Homegrown rhubarb pie, icecream and fresh reading material.
Today I got a call from fellow beek Katharina, who had gotten a call from Haven artist Jarrett Mellenbruch, that a swarm had been caught in Beverly, MA and was on its way to the deCordova Museum. (Read how I got involved in this project in the first place. here)
I gathered my equipment and suit and jumped in the car to meet them. I arrived having missed the pouring of the swarm from the bucket into the transfer device (Katharina has a picture of this on her blog), but was in time to see the bees in that box brought up to their Haven.
The device has a nifty 3D printed top part (purple) with a funnel that fits with precision into the slot in the Haven box.
Brian, who had caught and brought the swarm, climbed up the ladder to install it. Katharina belayed. The museum had already closed, so there was a small audience.
We stood around waiting for the bees to move in. So far the cold weather had worked to our advantage, making the bees cluster and walk around a bit stunned. It helps to not have them fly all over the place. But now they were clustering inside the device. It was also getting darker.
Here is Katharina checking whether the bees are moving into the Haven.
We had hoped they’d crawl in pretty fast, but then it started raining and the device didn’t seem to empty out. So we decided to leave it there and come back in the morning.
Here’s Jarrett’s plaque:
And here’s Katharina, waving hello:
I’ll update tomorrow. Hopefully these bees will like their new home. Also, now that swarm season has started, we’ll hopefully have a second swarm soon to put into Haven no.2.
Yesterday Wayland Walks, a very active offshoot of Transition Wayland, arranged a long mushroom walk with author/adventurer/mycologist Lawrence, aka Larry, Millman (picture). It was packed with discoveries, learning and humor, as Larry has a great way of sharing his knowledge and is a fountain of mushroom lore.
It had rained just before the walk so I had fresh mushrooms growing on the wood chips in my garden paths. I plucked one and brought it, and Larry identified it as…
Well. That’s the mycelium I purchased and then “sowed” in 2012 (blog post here) and that never materialized, where I had sowed them, at least. So I doubt this is that mycelium, but somehow that’s what was growing on these wood chips.
Larry called them “Grade B Edibles,” but he couldn’t dampen my joy. My mycology hobbyist neighbor had said not to eat them (she never eats the gilled mushrooms, as the majority aren’t edible). Larry would say: they might edible, but they might be the last thing you eat. But so these are edible.
I plucked another one this morning and made this spore print of it. Wild!
Seems like ages ago when last year in August I harvested all those plump sumac berries from our Town’s Dump. I cut them up, then put them on screens in my storage attic, and forgot about them till last week. I went up there and brought the berries down.
I was worried the berries weren’t dry enough, until I lit them in the smoker. They were easy to light with the help of some paper.
With only a few puffs and no reloading, they smoldered and smoked for a good 30 minutes. The smoke also smelled great (better than burlap, my usual go-to fuel), and it was thick but cool.
I’ll be harvesting more berries come Summer!
Over the weekend it started. The non-stop tiny patter-patter of black specks raining down from on high. You stand still and listen and it sounds like fizzing.
We thought they were seeds on the patio, as much as possible under the umbrella, and didn’t think much of it, except : what fecundity! Billions of seeds!
Fecundity is about right! It’s inchworm poop! It’s these guys:
It is covering everything. It crunches underfoot on the patio stones. When wet it stains brown.
It’s not good to have so many inchworms, or cankerworms, in your garden. Not, IMO, because they get into your hair and clothes (and ears!), or ruin the BBQ or a drink left uncovered by adding protein, but because they’re obviously having themselves a banquet. So far only the big adult trees are their feast, but they’ll survive (I’m told). The as yet small hazels and the cherry tree are suffering too and them I’ll spray with an organic pest-repellent. Everything else seems fine, so far. I’m trying to find the positive side to this: this poop must be pretty good fertilizer, don’t you think?
About a month ago a man calls me up on the phone. “You’re a hard person to find!” is the first thing he says to me! “So how did you find me then?” is the first thing I say to him (after “hello?”). “Librarian.” So I knew it was about bees.
Bob is an elderly gentleman who is about to move out of my town after decades of living here. He also used to be a beekeeper, until about ten years ago. Now he was cleaning out his basement and wanted his bee equipment to be used instead of tossed. That’s where “the bee person” came in. That’s me.
I went to his house and it took me two trips with a fully loaded station wagon to take away what still seemed usable. Some of the boxes and frames we had to put aside, since there were too rotted away. But most of it was saved, including gallons and gallons of old honey. It still smells fine, but Bob couldn’t tell me what chemicals he used in the days of that honey, now 10 to 15 years old. I took it, and I’m still trying to decide what to do with it…
But here, in the meantime, is the stash, which is our beekeepers’ group’s treasure, not just mine.
The collection in my carport before sorting:
Three top feeders; all of it will need a thorough cleaning:
Two shallows with honey-in-comb-frames. Bob also gave us the containers to store them in:
Box full of unused medium frames (no foundation):
Two mediums with more foundationless frames:
Four screened bottom boards, some with bee escapes built in:
Plastic bin extractor:
Antique metal extractor – I need to find out what the drum is made of:
Many good-sized chunks of wax (with regard to the dirty fingernail, scroll down one post):
Bob even gave us three cartons of ball jars and two cartons of these plastic honey squeeze bottles:
Gallons and gallons of old honey:
Today we took the floppy plastic off the hoop house. We want to re-bend the hoops, because most of them have un-bent themselves so much that at the top they meet in a point, which cuts into the plastic.
