AS well as taking a little honey from my bees, it is time to think about doing everything I can to ensure their survival through our brutal winters. My rule is two full supers of honey per hive by winter. Two hives are looking quite short so I have begun to supplement feed them already. I know it is early but they need a little help until the late summer flowers start to bloom.
The weak hive will never get up to par before winter. You will remember that we checked it for mites and disease on Tuesday. All clean. It will be combined with the Blog hive. The Blog Hive is roaring ahead very quickly increasing its numbers and storing away its honey. It is a calm strong hive that will be grateful for the extra hands I hope. We will use the newspaper method for the merger. Kind of ironic actually. Newspapers and mergers!
The weak hive appears queenless. They have gathered some honey which is good.
I could find no larvae in the hive at all. Weirdly I cannot see any queen cells either. Also it appears that the hive has more drones than usual. Which happens in the absence of a queen bee. The queen in the Blog Hive will have something to say about them I am sure.
OK, I talked to the weak hive telling them that it might be scary at first but I was sure they would make friends at their new condo and if they got bored waiting they could read the newspaper before they started eating it. Then I moved their super (the super is the box full of bees) closer to the Blog Hive. Then I took the TOP super off the Blog Hive, laid a sheet of newspaper over the top of the BOTTOM Blog super and its nosy bees. (They got the comic strips). I made a tiny slit in the paper with a knife. I positioned the Weak Hive super on top of the newspaper, then another sheet of newspaper on top of that, another slit and the second Blog Hive super returned to the top.
In two weeks I will go back and take a look. By then bees should have nibbled through the paper. Thereby slowly getting acquainted with the each other. Hopefully the new bees will be absorbed into their hive. The queen will have them smacked around the head a bit for being such bad housekeepers and then set them to work. The drones will be sent out to sit on rocks and sulk. Here it is all closed up again. I hope I have not started a war.
You can see the newspaper above and below the Weak hive.
No that is not a shot of my brain! Though my brain often feels a little green and soppy!!
Last night the new macro extension tubes for my old Nikon were delivered. Such excitement. I am a little girl with this stuff. I lined them up, (there are three) put them on and off the camera. Lined them up again and waited until morning. This morning I screwed the biggest looking one in between the lens and the body just like it said and went hunting!
Found a fly! Though I have to admit that it is not hard to find a fly. And the shot is kind of ordinary. Some of it is in focus. Just not the bit I expected. I have to think about depth of field a little more.
Then I saw the Tuberosa just coming out – rich in heady perfume. How to photograph a scent. Those beautiful crisp white waxy petals will be great! I took some time to set up the tri pod, (hate that thing, have to get a monopod), struggled with the focus, which was wandering in and out – and then not doing anything at all! What was going on? Were the connections awry? My settings wrong? Not enough light? Huffed and puffed and carried on, my language deteriorated, my knickers got in a knot. Then the camera stopped focussing at all, everything stopped! Damn new fangled things. This thing has wrecked my camera! Now I can’t get it off! It won’t come off!. And the camera is dead! This new tube thingy has upset the balance! It has killed my camera! How did I let Senior Son talk me into buying this damn thing!! … pause … Oh. The battery is dead. Oh, well then, that would explain it. Quick glance around. No-one saw. Only Thing 2, who has seen this kind of thing before.
Stand by. I am going out again. The light is brightening. The tomatoes are going to be neglected today. And I will see you tomorrow. I am off to shoot bees!
I love these things!
Sustainable sounds so similar to subsistence. (Please excuse the alliteration) Subsistence is hand to mouth, then the hand is empty. Sustainable involves the land and using your hands to feed your mouth while enriching the land to grow some more. Sustainable growing is by nature more upwardly mobile. Subsistence is hard to get above. Both involve a lot of hard work.
Sustainable should be fresh, healthy and thoughtful. Sustainable is creating a mobile cycle of fresh food and living in this one space. It is healthier because of its insulation and self-perpetuating systems. I struggle here because I do not like the word Sustainable. It does not describe what our personal goals are. There is more than an element of subsistence in sustainable. How do I describe it to you? What is the word?
