And the Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Head

It is finally raining around these parts, or at least I’m calling the drop in temps and gray skies rain and taking this opportunity to check in on my plot in the virtual realm.  It is lovely to be here, though I’m wondering if sitting down was a good idea — muscles weary from days of opening ground may atrophy and refuse their early evening date with the hoe.

So much is happening on our tiny acre.  Daily it seems new green beings emerge.  Our early spring garden, while still not as robust as past years, is finally coming around, revived by a combination of cooler night air and water relief in the form of well water from the irrigation line my husband installed.  Prior to installation my son and I did our best to “give each plant a bath,” but nothing compares to a steady, soaking rain — even of the man-made sprinkler or drip-hose variety.  Post soaking we’ve been able to start eating lettuce, spinach and chard, the first fresh food always a great incentive to work harder.  The older I get the more these types of food appeal — I can sense the minerals in them glittering like jewels.

We’ve got forty-five pounds of potatoes in the ground along with some more onions and carrots.  Gates for the fence have been created and installed.  A mixture of flowers and herbs including several varieties of marigold, zinnias, sunflowers, borage, sage and parsley has been sown around the fence.  The tires we use for tomatoes and peppers are in the ground over drip-line and filled with compost.

And the tiller goes round and round and round.  It’s been so dry here that Old Betty’s tines can’t find grip in the hardened clay, particularly in our late fall garden where there was no time to cycle a crop of buckwheat or winter rye.  Working ground there is like chasing a bucking bronco, lurching and skittering and yelling “Whoa!” until the clay finally begins to break up.  And break-up it did, in great clods like rocks, and then into finer pieces mixed with dried bits of cover crop, and on into neat, orderly rows.  At Saturday’s new moon I expect to seed bush beans, soybeans, lima beans, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, squash and many of the other seeds I will be thrilled to find in my seed box.  Perhaps we’ll move the seedlings outdoors for more than a daily visit with the sun.

No triumph feels greater though than the harvesting last week of our first batch of honey — ten pounds from one honey-super and they are well on the way to filling up another.  Woo hoo!  Our bees rock!

We first began the hive in April 2009, a gift from my mother-in-law, who learned the craft of beekeeping from her grandfather, and it is to her that we dedicate our first batch.  We lost that hive in the intense heat of 2009, but our second queen’s blood line is strong and they have done a mighty job seeing the hive through funky weather conditions since April 2010.  I will report back under my SOP about how to extract honey, but for now, allow me simply to introduce . . . drum roll . . . Lion’s Head Pure Honey.  Let it be known sweetness can flow from strength.

Finally, in harvesting, we discovered that our rebel queen had some brood cells mixed in on the same comb with honey cells.  We made sure the brood escaped the extractor and nestled them quickly back in the hive, but not before clicking some stills of a hatching apis mellifera ligustica which I’ve dumped into a quick one-minute and decidedly unprofessional slide show.

© Jennifer S. and, 2012.


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