Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Breaking Ground

We're working on opening up a new quarter acre plot for vegetable production next year. In the middle (between the two strips of black garden cloth) is a mulched bed of garlic. We planted the garlic in late October for next summer's harvest.

This shot shows the results of one pass with the rotary plow. It does a pretty good job of breaking up the sod, but we'll need to do at least another pass with the tiller attachment to get a workable seed bed. The wavy course of the furrow is due to the rock in the soil that makes the tractor and plow jump around some. After each pass I go back and pull out all the rock I find.

Here's a shot of the pile of smaller rocks that we've recovered thus far:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harvest Wrap-Up

Thought it would be good during Thanksgiving break to take a breather before the Holiday Rush begins in earnest. Truthfully, though, the year has been pretty great. Ed and I are looking forward to a Thanksgiving potluck in Pittsford with fellow members of The UU Church of Rutland.

Well, of the many things we learned this year one thing was clear: We can grow squash! Our yields for butternut squash and pumpkins were particularly high. The pumpkin harvest alone was approximately 75 pumpkins, with the largest one weighing in at 58 lbs! One of the best things about both are how easily we are able to store them over the winter.

The other great thing is how Ed has taken the lead in discovering great soups to make with pumpkins. With the invaluable help of Mollie Katzen's wonderful vegetarian cookbooks, we've made some super discoveries.

We have also gotten some good things accomplished before the winter begins in earnest. I got a handful of bulbs in the ground before the ground froze. I am wondering if cut flowers might be a potential business along with our other market farm endeavors. We'll see. I found out about a great garden supply source that sells heirloom varieties of bulbs; they also put together packages suited for different growing regions of the U.S. I decided to start with their selection for Zone 4b and see how well the bulbs survive the winter. Here's hoping!

Another great opportunity that's come my way this year is working with local potter Carl Buffum at Wallingford Pottery right in town. I've taken on some of the grunt work such as mixing clay and stacking the kiln for firings in exchange for some studio time on the wheel.

I started out working with clay left over from my classes at Frog Hollow, however, all of the glazes I've used so far are Carl's. It was fun experimenting with these. Since I have a tendency toward shiny, glassy glazes, I don't usually spend a lot of time on manipulating the surfaces of my pieces. However, Carl uses one basic white matte glaze that really emphasizes the the texture of the clay body. In the pictures here, it is possible to see how much the glaze moves around to cover the surface of the pieces. Although Carl is getting ready to close down the studio for the year (the larger workplace is in a screened-in porch), I am already looking forward to doing more next spring.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Smokey House

Hi All. Between the post growing season wrap up and taking time to appreciate the beautiful fall colors, I haven't written much about what I'm doing for work right now. At present, I have the privilege of working at The Smokey House Center, a remarkable educational center and working farm located in the awe-inspiring beauty of Danby, VT. With over 5,000 acres of reserved land set aside for its mission, the staff work to teach youth practical skills in sustainable living. Founded with a principal of work as an enhancement to education, all teens enrolled in the programs here are required to report to team leaders, learn group skills, and keep their grades up. It is exciting to see what's going on here, and also take part in some of the daily activities.
My specific title is "Energy Efficiency Intern". I am researching ways to "zip up" some of SHC's buildings so that the organization can save on fuel costs. What that translates to in my work day is: caulking! However, that's great, because ever since my VWW Women's Carpentry Class, I've become more interested than ever in sustainable and energy efficient architecture.

When I'm not doing online research or spending quality time with my caulk gun, I have had the opportunity to really appreciate what a truly beautiful state VT is. Gotta say, driving to work on the Beltway really couldn't hold a candle to this.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Time out for Chuckles

Huzzah! We caught Chuckles today. This juvenile groundhog, whom we dubbed Chuckles, had taken up residence in our run-in shed. Through creative means we convinced him/her to move elsewhere. Unfortunately "elsewhere" ended up in a burrow under our garden shed inside our garden's perimeter electric fence. Dang. So we got a live trap. Turns out apples are a primo bait for wood chucks.

