Monday, March 8, 2010

Gardens and bees....

Even though there is snow on the ground and it's in the 20's F at night, I'm still getting excited about Spring almost here. I see in the forecast that daytime highs are now going to be in the 40's and 50's rather than the 30's and 40's. Big difference!

My food gardening plans include planting a few dozen blueberry and raspberry bushes, in addition to being able to utilize the big new veggie garden for a whole season for the first time starting this Spring. My last post detailed the seeds I received in the mail.

My Compost bin of eisenia foetida composting earthworms are doing just fine in my basement. Their metabolism has slowed down during the cool basement winter temps, but as Spring progresses the basement will be warmer and they will speed up again with the kitchen scraps, eggshells, and cardboard/paper roughage I feed them. There are several thousand worms of different developmental stages in the bin, working various of the three tray levels. I have a couple of gallons at least of pure castings already waiting to add to the garden, and more is in the works from the hard working little worms.

My honeybee plans for the new year are to rev up to between 2 and 4 hives, depending on how things go. I did order some new bees in the mail, and of course I worry about them in transit, but things usually go smoothly. I also will be attending bee club meetings and/or a short 'bee school' course, both offered by local beekeepers.
Those mail order honeybees will not arrive until first week of May. But there is plenty to do in the meantime, inspecting and cleaning up my current hive and building new frames and settin gup the additional new empty hives in preparation.
I also plan to set out a 'swarm bait' small hive box, with used comb, bee pheromones, and lemongrass oil- all of which are irresistable to swarm scout bees out looking for a new home to move into.

The other thing I have looked into and ordered are nesting supplies, houses, and some cocoons of our local native bees- the blue orchard mason bee. Honeybees are actually European imports. Our U.S. native bee pollinators are solitary small bees who do not maintain a hive society, do not sting, and do not make honey. But they do pollinate trees and gardens like mad, are beneficial to our planet in many ways, and are cute as a button as well. What a great little bee to encourage and keep in your garden or yard, especially for those who are not able to keep honeybee hives where they live.
I know they are in my area, because I saw some on my flowers during the past two summers. I plan on providing ideal nesting tube houses, water, and a source of nest-building mud for the little blue mason bees to thrive on so they hang around my house and garden. Learn more about providing nesting and housing environments for solitary native bees: HERE. I ordered mason bee supplies and houses from HERE, and HERE.

Here is a mason nesting box i bought from Dave's came complete with paper tube liners all set up for the first year:
And go HERE to watch Dave's video in case you'd like to build a mason bee nesting box yourself!

We should all consider providing for our beneficial insects and other wild animal friends who are struggling. I ordered a bat house as well, which we will attach to the eaves of the house.

More cool links to sites about solitary native bees and mason bees:
Pollinator paradise
Solitary Bees
Crown Bees
Dave's Bees
Bee Species photo collection
Jean-Henri Fabre's The Mason Bees
Wings In Flight
Native Bees info
French solitary bee blog
xerces society

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the link about the solitary native bees...I have never before been aware that there were ways to support them.