Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring is Sprung

As the White Rabbit said "I'm late. I'm late..........." So much to do and so little time to do it.

One minute it's winter and everything is cold, grey and lifeless; the next we are in the 80's, and green, pink and white are bursting out all over. No half measures in Virginia! "Spring is sprung and the grass is grizz" as we used to say. Add your own variation to "I wonder where" Lawn mower, veggies, gardener, chainsaw?

The bees, or at least the first hive, have arrived, just in time for the apple and pear blossom. Ken, the Keeper of the Bees, set up our first hive, a small colony to start us off - about 10,000 bees! They were a little tetchy at first, having been kept inside when they expected to be out and about, then vibrated for an hour's drive, and finally dumped in a totally new environment.

However, sanity prevailed and the Lewis's and Clarke's of the hive flew off to scout the farm, and I had the privilege of actually seeing the "waggle" dance on their return. A communication involving body movements and wings, that imparts distance from the hive and declension of the sun, and probably includes acreage, number of trees and likelihood of bee-eating varmints!

On a serious note, maintaining a good honey bee population has become a serious problem. Without them the pollination of fruit in particular becomes seriously impaired. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomena where a hive's bees (which can contain anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 bees) up and leave, with very few dead bees apparent. Other problems include mites and fungal infections that have also reduced honey bee populations throughout the world. Beekeeping is being encouraged to combat this decline, and if you don't feel up to doing the job yourself many beekeepers (like our own Ken Woodard) are looking for suitable places to put hives, and will maintain them, providing honey in exchange. Still not convinced, then try some of his honey. What's not to like!

The orchard is now complete, with apples, crab apples, pears and peaches, and while the younger trees will not fruit until next year the amount of blossom on the older ones promises some fruit this year (deer permitting).

Meanwhile, Jorg is furiously planting veggies while maintaining good crop rotation and we hope for some great produce to pack out the larder.