Bee inspection: second treatments and mowing

The varroa mite treatments that we started last week are a three-week process, so we inspected and treated the beehives again this weekend.

Here’s Jenn using the smoker:

We had used a “liquid smoke” spray the last couple of times, due to wildfire danger, but it really didn’t work as well as real smoke… and we’ve had lots of rain recently, so aren’t so worried about wildfires at present. (Of course, we’re always very careful not to put the hot smoker on dry grass, etc.)

In the following picture, you can see the mite treatments at the top: the small black rectangles on the corners. In the foreground you can see bees enjoying pollen patties, one of the two feeding options, as mentioned before:

A shot of us working on the hives, from the camera I recently set up by the hives:

It was fascinating to see bright orange pollen on the bees:

Here’s a closer look at a bee with full pollen sacs:

The grass in front of the hives was getting quite long, so we decided to mow it. I don’t have any problem mowing behind the hives without a bee suit, but mowing right in their flight path seems a bit more risky, so I decided to take advantage of wearing the bee suit for the inspection to do that mowing:

I didn’t notice too much interest in me, but Jenn said she saw some bees following me, so the suit was probably a wise precaution, especially having been stung last week (which was uncomfortable for a few days, but almost back to normal now).

Here’s a shot from further away:

Much tidier:

Turning on garden water

During the winter months, I turn off the water supply to the gardens, to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting. Once the overnight temperatures are safely above freezing, I turn them on again, which I did yesterday.

This year, I didn’t have any burst pipes… but I did have one broken tap to repair, that was probably kicked by a landscaper or deer:

An easy repair:

I could then turn on the water. For the east side, I have a valve box that I installed last year, that lets me individually control the water to the chicken coops, veggie garden & shop, and pond/gazebo areas (plus an underground tap that I used over winter to refill the chicken water):

For the west side, there’s another valve box. The boxes tend to fill with dirt, which is fine as it protects them from freezing, but has to be dug out a bit:

I then added water timers to the various garden beds. Large areas typically have automatic timers like this:

Here’s the repaired tap again, with a manual timer attached. We use these manual timers for lower-priority irrigation areas:

I then started filling the fountain. Here’s the frog that lives in the center of the fountain:

The fountain nearly full. We plan to remove the flower girl statue part of the fountain at some point:

I also scooped leaves out of the small pond at the end of the stream. That took a while; it was pretty much chock full of them. Here, you can see the pump:

Then I turned on the pump, and the stream started circulating. So nice to have that running water again, and I’m sure the cats will enjoy it too:

Finally, I mowed all of the lawns and the field:

Mowing selfie:

A busy day of garden maintenance!

Mower & beehive

It’s raining today, and the canopy is rather out of commission, so I spent some time today replacing the blade drive belt on the big zero-turn mower, and assembling one of the two beehives.

The belt had become derailed and damaged while cutting really long grass on the field — we’d left it a bit longer than we’d liked for the first mow, due to the lack of sunny days recently. So I needed to remove the damaged belt, and feed in a replacement. Not a trivial operation, but I’ve done it a few times before; takes about an hour.


(I also cleaned off the mower, of course.)

Next, I started assembling one of the beehives. I didn’t have time to finish, but I got the two brood boxes and the honey super done. Some other day I’ll finish off the frames and roof, and set up the second box.