Beekeeping, garden making and land searching

OK, there are going to be lots of pictures in this one!

First, the bees. They are doing well. Though one hive still has a moderately high mite count, both hives are growing rapidly!! The queens are laying really well and the population is just exploding, which is great! They are bringing in lots of nectar and pollen, too. So, you would think that they would stop drinking the sugar syrup and just fill up on the food they are bringing in. But, they are scarfing it down, which makes me think they need it (or maybe what’s in the syrup). To help decrease the mite population we are adding HoneyBHealthy to their sugar syrup, as well as 15 drops of Bergamot Essential Oil/quart of syrup (some friends of ours totally got rid of their mites using bergamot!) We are still doing weekly mite counts to make sure the level doesn’t go up. So, here are a bunch of great pictures (well, some aren’t so great, but I had to post them!)

This one show a great capped brood pattern in the middle with lots of white capped honey on the edge.

Here’s a great one of pollen and capped brood.

Here is a queen. It’s fuzzy, but she is the long bee in the middle.

This is a pic. of brood (baby bees) being capped over.

And this one I was so upset that it didn’t turn out!! We were witness to a bee birth :-) This baby bee is just about to come out of the comb. Here is his little fuzzy head!

And one of our girls hard at work.

Now, on to K’s garden! We put in our new/used sink this weekend and put the old one in the garden for K. This morning, K and I filled it with pineapple sage, chocolate peppermint, purple basil, hyssop, chamomile, zinnea, lambs ear, calendula, and a tomato. I tried to put things in there that she could smell, taste, and feel. But, it’s a little crowded. So, I may move the hyssop to my herb garden :-) She really likes it! And everything is very well watered!

Here’s one of the garden.

And my little helper.

And my little helper practicing her best sad face.

So, as far as land search… well, we have been a bit disheartened. To be able to have the sustainable homestead that we would like, we are really hoping for more land than we will be able to afford in our current area. Land prices around here (and back in Asheville) are so inflated that we can barely afford an acre! We did, however, just find out about the possibility of buying some land from a family member. This would be great! My biggest worry though, is that we would be surrounded by many people who have very different beliefs than us. Plus, one of my herby friends and I have just started to talk about opening up an herb school here. If we moved, I couldn’t do that. (Well, it’s not that I couldn’t, but I don’t think there would be the desire for an herb school where the family land is.) I wish there were some overwhelming factor to push us somewhere. It would make this decision so much easier… do we spend more and have a higher mortgage, or by less, have a smaller mortgage and less land to work, do we spend more and buy less land to be near a town we love, or spend less and buy more land, but be near a town that doesn’t have such a supportive community for alternative living? I don’t know! Anyone out there got an answer??

7 thoughts on “Beekeeping, garden making and land searching

  1. Our decision? Spending more – higher mortgage – to be near family and work (same thing as a town you like…) and compromising on the amount of land. 6 acres is plenty for us, though we were certainly tempted by 20 acre spreads far, far away in communities we weren’t comfy with.

  2. What a difficult decision..lol…I guess you need to decide how much land you *really* need to accomplish your goals, Being near like minded people is certainly a positive however, if you have goals to start your own herb school, You can be an influencing force to make the community more supportive of alternative/self-sustainable living. One the other hand I having a smaller morgage is more managable, more money left over to invest in things like solar panels, herbs..etc..lol Look at Path to Freedom, they have done incredible things with just a small city lot. Good luck..

  3. Well, you probably know what our choice was. :) It just worked out that way, with the military and everything. But, gotta say, that we haven’t minded being a day’s drive away from family. But, my husbands family is kinda “off” and mine…well, they fly to see us all the time anyway. :)

    So, we lived on 3 acres for a year and found that we wanted more. 20 is perfect for us. And in Missouri, CHEAP! :)

  4. Hello Maria,
    We met briefly at the Orange County Beekeepers club. I was wondering, since you work with herbs if you know how to make homemade bergamot oil from the plant. I wanted to make some to put in the sugar syrup to treat for mites. Do you make it from the leaves or the flower? Anyways, I enjoy reading your site, lots of great information.
    Thanks,
    Becky

  5. Hey Becky! Nice to hear from you!

    You can make your own essential oils through steam distallation, though I have never done it. Bergamot essential oil, however, is made from Citrus bergamia not the bergamot plant (Monarda spp.) that grows around NC. Citrus bergamia is a citrus tree that grows in more tropical areas. I just buy the essential oil and add it to the sugar feed after it has cooled… 15 drops of essential oil per quart of sugar water. they love it!! Hope that helps!

  6. Do you ever feed your bees an alternative to sugar syrup?

    Please tell me if you have found other formulas to be effective.

    Thank you,

    Janet McCann

  7. Hey Janet,
    Nope, we’ve never tried feeding anything else. I’m hoping that once they begin producing enough honey for harvest that we can just leave a good bit of honey on the hive and let them munch on that . But, our hives are so young that they needed the sugar syrup boost. I was just talking with another beekeeper yesterday who said she leaves on 2 deeps full of honey and her bees usually do fine through the winter. Still, if the spring has a bad blooming season, you still may need to supplement.

    Have you tried anything else, or heard of another alternative to sugar syrup?

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