Monthly Archives: May 2015

Why farmers make such great baseball players

I’m becoming an expert at throwing rocks.

We’re doing a deep dig on all the garden beds. Usually I’d do this by hand, cussing and sweating and getting frustrated with each metallic ringing “ping” of the shovel hitting the umpteenth rock. In past years I would spend about four hours per bed, getting a nice 24″ depth with enough cleared rocks that I could pass a pitchfork through the soil like a knife through butter.

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An example of the rocks we are moving

Digging, by the way, is grueling work:
Shovel. “Ping“. Bend. Pitch rock. Fork. Repeat.

But as much as I love / hate the old way, I simply do not have the time to prepare the garden beds with that much attention. I’ve got families to feed! I need cleared beds and i need them fast! So we’ve employed one of those bucket diggers to loosen up the soil. Stubborn Boy runs the bucket and I jump into the pit, chucking rocks aside like a crazed octopus on a sugar high…

But still inefficient. After I hurled the rocks out of the bed, I still had to move them OUT of the garden, which basically meant we handled each rock multiple times.

So finally we got smart about it. We rented a tractor with that huge dump bucket, so now I just ready-aim-fire and toss the rocks right into the bucket. Now I don’t mean to brag here, but my aim is getting pretty good with those rocks, and I’ve only been at this a couple of days.

So then my mind starts thinking about my boy cousins growing up and about how awesome they were at playing baseball. My cousin Alvin could hit a baseball clear into another corn field, and my cousin Gary could whip those pitches so you’d never get close to touching balls with a bat.  While I might not be *quite* ready for the major leagues, there’s something to be said for natural pitching skills developing as a result of clearing rocks from land.

Someone has stolen the queen!

I imagine that’s what Blue hive is buzzing about lately.

“Someone has stolen the queen! Execute a search immediately. All strangers must be interrogated. Be on full alert!”
Actually, sorry guys, that was me.

So blue hive came through the winter with flying colors. I’m serious. When I opened up their box in early April, the number of bees in there was incredible. So, thinking of all the problems I’ve had with swarming when a population gets out-of-control in years past, I decided to try “a hive split”.

A split is when you take half the population and move it into a new hive, along with a queen and create a sort of false swarm. However, my friend Levi suggested a move i’d never really tried before. So I followed his suggestion and this is what I did.

While in Blue hive, I located the queen on a frame with loads of working bees and I stole her. I moved her into the available real estate left over from red hive. Then I moved over a few more frames of bees and a new frame of honey, and I put a lid on red.

Next, I took a few frames with day old bee larvae, and I used my hive tool to smush the bottom third of individual honeycomb cells, because Levi had suggested that makes the bees lay queens right where you want them to be. When blue realizes the queen is missing, they’ll immediately start making new queens from baby bee larvae naturally. Basically I’ve artificially mimicked nature and let the bees do all the work.

I really wish I could throw some pictures in here, and I promise to do it in future posts, but frankly there wasn’t a lot of time to photo-journal when one is busy kidnapping the queen.

So we’ve got two weeks to wait to see if it worked. (I know it will, actually). It might work so well that I can do it again. After all, I have four empty hive boxes; that’s prime real estate for the bees and if it keeps them from swarming, so much the better!