart and Bach, both abstract and interested in following the music’s own logic, not an outside one.  Even so, I offer this because it is the way I see the garden now after so many years.  The flowers emerge, bloom, dieback and another group, adapted to a slightly different season, replace them.  These movements are like a symphony in my mind.