Thursday, January 30, 2014

Artichokes in the Northwest

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There is nothing better than a steamed artichoke and a bowl of spicy mayonnaise to dine on. Though with the price of artichokes around $5 (Amazon Fresh Price) a flower bud it can be pretty beneficial to grow your own as each plant can produce 2-20 buds. Of course there is one problem… The Artichoke is natively from the Mediterranean region which is a bit warmer than our northwest. For this reason the commercial artichokes are grown in California. For this reason, if you want to grow an artichoke in the northwest you have to take a few steps to improve your chance of harvesting a head or two in the summer.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Year 2014

Well, I guess it was inevitable that 2014 would roll around with a lot of things left to do on the checklist. Here in the Northwest we have had the benefit of the Puget Sound to keep our low temperatures just above freezing and our highs in the low 50s while the rest of the country has been dealt another round of freezing weather.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winter Disappointment

Went out to check the bottom boards of the hives and found a few potential mouse droppings in one. So I quickly opened it up (no mouse but there had been one) and found that the colony had not survived the deep freeze (16°F) temperatures from last week. So I pulled the frames of honey from the brood box (might as well get something sweet out of disappointment). For the honey frames, I will freeze half of them for early spring feed (for splits, swarms and packages) and the other extract for our use.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Honey Bee on Blackberry

Bumble bee on blackberry flowerI was watching the bees leave the hive and fly into the sky and others returning obviously from a far away place (well less than 2 miles). So as I walked around looking at all the blackberry flowers I wondered why weren’t they coming for the close nectar sources like all the bumblebees were.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Building Foundationless Beehive Frames

As a beekeeper, one wants to let the bees work according to nature to bring about the best traits. One way is to let the bees draw their own comb instead of providing foundation. This allows the bees to chose the cell size they want, which also helps keep the hive healthy. It also avoids foundation that may contain pesticides from the commercial hives.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Recent Research in Bee Venom

I sit here typing with a slightly swollen middle finger wondering what makes bee venom work the way it does. Come to find out that it is the melittin that destroys the cell walls around the site of stinging. If it hits a blood stream it will destroy the red blood cells and release the hemoglobin which mimics the condition of a bruise and thus the inflammation as the body tries to wash it out. Well as I was reading these articles I came across a recent research paper from the Washington University in Saint Louis about using melittin to treat viral infections including HIV. Apparently they can place the melittin into a small particle (nanoparticle) that acts like a cage to keep the melittin from contacting the normal cell walls yet since viruses are small they come through the mesh and get sliced to bits. So yet another reason for us to do all that we can to help the honey bees so that we can find even more amazing properties.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Garden Status for 4th Week of March 2013

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Not much has changed in the outdoor garden, but for the grow box we transplanted all the tomatoes into their individual cups. Now since we have more tomato plants than we can use does anyone want to purchase a plant? You’ll have to be in the Seattle area but for $2.50 you get a nice plant. Send me an email at thecoldwetnorthwestgardener@gmail.com before May 2013.