The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mouse guard

Honeybee on an aster flowerLast year, I watched dozens of bees visit the New England Aster my mom had planted in her city front yard, and before I left, I'd begged some seeds from her bee-beloved plants.  I scattered the seeds in the forest garden, then ignored them as they came up through weeds this spring.

When four plants made it to the blooming stage, I watched with baited breath, expecting a three ring circus.  But our bees rolled their eyes at me and went back to feeding on the wild asters growing here, there, and everywhere around our homestead.  My guess is that honeybees like asters in general, and that the New England Aster was such a big hit in my mother's yard just because so few people in the city grow asters of any sort. Mouse nest in a bee hive

Despite frosts, our bees are still hard at work gathering nectar and pollen from our asters, so I had planned to leave off their mouse guards until activity began to slow.  But when I checked on the colonies this week, I found a mouse nest in the back corner of one of the hives.  The mouse wasn't present, but it had clearly spent a lot of time ferrying in leaves and dried grass to make its home.

I raked out all of the Mouse guard on a bee hiveleaves and even shook the bottom board off to clean it.  (The bees didn't seem to mind my housekeeping all that much.)  Then I put the hive back together and installed an entrance reducer to keep out further squatters.  The bees will just have to work those asters through the small hole from now on.

Treat your flock to a poop-free chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Do asters grow true to seed? When I worked at a greenhouse, we grew our asters from cuttings. Maybe the seeds from your mother's popular aster grew up to be a less pleasant smelling variety. I remember September time at the greenhouse, you could hear the aster bed buzz from across the field because there were so many honey and bumble bees (and there wasn't even a hive on the property!)
Comment by Edward - Entry Level Dilemma Sat Oct 30 09:12:14 2010
A named variety probably wouldn't grow true from seed, but the same species would be the same species. I think that Mom's plants were just an unnamed variety, and their offspring looked very similar. On the other hand, who knows what they looked like to a bee!
Comment by anna Sat Oct 30 15:07:06 2010

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