We are soon to be beekeepers.
We have ordered a queen bee, a nucleus of 5 frames of bees, and a hive and all the accoutrements.
Now, I know nothing about beekeeping I hasten to add–and, having arrived at middle age fully cognizant of my limitations, will not be practically involved in beekeeping. (I have ordered the hat, veil and gloves for myself, but the full head to toe suit for Roy.)
Roy’s father and maternal grandmother had backyard hives, and so he has absorbed some beekeeping lore from them.
A hive of bees in the backyard apparently “blesses” the entire garden. The flowers pollinated are bigger and brighter. Vegetables pollinated by bees are bigger. Your harvest of fruit increases exponentially, tempting to me since I have a small orchard, though a continually expanding one as I learn more about forest gardening.
Bigger vegetables, brighter flowers, bountiful harvests of fruit. Introducing bees to one’s garden certainly resembles the blessing of God.
Carol Wimber in her amusing book “The Way it Was” writes lyrically of the joyous few months after she and John Wimber became Christians. Joy filled their hearts, the songs flowed, lyrics flowed. “Even our gardens were more brighter, more lush and verdant.” Or something like that.
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The honey from local bees–and how can one get something more local than from the bottom of the garden?–is meant to protect one from hayfever, which is tempting to me, as I have an odd form of hay-fever that hits in the last week of June/early July. Some people have said that it’s probably an allergy to the grass pollen and mould spores in the garden and orchard. I am currently trying a radically sugar and carbo free diet to see if that helps. I know my allergies are far worse when I have sugar!
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We are also experimenting with permaculture. Our garden/orchard is huge–1.5 acre, and I could like to plant it intensively–fruit, veggies and flowers, but spend no more than 1 an hour a day, and 2 on Sunday in the garden (with Roy spending a bit more than that).
So I am trying to learn permaculture techniques to minimize labour in the garden. People estimate that one can grow enough fruit and veggies to feed one’s family as well as having a pretty flower-filled garden with no more than a few hours a week in the garden (which I need for the exercise, tranquillity, and the opportunity for clear thinking and praying it affords) if one uses the techniques of permaculture.
These involved minimizing human labour with techniques such as chipping all garden waste to make thick mulches which dramatically decrease the amount of watering and weeding. Roy really enjoys this–turning our unruly hedges, prunings and garden waste into mulches, which will soon become nutritious compost and increase the soil’s fertility for future years
Another permaculture technique we are adopting is focussing on perennial vegetables. We’ve planted 40 asparagus crowns,
rows of strawberries, perennial onions, and some old English traditional vegetables–lovage, good King Henry etc.
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A permaculture idea which is interesting me is creating a tight ecosystem in the home and garden in which nothing is wasted. Our ducks eat our table scraps. We eat their eggs. Their waste and the egg shells go into the compost. The rabbits eat the garden waste (well, the things they love, apple branches, hawthorn, willow, all fruit tree branches, twigs), their nitrogen rich droppings go into the compost. All paper and cardboard–and about a third of our household waste–goes into the compost.
Compost itself is magic–all this waste becoming black, rich, nutritious soil.
Our garden is all organic, of course, and we are learning as much as we can of natural methods of pest control, as with the birds in our five feeders, who are, of course, sheer delight!
And I do love gardening–but I go into the garden with my timer on my iPhone set for an hour, so that with the pleasures of being out with the birds–and now the bees!!– I do not entirely lose track of time.
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It is my first year, well to be precise, my fourth month of gardening in England, though we gardened intensely and intensively in America for 7 years, so I have much to learn.
Any ideas or tips will be welcome.