Tuesday, 2 February 2016

It Rained.!

Rain has fallen here in the Barossa and it has lifted our spirits somewhat. First we got 24mm on Friday night, then we had 10mm this morning.
What sheer joy it was to pull on the shorts and raincoat this morning and to become soaking wet while I did all of my chores in the heavy rain.
Daisy was not so keen about leaving her shelter shed to make the dash into the milking dairy though. Precious girl, hates getting her face wet.!

 Brian, always prepared, had cleaned out the gutters on all of the catchment sheds last week. The stock and garden tanks were empty and we had been using mains water for those purposes for the past month, but now the stock are drinking our rain water again.
The house rainwater tanks are separate so that we never run out of rain water for the house.

This is one of the tiny lizard watering bowls that have been appreciated by the many Skink lizards that are breeding in great numbers. While I was watering this mint plant, prior to the rain, I noticed a little skink dash out from behind the pot and drink the drops that fell onto the stones, so it was obvious they were thirsty and water bowls were needed.
Most of us supply water for the birds, but we must also think to place water low to the ground for the lizards, bees and the ground loving birds.

I promise not to write about fruit in this blog post. I just need to think about other things besides fruit preserving for these few minutes, but that blush appearing on the apples is too gorgeous not to share.

Three of our bee hives were not performing well, they were grumpy and lazy. So new queens were ordered from .... Queensland, of course!
They arrived by Express Post and were brought home and placed into the hives immediately. Brian had to find the existing queens in those hives, and kill them before placing a queen cage in the hive.

Inside each little cage the queen bee was accompanied by five worker bees to look after her on her journey. The end of the cage is filled with candied honey and the bees inside eat their way out whilst the bees on the outside, in the hive, are eating their way in. If new bees were introduced into the hive the existing bees would kill the new bees to defend their hive. So, it takes two to three days for the candied honey to be eaten through on both sides, by which time all of the bees will be friends and the new bees will be fully accepted into the hive.
The queens that we purchased were chosen for their placid nature and their ability to perform well in the hive. ie. turning out the maximum honey for the conditions.
And speaking of the conditions for bees, they are not good this year. Most apiarists in this area are resorting to feeding their bees, and we are also feeding. They love the over ripe bananas that we put into the top of their hives and the sugar water that is available in a trough near the hives.
We just have to keep them fed to get them through this tough time of inadequate flowers due to the extreme dry conditions we have had for the past ten months.
There will be no more honey taken from them this summer at this rate, which is most unusual and has happened only once before since we have been keeping bees.
Hopefully we will have a wet year forthcoming and have better flowering for our bees, but until then we will concentrate on keeping them alive.
Thanks for dropping by, and now if you could let yourself out and shut the door behind you, I'll get on with more of this jam making and preserving.
See you again soon. :)


  1. I had to laugh that your queens came from Queensland ... where else if you think about it :-)

    I'm glad that you finally got some rain, and that your gutters were clear ready to catch it all. If only we would STOP getting rain just for a couple of weeks, it would be bliss. After a night of high winds the ground was almost un-squelchy ... then two hours into the morning the heavens opened and the rain was back.

    Our rainwater tank is full and overflowing, all our water butts, even the ones NOT attached to any guttering are full and overflowing and the ground is a sodden muddy mess.

    It seems we live at opposite extremes, if only I could send you our rain for a week your poor bees would have all the flowers they need to build stores to see them through the Winter.

  2. So pleased you have had some decent rainfall and it has lifted your spirits. I have friends in Freeling that have badly needed the rain to settle the dust from the dust storms they have been receiving since the Pinery fires.Residents and farmers in the area have had to endure so much in recent months it is starting to affect their wellbeing. Lovely story about the bees and the effect the weather conditions are having on honey production.... we take the food sources for our bees for granted or the lack thereof.Have a good week with your preserving tasks and hopefully some more rain.

    1. I hope your friends in Freeling also got some of our recent rain Heather. It was certainly welcome here for the gardens but the grape growers and orchardists are not so pleased as it has damaged some fruit.

  3. Hi Sally. I'm happy that the rain arrived for you and will give you some breathing space for a while. I loved reading all about your bees. So interesting, I never knew how new Queen bees take over and how they are transported. Fascinating - great photos to explain too. I love it when bees visit my garden and do all I can to encourage them. Thanks for your lovely blog.

    1. Ah, the rain was a tonic for the garden and for us Dawn. Thanks for doing your bit for the bees.

  4. This may sound like a dumb question but an answer would help me a great deal!!!

    What time of the day do Turkeys usually lay their eggs? I know with chooks that it's usually in the mornings and with Quail it's usually in the afternoon. But l am unable to find any information about Turkey laying habits


    1. We don't have any turkeys, but my sister breeds them, so I'll ask her that question and get back to you asap.


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