Weekend disasters.

More work on the backyard this weekend.

As tempting as it is to deny mistakes, it wouldn’t be very fair or helpful if I only posted here about the progress of my garden – so I’m going to bare my failure-fearful soul to you all with a tale of two woes, one involving tomatoes and one involving bees.

The tomato story isn’t all that dramatic unless you consider that for almost three months I’ve been raising up a few different kinds of tomato starts. You know, trying to get an early start so I would be ahead of the game come mid-May. Of course, I’m no expert with tomatoes, and my starts though beautiful were a a bit on the gangly side of health. But no matter, I decided this weekend was the time to start hardening them off, bring them out of their sunny window and into the actual air!

Which was awesome and all (they looked beautiful), until I left them out too long on Saturday when I was running errands and they got scorched in the afternoon sun. Scorched! And looking so sad after all the attention I put into them. Honestly, I felt like such a cruel bitch when I came home and saw them all wilted there on the side of the patio. And not just wilted – but visibly burned. I just didn’t think that one afternoon in the sun could produce such damage, otherwise I would have put them in a different spot in the yard – but I suppose it’s just one of those live and learn moments. Good thing we’re not relying on my gardening skills as our sole food source.

Perhaps five of them are salvageable, I’ll have to wait and see how they react in the next couple of days….. but in the meantime I’m buying some properly-raised starts that are a lot more likely to produce fruit.

That was only my first weekend failure.

Now, the reason we were out running around all day (thus ignoring my tomato starts roasting in the hot sun) is because on Thursday I had got a call about a bee swarm that we could have from a yard about nine blocks away from ours. While we have been talking about bees, we weren’t at all ready in terms of site prep to take them, so on Saturday we started early and went out to get trellis and plants for the back fence, and a bee smoker (not to mention a hazelnut tree off Craigslist for the font yard). You can see our handiwork in the photo above, not to mention the bee box that we successfully transported on Saturday evening with help from the friend who was giving us the bees.

Water feature in the back corner. Bees need lots of water, so we built this right near the beekeeping area.

All good, right? Sunday morning we got up, the bees were happily buzzing around, and throughout the day we would stop to marvel at them going about their business around the hive box and in the yard, thinking that things were looking pretty good over in that corner of the yard. Around 2, we got a phone message from our bee-giving friend asking if we had noticed anything strange with our bees because over at his place he was experiencing another swarm and wasn’t sure where it had come from. Not fifteen minutes after we received that call, our suddenly (and without any provocation on our part) started pouring out of the hive and forming a bit of a cyclone over our back fence before heading westward towards the house where we had got them from originally.

I’ve got to admit, that I would have been way more enraptured with the bee swarm (it’s amazing to see) if I wasn’t so worried about one of our neighbours coming outside right at that moment. People get really irate about bee swarms in their neighbourhood. Fortunately, no one was around to witness our hive taking off down the alley.

From what we can piece together from a late phone conversation last night, our bees likely joined up with the other partial swarm at our friend’s house, who by this time had gone out and bought additional bee boxes in order to capture the swarm that had settled on his patio chair. But by the time he got out to capture them, they rose up from his yard and took off!

We were pretty sad about it, of course. And at first I thought it was somehow my fault for working in the backyard when they were just getting settled – but it wasn’t as though we were working on their box or making loud noises or anything. It was later, reading about bee swarms that I realized it was very likely that the bees were not settled in the box when we moved it, only temporarily nesting while the scout bees were still out looking for a better home. All the bees that converged on our friend’s place were basically just having a meet-up so they could head out to their newly scouted home, and our bees were part of that process. Talk about magic!

So I don’t feel bad about the bees leaving because I now understand it had nothing to do with us, but the experience of witnessing all this bee craziness has intrigued us. Particularly as we are now set up for them. It sounds like our friend has a set of boxes to sell us and at the end of this week hopefully I’ll be installing a full hive and sourcing some bees for it by the end of the month. I might have to resort to mail order this time, but I’m okay with that since swarming bees are a tad unpredictable.

Despite it all, we had many weekend successes and got a tremendous amount done in our back and front yards – not to mention eating the first radishes and lettuce out of the veggie beds – so it wasn’t just all disappointment. I am really glad to have got the back trellis up for privacy purposes alone, and we’ve bought a trumpet creeper and a clematis that we hope will cover it in the next couple of years. In the front yard we now have a hazelnut tree and just that small addition makes such a difference to defining the space. Oh, and we finally put together a small water garden (above), which we’ve been meaning to do for ages, but went for when we realized that the bees like water close by. It’s all lovely out there in the yard right now. And I can always buy tomato starts and new bees.

2 Comments on “Weekend disasters.

  1. Hi there Megan…

    Sorry to hear the queen and colony didn’t want to stay … hope you can get some bees going soon.

    I just wanted to recommend to you West Coast Bee Supplies
    9351 – No. 6 Road
    Richmond, BC V6W 1E5
    ph. 604 272-1921

    where we got our bees, but not sure if they have any left. There were at least 75 or so nucs (nice little packed four-frame white cardboard boxes when we picked up ours there, for $150. These were reared elsewhere and shipped in. But one of the fellows who works there had been out swarm catching (mostly in west van he said, i think) and had s a system with a brush and a little bee vacuum that did a great job of getting the queen and most of the bees in his box, and he’d done 20 or so calls in just a few days! So maybe you can get a few frames and a queen there for cheaper now, not sure. Talk to Bob (not the worker above, but I think the owner.)

    Now, with our bees, it’s been several weeks, so I’m sure they’re established in that hive, and they’ve got lots of new brood so the queen is laying. I am now considering when to super it.

    What kind of hive box do you have?

    It’s great reading about your gardening efforts, very inspiring! (It would be lovely for you to come visit our sometime, and see the gardens around our park, and also go over to my friend’s garden where the hive is and check it out.)

    Best regards,

  2. Pingback: Beekeeping 101. (Top-Bar-Hive-Style) « Among the Weeds

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