Our Bees Travel to Missouri

Here are the beehives loaded onto our small trailer before we started for our land in Missouri.  One hive was sealed with a small roll of landscape cloth inserted into the opening of the hive.  Their Boardman Feeder was full of sugar-water to make sure they were fed along their journey.  100_5771

The second hive was sealed with a fitted board in the hive opening.  Sugar-water was also provided for those bees.

The Universe blessed us with an overcast day that  kept the bees at home close to the hive, as we adjusted the openings due to inexact stacking of the two medium “supers’ above the brood box.  We were patient, and each time we slid the supers or broodbox, we gave the bees time to calm down and to reassure their queen.

When it was time to load the hives onto the trailer, my husband made sure everything was secure and we lifted them onto a garden wagon.  They were heavy!  The second hive was really, really heavy.  The honey flow has been going in North Texas for about a month, and it was extremely hard to lift the second hive.

Here is where we dropped the trailer on our land in Missouri.  100_5772

On our travels, one of the jars of sugar-water fell out of the Boardman feeder.  We stopped for more sugar, water, and small-mouth canning jars.  We secured the jars with duct tape.  We readjusted the alignment of one of the hives.

We made it to Missouri, across the creek, and then parked the trailer on our land.

The bees spent the night contained in their hives.  The next day, we bought 4 x 4’s and cinderblocks.  My husband built hive support high enough to keep the skunks from having easy access to the hives.  The challenge was building it on a slope.  You can see the wonderfully hilly land up there.

Here you can see the slope of the land and the 4 x 4 supports atop cinder blocks.100_5773
We loaded each hive separately on the garden wagon and rolled it to the elevated hive support.  Then we lifted it onto the 4 x 4s.

There are also some juniper trees in the background and more all around the perimeter of the mown area.  This turned out to be good cover when the bees got upset over their house-moving experience.  Walking to the junipers enabled us to hide and to swish the branches to confuse the bees.

Here are the hives sitting on the support beams.100_5775

They settled down nicely once moving day was over.

Since the honey flow is just starting in Missouri, we optimistically put two additional small supers (shown in between the two hives) on top of our already heavy beehives.  We will see how full they are when we return at the beginning of the summer.  (We removed the duct tape from the jar of sugar-water on the hive on the left.)100_5779

Adventures for second-year beekeepers.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage


San Antonio Botanical Gardens

One day while my husband attended workshops at the National Science Teachers Conference, I went to the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

They have some formal gardens and some informal gardens.

The rose garden is formal and quite delightful.  Their formal beds of seasonal flowers are lush and beautiful.

There are several Texas habitat areas with appropriate plantings in natural settings along trails.

There are six small houses with water-saving landscapes!  I was glad to see several plants which I have in my own landscape.

I finally saw an actual plant of “agarita”, berberis trifoliata.  I would like to have one, but I have been having trouble locating it.

There is an outdoor amphitheater.

There are several “prisms”, glass structures above ground, to let in light for several indoor gardens underground.

I was happy to support the garden through purchases of a T-shirt and seed packets for Songbirds, Butterflies, and Bees.  I will plant them in my yard.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage


Aided By the Rain

I am so grateful for the rain last night and today.

Although I am planting a perennial landscape with appropriate plants for our growing zone, it is always a treat for them to receive water from the sky.

My first plantings were several different varieties of irises and Mexican petunias donated by a friend about nine years ago.

I began my serious lawn conversion after taking Master Naturalist Certification in 2010 and Master Gardener Certification in 2011 through the Elm Fork Chapters of Denton County, TX.  I had no idea of the water crisis we are currently experiencing.  It will only get more and more severe.  I live in a high population growth area.  I became convinced that I needed to take some immediate steps to actively practice water conservation.

At first I simply tried out various plants to see what would grow in this soil and climate.  I found out that my favorite flower, dianthus, would keep growing season after season for up to nine years, even though it was listed as an annual.  I grew guara, and it thrived, until I gained more shade coverage from self-planting trees along the border of my yard.  The trees appeared after I planted an aubelia border.  Even as small plants, they caught seeds from wind and passing birds.  They are now about four feet high and wide.

I added two yellow yuccas at the sidewalk entry points of my yard.  Lantana, pink skull cap, artemisia, and pink and blue salvias were able to hang on through the coldest winters and driest summers.  Several varieties of sage, including a Texas sage shrub are also thriving.  It was an amazing experience to see bees return to my yard while attending the small pink flowers on the Texas sage.

Along the east side of my house, I have Turk’s cap, blue saliva, and rock rose which I was given at a seed exchange by members of the Dallas Organic Gardening Society.  When I told them I had no idea how to plant or grow anything, one of the members said just to scatter the seeds.  My nine year old Texas Wildscape is thriving.  It, too, has received donations of self-planting trees courtesy of the natural growth.  Later, I planted Butterfly Weed and had the privilege of seeing monarch butterflies stop by during the two years that it grew.

Butterfly trees have had a mixed experience in different parts of my yard.  Even though their name implies attraction for butterflies, that is not the case.   Three of the plants grew into good sized large shrubs.  Two died during the third year of a drought.  One, which is in an area of self-planted slippery elm and white mulberry, has had more protection and is still growing.

I added perennial dianthus, which is much taller than my original dianthus flowers, and society garlic.  Since I planted them in November and December, I nurtured them through the frosty nights with water-filled gallon jugs nearby in the garden beds.  The water gained heat during the day and released it at night.  Both planted areas survived and are growing and blooming now.  I also added several red saliva shrubs.  All are growing and blooming nicely in both front and back yards.

Even though I love mixed colors, I learned that pollinators see groups of color more easily from the air. Since I have so many pinks and reds, I decided to add yellows.  I have started planting coreopsis and Mexican hat shrubs.

Along with flowers and shrubs, I added two American Beautyberry trees which have survived into their second year.  They are tiny now, but will add understory to the lone redbud tree planted in the center of the front yard, probably by the housing developer.  Of course, now it is sending out shoots all over the yard, so I am pruning them to stay shrub-sized.

A fellow Master Gardener gave me a couple of “umbrella” plants.  It is always fun to share plants with fellow gardeners.  I have flats of marigolds and blue salvia coming which I ordered as part of a fund raiser for the high school baseball team.

Now that I have such lovely rain-soaked ground, it will help the rest of the plants to get a good start.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage




Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, WA

Transforming local public land into a food forest free to the public.