Ladies and geisterbees

LadyFarmSMOne of the things that I like about our farm is that it has a social aspect. Growing vegetables is (or, rather, can be) a relaxing, pensive pursuit. It’s nice to be out in the countryside, looking at the green mountains, smelling the fresh air, chatting with your buddies while you have your hands in the earth. We have several friends that like to come out to help, just for the chance to do this therapeutically. And we appreciate the help; there are a lot of green things to go in the ground right now, and summer seems to be here for real. It’s been sunny and in the 80s here all week (a heat wave!).

geisterbeesSMIn other news, I tried a new method to sample varroa mite infestation in my bees. It’s supposedly more accurate than the “24-hor drop” method, where you count dead mites stuck onto a special sampling board in the bottom of the hive. The new “powdered sugar roll” works like this: you scoop up 100ml of bees (about 300) into a special jar, coat them with a tablespoon of powdered sugar, then roll them around in it for a minute or two. The sugar dislodges any mites, then you count them in the bottom of a basin, getting a really accurate mite-to-bee ratio. This is better becuase it automatically accommodates hives with widely varying populations of bees, unlike the 24-hour drop method. And you get a very funny side effect: ghost bees! But not to worry, their friends clean them off and eat the sugar. As you might imagine, the bees hate it and it gets them well pissed off. But it’s better for them than the earlier “alcohol roll” method, which is very similar to the powdered sugar roll except you roll them in alcohol, killing the bees as a side effect.

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