Tuesday, May 14, 2013

bee yard

This is the behind the garden shed  part of our yard.  Well, it was the behind the garden shed part of our yard.

I am not sure what this area was before we got here, but it clearly included a grove of trees at some point.  There are lumpy areas of, you guessed it, tiger lilies.  And if you part the lily fronds, you find large stumps.  Many a chipmunk has hidden from one of our dogs in these stumps and I have often found our determined Labradors digging in the area, clearly on the hunt for something that just made a narrow escape.  Or sometimes didn't.  

More recently, it had become a rounded planned-for garden, outlined by placing the large stones I found hiding in the fancy flower garden that is now our vegetable garden.  I had planned to clean it up a bit and add some more plants but I had not gotten to it last summer.  And then, in the fall, it became the garden of stored tomato cages, placed there, well, because you could not see them from the house.  

It is also the place where I spent one summer afternoon grumbling to myself while tacking a garden fence to the bottom of the shed and then skirting the fence out over the ground for a few feet, to keep out a certain infamous garden thief -- one whose story I will someday tell -- who I investigated, obsessed over, and eventually relocated.  I hammered several of my fingers that afternoon, but did also successfully trap the burglar...in the garden.  Oops.

We decided that, given the wildlife issues here, this fencing skirt must stay since otherwise there is a direct path under the garden shed for small or squishable creatures to walk right into the vegetable garden and sample from the organic buffet.  We also decided that this location was right for our coming bees, but was unfortunately in the area that our dogs are able to get to within their Invisible Fence.  So we knew we needed to fence it.  These dogs of ours are Labradors, and we have been quite unsuccessful at controlling their enthusiastic love of eating just about anything, and we did not think that Millie, in particular, was going to let anything come between her and a dripping and delicious piece of honey comb that curiously buzzed at her.  Not even stingers.

So, on Mother's Day, we moved the rounded wall of stones back and put up a workable fence, not perfect, not going to last forever, but what we could do with the supplies we had and could get done in a day.  We cleared the area of the weeds, stumps, and my friend the tiger lily, leveled it, and put in cement blocks as stands for under our hive boxes, and all five of us triumphantly carried the bee boxes down the hill from where they were stored on the screen porch.  

You see what I am dealing with here.  Millie clearly knows something is up and is letting us know that this is her domain.

Look at me.  I am napping here.  This is my hood.

While Jonathan ran out for takeout dinner, because though we did actually finish a job we estimated would take a day in one day, dinner Chez Werner was not going to happen.  While he was out at our go-to take out place, Elevation Burger, I threw in some of the plants that we already had growing the yard, ones I had learned from Gretchen Voight were bee beneficial.  And then I sprinkled dutch white clover seed over all the remaining soil.  Gretchen tells me I can walk on the thyme and clover.  I am worried about killing it, but honestly, the idea of coming out here with my snips and grooming this area once the hive is up and running is a bit worrisome to me.  So we will try it.

So far I have thyme, sage, oregano, and clover in there.  I will supplement with bee balm and more from Snell Family Farm when I next make it out to Buxton.

But for now, we are pretty proud of ourselves.  And a little bit sore.

It was, I have to say, the perfect way to spend Mother's Day for me.  All together, at home, getting something on our need to do soon list off of it, all powered by the excitement of this new adventure we are undertaking.  And sprinkle in some natural organic ways we are learning about how to make these newbees even more comfortable?  Even better.

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