Our goal is to grow almost everything we need right here where we live. All the food for ourselves and our animals. Raise a bit of cash to pay the taxes, the little electricity we need and the odd pair of high heels (and a new nightie, I tore mine this morning climbing through a fence.) This is self-sufficient isn’t it? We are cutting down the number of goods and services we bring onto the property. Thereby limiting the amount that gets taken off as waste. And forcing the re-use and extended use of what we already have. Most importantly we want to: Improve our lands. With the help of the cows and sheep, develop richer and more fertile soil. We want our families and friends to be welcome, relaxed and well fed with clean food. They can trust and rely on our food and our home. Until we get so old – that we die. Then the next generation will take up the heady mantle and do with it what they will. Isn’t that what it is all about really? What do we call that? Do we need to call it anything?
The word sustainable has become a marketing tool. It is a word we are being trained to recognise as describing safe, land friendly, green, organically grown food. It is a label that should help us choose the right goods to buy. It is a label we are being taught to recognise. But like the words healthy and green, that we encounter on a huge number of incredibly unhealthy supermarket items, it is becoming abused. These labels have become nebulous. We can no longer trust labels. Sometimes labels reflect political objectives.
Poor old Organic growing has become fraught with rules and regulations. If you see Certified Organic, buy it because it has become very difficult and expensive to gain this certification. It is ridiculously strict. Government intervention is leaving sticky fingers all over it. Lobbies and Big Business have ensured that Certified Organic is really really hard work. Monsanto is thought to be trying to eradicate Organic seeds. I still feel like I can trust Certified Organic as a product to consume. The growers who do not want the paperwork and endless inspections and directives from a nefarious government body, label themselves Organic, Organically Grown or plain Sustainable. Fair enough. I like these growers too. Myself I am leaning towards Self-Sufficient or Old Fashioned. Or just plain Bugger Off.
Old fashioned food. Old fashioned ways of producing it. All these old-fashioned systems result in a sustainable organically managed lifestyle. And I am my own boss. And Daisy is my closest neighbour. Who hates fences too. Is Old Fashioned the word I am looking for?
Old Fashioned-Refreshed. What do you think? In the twenties and thirties this was an old fashioned, diverse, sustainable (minus the word)working family farm. Everything was handcranked, dragged by a horse or using leverage, or pullies or was run by an old tractor. Wire and string was always saved. Old nails were straightened and stored. A couple more horses were still in the barn for emergencies. The attic was full of centuries of interesting stuff. Later the old car would rust into the weeds out the back, next to the old wagon, but only after it had been driven for years until it was plain old. Then all the reusable parts were ripped out and stored for ‘just in case’. A tiny windmill raised the water. The used water from the washing up was emptied onto the precious flower beds. There was a little electricity and a little gas for the car which left the garage on a very rare occasion.
I can work that hard.
So. Old fashioned aye? Well, then my next step is wean myself off frequent supermarket visits. Presently I go to a supermarket (forty minute drive) once every two weeks or so. (In my little VW that runs on recycled cooking oil.. what a hippie!!) It is easy not to shop often in the summer. I have fresh veges, fresh milk and a freezer full of meat. So I am going to change my supermarket visits to – once a month. My next shopping day is Friday. I think the trick is to have a really good list and to remember to take it shopping with you! I do not have a big kitchen or big pantry or reliable storage in the basement (it floods) so I am going to have to be clever. We will see how clever I have been when winter comes and all the gardens freeze!
This means that when we crush the grapes it will have to be by hand… I mean FEET!!
I woke up this morning to find that my internet connection was down. I was practically hyerventilating within seconds. Am I one of the addicted ones? Grimly I turned everything off. I reluctantly backed away from the keyboard and went for a longer walk than usual. Something is happening to the air out there.. clouds are building, maybe rain?. That would be great. Then I did some house work (Not too much, it is hard to get excited about housework.) Put bread in to rise. Sorted tomatoes for todays Summer Sauce. Hung the first load of washing out (I like hanging it out, it is the getting it IN that has always been my problem). Moved Mama and her Flerd to a new field. Then decided to check one of my hives for those wretched varroa mites. Fingers crossed as I have not had any yet.
The best way to pre-empt infestation by the mites is like everything in the organic world of growing, OBSERVATION, Prevention and Note Taking. Now, I cannot go and look into the eyes of every bee on my morning walk the way I do with stock. Though bees eyes are quite startling. But I can make notes about any unusual behaviour. I have not seen any deformed bees, neither have we had heavy unexplained deaths. No bad smells in there. But my notes tell me that this hive is not thriving. Maybe the mites are there. I think like most parasites there will always be a presence we just need to make sure the balance does not tip in their favour.
