Garden Snapshot, May 11, 2015

This week, it's been all about the bees! Well, more than that... but there is no doubt about it, the first main nectar flow is ON. "Nectar flow" is a beekeeping term for an abundant supply of nectar being provided by blossoms. In the photo below, a honeybee is gathering nectar from crabapple blossoms.

150510 bee in blossom

It's been fascinating to watch the bees dive (they're SO fast!) into their hive with loads of pollen and nectar. The other evening, I sat by the hive and counted: the bees were bringing home an average rate of 1 load of pollen per second, and 2.5 loads of nectar per second. Amazing!

150509 watching bees

They are currently collecting orange, yellow and white pollen... you can see three bees carrying pollen with full "pollen baskets" in the photo below. I'd love to know how they unload the pollen inside the hive!

Right now, they're getting pollen from cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, dandelions, white clover, and a couple other minor sources.

150509 3 bees with pollen

Some of the early crops are now ready to harvest from the "low tunnels". Here is what they look like from the outside:

150424 greenhouse and low tunnels

And on the inside: wow!!

150510 low tunnel

Lots of spring onions, spinach, kale, bok choy, radishes, early peas, and several other crops. On the far right, in the photo above, is a row of early potatoes. It's truly amazing how quickly everything is growing with the simple protection of a light-weight cover, compared to the unprotected crops a few feet away. I'll definitely be using more of these low tunnels in the future!

150510 baby bok choy

A close-up of the bok choy. One advantage with growing certain crops in these low tunnels, is that they are not damaged by insect pests. Bok choy and arugula are especially susceptible to flea beetles, which chew little holes in the leaves. Using the low tunnels is a non-chemical way of protecting the crops from the pests.

Quite a few outdoor crops were seeded this past week: sweet corn, beans, radishes, beets, many carrots, potatoes, cilantro, dill, zinnias, sunflowers, glads, and several other vegetables and flowers. The soil is so warm, that most of them sprouted within a couple days! Hopefully we don't get any more frosts this spring...