August Aggression

The Bees:
Same as last year: August comes along and the bees become territorial. Had to suit up yesterday and today to be able to work around the hives.  That said, they are doing well!  We have four strong hives. The original Italian hive is going very strong.  I harvested one super from that hive yesterday and got one and three quarters gallons of honey from it.  The honey is just a bit different from last year, with a little bit stronger citric aftertaste, but it is still a very mellow honey.  Light and clear.  That hive still has a full super and another which they are working on. I put the super with the harvested frames back on the hive. Hopefully the fact that they won't have to draw comb with give them the opportunity to work on it.  They are well on their way to producing over 100 lbs this year.

I learned another lesson by harvesting that honey at this time: It would be a good idea to put the full frames of honey in the freezer for an hour or two.  The wax is too soft in this heat and taking the caps off the cells tends to smear the whole comb. I have to remember that next time.  However, the process is pretty simple, and our equipment works very well.  The centrifuge is very much a time saver!  I think I will invest in a comb capping tool though.  A hot knife works, but not as cleanly as I would like.  I want to leave as much comb intact for the following year, and too much comb gets damaged when using a knife.  Live and learn.

The other three hives are also doing well.  The walk-away-split of Italians is coming along strong. There are lots of brood, lots of honey and pollen.  Clearly, they have made their own queen and she is healthy. I would not be surprised if they actually produce a super of honey this year yet.

Both of the two new Carni hives that survived the spring debacle are doing well also. The East one has a full super on it and they are beginning to work on a second, drawing comb at present. The West one is not quite as strong, but coming along very nicely. Plenty of brood, and a good supply of honey for the winter.  There a many capped brood cells, so I think the queen was a bit of a slow starter, but is now coming on strong.  I have pretty good confidence in these two new hives.

From a production standpoint, I am guessing we will have a total of 4 or 5 full supers this year.  That is a lot of honey for a mixed first/second year of hives.  I am amazed at how much hone is in a 10 frame super.  It does not look like all that much when looking at the frames, but when extraction starts, it is pretty impressive.  Essentially, two gallons of honey comes out of each super. That is a lot of bee work!

The Rest of The Farm
The pastures look good for this time of the year. The rain we have gotten has been good for both pasture and CRP land. There is a lot of wildlife in our fields now. Amazing how quickly the land and animals adapt to a healthy change.  There are downsides of course. I have been fighting thistles and loosing the battle.  There are thistles out there that are 8 feet tall, and some areas where they are so thick that nothing else except a little clover can compete. i am going to have to address that this coming spring. I have a lot of field work to do...

The apples are beginning to turn red. I tried one of them and it was really quite good.  They are small, but I think they will work well for things like dried apple slices, pie and cider. Next year I hope to be able to clean up that tree (pruning) and get the competing trees away from it.  It will produce much better when those other trees are gone.

Wild plums are swelling up, and there is a good crop of them this year. Am guessing that in another three weeks or so the elderberries will be on along with gooseberries and wild grapes. I hope to be down here for that, chemo schedule allowing for it of course.

The replacement building has arrived and I submitted docs to the insurance company. Now I have to find an inexpensive way to get footings and knee-walls in, then assemble the building before snow flies.  Am running out of time...as usual.  Had an interesting time unloading it from the semi it came in on.  Most of it sat on one pallet weighing 3500 lbs. My skid loader could not lift that much, so the trucker and I had to break the stack on the pallet, remove a 1000 lbs via strap and skid loader. After that I was able to get the pallet down, though it made the back of the skid loader mighty light. Another 100 lbs and it would have tipped forward I am quite certain.

I am finally getting the building cleaned out. I have a plan for equipment placement so I can get to what I need when I need it, and store that which I don't need out of the way. It is a simple logistics problem, but not all that easy to accomplish. It will get done, but slowly, as everything I do now.

I have to go back to Albertville tonight or early in the morning.  Chemo day tomorrow, and it will be the start of a new protocol.  The new stuff is not nice like what I had been taking. But we are running out of options now. The reading I have done indicate side effects of nausea, intestinal disruption, and hair loss.  Guess I am getting down to the nitty gritty... the old broad spectrum stuff. Maybe I will get lucky and be one of those that does not get the side effects so much. Maybe.....  The last tests were not so good, showing that the cancer is creeping back faster now. Will be interesting to see how this all pans out... I hope I can still come back to the farm.  The treatments are once a week now instead of once a month, which really sucks.  Oh well, whatever it takes....  ....onward... .