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Monday, April 29, 2013

Bees and Carrots

This is a pretty random post, but since I've been random in what I do lately (like today waking at 4 a.m. and deciding that since I can't sleep, I might as well make a gigantic batch of granola), why the heck not talk about two topics that really aren't related?

Today after the epic granola project, I had to do some gardening chores. There is a 600 gallon water tank which acts as a thermal mass for the dome. The water evaporates, so I lugged in the hose to top off the tank. While it was filling, I did some planting.

But to make room, I had to pull the last of our Nantes carrots. This is the first time I've grown carrots in the dome and they did well. Now an Early Girl resides where the carrots were. I added some worm castings and growing mix to welcome the new tomato to the block.

Do you like that dishtowel? Thanks, Pattie!

Just outside the growing dome are the beehives. For a while there I was worried: robber bees were trying to get into the beehives with epic battles just outside each hive. I finally reduced the entrances to about bee width so the guard bees would more easily stop the invaders and it seems to have worked. All is orderly again.

Here is a closeup of the entrance to our top bar hive, now open because the robbers are gone. Most of the beekeepers around here use this type rather than the more common box-type hives called Langstroth.

Those little specks you can see against the cinderblock are flying bees.

Each of the bars, which you can see under the metal roof (which needs a good hit with the hammer), is 1 and 3/8 inches and the bees make their combs along the bars' length. There are no frames, so the bees make the combs just the way they want them. When we harvest honey, I hope this year, we lift out the bars, cut the combs off the bars and crush the combs to extract the honey.

This past fall we left all the honey for the bees because they were a new colony and I wanted them to have enough food for the winter. As of last week they still had some honey left, but friend Sue gave me two bars of honey yesterday. So I switched out some lightweight combs (they had eaten most of the honey) with the heavy, full ones. That should hold them for the couple of weeks we have until the flowers bloom. We have a late spring, yes, we do.

Surrounding the bee yard is an electric fence to keep out bears because the last thing the ladies need after a long, cold winter is for their homes to be invaded again, this time by gigantic furry destroyers. Both Ms. P and I have involuntarily tested the fence and it works just fine. The rocks on top of the hives and the orange straps on the ground keep the wind from blowing off the roofs.

I hope by midsummer to expand to four hives, but that depends on the bees and their queens and if there are enough flowers for them, and who knows what else. 

We will hope that all goes well with plenty of honey for everyone this year!


  1. Those carrotts look great! You mentioned worm castings, do you keep worms? The Beehives looks awesome...hope you get some sweet honey! Do the bees go inside the dome for pollen too?

    1. Sondra, I wish I kept worms, but no, I just had a bag of worm castings in the dome from last year.

      About the bees: Yes, they come through the vents for the flowers. Last year they loved the cucumbers and right now a few have enjoyed the pea flowers. It's not many, but they do a great pollinating job.


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