Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Observations and Lessons of 2008

What did I learn on my full second year of beekeeping here in East Central Florida? I really don’t feel any wiser, but not as uninformed on the subject as in the previous year.

Main lesson of 2008 - you may have a plan as a beekeeper, but nature and the bees may have a dissimilar plan. Don’t despair; I have to admit I did for a short while this past year when things went south.

My goals for 2009 – Four or five healthy hives by next September would be ideal.

My beekeeping observations and FAQ:
Q: Have I noticed any benefits around the yard because of the bees?
A: Yes, most definitely. Here are a few pictures (2 weeks ago, Mid December) of my Herb garden. The front pot in this picture has Chives. The chives have replenished themselves faster than we can bake potatoes. I have never had Chives be this prolific. Reminds me, I need to look for some more recipes that use chives. The plant in the back is a blackberry, I just purchased it late last summer so I missed its flowering season.

This next picture shows Chive seed pots that I cut from the plant above. Not sure why I’m trying to get more, but I felt like I should take advantage of all these seeds

I usually have to pull weeds after the growing season, this year I pulled Basil plants that began growing on their own all over the area. Have never had new Basil plants just sprout like weeds. I usually just buy seeds or small plants in the spring. These plants didn’t grow on the pot, I transplanted them into it.

Here is my Parsley and Oregano coming back. It actually never went away; new plants have just re-grown to replace the dying ones.

Q: Have you noticed more fruit in your fruit trees?
YES, but there is a very important lesson I would like to share here. The bees help with pollination which means every bloom will most likely turn into a healthy fruit. But the bees can’t make fruit trees bloom. I picked a record crop from my 2 citrus trees that bloomed last year, but nothing from the 2 trees that decided not to bloom for what ever reason. I still have not been able to figure out why my mango trees refuse to bloom, they look perfectly normal and healthy. One is about 6 foot tall and the other about 8.

Q: Any draw backs to having bees?
…………Yes, but I can live with it. Just as the good stuff has become prolific, so has the bad stuff like weeds, and crawling/chocking Georgia vines. It just means a little more maintenance around the yard. I think the worst side effect, and I will have to maybe give it another growing season to confirm it, is what seems to me like an unusual amount of seeds in the citrus. The picture below shows the seeds from one orange, just ONE. I don’t recall the oranges having these many seeds in previous years.
Q: How can your neighbors still not know you have bees?
A: Here is a picture of house and the lot. The Purple line depicts my property lines. It may look like it be impossible to walk around, but 80 percent of the lot is just covered with a nice mature canopy of live oak trees and pine. There is a driveway in there going straight from the street to the front of the house, and it forks to the right towards the garage. I swear there is. The bee yard is the middle of the black and yellow circle. Is buffered by a wall of Palmetto palms to the bottom (towards the road), to the right (towards the driveway), and the empty 2 acre lot to the left. I have a post and rail fence that divides the property in half, so there is really only one way in or out of the bee yard.
The neighborhood kids have been coming around since last summer to play with my kids. My wife and I though the jig would be up the minute they began playing around the lot, but so far no one has noticed the big yellow boxes. I keep thinking one of these days they are going to slow down enough to notice them and ask, so I want to come out of the beekeeping closet, but my wife would rather have me wait until someone asks about them. So here I am still in the closet.

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