Friday, 16 September 2011

Weekday snapshots :: beans and bees

Bon Vendredi mes amies!
(Happy Friday my friends!)

The week started-off hot and summery and then suddenly yesterday the weather began to turn around and I celebrated (yep, I said celebrated) by pulling-out the Phentex slippers and had my cuppa tea outside in the cool, fresh air...

I also brought-out Charlie's blankie, the poor boy has barely any fur and he loves being snuggled under a blanket ...

A little Honeybee update

Today it's 9 degrees celsius and I'm worried about my Bee-girls.  Normally I would be very pleased and enjoying my ritual Cuppa Tea outside in the cold but my mind is on the honeybees. This is unseasonably cold weather and I need to get the bottom-boards back onto the hives - right now the hives are wide open on the bottoms with wire mesh keeping the bees in and predators out. 

To feed or not to feed...

I put-out some feeding stations this week, I set them up quite far from the hives because we have a wasp issue this year and I didn't want to attract wasps to the hives. I had a feeling that by putting the feed stations in new locations, the only thing I'd be feeding is wasps and so far, I'm correct. Ah well, I think that I fed the colonies enough sugar syrup already anyways, this second feed might have been too much and triggered too much brood rearing so I'm leaving it alone. If the honeybees find and use the feeders, good but if not, that's ok too...

Honeybees drown easily so the wood block is for them to use while drinking in the thick syrup

I can see this feeder from my master bathroom window and all I'm see is wasps...Isn't that Butterfly Bush a beauty? 

A whole new kind of headache...

When I took a peek at my colonies I noticed something very new - Drones! This is the first time this year that I have seen the Drones outside the hive and gathering around the entrance. I also witnessed one worker bee giving a Drone (see how much bigger the drones are?) a very hard time. Could it be that they have already been served their Eviction Notice? 

See the 2 big drones? They have no stingers. There are 2 in this photo on either side of the entrance hole

Here's a boy bee!

I watched carefully as the one at the top tried to re-enter the hive and notice the bottom one exiting...

Here is another one leaving the entrance
I also noticed that the worker bees were more active than I have ever witnessed before, I knew I was getting in the way, they were flying all over the place and I was being a tad too nosy and had no protective gear on. A few bee-girls got caught in my hair but got out but I still was too curious to get the message and so...OUCH and run!!!! Yep, a poor little worker bee got caught in my hair, panicked and stung me in the noggin. Lord that hurts. I iced it and for an hour I felt 'not so good' but  I got what I deserved. I checked all 4 colonies and witnessed the same at each hive entrance - Drones.  I did a bit of research and learned that Russian bees tend to evict the drones earlier than many other Honeybees so I've concluded that this is the case here. There are, of course, many other possible reasons but since I'm seeing the same pattern at all 4 hives, my money is on the Eviction theory. Poor drones...cute, aren't they?

Beans for Drying

I harvested what is possibly the last of the Kale and another nice bunch of red tomatoes. Hubbie pulled-out 3 more Cinderella pumpkins and I will soon harvest the 3 Marina Di Chioggia squash which were made famous by the book Animal Vegetable Miracle

 Rouge Vif D'Etampes  also known as Cinderella pumpkins

Red Russian Kale (on bottom) just keeps coming back after every harvest and isn't it beautiful?

Marina Di Chioggia  - Barbara Kingsolver says it's the best winter squash ever. To me it looks like a pain to get to the flesh....we shall see

But what really really excited me this week is our test plot of beans grown for drying. We planted them, they grew, they dried and I picked them. No trouble and look at the beauties!

Black Turtle Beans

Black Beauty Soybean

Tongue of Fire

A Magical evening to remember...

I had one of those oh so very special, unplanned moments that will remain logged in my memories..I had all the bean plants waiting to be dried (they are not all completely dry). Hubbie was flying home so it was me and the pooches. All the dogs had just had their dinner and so the Greyhounds had to stay indoors for one hour (to avoid the danger of bloat) but the little girls came out with me. It was at that special time of day when the sun is descending and the land is glowing deep yellow...I sat on the deck facing the Pullets who were munching on broccoli plants (seen further below) and then the little girls joined me...and they made me laugh....

What's in there? Smells very tasty dontcha think?

Peanut I don't think you oughtta be in there..the mama is watching us ya know...

mamma schmamma, Peanut has the mama wrapped around her little teensy tail...

What IS that nutty, beany smell???

Of course, you know I let Peanut taste one. Just one, mind you, she gets tummy aches...

Gotcha!...first you peel the outer pod...

Then you gently pick out the little black bean...


My two buddies

It is no wonder that soybeans are so popular - there are fields and fields of them all around us. They are so prolific! I counted and each branch had from 8 to 16 pods on it while the black turtle beans and tongue of fire might have had half this amount at the most.

Soybean pods are hairy

Not a huge harvest, this is all the beans - we were just trying it out and I think we will grow much more next year because so far I'm very excited!

As you can see, I had an aha! moment and realized the best way to dry these pods is to remove the pods from the plants and then dry them on some wire mesh in the basement. This worked magnificently and I will know when all the beans are dry as they will rattle in their pods.

Pullet entertainment....

All the while, as I plucked pods and the girls 'helped' I watched the pullets. I had tossed some broccoli plants into the run and a tomato which I tore in half.  I don't need to hold these greens for them and they have a good ole' time pecking at them. In the end, all that is left is a skeleton. Amazing.

 And watch as Bitty disappears into a tomato...

I find that the reds really love tomatoes...

I mean they really love their tomatoes

And I was happy to finally wear my new socks - the very first pair I have ever knit myself. I finished them just as warm temperatures had arrived and so they got their trial run this week. Amazing how such a fine wool can still be so very warm, my feet were very happy.

This was a very easy pattern to follow, so pleased with my new socks.
Knitting Pure & Simple - Beginner's Lightweight Socks
Lane Cervinia Forever
For more about these socks see my Ravelry page, my ID is Pinney

On a final note, if you can believe it, September 16th and hubbie is about to fire up the Masonry Heater, it's chilly in here! 


  1. Love the socks! I had to pull my woolies out today too. I love the chilly weather. It always gives me knitting fever.

  2. Wow what lovely produce, those pumpkins looked amazing and your different kinds of soybeans. I meant to say the other day that cucumber you gave to the pullets looked different to our cucumbers over here.. ours are longer and thinner. Peanut and Angie so cute keeping your company, bless them. And your socks look really cosy. It is getting cooler here too ... mind you not much cooler than our summer already was xx

  3. Reply from Pinney:

    Debbie: Merci - I want a whole bunch of socks now :-) and this week I ordered EZ's Knitting Almanac from Amazon...can't wait!!!

    Lizzy, oh that is very amusing, I know all about your cucumbers because all our grocery stores sell them - they are all long and skinny and wrapped in cellophane and called English Cucumbers - too funny,eh?

  4. I feel very sorry for the poor drones!
    Love your socks.
    You know I love to see your hens, great pictures.
    And your produce looks wonderful!

  5. Reply from Pinney:

    Anne, I always think of you when I post images of the Pullets (lots and lots of images) :-) I too feel very sorry for the drones and Hubbie is not at all impressed with the way the male Honeybees are treated (being a guy and all...) It's no fun being a boy Honeybee.