Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tree Frog Likes My Grow Lights


" We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view" - Mao Zedong

While working in the greenhouse today I kept hearing a tree frog but couldn't pinpoint the location.  A few hours later I ran into this little fellow while watering my cucumber seedlings.  I believe it is a Spring Peeper frog.  I will need to hear it again to confirm though.  
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Adding Cattails to the Pond.


"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong" - Winston Churchill
You are probably wondering why anyone would add cattails to their pond, but cattails are actually one of the more beneficial of all wild plants.  The roots for example contain more starch than potatoes and more protein than rice.  The tubers are supposedly very tasty when baked.  Some people ever use the pollen from cattails in their baked goods.  The flour in early spring is gluten free.   Songbirds use the fluff from the flowers in their nest and many wild birds including ducks nest in cattails.  My plan is to limit the areas that contain the cattails but I did want to add them to the site because they are so beneficial, not only as a food source, but for other purposes as well.  
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beekeeping - Captured Swarm of Bees at Permaculture Farm


I mentioned yesterday that I went down to check on the bees Saturday and I saw a swarm attached to a tree  branch.  I went up to the cabin to get some supplies and by the time I got back they were gone.  I assumed they had left, but now I am thinking they may have gone back into the hive.  I have heard that if you see your bees are about to swarm you can clang a pot and pan together to mimic the sound of thunder and sometimes the bees will move back into the hive.  They do not want to swarm before a storm.  It was raining Saturday, but I do not remember any thunder.  I was surprised to find the swarm on a branch of the same tree when I arrived home yesterday. 

A little info about swarms...  When a swarm starts it will only fly a very short distance from the hive where the queen will send out 20-50 scout bees.   The scout bees will inspect sites for their new home.  The scouts return and perform a dance.. the more excited the scout is about the location the more enthusiastic the dance is.  The scout tries to entice the other scouts to go with it to visit the site.  It may take a few hours or a few days for all of the scouts to agree on the same location.  At this time the swarm leaves for its new home.  


This is a closeup of the swarm.  It is hard to say how many bees are in the cluster but I would guess about 15000 bees.  Sound hard to believe?  When you order a package of bees you typically get a 3 lb package which is about 10,000-12,000 bees.   I have ordered a few packages in the past and this swarm was slightly larger than what would come in a package.   

 I quickly grabbed my supplies (suit, gloves, hive components, and shears).  I set the new hive up and then while holding the branch with one hand I carefully used my shears to cut the branch away from the tree.  I slowly walked with the cut branch and swarm over to the new box.  I placed the limb on the hive and then slowly started brushing the bees off of the branch (see brush in picture below).  

 After most of the bees were in the new box I closed the box.  I have my fingers crossed that the bees will stay.  I think often times people take a frame of brood from one of the existing hives to install into the new hive.  I will check this afternoon to make sure the bees are still here and if they are I will give them a few days to settle in before going into the hive.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak


“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” 
― Willie Nelson

I was out on the property this weekend and spotted a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.  This is the first one I have seen on the property.   They spend their winters in tropical areas and then migrate north for the summer.  Their summer range is from Tennessee to Canada.   I grabbed my camera as a second though this day, but I am fortunate to have it.   Ironically, later Saturday I walked down to check on the bees and there was a swarm on a branch a few feet of the ground (from one of my beehives).  I had a  box there but I went back up to the cabin to get my camera, gloves, and a few other things.  When I got back the swarm had already left.  I need to get back into the habit of always keeping a camera with me when I am out and about.  Hope everyone had a great weekend.
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail

Instead of driving my car down to my cabin I have an area at the top of the hill where I park it and then I walk along a little trail down to my cabin.  There was a small opening near where I park that was prone to erosion and had little vegetation.  Back last fall I planted the area in crimson clover.  The past couple of weeks it has been covered with insects and you can see where the deer have been bedding down in it as well.  I enjoy stopping by every day and looking for new insects and seeing signs of where other wildlife has been visiting the area.  I have started keeping a journal documenting what butterflies have been seen on the permaculture farm.  

The main host plants for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail are the magnolia, peach, and the cherry.  They prefer to feed on the nectar of legumes, sunflowers, echinachia, marigolds, zinna, and yarrow.  
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