Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring on the Farm

The rains have finally come and around the farm there seems to be a riot of growth.  Dormant plants have reawakened and are blooming and/or leafing out.

Daffodils are usually one of the first harbingers of spring around here.

Then come some of our fruit trees

Almond blossoms

White Peach

Sometimes, we find the honey bees hard at work, helping to ensure we actually get fruit from these trees.

Yellow Peach with Honey Bee
Plum Flowers with Honey Bee
It should be interesting to see if our fruit yields are higher this year since we have honey bees on the property full time.  We haven't gotten fruit from our plum tree for the last two years, so we're hoping that the addition of the bees, along with the good pruning it got this winter (it had grown a little wild) will result in tasty fruit.

And finally, we get to our early blooming California native plants

Ceanothus, or California Lilac
We have several varieties of ceanothus growing on the property, from low growing and sprawling to varieties that can get up to 18 feet tall.  They are covered with clusters of brilliant blue to purple flowers, which are usually covered with a variety of bees.

Vine Hill Manzanita
The manzanitas put on a particularly impressive display this year, despite blooming on the late side.  Some types of manzanita start blooming as early as December, making them an important winter food for our native bees.

Pink Flowering Currant
We have a few pink flowering currants we've planted along our seasonal creek and I enjoy their spicy scent.  It's a nice option for full shade in our hot climate, though it can take partial to full sun closer to the coast.

The bees have definitely been busy working away at raising new workers and lots of drones.  Other people's bees have been doing the same, which is why we've been able to add two swarms of bees to the apiary.  Here's the one I caught just two days after we caught our first swarm of the year

Beard of Bees in Coastal Live Oak Tree

Between the two swarms and the two hive splits I did, I have 100% more bees today than a week ago. 

Also, at the rate we're going, I may have honey bees for sale in the near future.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Your Vine Hill Manzanita is just stunning. I've been meaning to try planting this cultivar here to increase the diversity of our early season blooms for the bees, and this might inspire me to actually get it done!

Splits and swarms are definitely keeping a lot of use beekeepers hopping at the moment! Have you considered adding a Top Bar hive, for the ease of wax harvesting? Or do you just use foundationless frames?

Sarah said...

Thank you! I was quite impressed with it too. Apparently, dry winters don't bother it too much, and it gets only about a half day of sun, so it may do well for you.

I had not seen a Top Bar hive before, but it looks interesting. I think if I put another building project on Andy's to-do list, his head might explode. Maybe I could get my bee keeping friend to help me as an experiment in bee keeping. My bees tend to like to build comb where they shouldn't on their frames, so I just scrape off that wax, plus the cappings from processing the honey, and I have a decent amount so far.