But we’ll only do that next weekend. In the intervening week I hope the rain will soak those beds. After months of no irrigation, the soil in them is dry and dusty and there was no a worm to be seen.
While clearing the hoop house of all the stuff I had stashed in there that shouldn’t get wet, I found the beginning of a hornet’s nest. As I picked it up I found the queen attached to its underside. I quickly pulled the nest away from her and then ran off with it. Here is it: she had just laid eggs in it:
The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is situated in Lincoln, the town to the north of us. Still, though it is only a twenty minute drive away, I had in all the years of living here never gone there until my friend A managed to pry me off my mountain and out of my town and took me there.
I had vowed to take Amie too, but that didn’t happen until another friend got to meet the artist Jarrett Mellenbruch who was setting up a bee-related art project called Haven at the museum.
Jarrett is based in Kansas and was in town only to set up the structures for the project: two bee houses mounted on 16-foot poles. The other part of the project – the live bees, swarms more specifically – still need to be found. Jarrett set up bait hives in the neighborhood – I’ll try to get a picture of their ingenious design – but he will also have to rely on people letting him know about swarms, and beekeepers getting them, and a beekeeper climbing up there to hive them.
So he found a perfect collaborator in my friend, Katharina, a beekeeper, a member of the BEElieve network, and a climber!
I am also the first two, but though I don’t mind heights, I do mind ladders, stairs and escalators. Still, I’ll be helpful, holding the ladder, taking pictures and video when she’s hiving the bees. I’m also on several “swarm lists” – lists of people willing to go and take away a swarm.
Anyway, on Wednesday I took Amie to the park to show her the Haven project, and we got to visit a nearly empty park on a wicked sunny day.
I wish I could have taken video so you could hear the song, but as we had reached this art work right before the park closed, the landscapers were hard at work with wood chippers, stump grinding, and leaf blowers: a right racket!
Amie was really most interested in climbing this tree, which has undergone some serious graffiti and still stands strong.
We stumbled upon “Acorn Head” by accident and were wondering what it is he sees all day, all night.
The “Dancing Man” in the background is my absolute favorite. It’s deeply moving how he twirls up out of the rock, into the sky.
We found some cairns and weren’t sure if they were art works. Some were tumbled, one was still beautifully perched. The crumbling ledge that was the source of the rocks was right there, so we decided to add to the display.
The result, with the other one in the background:
And there, lastly, was one of the Havens.
And the other one:
My last blogpost worth that name is from March 14, and I haven’t figured our Riot since December last year. One of the reasons for my silence was overall business (explained below), but the main culprit was that all the sites I maintain were hacked (same server). We had to shut down the Green Team site completely, saved most of the Transition Wayland site, and the blog, well, as you can see, most of the sidebar features have disappeared and, as you can’t see, the editor is a right mess, but here’s an update anyway.
Here’s a roller coaster run-down of events.
On April 21, my parents-in-law arrived from Chennai, India. On Tuesday, my friend and fellow blogger, Katharina, dropped off the 15 chicks that remained in her care – she was on her way to DC and the Reject and Protect Rally. On Wednesday, add to this menagerie my friend R’s 16-year-old, mostly deaf dog for dog-sitting. And me and R saying our goodbyes and leaving all this to them, not to mention the care of the garden and chickens, and the hundreds of seedlings in the basement.
Where was I off to, that was so important that I could leave all of them, especially Amie (for the first time for so long)? It was Stephen Jenkinson’s Orphan Wisdom School, and I will have to write more about that later. R and I were there, all wrapped-up in the goodness and sorrow of words, till Sunday, when we drove back in one non-stop haul (11 hours). R extracted her dog from the sleeping house, and I crashed, exhausted. The house returned a little more to somewhat normal when Katharina took all but our four chicks back a couple of days later.
That Sunday Earth Day happened (more on that later too), along with Amie’s orchestra concert at Jordan Hall, and her grandparents’ surprise 40th anniversary present(s) and surprises(s).
Amie named the chicks and started “training” them. Always a joy to watch.
Our days warmed, with some summery days thrown in, especially Mother’s Day, which we spent out side working in the garden, planting, among other things, lots of strawberries and blueberries. I also finished the drip irrigation in 90% of the garden, all of it running smoothly off the top IBC tote, simply by gravity. The chicks too enjoyed their first outing into the big world.
I picked up new bees too: two packages. What a joy it is to see them fly again. In other bee-related news, Katharina, who is also a fellow beekeeper, roped me into helping her out with helping the young artist Jarrett Mellenbruch set up and maintain his Haven project at the deCordova museum. More about that soon, too!
My parents-in-law went back to Chennai, and the house is emptier. I like a crowd of animals, so I am glad for the bird song in the house: the chicks, though they now look more dinosaur-like, still squeak quite sweetly. And there is one more bird…
We finally got a friend for Amie’s parakeet, Kiwi, who lost his mate a few months ago. Kiwi had spent some time at Katharina’s (we’ve a veritable animal exchange going here) where he received a mirror, and he had fallen deeply in love with the bird in that mirror. That is why Amie decided to get a green parakeet, female though (hopefully), who looks like that mirror bird. Introducing a new bird is always tricky, so we had them in separate cages at first – having bought a huge new cage. But after some hours Kiwi was trying to push his heard through the bars, and they were singing to each other, so the next day we let Kiwi into the new cage and all was well.
That’s my quick run-down of events. Lots to flesh out. I will do so, soon, promise! Now let me click the “publish” button and see how this looks!