Monday, November 14, 2005

Black Booger Boy

Down at the bottom of this Blog you can play with Booger, a virtual pet who represents our horrid kitten, a spawn of Satan if ever there was one!!! He draws you in with his sweet purring and snuggling ways... then rips your hand into shreds. We originally named him Jazz, after WT's mean-as-a-snake black cat. This one must be a reincarnation and is determined to live up to his namesake. He 'nurses' Mack's, our male German Shepherd's, vestigial teats. Macks even moves his legs so the kitten can nuzzle in. Yesterday the kitten was chewing on Mack's teeth. Macks was holding his mouth open and looking at me with big brown eyes: "Am I being gentle enough?" We don't worry about Macks being bored while Booger is with him, since they play chase around the house. This was never a fluffy fat little kitten. He's always been lean and mean. We got him as one of the 2 week old babies that Daisy asked me to dropper raise. Booger was too dominant to leave alone with his sweeter brother, so I had to separate them. Daisy decided she only wanted the sweet fluffy boy. Sam got attached to this rascal. I thump him hard when he bites into me. He rarely bites Sam. He really is the 'Kitten from Hell'. The virtual kitten is fun. Click on the 'more' button and you can get a toy to play with this sweeter Booger.

Update on Bees and Garden

The sun is shining on the colorful trees, making the outside look like stained glass windows in a cathedral. The fall change came late this year, and slowly. The warming trend has extended our Fall season into mid to late November. Usually the leaves are in piles by now. Instead they are still on the trees, and some trees are just changing.
My thanks to all whose insights have helped me though my fourth summer beekeeping in Mid Virginia, USA.
My bee buddies and I have started a round-table group to share info from the web and otherwise help each other (2-125 hives). Your info is the major part of my input.
The following is an update on the bees here. Most beekeepers are treating, some with Apistan, others with Checkmite. Varroa is a major problem. A couple larger guys have left Apistan in all winter, despite warnings.

Referrings to my bees... note the starvation, which is rampant, after a promising spring:
After everything I have 23 going into winter (17 last spring). I'll be happy to come out with half, with no treatments & a hard winter. The Russians are wintering with smaller clusters, since they slowed down during the drought. We really suffered from July through September with no rain; had too much rain for several weeks into October. No nectar, little pollen, then rain washed out both.
I've ordered my Purvis Bros. Gold-line Queens for June 06. They are the mite resistant Italian bees. With last year's Blue-Line Russians mixed into the gene pool I'm hoping to produce honey & not have to treat. I'm hoping to give the Russians some drone brood to flood the area with better genetics. If I do then the supercedures and swarm virgins will have a chance at the resistant genes.

The bees are full of syrup, but have little pollen. Some pollen is still coming in, though. I spotted a couple hives that might not make it, but since they're Russians I couldn't be sure. If they were Italians I'd join them with stronger hives. Only one hive has brood, and that is the weakest of the F1 Jester hybrid Russians, with only two frames of bees and a three-inch patch of brood on those two frames. We'll see if she survives. There were no drones, and I saw every queen.
Without brood, and with small populations (one box), the bees should have shown some phoretic mites. I was looking very closely and saw one only, in a hive where there were three 'greasy' bees. I'm sure that's caused by a virus. I killed all of those. I went in very late in the day to forestall robbing. It was about 59-60F, and the long shadows were falling, so most of the foragers were home. They were feisty, but not unmanageable, since I took off all the tops and they had to defend every hive.
All in all, with the outbreak of EFB and my scare with AFB, they look really good. I'm confident I'll still be a beekeeper next year.
My bee buddy and I made a trip to Brushy Mountain Bees and bought 424 gallons of HFCS 55 at $2.02/gal. With gas & taxes it came out to $2.40/gal. We borrowed the truck and trailer for free and didn't charge for our labor. It probably would have been $3.00/gal with all that. That would still only be $15.00/5 gal bucket. ADM quoted me $17 plus shipping ($12.50 for a truckload with no shipping
Since I last wrote the garden has been cleaned up. Lessons learned are: 1. Plant earlier. 2. Don't plant Brandywine or Heritage Tomatoes (newer varieties are better) 3. Put row covers on the Brassicas early. 4. Do all the work before the heat comes. 5. Plant fewer beans in the same space. 6. Put up a canopy for beans that spans the grass walkway between the beds to save bed space and let the beans grow higher. 7. Put up higher pea-fences. 8. Plant more peas, lettuce, radishes, & beets. 9. Try carrots in the deep dirt. 10. The raised beds are better than the main garden area. 11. Weed more & Work harder.