Summer Report from Facilities Manager

Happy July, Everyone! Hope you enjoyed a fun, safe Fourth of July!

Here at Chickadee Gardens your Facilities Manager has been busy with projects large and small. The usual daily tasks, of course, but I've also woven in some extra efforts between feeding the poultry and watering the plants.

First up: The bees! They are crazy amazing! A new friend visited recently and we opened up the three-box hive to find a busy place practically gushing with honeycomb and brood comb. So I was advised to add another box with a "queen screen" to keep the queen out of the new box, the focus of which is honey for humans! That sounds like a charity or a NGO! Honey for Humans! I like it.
With my bee suit donned and smoker in hand I start the process to add the screen and new box. The smoke causes the bees to cough a lot, haha, but also, most importantly, to become subdued. I guess it is a genetic response to forest fires that comes from way back in time. It is interesting and necessary. You do not want 40,000 bees upset because you are opening up their happy home.



Here I have removed the roof and the top cover. You can see the bees crawling around the comb frames in the top box. Each box was the same, i.e., busy!



This is the underside of the top cover. You can see the wax buildup. The boxes are so full the bees are seeking every space available to make comb. By the way, all of those bees are alive and working. I think there are a couple of drones in there (they are larger).


Now I am lifting up one of the frames. I am no expert but the left half of the frame is honeycomb while the right side could be brood comb, which is where the queen lays her eggs. Not good eating, though I suspect someone will say otherwise. This is my first year and what do I know? I do know that I am surprised, though, that we may be able to harvest a box of honey come this fall! 

Honey for Humans, indeed!!


Ah, the new box with its clean frames all lined up. You can see the white-plastic queen screen layered in there. It means all of the comb above that screen will be honeycomb. Hooray!

By the way, these are western cedar hives purchased from Bee Built, a local company. Yeah, I could have purchased pine boxes and painted them but I like the look of cedar and since the hives sit outside during our fall and winter rainstorms, well, I want to take care of my buddies in the beehive.


Here I place the top cover back onto the hive. In the lower right corner is my bowl containing a nice chunk of honeycomb. You know, several dozen bees died during this process, and many drowned under the harvested honeycomb. I use a soft brush to nudge the bees off of the edges of the hive and from the honeycomb itself, but it is an inexact science what with thick leather gloves on. We were sad to cause the end of so many bees, but it is kind of inevitable. Perhaps as my skills improve . . .! 


So the roof is back on and the bees can return to business with their new box to occupy them in the coming weeks.


Ah, the honeycomb. I managed to save a few bees as I cleaned the comb -- cleaned it of bees, I mean -- and so I wound up with some yummy stuff. I do not have a picture of me spooning up a big chunk and slipping it into my mouth. I sucked away the sweet, tasty honey and then chewed on the wax for awhile. Winnie the Pooh, where are you???


Introducing the new deck of the garden shed. The old deck was in its last days, had a couple of gaping wounds and was slippery when wet. I visited our local lumber store and brought home a dozen new 12-foot, 2 x 6 boards and some 300 deck screws. 


For a "before" shot, here it is this time last year, all dressed up for F.M.'s big birthday party. Note the two levels of patio and the rotting wood. The pavers were also very uneven and an eye sore.




Tamara has decided our lawn chairs deserve to be out of the rain. The old metal, scallop-backs are good for sittin' in, relaxin' in and talkin' in and just watchin' the goin's on in the garden. Yay, doggie!



I created a new gravel path alongside the new deck and shed. We've tromped through a weedy, rough gap between the shed and the oak tree since we moved in here in late 2015. Looks better, no?


Gosh, when did I find time to add this new 4' x 12' garden box to the veggie garden? And it took two Ford Ranger loads of "garden compost" from Beaver Bark in Scappoose. Tamara has lettuce, radishes, green onions and carrots in there. 



Finally, on Monday I completed rebuilding an old lawn bench the previous owner of this property let rot in the yard under the maple tree. I remember picking it up to move it and it collapsed, which caused one of the cast-iron end pieces to smash my foot. So, two years later, I finally got my hands on a table saw and so sawed some white oak planks, oiled them up, brought in some stainless steel bolts and screws and, BaddaBoom, we have a lovely bench! Oh, it's not perfect. I call it rustic! Tamara here - I call it comfy and a great addition to the shade garden. Now on those hot summer days we can sit up there with our mint juleps and watch the chickadees.

Well, I think it is time for a nap. I am tired after being so active. Looks like July will hold fewer projects and plenty of watering of our many gardens. Of course, I will keep the bees in clean, cool water because, hey, remember now "Honey for Humans" is a good goal for anyone!

Tamara here: See why I love him so much? He's amazing. I would not be 1/10 as far along in this garden if I were on my own. FM is definitely the muscles behind this partnership, and for that I am forever grateful.

That's it from Chickadee Gardens and Blue Jay Lane Farm for this week. Happy gardening and happier beehiving from us to you!

Signed, Facilities Manager


Comments

  1. I loved your post. I have been very interested in bees and would love to get a hive going, but hubby says, no. He's such a stinker sometimes. I also like seeing your garden tractor carport on the side of your shed. We want to do that before winter.
    Nice new deck.
    Connie :)

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    1. FM here: Thanks, Connie. So far the bees have been no trouble, but I hear the more hives one has the more work it can be. Like cats, I guess. Thanks.

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  2. Wonderful! You two are such a gardening "power couple"! I wish my dear G gave any kind of a hoot about our yard/garden/flowers. Good thing she's perfect in every other way! : )

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    1. FM here: Thanks. Well, we try hard to be a good team. Cheers.

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  3. The bee update was fascinating! As to the garden shed deck, it has me wondering whether I should ask my own Facility Manager to add a deck to my lath house...

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    1. FM: Thanks, Kris. I aim to open the hive soon to check out if any 'comb is developing. As for your new deck, not sure what a lath house is but a bath house sounds pretty good. Cheers.

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  4. Anonymous8:40 PM PDT

    Way to go FM. Love the new deck and gravel sidewalk. You deserve a place to sit and watch your bees coming and going. Well done. Now relax.

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    1. FM here: Warmer weather is Latin for Afternoon Naps!

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  5. Bee keeping is so interesting, thanks for sharing. An old neighbour kept trying to get me into it, but with a bee allergy it wasnt in the cards. I'll just have to keep enjoying the honey to get from other folks.

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    1. FM here: Thanks, Rebecca. Having a thousand bees buzzing around is danged weird and a bit scary. Luckily, I am not allergic. I am allergic to blue cheese, however, but that is another story. Cheers.

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  6. I have to say Mr FM is one of the most productive people on the planet.

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    1. FM here: Thanks, ks. Appreciate that.

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  7. Congrats on all this progress, FM! That is A LOT! So glad to see you’re bee keeping. Well done. Now I know where to check if we ever get going on that. Bee hives have such a vitality to them. I’m taking bees so much less for granted these days. Love them.

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    1. FM here: So far they are very little effort, but I only have the one hive. I plan to expand to two hives next Spring. We'll have to send you some comb as it becomes available. Thanks again.

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    2. Would love to inherit some comb, neighbor! Hope to see the hive some day too.

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