2018, April, Bees

Farm update – 4/8/2018

This weekend was one of those rare ones where by the end of the day today, we felt pretty caught up on farm chores. I guess we always could have found some more weeding to tackle, but major projects were all completed.

We harvested the first row of this year’s Japanese turnips, which are a variety called Niseko. If you’re used to (and hooked on!) the Hakurei turnips we’ve been growing, you’ll find that Nisekos are virtually identical in color, texture, and flavor. As soon as the turnips were harvested, we weeded, tilled, and planted a row of okra seedlings in their place.

We also planted more peppers this weekend, put tomato cages around all of the peppers planted last weekend, and, for the first time, caged our cucumbers too. We had such success growing cucumbers on bamboo tripods last year that it seems like tomato cages should work equally well, and save us a mosquito-y trip to the bamboo forest. We put all of the stakes in the ground with which we’ll eventually tie up our tomatoes too.

One unexpected surprise from this past week was waking up to frost one morning. The forecasted overnight low for that morning was mid 40s, and yet there was ice on windshields, the mailbox was frozen shut, one of our hose nozzles busted, and, worst, in the truck’s headlights as we were leaving for work before sunrise, some of the leaves on our pepper plants looked crunchy, though there was no obvious ice accumulation on them. It seemed, perhaps, that we might have jumped the gun by a few days on planting them. However, when we got home that evening, all of our frost-intolerant plants were still alive, even if with a few browned up leaves. We got lucky!

The final task for today was to check on the bees. Last weekend, we took a deep brood box from two different bee colonies and combined them into one new colony. To ease the bees into this shared living space, we put a layer of newspaper between the two brood boxes. That way the bees could get used to each other’s smell, while temporarily not having physical contact. The goal today was simply to remove the newspaper and see if the bees had accepted each other. Just like they were supposed to, the bees had chewed through the newspaper and it did not appear that a bee war had broken out between the two groups, so the integration, at least, appears to be a success!

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