Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bumblebee Moving Company...

As you know, we at Flannel Jammies Farm recently became beekeepers!  We are blessed to be part of a wise and wonderful group, the Beekeepers Guild of Southeast Virginia, who helped us trap a swarm of honey bees and bring them home to live in our sweet English garden hive.

But before we got THAT swarm call, we received another swarm call.  We excitedly raced to the given address with the jotted-down details:  a small swarm, in a small handmade birdhouse nestled in a garden, at the home of a retired widow (the gardener had been stung that morning and she wanted the bees to be taken away).

We came to a stop in front of the house and met the gardener, who gave us the same details.  We walked over to the garden and discovered... bumblebees, not honey bees!  About 2 dozen VERY ANGRY and stinging bumblebees were entering and exiting the dearest little birdhouse, created by the widow's late husband.  Our guild normally does not remove bumblebees, but my husband and I could see that the homeowner was anxious to have them removed, and we were already landlords to LOTS of bumblebees at home in our vitex tree and around our garden.  We smiled at each other, knowing we could help, and removed the bumbles, birdhouse and all, and promised to return that dear birdhouse to the homeowner as a keepsake from her late husband.

Now what?  Well, we brought the birdhouse full of bumblebees home and set it up in the bee-and-butterfly bed at Flannel Jammies Farm, just under the blooming vitex tree.  The inhabitants happily played with the new neighbors, buzzing from bloom to bloom.  Until yesterday.

It was time to move them to their new home, an old and crazy-looking birdhouse we had in our shed that we'd install exactly where the previous one had been planted.

BUT... we knew these bumblebees were still peeved (I'd been shooed away earlier in the day while picking blueberries!)... we knew they'd built quite a tight little nest inside the tiny birdhouse... and we knew that the birdhouse was a particular treasure of that sweet widow and it had to be returned to her unharmed...

The hubs and I donned our bee suits, lit the smoker (repeatedly and used it way more than needed), gathered our tools, and headed out to become laborers for the Bumblebee Moving Company.  Here's a semi-long (9 minutes) and maybe a little slow-moving (tedious work, this) video of what ensued, just in case you're curious about what a bumblebee house move would look like!

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, 
you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, 
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12

Monday, June 10, 2013

garden update...

We've been so busy (buzzzy?) getting the honeybees settled into their new home that we've forgotten to keep updated on the garden progress.  (bee stories to come!)

So it's early June here at Flannel Jammies Farm and so much is happening!  We're harvesting daily... lettuces, Swiss chard, sugar snap peas, beets, carrots, strawberries, garlic, and so many herbs.  Here are some photos from around our little urban 'farm'...

 Oh, the tomatoes to come!!!  So, we always grow too many and we tried to cut back this year, but who can resist a favored variety?  A few that we're growing this year are Juliet, Super Cherry 100, Yellow Pear, Purple Cherokee, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Lemon Boy, Mountain Pride, and Brandywine.  (I'm sure there are more varieties out there... the hubs is very sneaky about tucking them into oft-ignored corners of the garden.)

Peppers are always wonderful performers in our garden.  This year we're growing green Bell, Anaheim, Cubanelle, and Jalapeno.

The Sugar Ann sugar snap peas are enjoying a second flush of delicious pods.

Carrots (Danvers Half Long, Chantenay Red Core, Cosmic Purple, and Parisienne) are finishing out the season happily next to just-getting-started Calima bush beans and Romano bush beans.

The cucumber trellises are filling in nicely with pickling varieties and a Market More (on the leaf-shaped trellis).

Potato towers are going gangbusters with Carola and Rose Finn Apple Fingerling varieties (and, again, with some rogue already-sprouted-in-the-kitchen potatoes slipped in by YouKnowWho).

There are also eggplant varieties, a couple of squashes out by the road, asparagus, onions, and Swiss chard.  The radishes, kale, and spinach are done for the summer season, but will return again in Autumn.

The bee and butterfly bed is growing and beginning to bloom with lilies, black-eyed Susan, Shasta daisy, lamb's ears, coneflowers, bee balm, butterfly bush, and blueberries, with vitex, sedum, and nandina nearby.  Oh, and we're growing our own wine bottles, of course (wink!).

And speaking of wine bottles, a new crop was just planted (creating garden borders for the small veggie beds in the front/side yard).

The woodland garden is lovely, green, and my favorite variegated, lace-cap hydrangea is blooming!

Part of that woodland garden is a tall, tall river birch tree.  It's so pretty and whispers and sways in the wind, but the hubs is allergic to it.  So much so that every time he works in the woodland area, he has terrible allergy symptoms for a couple of days.  That birch is scheduled to go, sadly.

Thanks for wandering in through the garden gate...
we are blessed
by working this green earth,
by the grace-filled rains and light from the Lord,
by the pollinating friends helping things to grow,
and by your visit today.