I slide a white sheet under the grill in the base (to catch the mites when they fall so I can count them) dust the bees with powdered sugar and wait a bit. I do not need to dust each frame as I am only looking for mites not treating for them, so I just pour the sugar along the tops of the frames then brush and knock it among the bees. Thereby limiting the disruption. The bees are noisy and agitated around their hives this morning which is another sign that a storm may be coming. Mama and her babies are quiet.
Now my internet is back on. I had such a long wait that I have even sliced some more tomatoes for the dehydrater. I will dry them then pack them into jars and rehydrate them with olive oil and garlic and basil. Then store in the refrigerator. I dislike the dehydrater because it is noisy and uses electricity (which we try not to depend on) but I LOVE Sun Dried Tomatoes. We cannot sun dry them here as there is too much humidity. So the next best thing is to pop them into the noisy energy guzzling horrid little plastic machine.
Now we are waiting for the bees to clean up the hive and each other thereby dislodging some mites. Oh I forgot to tell you, the Custard Squares I made for Sunday’s dinner were great. The pastry was a bit dull due to the heat probably. The flakiest bestest pastry is made in the winter when the kitchen is cold. I will link you to a lovely French site that I found, her Egg Custard recipe of so simple and very tasty. I made this custard with freshest milk and freshly gathered eggs. I use a little less sugar than she does. Next time I will use honey and see what happens.
We had the custard with lavender jelly that I made in the spring and home-made unsweetened yoghurt. And that was just the dessert! OK. It has been a few hours and still no sign at all of mites on the white card. So I have given that hive a tentative ‘all clear’ until next time. Though I will leave the white card in for 24 hours anyway.
I had better go and get the laundry off the line. It is starting to rain. YAY!
Earlier today I wrote a totally different post for you. But it was being difficult. It did not reflect how I feel today. So I took the camera to the barn. The day shifts out of gear in the barn. Stepping out of the high summer heat. The clamour quietens. It has five big doors and they are all wide open yet it still retains this nebulous dusky air. The barn has secrets. Enough words.
Where I was born and where I learnt to cook, in New Zealand, when we preserve our produce we call it Bottling and we “Put them Down.’ Here (US) we say “Put them up’ and call it Canning but both are in a glass jar with a sealed lid. Does this have something to do with being in different hemispheres. (Up/Down?) So, here (US), when I say, I am putting down some tomatoes today, I get a very funny look!! Was that a complicated thought?
Before we start the Summer Sauce. One of my Dear Readers left a quote for me in a comment last night and I would love to share it with you.
‘Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements’ Marcel Boulestin.
I LOVE THAT! I looked him up. This fellow was great. He had the whole Clark Gable moustache thing happening. He tried and failed at all kinds of things before he moved to the UK and discovered food and the restaurant business. And excelled. More importantly he wrote his way through each career change. He never gave up. I love his story. Great quote. Thank you.
The concept of summer sauce was developed through my much acclaimed laziness when it comes to cooking and if I cannot memorise a recipe I seldom use it again. I love to be IN the garden. So this recipe that really is not a recipe starts in your garden or farmers market.
Step 1. Take a very large basket and proceed to walk about the vegetables and pick whatever is ready. I will pick lots of tomatoes, a few zuchinni (courgette) , egg-plant (aubergine), couple of leaves of swiss chard (silverbeet), a fennel bulb and sometimes potatoes and always onions and garlic. Whatever you have in the garden that takes your fancy with the majority of your basket holding tomatoes.
Step 2. Pick whatever herb you love the most. I pick handfuls of basil, thyme and rosemary. A little celeriac. Sometimes dill.
Step 3. If you like it spicy. Pick a chilli or two. Our John has a little Thai Chilli that I pick, deseed and pop in. Sometimes a jalapeno. Sometimes a capsicum (sweet pepper).
Step 4. BIG POT. Wash Core and chop the tomatoes. You can peel the tomatoes if you want to. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I usually peel the tough skins off the really big ones and just chop and chuck the rest in. Roughly chop up the rest of your vegetables. Onions and garlic and into the pot. A little salt. Boil, Bubble, Toil and Trouble, etc, until soft and well cooked.
Step 5. BLEND and seal into your beautiful shiny jars. Sometimes I blend it all, especially if I have been lazy enough NOT to peel the tomatoes. Sometimes I blend half and return to the pot. Sometimes I don’t blend at all. Just be very careful blending a hot tomato mixture, just little bits at a time. Don’t burn yourself. I like it a little chunky so I only pulse once or twice.