So after taking this picture, I lugged Chuckles down to the creek and freed him/her in our lower wood lot. Hopefully it's well enough away from the garden that we won't have a Chuckles sequel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Power Up

Above is our latest green/sustainable/energy-saving initiative. Davis, owner of Bright Earth Solar, and his sister Rian just finished installing a dozen photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of our shop. The panels are mounted on a fixed frame and are capable of generating a maximum of about 2.5 kilowatts. Over the course of a year this array should produce enough power to offset about 60% of our current electrical load. An adjustable array would have improved the efficiency somewhat, but would have increased the chance of damage in high winds.

Inside the shop is the grid-tie inverter (on right) which converts the direct current from the PV panels to alternating current in synch with the grid. The inverter connects to a meter (center) and thence to the shop's sub-panel (left), where the power back-feeds to the main panel in the house. Our power meter on the house spins backwards when we make more power than we use, which is a pretty nifty thing to see. The payback period will depend on how fast electrical rates increase here in Vermont. If they average 4% per year (which seems pretty conservative), the payback period will be approximately 20 years. But the state is already talking about a 6% increase for next year, so we shall see.

Next month Davis will be coming back to install two solar hot water heating panels on the house. That will help a lot, since we burn oil for our hot water now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Good Earth!

Here are some images from our first growing season. The cherries were planted by the previous owners. They are sour cherries, but they still make pretty fine jam and chutney if Yvonne is involved! And bees go knutz over the flowers in spring.

This is the pumpkin forest that is now elbowing out the potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and a few other things. This shot is from July. Now in early September we have many pumpkins in the 30-40 pound range turning orange. Yikes! We are thinking about hosting a Great Pumpkin party.

Above are a small cucumber and a young butternut squash.

This is our first donation (potatoes, chard, kale, squash, beans, and cucumbers) to The Mission , a local homeless shelter. We've donated over 35 lbs of produce to them so far, plus an equal amount given away to friends at the UU Church of Rutland. And our basement freezer is nearly full.

We thought briefly about selling our extra veggies this year, but decided the good karma of giving away the excess was probably more useful to us all in the long run. Our objective this season was to learn about our soils, pests, weeds, and climate, and to feed ourselves in the process. We have largely accomplished those goals. It has been a good summer!

Swarm 3

Sorry for not posting in a timely fashion. We've been very busy with harvests and bees.

Below is our fourth colony, now termed the duplex. Two days after the second swarm showed up, a third (also from the neighbors or a feral colony) appeared in our blackberries. That's three swarms in 10 days landing within 30' of one another. I think we're in a sweet spot for bees!

We dithered for a few days on what to do; we had very little extra bee hardware on hand. After the swarm stayed put two nights in the berry bushes, and with a forecast of thunderstorms moving in, we decided to try combining this swarm with the second swarm. We hit the bee text book and got the details on using newspaper to temporarily screen the two colonies from one another. A lot of beekeeping theory has become practice for us in a hurry!

This is a shot of the duplex with the newspaper in place. The bees chewed through it in about two days. We later inspected the hive and found the surviving queen. We named her Calamity Jane, and marked her as an '08 queen (red). (She might be older, but there's no way to know.) The race is on: these bees need to quickly lay in 60+ pounds of honey or they will not survive the winter. We're helping with sugar syrup feedings; they are sucking down a pint+ a day. There are plenty of things in bloom and the weather has been perfect, so they might make it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swarm, redux

Last Tuesday (7/29) we went out to the bee yard to check on the ladies. At the same instant we both spotted this in one of the cherry trees:

Seems like we have a honey bee swarm every Tuesday now. What the heck?! I sort of expected Thelma's swarm the previous week, but no way did I think Louise's hive was going to swarm. Well, we eventually found out that Louise and her crew were where they belong -- this was someone else's swarm, or perhaps even a feral colony swarm that happened to land in our cherry tree. It was eerie that they were almost silent; a writhing mass of bugs, but silent. Trippy. They usually make quite a fair racket.

Well, I hate to turn away free bees, and we had some additional equipment (the hive body is still in primer, but useable enough in a pinch). This time we knew the drill and we were even dressed for the occasion!

Shake into hive, add top feeder, cover, and let simmer.

After we got these new arrivals housed we checked the other hives. We found eggs in Louise's colony, and eventually found Louise herself. The eggs were the key though. Bees exist as eggs for 3 days. The queen stops laying eggs at least a week before the swarm leaves, so we knew this colony had not swarmed even before we found Louise.

