Late summer bounty

Garlic is harvested. Onions are harvested. The potatoes are coming in. We have been using herbs and kale all summer. The beekeeper has taken off the supers for the first round. The yellow summer squash are hard to keep up with.

We picked green beans, peppers, and squash today. I dug some of the russet potatoes. The beekeeper dropped off some honey when he took off the supers on Tuesday.

We picked green beans, peppers, and squash today. I dug onions and some of the russet potatoes. The beekeeper dropped off some honey when he took off the supers on Tuesday.

We had too much rain in June, however, and so we were a little lucky to get a decent garden crop.

This photo of my garden from upstairs in the house shows my PV array and the garden beds. The area between the beds is full of water from the excess rain we've had. As of today, August 10, that array has produced 1.44 mWh of power in 2014.

This photo of my garden from upstairs in the house shows my PV array and the garden beds. The area between the beds was full of water from the excess rain we had up to June 30. As of today, August 10, that 6-panel array has produced 1.44 mWh of power in 2014.

 

Weather is probably the biggest uncertainty in agriculture. Farmers everywhere in the world watch the skies daily and listen to the weather forecasts since their livelihoods are dependent on the sun, the wind, and the rain. One way to have some control in this situation where farmers are at the mercy of mother nature, is to increase pollination by bringing in more pollinators. That is the reason for honeybees (and the fact that we get a sweet product from them). On August 5 the beekeeper came by to check the hives and take off the honey in the supers. While honeybees do not benefit all crops, they do benefit from some. I have even seen honeybees on soybean flowers 1/2 mile away from the hives this summer (honeybees regularly work up to 2 miles from their hives and can go further). We started in April with 20 hives, later on two went bad so we were at 18 hives for June and July. Now I see that we are at 16 hives since August 5. The hives have either swarmed and moved away or weakened and died out.

Beekeepers are working my hives on August 5. They took off the honey-laden supers and left the hives to continue making some honey over the next month or so. The beekeeper's main objective, in addition to making honey, is to have strong hives that he can take to California in the winter to pollinate the almond groves.

Beekeepers are working my hives on August 5. They took off the honey-laden supers and left the hives to continue making some honey over the next month or so. The beekeeper’s main objective, in addition to making honey, is to have strong hives that he can take to California in the winter to pollinate the almond groves.

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The bees are buzzin’

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Of 20 hives that arrived on May 11, we now have 18 strong hives with additional supers on them. We hope for a good honey season.

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White dutch clover is one of the honeybees’ favorite pastures. Notice the dandelions, which are also popular with the bees.

Yesterday the beekeeper came out to check the 20 hives he had placed here on May 11. He found two bad hives and the rest were fine. Some were making serious honey already. We thought that White Dutch Clover and Dandelions might be in the mix. He added two more supers to each hive so now we have 18 active hives with at least three supers on the base of each one. When you look at the hives you will see each one has a total of four boxes sitting on the pallet (except for the two pallets with a bad hive). Each of those bases has three supers on it. The two bad hives got put on top of other hives, so two of my hives are six boxes tall.

Unfortunately, my apple trees did not bloom at all this year so the honeybees did not have them to pollinate and harvest from. The only fruit tree that did bloom was my pie cherry tree which now has fruit on it. I have heard that after one good strong harvest (like last year) apples sometimes take a year off, so I guess that is what is happening. The best bee pasture here at home is dandelions and White Dutch Clover. Since bees range 2 miles and more for flowers, they have a lot of wild blossom options along the creek and in windbreaks in this area. I am considering planting American Basswood trees in my windbreak to replace the ashes that may fall victim to the Emerald Ash Borer in the near future. American Basswood, “bee tree”, is a favorite of honeybees and should also provide good shade and windbreak protection.

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