Step 6. The sealed jars go into a hot water bath and boil for about 30 minutes OR the safer option: into plastic containers and freeze. (I have people collecting their cottage cheese containers for me all winter and I use these). I bottle some and freeze some.
When you open a Jar of this during the winter, the scents of summer will float into the kitchen with you. This is why I call it Summer Sauce. It brings the summer into the winter kitchen!.
If the scent is sour or the jar lid hisses on opening. Or you are in any way suspicious of the contents. Throw away. Botulism is real. It goes without saying that you will sterilise everything when you are canning/bottling. We don’t want any nasties.
I will be making a pot full of this every day until I cannot bear it anymore. And the delightful thing is that every batch smells and tastes slightly different because my ingredients and herbs change their intensity and availability every day. Date each jar or container. It is fun to know when you gathered the sauce ingredients.
Our John had the audacity to suggest that my gardening shoes might be past their best. What is he thinking.( Splutter, splutter.) I have only just got them comfy!! Plenty of wear left in these babies!
I am cooking dinner for some friends this evening. I am going to make custard squares for dessert. Or try to. If they work I will share them with you tomorrow. So while you are at the market, pick up a dozen fresh eggs as well. We will be making custard!
Here is the pesto recipe. Remember when making a dish with so few ingredients use the very best ingredients. At the Farmers Market in Evanston the other day I saw baskets of basil. Freshly picked. Gorgeous. Pine nuts are horribly expensive but worth it. Walnuts are an alternative. Walnuts will change the color and taste though. Make sure your oil is the first press and from a glass bottle. And lovely aged parmesan if you can bear it.
If you don’t have a garden, you can grow basil in a big pot on your window sill in a sheltered warm spot. As long as you croon to it every morning and water it TWICE a day in the summer. Feed it once a week with a good natural fish fertiliser. I LOVE basil! Can you tell?
You will see from the picture below ( not a very good image I might add but I was in a hurry to EAT it!) You can see that I actually stir the grated cheese in. When we used to buy this in big jars freshly made on the Amalfi Coast in Italy the guy pulsed it in. So you choose.
I take the flowers and stems off for this recipe. Though they are perfectly tasty in salads.
2 cups ripped basil (rip down the seam)
4 big chopped cloves of garlic
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup romano (this is optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In Food processer: Blend basil, garlic and nuts. Drizzle in oil. Lightly pulse in cheese.
Refrigerate. If I make enough I freeze some in ice cube trays. Place in a sealed bag. They are fine in the freezer for a few months. Then I use them for flavoring soups and stews during the winter. Lovely as a topping on grilled fish.
A perfect lunch.
Hot penne pasta, lightly stir in the pesto and top with grated parmesan and ground pepper. Make a side salad of any edible greens you can find, dress with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and teensy drops of balsamic. Divine.
OK. Just for discussions sake. I popped out and picked a cup of lime basil leaves. Halved the recipe. Replaced the pine nuts with walnuts. See how fast it is the make? And LOOK! Not very pretty. But pretty tasty. There is an interesting lime hit left in your mouth.
A lovely girl from England who works in aromatherapy commented last night about Lime Basil. Which got me to thinking about how you could use this heady feel good herb in that line of work. Here is my suggestion. Grow a long bed of it. At Dawn, when it is dewy and the world is still sleeping. Sneak out. Throw your nightie into the weeds and tuck yourself in amongst the lime basil, wriggle a bit to release the fragrance, then just relax there, sigh, breath in that delicious scent and watch the the sky as it slowly lightens. Therapy.
I am making more summer sauce today. Our John is bringing in HUGE buckets of tomatoes every day now and so I had better get Cooking. My summer sauce is the basic component for most of my winter dishes so I make as much as I can. I will write it up for you tomorrow.
Early this morning I took you all to walk the fences with me. I do this walk every morning and evening for the dogs toilet time. This is the wild area, where the weeds and all that wild grass is allowed to grow. I even throw seed gathered from the garden down there to encourage wildflowers. We cannot farm it anyway as the farmers are paid a government subsidy NOT to grow on it. It is along a waterway.