Over in Thelma's old colony things are going along pretty well. We found at least 4 of these beauties:

The peanut shaped thing is a capped queen cup. (The rest of the frame is mostly of capped worker bee brood.) One or more of these will hatch soon and we'll have a new queen in Thelma's old colony. We're discussing names even now. The fun part will be marking her. We practiced doing that with drones when we took the bee keeping class through the MCBA , so that training will come in very handy. It's a good idea to mark the queen so that you can find her a little more easily. Also the color indicates the year of hatch (2008 is red). Queens will live for 4-5 years, but their best egg production only lasts 1.5 - 2 years. It's really handy to know when she should be replaced -- a weakly laying queen means a weak colony.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Catch a Swarm

Tuesday (7/22), at approximately 1 pm I chanced by the bee yard. Thousands of bees were whipping around the air. Thelma's hive had swarmed! We had had some inkling that this might be in the works, but thought we had headed it off. Not so.

While honey bee swarms look downright biblical, they are really very manageable events if you 1) know what to do, and 2) don't panic. Swarms are the way honey bee colonies reproduce. The queen and most of the bees capable of flight (that's 15-25 thousand) make a mass exodus and search for a new home. They are very gentle while swarming because they have no home to defend. That said, when I gathered myself, I ran inside and told Yvonne what was happening. She alertly brought the camera so you get to see what happened next.

This is me and the swarm in one of our cherry trees. Eventually the swarm lands and waits for the scouts to find a new home. They may stay in the first spot for 20 minutes or 3 days, depending on what the scouts say and the weather conditions. By the way that's steely resolve on my face, not panic.

Here's a close up of the swarm wriggling in the cherry tree. That's the brim of my hat on the right.

Fortunately we had some extra bee equipment on hand for just such an occasion. I didn't figure to use it until next year, but that plan has clearly been overcome by events. I put the hive body underneath the swarm and we cut off the branch of the tree. Then we shook the bees off and into their new quarters, thus:

Once the cover is on, it suddenly looks like a normal bee yard again. Nothing to see here; move along, move along.

Today we took a look at the new hive and added some frames from the established hives. We put in a frame full of honey, and one of larva and capped brood. Folks say the presence of brood is the best way to ensure the swarm adopts the new hive as home. Predictably the bees had gotten a bit confused and were building comb from the top down. That's why they are all piled up on the inner cover. After this shot was taken I shook them down into the hive body, and Yvonne scraped the last of the burr comb off the inner cover. With luck the two drawn frames will convince them to build new comb in the right place (on the foundation, not the roof).

Hopefully the bees that remained in Thelma's old hive will have a new queen hatch out by early next week. (We added a frame of eggs from Louise's hive for insurance, so if there is no queen on the way the bees can make one now.) We'll keep an eye out for an unmarked queen next time we open up that hive. According to schedule the new queen should be making mating flights next week, and should start to lay eggs the week after that. If we're lucky we'll be able to find and mark her. Too much fun!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Compost is the Answer...

...or at least it's a gardener's very dear friend. Compost adds organic matter and nutrients to soil, helps build soil structure, and increases the amount of water the soil can hold by an order of magnitude.

Here is a shot of the two compost piles we have underway so far, with a stack of hay in the foreground. We layer kitchen scraps and some carbon sources (paper, wood chips, and whatever else we can scrounge) in the hay and let it rot to make compost. In time we will add a third pile. The walls for the piles are just some shipping pallets that the previous owners left us.

Like all startup operations, we are compost poor this first year. We should have some finished compost by the middle of August, so that will be a start. Next year we will be in much better shape.

Our source for the hay is the grass from the pasture (most of our land is open pasture). We cut it with the sickle bar attachment on the Grillo. (The tiller attachment is the green thing parked to the left.)

The sickle bar works pretty well, though grass does tend to bunch up around the axle. The blue PTO shield needs to be a bit wider in order to lay the grass more to the sides. If I run out of things to do I'll add some arms to the faring.

