Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall Nectar

Did you know that goldenrod stinks? Seriously, folks, this stuff smells icky. I'm training myself to hold my breath when I walk past the wildflower garden. I might be tempted to rip it out, except that it provides an excellent source of fall nectar for the honeybees.

We have two top bar hives at Red Bucket Farm. Bee activity had settled down in August. Neither hive looked wildly robust, and I was worried about their ability to survive the winter without enough stored honey. But the arrival of flowering goldenrod in September has encouraged substantial bee activity in recent weeks, and we are cautiously optimistic about winter survival.

I have to admit that the learning curve for beekeeping is steep. I subscribe to a couple of email chat groups regarding bees, and I'm mostly confused by those conversations. Traditional beekeepers discuss manipulating frames, moving the supers, screening the queens from certain parts of the hive, dusting for mites, feeding sugar syrup and more. All that stuff means gobbledygook to me!

By conventional Langstroth beekeeping standards, we are grossly delinquent in our inspection and manipulation of the beehives. But when I look in the observation windows, I see thousands of bees happily doing their work. They seem to have filled most of the hives with honey, hopefully enough to feed on during the winter. We don't have plans to harvest honey at this point. We're just hoping to overwinter the hives and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to hold my breath when I walk past the goldenrod flowers. As long as the bees are happy, I'm happy and fascinated by their addition to the farm.

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