There now. Home. I have made the pesto and will pop the recipe into a post tomorrow. I added lemon basil to this mornings mix but I am not sure that it is a success. Good old fashioned basil is the best. Lemon basil has a fantastic scent, and is good in salads when really fresh. The scent is quite divine. I roll the leaves over my skin when no-one is looking. It is my favorite new herbal fragrance. No money in it though!
Still no rain but just a bit cooler, so I had better get out there and get busy.
Firstly, while the bread is rising, I will go and cut another load of corn stalks. Soon they will be too dry, the sweetcorn will be finished and the protein levels will drop so then at last I will be able to stop this chore. It is my least favorite job. But I cannot let free, good food go to waste. Lots of fibre, average forage. Except I am doing the foraging. The farm animals seem grateful though. Well they better.
Talk to you tomorrow.
You see I had this interesting experience in the city on the weekend. I had walked from the Metra Station to the Union Station to catch my last train, I had an hour to spare so I decided to sit down with my notebook and catch up on a few thoughts. When I travel, my favorite places to write are busy cafe’s or bars. So I found a little bar in the Union Station terminal. Quite ghastly but dimly lit, which frankly I prefer in a bar. I hate brightly lit bars why do they do that?
I ordered a beer. Then almost bumped into a guy behind me as I turned away from the bar. At a glimpse this guy had an uncanny resemblance to an actor whose name I just cannot remember, you know the guy, he was in that thing, that one with that girl. What was that girl’s name? Anyway he apologised, I accepted and moved away.
He sat at a table opposite mine. He caught my eye as I looked up from my book. (oops, eye contact, bad) Just one eye though as he was on his phone. After a bit I went back to the bar to get another beer (it had been a long hot day in the city) and still with his phone hand on his ear he raised his voice and called out “Put it on my tab!” to the bargirl. I smiled at the bargirl, (widening my eyes to her, like… shout across the bar why don’t you. ) Although I had not been asked if I wanted him to buy me a drink, I thanked him with a tip of the cold frosty bottle, ( he was still on his phone) and went back to work. A few minutes later, he said goodbye to his phone, stood, stepped right up to me and said he hoped I was not upset that he bought me a drink. Some girls think it is an insult or something.
I looked up from my book, laid down my pen. Pushed my stool back to get OUT of his space, which had been my space – he was way too close. And told him quite truthfully that No, I was in a bar, having a drink was not that unusual in a bar. And him buying me a drink was very kind and thank you very much. ( It was the manner in which he bought me the beer that was slightly less that clever. I mean one does not buy a girl a drink while talking to someone else ON a phone! ) I smiled. He had been brave. I flashed my diamonds around. That usually calms them down a bit.
So we spent a pleasant few minutes having an old-fashioned chat about not very much. I mean if a guy buys a girl a drink and she accepts and I think it is nice to, then he gets a couple of minutes. As well as that, when you get to a certain age it doesn’t matter who buys the drink as long as I get one.
Then he said can I tell you something and I paused somewhat apprehensively, turning my watch around my wrist so I could see it better, (your three minutes is ticking buddy) and said you can tell me anything you like ’cause we will never see each other again. He blinked at that but took it well I thought. It turned out that he had seen me at the Metra (that is 5 blocks away) and just happened to be walking in the same direction, behind me, ( oh really I thought) and although he was catching a bus (a bus?) he came into the railway station to have a quick drink. (only bar in town open?, my right eyebrow raising) Then wow, he saw me again. (Oh goodness, what a coincidence. Both eyebrows up by now) So he bought me a beer.( Hmm. Well. OK…I had a stalker, an unusually honest stalker, who wore baggy shorts and looked like a guy in a movie ). But, why can’t a guy buy a girl a drink?
He was a little earnest but not a crashing bore. He introduced himself, we shook. All very civilised. His feet fiddled as he talked. He answered my questions about his kids (two both in college studying law and medicine)and his job, (who knows) and oh your grandparents are from Germany how interesting,( Don’t mention the war) I zoned in and out. His wife was off the scene I gathered but one always wonders. If he had been too dull or even slightly lewd I would have said thank you so much for the drink, it was lovely to talk to you and now I really need to finish this piece of work. I would have placed my half full bottle firmly back on the table, wiped my hands, picked up my pen and allowed the contact to drop. He would have had his three minutes of polite nodding and small smiles. Then the cut-off. I think it does not hurt to be polite. Yet Firm. But I was still trying to digest his having followed me here. I mean that took a little thinking about. Was it a bad thing?
