Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why we need a bee hive

Market more, white wonder and sikkim cukes

I desperately need them to lick my plates clean. No, wait, that's what one gets dogs for. Or is that teenagers? I forget.

No, the reason is that between the roughly 40 cucumber plants, the 12 butternut squash plants, the 10 zucchini plants and the 14 acorn squash plants, all of whom are healthy, vigorous and producing scads of both male and female flowers, this is what I am harvesting. Note the shriveled, sad little nubs at the blossom end of the cucumbers? That's an indicator that they are not being completely pollinated. And what you are not seeing here are the tiny infant fruit that just wither up and fall off the vine, never to see the inside of a pickling crock or delight my tongue in other ways.

I see some bees flying in, I get to pet the bumble bees (mostly because it freaks the hubbin out), but it's looking like there is not enough pollination happening. And what I'm not seeing is the vast number of honey bees that I have seen in years past, swarming and almost obscuring the plants during the warm afternoons, adding their happy buzzing to the soundtrack of my back yard.

Even more worrisome is that this is not just our experience, I am hearing it from most people I speak to. No midnight drops of surplus zucchini, no cries for help on how to process the half ton of cucumbers that ripened over night, not seeing/ hearing/ feeling it at all.

So the plan for next year is to not only plant tons of pollinator attracting flowers, but to also have a hive in residence. Hubbin is allergic (think epi-pen) to bees, which has been the reason we have not done so yet and this will be something he cannot help me with and we will have to be very careful where we place the hive, but this year is the final straw. No bees means no harvest. No harvest means no food.

Have you hugged a bee (keeper) today?

On a (circuitously) related note: The chickens went to live elsewhere, there's a few posts in the making about lacto fermenting and it's been kinda crazy here, so my apologies. Look for more posts soon.

Happy Pinching

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