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May flowers

Irist Cristata

Iris Cristata

Royal Wedding poppy

Royal Wedding poppy

a stinging sensation

My neighbor the compulsive gardener needed a new hobby – so Dana, (the neighbor) came up with another nature-related theme – beekeeping! After going to classes to learn all about beekeeping, Dana decided to take the plunge. He invited interested neighbors and friends to watch as he put together the beehive upon the arrival of 20,000 honeybees. He gave a fascinating and highly entertaining demonstration. I say highly entertaining because while the beekeeper knows his stuff, he kept forgetting important parts that needed to be added to the beehive – like the pollen patty and oh! where are the scissors? I need the brush! Wait, this push pin won’t work to attach the box holding the queen to the frame – I need a rubberband! Meanwhile, some bees are flying around and most of us don’t have bee suits on…. but in the end, it all worked and now we have 2 beehives in the neighborhood.

Dressed in his beesuit, Dana explained that each box of honeybees he had picked up that morning from his bee supplier (who had driven them up from Tennessee) contained about 10,000 bees.

honeybees in their carrying case for travel

honeybees in their carrying case for travel

Dana began his demonstration over at the hives. He was showing us one of the frames where the honeybees will start making the cells (honeycomb) or cones, as they are called in the apiary world.

Dana next to a hive, holding a frame

Dana next to a hive, holding a frame

hive with already hanging frames. Notice the small holes where the bees go in and out.

hive with already hanging frames. Notice the small holes where the bees go in and out.

box holding the queen surrounded by her "staff"

box holding the queen surrounded by her “staff”

In the above photo, you can also see the white circle of special food for the queen to eat. It will take about a week for her to eat through the food and make her way into the main hive. If the queen was put directly into the hive, the bees would smother her.

In the next photo, the queen’s box is now dangling between 2 center frames and adhered by the blue tack, which ended up being too high for the next piece to rest on so a rubberband was wrapped around the frame and box, holding the box in place.

Click on to see close-up

Click on to see close-up

Dana then literally dumped the bees into the frames, as shown below.

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Notice that Dana is not wearing gloves. He wanted to show that honeybees are very tame and will sting pretty much only when provoked. (He was stung only 2x during the whole demonstration)

Brushing the bees into the hive between frames.

Brushing the bees into the hive between frames.

Putting on a lid

Putting on a lid

A pollen patty that will be placed on the lid for the bees to eat

A pollen patty that will be placed on the lid for the bees to eat

In addition to the Bit O’Honey look-a-like pollen patty, the honeybees will get nourishment from a can of sugar water that is turned upside down with holes underneath. Since there is no honey in the hive as yet, their food needs to be supplied.

Can of sugar water being placed on lid

Can of sugar water being placed on lid

Another gray box is placed over the can of sugar water, then another lid is the final piece.

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The bees are checking out their new home. Click on the above photo to see them close up. The whole process was done a 2nd time and Dana has 2 buzzing hives in his backyard.

Stay tuned for the next installment – Trouble in the Hives

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Depending on our winters (lots of snow or very little snow), I have seen hellebore buds in January, this year end of March. I planted this Brandywine Hellebore last summer and I was surprised to see it when the snow melted; some stems, leaves and buds were green, some purple. I have to say it’s a neat effect – like 2 plants in one!

winter witch hazels

I was searching for crocus shoots the other day when a lot of the ground was bare, but that search will have to wait. It just happens to be snowing today, and I love snow with flowers of winter blooming witch hazels. The raspberry/blue of the Blue Moon variety and the yellow/orange of the Aurora witch hazel are cheery colors to see this time of year. The crocuses will be here soon enough (I think….)

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Click on the above photo for a closer look

blue moon

blue moon

a Zone 6 experiment

I have a few Zone 6 plants I am going to try an experiment with over the winter. My theory is that the north side of my house where I have my main perennial garden is Zone 5 and the south side, the backyard, is more of a Zone 6. One of my backyard gardens is up against the house and in pretty much full sun.

I have a potted fig tree in the ground that I was (and am) too lazy to move indoors to the basement for the winter. I pruned the little tree a few weeks ago and then wrapped it lightly in burlap (see next 2 photos).

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The other part of my experiment involves agastache which I buy every year since it never comes back in my front perennial garden. I moved the 2 I had to the sunnier garden in the back. I know of gardens around my area that have Zone 6 perennials in full sun and they survive the winter. I cut one agastache back – you can see the green poking out of the leaves, the other I left uncut.

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Hopefully all three will be back next spring! And I will let you know what happens….

spring to fall

I’ve had a big gap in posting due to computer issues, but I am able to download photos again – and therefore blog again.
Some random pictures from the last few months..

glowing maples

toad lilies

a vase of witch hazel fall foliage

Vern’s turkey fig

dwarf hinoki – as in 4″ high

mini black eyed susans with peony foliage

birch against stormy skies

redbud hazel with beautyberry peeking through

maple

ornamental grasses with background fall foliage

cascading mums after a rainstorm

view in my neighborhood

spider dalhia

native honeysuckle blooming in October

point pelee hardy mum

a botanical campus

I recently went to my college reunion in western Massachusetts and made sure to take my camera. The campus was designed to have various types of gardens throughout and the end of May is a perfect time to visit. Here’s a tour of some of the grounds:

a sea of pachysandra

coral sunset peony

poppies

rose arbor

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