But maybe he was just one of those much maligned nice guys. But there was nothing on television, he actually really seemed like a nice fellow, so he got twenty minutes and I got another beer. And once he got over his terror of talking to a live woman he even became a bit interesting or maybe that was the beer. But it was a perfectly cool interlude in a busy day. Soon I began to slowly pack away my book and pens and he got the hint and thanked me genuinely for talking with him. Oh and evidently I am quite striking and have a distinctive walk. I wasn’t going to argue though was I, that would have been rude. Even if he had followed me half way across town. And what does striking really mean anyway? I am not sure I want to be striking. But I was determined to be kind. (Why is that so hard?) I mean why can’t a guy buy a girl a drink. Have a little chat without a keyboard and then off we all go. He really was a nice guy. And yes I meant to say nice.
And NO, I really did not think we had time to eat before my train, and didn’t he have a bus to catch? ( Oh yeah that’s right.) So off he went. I wanted to tell him that he really should take that plastic ID on a string from around his neck. But maybe Mike was his second name or something.
Two people of the opposite sex can stop and just talk can’t they? Mostly this is what people want when they buy each other a drink. So why are guys afraid to buy a girl a drink nowadays? Are the girls so lacking in confidence that they feel they cannot control a small exchange of words? Have they become harsh with fright? Why are we dubious about accepting a drink even from a fairly harmless stalker guy. Who I might add walked behind me for 5 blocks. Keeping his eyes to himself I hope! Now, I know that there has to be some kind of attraction and all that stuff, but come on girls we can manage that, can’t we? A bar is comparatively safe. Men are not all bad. ‘No’, is a very useful word if an unpleasant connotation enters your conversation. But do it gently.
So don’t be insulted if a guy buys you a drink. If you want to accept, take the drink, say thank you, take charge of the visit by asking him a few questions, chat for three or maybe four minutes, (well I am a fast drinker) make sure he knows you are only available for a minute or two, ( wave to someone across the room, over his shoulder and mouth ‘back in a mo’) after his three minutes, excuse yourself, shake hands (this is important – a very useful social nicety that ends an episode), leave the glass behind, nice to meet you and be gone.
If you do not want to accept a drink, smile and say No Thank You. Give no reason. No discussion. Just No. Smile and move aside quickly. Be kind but firm.
Or and I know this is an outrageous thought. Have a chat. You might enjoy yourselves. One day you may even meet a friend who was as stranger.
The loneliness and aloneness of ordinary and often very intelligent and lovely people is escalating. It is making people sick. We are looking for friendships with our keyboards. No wonder we are all so shy and inept at real conversation. A bar is one of the last bastions of controlled somewhat civilised communication. In the afternoon anyway. Well mostly controlled. Sometimes. And well civilised.. mm.. maybe that is the wrong word too. But you know what I mean!
OK.. back to the farm. I know I promised you Queenie but the others just kept popping into range putting in their two cents worth.
Bees need flowers all summer long. Millions of them. So we need to plant flowers we know will flower in early spring, right through summer and as late in the fall as possible. The wonderful thing about growing flowers for bees is that it seems that the ones they love the most are the ones that love to grow. And weeds, you will find a lot of weeds in this list. And there are a lot more that you will find in your area. Some of these pictures are taken from stock, so some will be out of season but they are all in my gardens. This is a shot from today though.
BEG the farmers and neighbours around you to cut back a wee bit on their mowing along the roadsides when the dandelions and clovers are in flower. Clover is the biggie. Of course you have to be good too and not knock all those lovely flowers off with your own big fat mower. It may look a bit raggedy for a while but try not to mow your own lawn when it is flowering. Bees can comfortably fly two miles to forage but have been known to go as far as six miles if something tasty comes on the menu. So let people know that you have bees.
Before I start I must say that I sowed a whole lot of bee balm which is a great spreading plant. But I have never seen one bee on these flowers. Not one. Butterflies love it though. The flower itself is more suited to a humming-bird I think. But no bees. Weird.
From some plants the bees get nectar and some they gather pollen. So make sure that your flowers are from heirloom seeds or the pollen will be inert and therefore useless to a bee. This is important.
Pussy Willow. This is the first flower on my property that the bees find. It is a small tree that is fairly dull for the rest of the year, but mine was heaving with bees in the early spring.
