Independence Day in the Foster outyard
We began extracting honey yesterday. The established colony here in our garden produced a small amount of Spring honey, somewhat less than we expected, in fact. When he inspected the outyard in Charlestown, Mike was surprised by the amount of frames that were capped and ready to take.
Our hives in Charlestown and in Foster were newly installed in April so we really didn't expect much or any honey from them until next year, especially since it was such a wet season until June. New colonies must expend tremendous energy in their first season building out foundation for brood production and food storage, as well as producing their own honey for winter. So any honey in the first year is a gift, I think. Spring honey in the first year feels like a little miracle.
Because of the holiday it was even more quiet than usual when we drove out to Foster yesterday afternoon. Dogs baying in the woods, birds singing, bees humming. That was all. I hadn't been there in a couple of weeks (Mike had done those inspections for me) and was so pleasantly surprised to see Butch and Deb's garden was brimming with plants. A month ago Butch was laboring like mad and seemed a bit discouraged because he hadn't been able to complete his planting by Memorial Day. Yesterday, his worries seemed unfounded. The garden looks lush and wonderful!
When Mike opened the first hive yesterday, we were truly amazed at the amount of capped honey there. As of this morning we haven't yet extracted and weighed all the Foster honey, but we are so pleasantly surprised at, and very deeply grateful for the abundance of honey from those two young colonies! Wait until Butch and Deb receive their percentage of honey from this first extraction of the year. I hope they will be just as happily surprised as we are.
It was difficult for me to leave once we were finished working in Foster. Besides the unexpected abundance of honey, another wonderful surprise was watching blue birds flying across the garden. Here in the East, blue birds were nearly extinct for many years. More people are trying to encourage their numbers and those efforts seem to be working. Last month we visited a favorite vineyard in the mountains of Virginia. The moment we started up the long drive, two blue birds shot out from under the eaves of the barn and out over the fields. I was so delighted by the sight.
Spotting a blue bird at first is a moment of incredulity: one has to really stop and observe because the sight of them is so rare. So I spent awhile yesterday before we drove off just taking in the miraculous pleasure of watching several blue birds streaking back and forth over the top of the fence surrounding the garden's perimeter.
(Clicking on each photo throughout this blog will give you a larger view.)