Beekeeping, Gardening and Quilting in Eastern Wake County, North Carolina

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lee Calhoun - Pruning Fruit Trees

This past week I had another opportunity to visit with Lee Calhoun and learn about pruning fruit trees. He just has such a wealth of information to pass along and answers questions that to him I'm sure must seem simple sometimes. But he's more than willing to share his knowledge.

He talked and while talking did some pruning to pear trees, grape vines, apple trees, peach trees and figs.

These are some of the many varieties of dwarf apple trees he has on his place - several hundred. These trees are spaced about 2' apart - landscape plastic is under the gravel. The grass planted in the middle could be other things but this works the best for him (the question was asked). Not much maintenance - he can pull up the grass or spray Roundup if needed. He plants his trees north to south and fertilizers around Valentines Day and Labor Day. He also does some spraying - dormant oil in March.

It was freezing cold - the wind was vicious! BRRR . . . .

I did get a rooting or twig with roots from his English Brown Turkey Fig bush. Last summer that bush had the biggest figs I've ever seen. It's already in a pot in the greenhouse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Snow Day and Camillas

It's gonna be another snow day here. In the 40s this morning and the temp is dropping plus rain which they expect to turn into snow later this afternoon and a mess tonight.

But the camillas had a brief flurry - a couple of days of nice weather so they're blooming. The bees love the camillas and I have lots of old, big plants in the yard.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hive Inspection

I've been concerned that the hives needed to be fed but couldn't open the hives because of the cold weather. The past couple of days the weather has been great. Sunday was in the 60s and it was the right time to do an inspection and see how the girls were doing. My beekeeper neighbor came over to lend a hand (thank you Steve).

We opened Hive #4 first and what a surprise - bees, lots of bees and honey. No changes to #4.

Nuc #1 - removed one of the brood boxes after combining the two brood boxes and left two supers - again, enough food for the remainder of the winter.

Nuc #2 - moved the super to the top and left the two brood boxes. I did put a baggie feeder on this hive. They had plenty of food but not as many bees as the other hives.

Swarm '09 -Took off the bottom brood box - it was empty of food and bees - they had moved up. So we put the three supers back on with the second on bottom, third on second and bottom on top. They were moved based on weight - the bottom being the heaviest. A baggie feeder was also put on this hive - mainly because they were moved around quite a
bit and I had the baggies already made.
Some hive beetles in Hive #4 but not enough to be concerned about. Ants in a couple of the hives but now I'll put some used motor oil around the bottom of the hives and that should take care of them.
I left ample honey on the hives last season and it paid off in the bees having enough food to make it through a really cold winter. There's still winter weather to come but they should have enough food. They're bringing in pollen and the maples are blooming.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Yesterday afternoon in the beeyard.

Friday the weather was the warmest it's been in weeks even though it was windy and a little chilly. Saturday and Sunday will be even nicer - in the 50s - maybe higher!
The bees were flying and bringing in pollen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Star Struck Quilt

This quilt is made from a Bonnie Hunter pattern called Star Struck. I started the quilt in a class with Bonnie with the Durham/Orange Quilt Guild several years ago. It's taken a while to finish - no particular reason - just slow in finishing.
This is my first donation quilt for 2010. It will be given to SAFEchild.
Our quilt guild provides quilts for several organizations - SAFEchild, Quilts on Wheels, and Quilts for Kids.
SAFEchild works with parents, families and caregivers to create nurturing environments for children, free from abuse and neglect. With the ultimate vision of eliminating child abuse in Wake County, SAFEchild delivers support and education to families by helping them break negative parenting patterns, improve communication and relationship skills, and take advantage of community resources
This quilt was machined pieced and machine quilted on my Bernina 910.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As we get older . . .

Last week I went to Mary Jo's (the fabric mecca for quilters) and took some fabric with me to match colors. Everything went great - I love Mary Jo's and found a good selection of kids prints and Civil War fabrics. Just makes my head spin ! ! ! !

Anyhow, when we got home and were doing a Show and Tell, I realized I forgot one of my fabric pieces that I had taken with me. Oh my! Two yards of a cute dog print that I couldn't even remember where or when I bought it. Couldn't call - it was past closing time. So I shot them an email with my life story and called first thing the next morning. Well, lo and behold, they had found my fabric and had it waiting at the front counter. These folks are just great and they mailed to me - I got it yesterday. Evidently this happens a lot and they said sometimes folks forget they forgot!

So here's some fabric I got to make some special quilts. They have the cutest fabrics - little hoot owls and dog and cat doctors!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seed Scoop - February

Crop seeds from more than 100 countries reside in Norway's Svalbard Global Seed Vault near the Artic Circle. The facility, established to protect biodiversity, can store 2 billion seeds.
The Doomsday Vault as the media have nicknamed it, was officially opened on February 26, 2008, to serve as the ultimate safety net for one of the world’s most important natural resources.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. The island of Spitsbergen is about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole. The facility was established to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds from locations worldwide in an underground cavern. The seed vault holds duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in genebanks worldwide. The seed vault will provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.
Construction of the seed vault, which cost approximately 9 million USD, was funded entirely by the Government of Norway. Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free of charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The primary funding of the Trust came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden, though funding has been received from a wide variety of sources including four developing countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and India.