Fruit Trees. As many fruit trees as you can cram into your property. Fruit feeds everyone. Now I realise that the picture below is not of a fabulous apple blossom. This is an hydrangea. And no I have never seen a bee on a hydrangea. But it is just so gorgeous and we are having a bit of a flowerfest today so I indulged myself and popped it in anyway. This is from this morning as well.
Forsythia. Very early spring. Comes out at around the same time as pussy willow so is a good staple. Prune after it flowers and it will flower from the new growth next year. You can dig up and tear the roots apart quite rudely to propagate. It is very hardy. This is an early spring shot. You can just see the new meadow beginning to sprout.
Dandelion. If you have these in your lawn then REJOICE. They flower early. The bees love them AND you can pick the little leaves and throw them in your salad. My father believes that dandelion tea, mixed with a little honey and cider vinegar is good for what ails ya’.
Hollyhocks. Another easy care plant. Mine are quite out of control and bright pink (shudder) but they are so popular I am loath to dig them out. As if you can get rid of a hollyhock after it has got itself dug in!
Chives. Just common all garden type chives. No winter can deter them and they flower madly, also of course great in the kitchen. Divide your plants after they flower every year, the bees will love you for it and so will your salads and summer soups.
Poppies. Throw piles of seed out for poppies. Sow in the autumn/fall. They will not transplant but you can grow them in pots if you are clever. Sometimes you will find them in a garden centre. Grab a couple – it will save you time. Once established they love to grow. Remember that they will flower in their second year. And forever after.
Catnip and Catmint. White or Purple. These are brilliant great big weeds. Though remember a weed is only a plant in the wrong place and there is a place for this weed. It attracts thousands of bees and when it goes to seed is full of little yellow finches. This is a protected plant around here. You will see it on the left of the first photo. Not photogenic, but prolific!
Lavender. These flowers were the major bee feeding spot for quite some time. My lavender hedge is right along the garden path leading to the kitchen door so you can imagine how gingerly my visitors would walk up that buzzing path. In areas with very cold winters plant early in the summer. If their root systems are well established they should survive. I grow Munstead.
Salvia. All of them, especially the blue and purple ones And sage, especially Russian Sage so the bees tell me.
Borage is the top seller for bees. These plants are always heaving with bees. And in high summer when the flowers are over, you can yank them out and the seed it has scattered immediately takes off and it will be flowering again before the end of summer. So they start early, end late and are very popular. A very good trait in a bee flower. You will only need to sow these once. And they fall all over and make a proper mess. You can eat the little leaves in salads if you like. And for the cocktail lovers you can freeze the flowers in little blocks of ice! Who knew!
Thistles. I know you have seen this picture before but I do like it. It seems that as bee keepers we need to ensure that some areas of our properties just go to seed and weeds and all that. My gardens at this time of the year are so weedy for this very reason. (laughter) . The thistle is a great forage for the bees. Hopefully you can keep them down the back though. Not even sheep will eat them.
Your vegetable garden zucchini, pumpkins, melons, beans, etc. Your whole vege patch and your bees will have a lovely productive relationship.
Lambs Ears. This plant has the most unappealing flowers on the planet. So I only shot the leaves. But the bees are endlessly crawling all over the flowers. Plus Lambs Gars grows with such a dense pattern that is locks out weeds which is so helpful to the lazy gardener.
Sunflowers of all kinds. This is a small native sunflower. next spring we will bulk plant huge sunflowers for both the bees and the chickens. (We are breaking in another two acres this autumn.) Also Our John wants to sow a quarter acre in Buckwheat which evidently makes the best honey. So I will try to find some seed. I understand that it is not a wheat really. I need to do some more research on this crop.
Coneflower. A staple. once again choose a space where they can spread and just go for it. Fantastic native flower and grows like a weed. All my wild garden visitors love it. Butterflies, birds and bees are all attracted to the coneflower garden.
Anemone. My favorite flower. It comes late in the season and grows like a weed. Loves to spread, very easy to divide. Flowering late is wonderful as most everything else has closed up its petals and just died from the heat and dry. The Anemone is a tough little number. As you can see it is not quite flowering here yet. But soon it will be humming.
So that is most of the flowers I have for bees. Have fun. Now it is time for me to get back outside and get on with the fencing. We are building the internal fences in the new meadow. Actually this is my job as it is much lighter work that the others. But I am not very good with wire. Or straight lines for that matter. Though it looks like it might be a little cooler day today.
We will visit Queenie tomorrow. And make pesto. I will leave you with my lovely anemone.