Saturday, February 6, 2016

Birds and Bees

Even in the middle of winter, there is a long list of Farm Dover outdoor projects that need attending to. This weekend's efforts centered on birds and bees. No, this didn't involve a discussion of where babies come from. Rather, it entailed figuring out how to spiff up the beehives and clean out the bluebird houses.

Almost two years ago, Mary and I spent a week in Paris with Sister Julie and Niece Sarabeth. While there, I was on a quest to find those blue enamelware house numbers that appear on every home in Paris. We finally found them in the hardware-store heaven of the BHV Department Store (basement level) on the Rue de Rivoli. I bought numbers 1 thru 6. They were expensive – but cool – and I had a plan.

Flash forward two years. Today, the numbers went up.  Now, each of our beehives has a home address, in the hopes of making it easier to keep track of their health and honey output.

Tacking the numbers onto the front of each hive was simply not going to happen in the warmer months as the resident bees would have been too curious (and probably none too happy) at the hammering that was required. But this morning, we stuffed a bit of cloth in the small winter opening of each hive and quickly tacked up the appropriate number. (Numbers 1 and 2 and 6 are reserved for future hives that will be installed this spring.)

To make up for the loud hammering, I fed each hive a jar full of bee tea, a concoction of herbs, sugar and honey designed to ensure that they will have enough to eat until the first locust trees flower in the Spring. The bees seemed happy -- with both the sweet treat and their new house numbers.

Meanwhile, Ed has been cleaning out old nests in our four bird houses, getting them ready for Eastern Bluebirds to set up housekeeping this Spring. Next up will be to clean out the owl house.

In other bird news, we had the idea that we should put out bird seed in a shallow bowl in hopes of attracting more winter birds. Instead of birds, look who showed up.

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