From The Old Farmer's Almanac

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year - Year of the Tiger

Chinese New Year 2010: Year of the Tiger – One of the most ancient civilization is that of the Chinese. Every New Year, a lot of people look forward as to what the Chinese New Year has in store for them. They believed that through this Chinese New Year, somehow, their lives will be influenced depending on their animal signs.
The Chinese New Year 2010, which is the Year of the Tiger will officially start on February 14, 2010, Valentines Day!

One of the traditions during Chinese New Year is the giving of red envelopes and red packets called “Ang Pow”. These Ang Pows are usually are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Per custom, the amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers. The number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for “wealth”), and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes in the US.
In addition to red envelopes, which are usually given from elder to younger during the Chinese New Year, small gifts (usually of food or sweets) are also exchanged between friends or relatives. Gifts are usually brought when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Common gifts include fruits (typically oranges and never pears), cakes, biscuits, chocolates, candies, or some other small gift.
Furthermore, one of the traditions in the Chinese New Year celebrations are fireworks. The Chinese believed that using these firecrackers will drive away evil spirits from the nearby surroundings and will bring luck. In terms of clothing, the color red is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it is believed that red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year. Wearing new clothes also symbolizes having more than enough things to use and wear in the new year.
So what’s in store for you in this Chinese New Year 2010 which is the Year of the Tiger? According to Chinese, the animal Tiger is said to be lucky, vivid, lively and engaging. Another attribute of the Tiger is his incredible bravery, evidenced in his willingness to engage in battle or his undying courage. The Chinese say having a Tiger in the house is the very best protection against the evils of fire, burglary.
People born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger have the following qualities and characteristics: Courage, Vehemence, Self-Reliance, Friendliness, Hopefulness, Resilience, Vanity

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another Snowy Weekend

Lily and I went out for the paper this morning - nice thick snow covering everything.
This is a black gum tree - I have two in the yard and they are great trees for their bark, early leaves in the spring and wonderful color in the fall.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bluebird Houses

As early as the end of February and as late as June, the male bluebird will locate a nesting site, establishes a territory around it of two to five acres, and sings to attract a female and warn other male bluebirds to stay away.

The nesting box - well, the location says it all. Select an open area with scattered trees and sparse ground cover. Avoid underbrush, tall grass, dense woods, farm buildings, and areas where pesticides are used. The nest box should be placed on a pole (not a tree) about five feet high, facing the entrance hole east to south.

Last year, the bluebird house in the garden didn't have any tenants. The one in the front yard had one and then they left after the eggs were destroyed by another bird.

I need to move the bluebird houses to another spot. You would think that'd be pretty simple but it's not - there's bushes, trees, barns - all kinds of stuff get in the way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bye Bye Blackbirds

In the garden and all around the yard yesterday were blackbirds. There were hundreds (well, it looked like hundreds) chirping and flying from one tree to another.

I tried to take a photo but the camera and I were a little to far away. But you can see the birds in the trees if you look closely.

But here's Henny Penny - she's black and she's a bird.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Krispy Kreme Challenge

6,000 folks signed up for the Krispy Kreme Challenge Saturday - run 2.4 miles, eat 12 doughnuts and run back another 2.4 miles!

Yowee . . . . I can't even eat 2 doughnuts at one time!

This is the sixth year of the run starting at the NC State University Bell Tower to the Krispy Kreme store on Peace Street then back to the Bell Tower. Over $45,000 was raised for the NC Children's Hospital.

Temperatures were in the 30s but some of us are tougher than others.

© 2010 NCSU Student Media

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Eggs - Blood Spots

Can you eat eggs with blood spots? Does a blood spot mean an egg is contaminated?

Both chemically and nutritionally, eggs with blood spots are safe to eat.

Eggs with a visible blood spot on the yolk are safe for consumption. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife. Blood or "meat" spots are occasionally found on an egg yolk and are merely an error on the part of the hen. These tiny spots are not harmful and are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface when it's being formed or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct.

Blood spots do not indicate a fertilized egg (I don't have a rooster so that would be a big surprise). If desired, the spot can be removed with the tip of a clean knife prior to cooking.
No, the egg is not contaminated. You can’t see bacteria with the naked eye.

These eggs are safe to eat.

For some reason now that the hens are laying again, I've had some eggs with blood spots. It's good to know I can still eat them but thank goodness I have enough I don't have to eat those eggs (I know - there's starving folks out there that would love these eggs but Lily needs an egg now and then too).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Heart Quilt

This is a quilt I started working on at our bee meeting in January - all that's left is putting on the binding and a label. The background fabric is white with pink dots and all the other fabrics have hearts in some shape or form, one red and one green with hearts, and a couple of pink stripes. And a couple of reds with hearts too.

The backing is a dark brown with cute little birdhouses and pink hearts and pink birds. I've had the backing fabric for many years and all the other fabrics were from my stash.

The pattern was a freebie from the MODA website - Posh by Chez Moi.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cleaning House

NO - not that kind of cleaning house - the bees!
And they were working hard yesterday afternoon (Mon) even with weather in the 40's. There was a good amount of dead bees in front of Hive #4 but not as many for the hives.
The Swarm '09 Hive had some bees bringing in pollen - unfortunately this bee didn't make it back to the hive in time.
The bees were flying all over the garden looking for pollen.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Lots of snow and ice on the greenhouse. I swept off as much as I could and let the sunshine melt the rest yesterday. It's supposed to be in the low 40's today but there's still a lot of snow and ice on the ground.