Thursday, 31 December 2015

It's too darn hot

Another 39 C day - yuk.  Summer in Melbourne can be just too darn hot.  While we and the pets spend time inside in front of the fan, the beehive gets at least some of the hot afternoon sun.

Here's what we do to spare the girls some of the heat.

A polystyrene box full of water and foam floats is placed on top of the hive. 

Not only does the box of water insulate the hive by stopping direct sun hitting the lid, it also means the girls don't have to travel far in search of water to cool the hive.

We also lean a sheet of masonite (foraged from a hard waste collection) against the side of the hive to shield it from direct sun. The masonite board is heavy enough to stay put in mild winds, and the hive location itself is sheltered from the wind, so the system works well.

In addition to observing the hive, we weigh it on a regular basis to get an idea of what's going on inside.  It has been interesting to note this year how quickly the weight dropped over the hot days. Some weight loss is not surprising - instead of bringing in nectar, the foragers are out gathering water to use to cool the hive, and they are consuming their stores in order to have the energy to make the flights. What surprises us is why we didn't note a similar weight drop over the extended hot period we had in Melbourne during the summer of 2014.

How do you manage your hives in summer?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Beautiful garden pests

Our fruit trees are being ravaged, by garden pests of the most attractive kind:

Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), are very common in our area, and particularly so at our place. Males and females look alike with a mauve head and belly, green wings, tail and back, and an orange/yellow breast. 

Our yard must be like a smorgasbord - apricots, plums, pears, apples, nectarines, peaches, they devour them all, well before they have a chance to ripen.

They are not discouraged easily.  Stern words and shaking of the tree branch are just met with at "yeah, whatever" look.  Secure netting will give them pause, unfortunately we were a bit slow in that department this year and our trees got too big for us to net.

Just as well they are so cute....

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Grow your own chair

A friend sent us this link to some amazing furniture grown from live willow by furniture designer Gavin Munro in England. Using this technique it can take anywhere between 4 to 8 years to grow a tree into a chair.

Some photos of the process are shown below:

The chairs growing in the field:


A close up of the growing chairs:


And here is the finished product:



Amazing huh?  Eco-friendly and no assembly required.  Check out the full story and all the images here

Friday, 18 December 2015