2017, April, Bees

Farm update – 4/16/2017

This week’s Whole Farm basket contains a bundle each of hakurei turnips, small-medium onions with edible greens, and radishes, plus a green of your choice. Choose from: collards (chopped or whole), romaine lettuce, spinach, pea shoots, and bok choy.

IMG_20160403_201715We are in the prime of hakurei turnip season! We have started harvesting from the second pair of rows we planted, and they are beautiful! I’ve talked with a lot of people over the last couple of months about how long our vegetables stay fresh compared to what you get from the grocery store. I was still eating from the last of the fall’s hakurei turnips, harvested before Christmas, just a couple of weeks ago. You can definitely keep these in the fridge longer than we’ll be harvesting them from the field. So if you like them (and who doesn’t!?), consider getting some extra to have on hand later in the spring. We’ll harvest the last of them in another week or two.

We did hive inspections today of all five hives, mainly to get the new swarmed hive properly set up, but also to check on the status of the others. The two new hives are doing well, though it was interesting to see the differences between them. One hive consistently drinks a full quart of sugar water a day, the other drinks only half a quart. The hive that consumes more sugar water was far ahead of the other hive in terms of how many frames they’d drawn honeycomb out on. Both had several frames of capped and uncapped brood, a great sign. Once capped, bee pupae will spend another 12 days developing before they emerge as adults bees. Within two weeks the populations of our youngest hives will start to increase! News was not as good from the other three hives. We couldn’t find queens in either the hive that swarmed last weekend, or the new hive we created from that swarm. Not finding the queen is not that unusual, but neither did we find eggs or larvae, which is at least evidence of the queen’s presence and productivity. We’ll give them a week to see if we just happened to miss them, otherwise we will need to requeen them. Finally, we checked the woods hive, which we’re counting on for the first honey harvest of the year, and discovered that they haven’t collected a drop of honey yet. It’s yet another reminder that without rain, plants aren’t producing the nectar the bees need to make honey. And there’s still no rain in the 10-day forecast, unfortunately.

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Last week marked exactly one year since we first started taking veggies to market, which made me think of our first trip to the Bainbridge Farmers Market. It was opening day and we didn’t really have a lot of our spring veggies in yet, but we wanted to see what it was like. We loaded up the car early Saturday morning and headed south. On the drive down, we decided to make a list of items that needed to get packed each week for market. Business cards, tablecloths, chalk and chalkboards to write names and prices of what we had, that kind of thing. I jokingly added “veggies” to the list, thinking that should be so obvious it didn’t actually need to be on the list. As we were setting up our market table, I was horrified to realize that I had left one of the two coolers of produce at home. It’s funny thinking back on it now, but I was so upset at the time. And if I remember right, it had all of $12 of produce inside. But I’ve never left veggies behind since then (they are on the packing list)!

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Squash will be ready soon! With the exception of kale, which I grew from seed this year and got into the ground late, we’re picking veggies about three weeks sooner this year compared to last year, which probably means they won’t last as long into late spring either. This week’s near-90s-every-day forecast will surely hasten the demise of the cool weather crops.

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