Two weeks ago you saw how Luke and I spent a weekend Rendering Bees Wax. This week we are prepping for our new bees by setting up their home as well as a significant food supply. When I think about all the things we got done over the weekend it makes my head spin slightly. Luke and I worked our tails off getting the foundation for the bee hives built and putting my massive collection of the flowers, trees and bushes into their new homes. We had a literal boat load of plants accumulated from collecting small amounts at nurseries and online purchases over the last four months. To make our lives easier we camped out in the bunk house Saturday morning thru Monday afternoon but those three days went by much to quickly. And there is still so much work to be done!
Check out this full load above! We had day lilies, tulips, lilac bushes, strawberries, grape vines, raspberry canes, rose bushes, peonies, onions, blue berry bushes, walnut trees, a tulip tree, a nectarine and peach tree and about 400+ bulbs loaded up as well as some of my root vegetables for the garden.
Our first mission was to get the foundation for the beehives built. This was top priority because my nuc will arrive on April 14th. I want to have my new bees nestled in as soon as possible so they can build up their numbers. Luke rummaged around the property at my various wood piles to find the materials needed for this fairly simple frame and luckily I had everything we needed so it cost us ZERO dollars to build. We used pressure treated wood for the frame itself and the posts were the tops of the deer post I had used for the horse paddock. The frame was made to hold up to five hives length wise and the width was build to fit a deep frame so that when we are working the hives we can easily rest the frames inside the foundation. We made sure to locate the hives in a easy to access space with plenty of wind break. And made the foundation easy to access from the back side of the hives by placing a walking path behind. As you can see in the photo there is a rock wall back drop to protect the hives and to the far right there is another rock wall. The hardest part of this task was digging the post holes. Every bit of dirt Luke took out of the holes was a struggle because there were more rocks than dirt. Luke had several choice words to say about the rocks, and I couldn’t blame him as the same thing happened to me when I went to dig my hole for the nectarine tree.
After the foundation was build we stacked the hives on top and used ratchet straps to secure them in case of extreme winds or possible predators. I think the bees will be very happy in this location as they are close to the garden and all of my fruit trees.
Luke went ahead and set up the middle hive as a swarm trap and baited it just in case any rouge honey bees are in the area, I might catch some. It is still a little to early but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. I have a few more hives to paint up with lavender flower accents as you can see. So far I am loving what I see though! I can not wait to have the little critters buzzing around working hard.
So, what about that boat load of plants? Well, we pulled our waders up and got down to business. Luke brought a nice solid cushion for me to kneel on, boy howdy do I love that man! I started on the nectarine tree and the flower beds around it. Inside the beds I added a mix of gladiolas, bearded iris, liatris, Asian poppies, bachelor buttons, and day lilies. I know it doesn’t look very pretty right now but hopefully once it goes into bloom I will have a full flower bed thru the end of summer.
After the bee hive area was finished I moved to the lower flower beds by the horse paddock. This was a little more work as I had to clear out years of pine straw that was mulching itself into the gravel walk ways and covering all of the beds about two inches deep! After cleaning up the area I was able to see some bulbs had volunteered from the previous land owners planting so I worked my way around them filling in the open spaces with more day lilies, bearded iris and tulips, Luke had special ordered for me. I had mentioned to Luke I loved parrot tulips on one occasion and he tracked some bulbs down for me! I also scored some less than happy looking tulips from a big box store, it was 20 bulbs for about $4. I could not resist. I planted my dwarf peach tree at the top of this tulip bed ( little hard to see but it’s there!). Take a look below.
After most of the flower beds were taken care of we found homes for the tulip tree, rose bushes and lilacs and then moved into the garden for some much needed TLC. I had 12 strawberry plants (Four ever bearing varieties) that needed a real home as they were getting root bound in their little pots, the poor dears. Luke and I made a makeshift raised bed out of materials I had on hand and planted them within, another FREE project! And as you can see I am putting my Hori Hori to good use. That little knife is an amazing tool to have on hand!
After the strawberries were taken care of we moved on to fixing up two of the trellises to prepare them for the white grape vines and raspberry canes, it was a simple fix of tightening the wires. Then the three blueberry bushes received their forever home in a row below the grapes and raspberries. Once all the fruit was planted it was time to get some of the cold hardy veggies in the ground. I planted three varieties of onions which led me to about 120 onions over all. As well as two varieties of carrots, some beets and peas. And even popped up a small hoop tunnel for spinach, chard and lettuce.
This weekend was exhausting to say the least but very rewarding. I hope to see the fruits (and veggies) of my labors soon as the weather continues to warm up and spring rains are forecast. I still have plenty of flower seeds to plant but for now that can wait for another day. Returning to my regular day job will be a very welcome reprieve.