In addition to composting the hay, we also apply it directly on the garden as a mulch, as this image shows:

Mulch suppresses weeds and slows moisture loss while it slowly breaks down (rots). All good stuff. In really weedy areas we lay down a layer of cardboard first and then pile the grass on top of that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer, Sawdust and Skillsaws

One of the high points of 2008 has been my opportunity to enroll in a program for Construction Skills for Women sponsored by Vermont Works for Women. I found out about it when I interviewed at the Department of Labor for a spot in the Step Up to Highway Construction program. Vermont Works for Women, a non-profit based in Winooski, VT, provides training and workshops for women exploring careers considered traditionally "male." In addition, VWW provides classes for girls to build their practical skills, express themselves creatively and expose them to professional female mentors.

Construction Skills for Women is really the title of a series of classes; the specific course that I participated in was for carpentry. The moderators of the program displayed high expectations for class participants. Each of us had to interview for the program twice, explain clearly in each interview why we thought we'd be good candidates for the program, and make a commitment to finish the program. Despite the sort of pedagogical spin with which I may have flavored this description, our program coordinators Rachel and Kristen showed uncanny insight in handling each woman's personal situation. I was repeatedly impressed with their "people sense" and ability to manage "situations" gracefully.

The educational aspects of these classes were most valuable. Though most of us hadn't really had much professional experience as carpenters, it became clear that all of us had little fear of getting our hands dirty. Classroom time Tuesday and Wednesday evenings broached topics such as what to expect from the construction trades, workplace environment, self-employment and job-finding skills. Fairly confident in my interviewing skills, I most appreciated the number of professional business owners, mostly women, who participated our class panel discussions. This generous gift of time gave me a lot of personal satisfaction. Women may not be common in construction or carpentry, but we do have a presence. Fab. I'm not ruling out power tools for Christmas yet.

In addition to great speakers, we also had the opportunity to accept on-site placements known as "job shadows." For one day (sometimes a few hours, depending on the work being done) we were allowed to work on active construction sites. I was able to do this three times during the course of the classes. Each time, I had access to a different aspect of the trade. My first placement was on site for a new bank building in Colchester. At this site, I got to use a drill, a circular saw, use a Paslode cordless nailer to set siding and operate a pneumatic lift. I also spent the second half of the day working with a really cool woman named Sylvia who had been in construction for about 14 years.

My next placement was in a private home in Addison County helping two guys finish remodeling work on an old Vermont home. That day, I got to cut and measure drywall, spray foam insulation, and briefly handle a Sawzall. I liked this job shadow for the opportunity it gave me to talk to the other guys on the job about their experiences in the field. It also pointed out to me how differently one has to behave in a domestic environment vs. a regular construction site. Navigating some of the upstairs rooms while wearing a full tool belt and work boots was a special sort of ballet.

The third job shadow I took had me working with the foreman installing cabinets in a new home. This was my first experience on a sustainable build, and I got to ask a few questions about standards, power usage, and materials. This crew was great. The camaraderie was palpable, and I never felt blown off or excluded. In fact, the day went by so fast at this site, that I was actually surprised to hear someone say that it was 4:00 pm! Never had a desk job like that.

Rounding out the classroom discussions and exercises, Saturdays during the course we worked on an actual construction project. As a class, we built a garden shed under the fearless supervision of Amy Judd, proprietress of Plane Jane Builders. Gotta love anyone who'd ditch the office in order to contribute to the skyline of Essex Junction, VT. Amy is not only a confident carpenter, but she is a gifted teacher in numerous ways. Most valuable is her talent for maintaining an active work site where everyone, regardless of personality type, feels at ease. She is also super at letting everyone discover their strengths, not just their weaknesses. Amy was really clear about everyone jumping in and "getting out of their comfort zone."

In any event, it was a great experience. Although I haven't landed a carpenter's assistant position yet, the experience I've had working with others in construction is invaluable. I will be spending two days (Saturday July 5th and Monday July 7th) on a Habitat for Humanity build in Milton. I am scheduled to go back again on August 16th, and look forward to sharing my time and energy with the volunteers on site. While I search for a job, the opportunity to lend my arm to building homes for others sure seems like a fair trade.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bees Galore!

The bees are doing well. This frame has lots of empty cells where new adult bees recently hatched out. Looking through the hives yesterday I saw lots of fuzzy bees. When bees first hatch out they are much fuzzier than the older adults. It will be another 3 weeks before our newly hatched bees actually start flying.

