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Friday, November 1, 2013

Bio Dynamic Practice with Birds and Bees and some other stuff

Each year after veraison the vineyard starts to receive attention from the bird population. Mainly from one particular species. We invested a large amount of money in netting to protect the crop and at first this seemed to work. But these pests are particularly aggressive and would stand on the netting and peck at the bunches underneath creating extensive damage.

Last year in a BD newsletter received at the time there was a very good article on making insect and animal peppers. As the timing was right we followed the instruction carefully and made some peppers from a few of the birds and applied the peppers in the prescribed manner as well as netting.

Right through December and into January no birds invaded. Then there was a period of solid rain and afterward the pests arrived. When things dried out again we re-applied the peppers with good results. Last year overall there was very little bird damage. This is not a conclusive trial but it looks very positive and we will try again.

So to the bees.
An examination of the hive today showed a healthy hive. Food stores look good, lots of activity, a few bees bringing in pollen and a few drones walking about. Can't say I was happy with the amount of brood but the smoker died part of the way through the inspection and not all the frames were examined. Will re-examine the hive in a couple of days time.

The SHB (Small Hive Beetle) population was quite small. Is this an indication of a strong hive or just dry weather not being conducive to their breeding? The opening of the hive drives the SHB to the bottom board where there are some small slots leading to a trap filled with Diatomaceous Earth. After each hive opening the trap always has a dozen or two SHB floundering about in the earth. I make sure they get a good coating.

The slide out bottom board SHB trap

We made some SHB peppers last year again at the correct time and today I applied the peppers around the hive in a series of concentric circles. This will be an interesting test. Having used up all the peppers I harvested the dead and struggling beetles from the hive trap and added them to my collection which is kept frozen. As soon as the time is right we will make some additional peppers.

Frozen SHB

When making chocolate the other day I made a large chocolate block with no nuts or shredded coconut for Jean to use in making  a dextrose sweetened chocolate fudge for morning tea which she did today. It was perfect. Moist, a hint of sweetness and very chocolaty.

It broke in two when picked up

Across the river at the workplace things proceeded quickly now that no irrigation is required. The cows had demolished the freshly made Ryegrass silage put out yesterday. They had almost licked the ground clean of any that fell out of the feeder. The last of the old Lucerne was fed to the weaners with the exception of three bales which I was forced to leave in place. In a bowl like cavity chewed into one bale was a nest with 4 or 5 little rabbits huddled together sleeping and making sighing noises. I gently partially covered the nest with a bale for protection and left them alone.

Back home the NZ compost made 5 or 6 weeks ago was due for turning which didn't take long as there was a spare compost box right bedside the it.

And then (finally) got back to repairing the box trailer. We are still two bushes short to complete the task but the newly painted axle and rust proofed springs went in and all but two of the bolts. New bearings and seals and lots of grease completed the wheel assembly. Only five minutes work remains once we get the two new bushes.

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