Notes from the field

We stuck three eggs under our broody hen, so perhaps she’ll stop changing nesting boxes. (We marked all the eggs with an X so we can tell which they are just in case she does move again.) As I was trying to wriggle one of the eggs under her, she pecked at me. Cherisse announced that was a good sign—she was protecting her nest—a fact Cherisse had read about but decided not to tell me.

This afternoon we checked the bees again. Cherisse had discovered earlier in the week that the original, two-year old queen from our first hive was gone (not just the queen from the hive that swarmed). It’s possible another queen has already replaced her; when a queen stops laying well, the bees can raise another to “supersede” her.

Not surprisingly, beekeepers have different philosophies: some are interventionists while others feel bees know best how to survive, and therefore the beekeeper should interfere only minimally. Since the latter has been our basic approach (through a mixture of instinct and ignorance), we are happy to let the bees replace their own queens when the time comes. Today we looked for queen cells that might have hatched (versus those that the newly hatched queen might have destroyed—since she doesn’t want competition). We saw both, and while we could identify no queen in either hive, we are hopeful they might be already at work. In the older hive we saw signs of uncapped brood (which should mean a queen recently laid the eggs).

With so much rain this weekend, we neglected the garden. The dahlias are late going in. Much more weeding is needed (everywhere). The carrots and parsnips have mysteriously disappeared so we will reseed and hope it’s not too late. However the squash and cucumbers put in last weekend are popping up, as are the sunflowers (I stopped a slug from making off with a sunflower seed), and the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers all look good. Tiny purple kohlrabis are starting to form, and the cabbage is growing well. We are now eating our own lettuce and arugula, and picking the last of our asparagus.

Somehow it is June already, and summer marches ever closer.

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