The populations of both hives look good; both "Thelma" and "Louise" seem to be laying well. Thelma's hive has a slight edge in population, and I saw two drone cells on Louise's comb. In about 3 more weeks all the original worker bees that came with the packages will have died off, and our new bees will take over all the jobs in the hive. We expect the population to spike upwards soon -- from the approximately 3,000 that came in each package to the full strength of 50,000-60,000 per hive.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crap. No Raspberries.

So now we know what the Mystery Shrubs weren't. However, it's not all bad news. We seem to have a kind of old-fashioned, culinary style rose known as rosa rugosa. So, for the time being, raspberry jam: no. Home-made rose water: yes.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hits and Misses

Here is some of our first harvest. It's a mixed bag of bolting spinach, red Russian kale and mizuma. Mmmmm. Stir fry! The kale and mizuma have been cut for thinning purposes and should continue to yield in quantity for months to come. The spinach is another matter:

Near the center of this image you can see the flower stalk starting to form. It's been quite dry and the spinach has decided the top priority is to reproduce while it still can. Doh! It's not the end of the world, but the greens do tend to get bitter when the plant goes to flower. So we're cutting those that have started to bolt and using them immediately in salads and stir fries. We've planted more spinach next to the strawberries (which are now up), so that will be along in 6-8 weeks.

Here's a shot of the bok choi which has also bolted and is very leggy (that's red clover on the right). The small yellow spots are the bok choi flowers. It still isn't too bitter, but it's never going to amount to much now, so we'll cut it out and replant it. A total loss, but that's the way it goes. This year is for learning. Well...every year is for learning, but this year especially so.

What's in a name?

We've gotten some feedback that we should rename this blog to something indicating that we're now "farming". Well, not quite. We're sort of "pretty serious gardeners" now. Farming will ramp things up about another order of magnitude. So we're going to keep the blog name for the near term, at least until we sell something.

Bee update

No images on this, but the bees are doing very well. We've dubbed the two queens "Thelma" and "Louise", and both seem to be laying well. We've seen eggs, larva, and capped brood in both hives. This Monday we took a look inside we saw several bees doing the waggle dance to indicate the location of a nectar source. That was very cool! The bees are very gentle, and don't seem to mind us handling them. In temperament our Italian bees are to bees as black labs are to dogs. The only issue with them is their burr comb production. That seems to have mostly settled down, but we still call them our bauhaus bees when we find new, creative features to their comb.

By the way, as many of you know, bees are responsible for at least a third of our food supply. And it's the best tasting third that they contribute to: fruit, nuts, berries, and some veggies like tomatoes and squash. I read recently that a melon farm will produce 80,000-90,000 pounds of fruit per acre when bees are available to pollinate the flowers. Without bees the yield is 10,000-12,000 pounds per acre. That's a really good reason to keep bees!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tiny Veggies!

Here are photos of our early greens. These were taken last week, after three days or so of rain. These are a sample of what we hope to be growing in somewhat larger quantities next year. All of them were planted in rows about two feet wide and 38.5 feet long. They are respectively Red Oak Leaf lettuce, Russian Red kale, mizuna and spinach.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Power Toyz

Oh yeah! We're havin' fun now!

As you can see we received the Grillo and got it into action. It took me a while to learn how to engage the PTO. This has an automotive-type clutch and transmission. That is, an Italian automotive transmission. Mi parlo en po Italiano (I speak a little Italian), but I don't do it well: learning the ins and outs of an Italian transmission took some time. By the end of an hour, though, I was able to put this bad boy pretty much where I wanted it. The Grillo is a nice machine. It has 4 gears forward and 3 reverse; the forward/reverse control is in the right hand, the clutch in the left. It has independent wheel brakes, so swinging it around at the end of a row is pretty simple. The control column swivels to either side, and reverses 180 degrees entirely if the implement is to be pushed instead of pulled.

The tiller itself is just one of 4 implements we own. In due course we'll bring out the 53" sickle bar cutter, the chipper/shredder, and the rotary plow. I predict more fun will ensue.

We got this machine with a little (8 hp) Lombardini diesel engine. While diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline these days, a diesel engine burns only half to a third as much fuel as a gasoline engine with the same torque (in our case 8hp diesel = 12 hp gasoline). In two hours of tilling this quarter acre plot into a finished seedbed I burned about 1/3rd of a gallon of fuel. Added benefits are the reduced maintenance of the diesel engine (on average they last twice as long as gasoline engines), and the flexible fuel potential. We're going to plant oil-seed sunflowers so in a real pinch we could use some of that pressed oil as fuel in the tractor, with some minor modifications.

After the tilling fun was over we planted some asparagus crowns, and companion planted some tomatoes and basil. We planted some strawberry crowns, so we'll soon have a bevy of strawberries (we hope). And we also transplanted our pak choi and tat soi which we had started in paper tube planters. Hopefully the deer won't get them before I get the higher electric fence into action. Another concern is that we have frost potential tonight and tomorrow night. I covered the sensitive things with straw this evening, so hopefully we'll weather this cold air without loss and get on to growing in earnest.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Da BeeZ!!

We are now livestock owners! As of a week ago, Edward returned from a business trip to the D.C. area with two packages of bees.

In the interests of general FYI, we did take classes in beekeeping back in 2006 from the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association. Boy, did we learn a lot! Ed has had a long-standing interest in beekeeping, and he found out about the class. When we found out that Yvonne could take the class for less if she came along, we thought, "That's a deal!" Turned out to be an even better deal than we imagined. In addition to the broad range of experiential data we received, beekeepers are some of the most colorful human beings on earth. Attending MCBA classes and meetings were educational in more than one sense of the word.

The important part, however, was how helpful and enthusiastic the club members were to get new beekeepers (the "new-bees") started. In the past 15 years or so, a great number of hives in the U.S. have been decimated by various blights, parasites and other less transparent factors. Knowledge of these issues is important for anyone planning to keep hives. Beekeepers have to know what they are looking for in their colonies to accurately assess the well being of their bees. Seasonal awareness of weather, nectar flow, pollen availability and neighbors' attitudes have all got to be on the beekeeper's radar. This preparation helped us greatly to start our own hives.

Last week, we started out bright and early Sunday morning to introduce our bees to their new homes. We carried the two packages out to the spot we'd selected between our blackberry brambles and the garden. Fortunately, the temperatures were balmy and there was little wind. We carefully pulled the queen cage (along with dedicated attendants) from the first package, quickly covering the opening it left on top of the main package so only a few more bees would fly out. We balanced the queen cage between the hive frames as we had been instructed so that the rest of the bees would be able to find her quickly. The cage holding the queen is often stoppered with a candy plug which the worker bees will chew through to release the queen. This cage had a small cork plug as well, guaranteeing some insurance that the queen would make it to her new home safely.

Later we would assist our workers in getting the queen out by gently pushing in the cork when we discovered her still in the cage a day later. The workers now had greater access to the queen's chamber and could enable her escape.

Then the real fun begins. We have to remove the can of sugar syrup that has been feeding the bees, while one of us (Ed) up ends the cage and dumps the buzzing, excited contents into the hive body. Only our bottom section has frames to get the hive started so there's room for two feeders to give the new occupants a food supply. Ed deftly handled this duty with verve and élan. Then we did it all again for our second hive.

We are happy to relate that few injuries were sustained. We both already possessed beekeeper's jackets and kept our hoods on during the moving operation. A day's inspection later revealed that the bees were starting to build out the wax foundations, gather nectar and generally make themselves at home. There was some burr comb on the floor of the hive bodies and between some of the frames Burr comb= any comb built in a random fashion around the frames.

It's best to scrape this off as soon as it is discovered so that later the hive body doesn't resemble a random mess of labyrinthine combs. In addition, it's best not to let the queen to have time to lay eggs in this stuff so that when it's removed, you are not killing off developing bees at the same time.

Here at the end of Week One, we were happy to see both of our queens busily moving about the hive, attendant bees on duty and eggs clearly present in the comb. There were even a few capped cells with honey! We also had to scrape out a bit of burr comb to abort some extracurricular building projects. One small piece of burr had some capped honey and pollen. So far, the apiculture experiment seems to be well under way.