Nature Walk and Plant Identification at the Nature Center

On May 23 from 6:30-8:30 pm we will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify woody stem plants. You will receive a hand out. We will be at out new home the Nature Center located at 430 Riverside Drive. This will be a great meeting place with lots of room inside and out close to our mission. Bridgett Phillips will be our guide for our walk and teach us how to use the dichotomous key to identify plants.  We will walk around the nature center and surrounding areas.  We will be having a brief meeting afterward with job descriptions for new officers to be elected. Come and join in on the fun, sign up to be a volunteer or an officer today as well.

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Tree Care Workshop

We have a special treat this month for our meeting.  Vincent Debrock from Heritage Tree Care is going to be our guest speaker.  Many people have trees in their yard and do not know how to properly take care of them.  And there has been an ever increasing number of people planting  fruit trees. Come to the meeting at the San Marcos Public Library on Thursday May 20, from 7-8:30 PM and learn about tree care.

Mr. Debrock is a Certified Aborist in San Marcos.  We are very lucky to have someone with such expertise living right here in our community!

He is going to cover such topics as:

  • Gardening/landscaping around Trees
  • Basics of Tree Care
  • Proper Mulching Practices
  • How to Deal with Light Issues and Danger of Thinning a Canopy too Much
  • Source of Stress for Trees and Implications (Susceptibility to Insect and Disease Attacks)
  • Nutrient Contents and Texture of Common Soils of Central Texas
  • Caring for Fruit Trees in Central Texas
  • Question and Answer Session

Please tell your friends and neighbors about this wonderful workshop. We want to show Mr. Debrock our appreciation for coming and speaking!  There will be door prizes at the workshop!

It’s Time For Organic Honey

With all of the crazy things going on in the world today, I would like to think that somehow I could become possible for saving the beautiful  little creatures that make it possible for us to survive.  Bees are the sole source of pollinating most of our food supply, especially those of us who are primarily vegetarian.  Bees pollinate, squash cucumbers, tangerine, eggplant, persimmons, carrot, beet, almonds, figs, zucchini, pumpkin and a host of others.  As you see we would have a hard time eating with out bees.  With there being such a problem with bees being killed off by pesticides, I thought I would delve a little deeper into the subject.  I love raw honey and I consume a lot of it.  And I always need the helpers around the garden.  I am always panting flowers to increase bees in the garden. So here is the story.

Non Organic Traditional Style This method is not as easy for the bees  to fight parasites because it relies on chemicals, and because the bees are conformed to change their comb shape to the desired size that the grower has intended.  The typical  comb shape is bigger than the bees are naturally supposed to be.  This leaves them susceptible to parasites.  There is a one day gap in the time that the bees encase the young and protect and the amount of time that the larvae strikes.  With the conventional style the comb is left open to the mites.  In the top bar the bees would have already encased it over.  Harvesting honey takes a special machine.  One strong point of these hives are that it is easy to split a hive in the middle of a season.  You can also add trays to these hives if extra room is needed.

Top Bar Organic Style This is the way nature intended things.  The bees build the combs the size that they intended for them to be built.  The beauty of a top bar hive is that it does not take a lot of money to get it going.  It does not take a lot of room either the hive is about 4 feet long and you need about 4 feet around the hive for space, that is it!  I thought I needed all this space, and I was pleasantly surprised how little of space you really needed.  Harvesting your honey is very easy just pull out the bar with the comb on, cut it off with a knife smash it up in a stainless steel bowl and then strain through a strainer or muslin.  The bees will get any remaining honey off of the wax if you put it near their hive.  There is virtually no pest problems with the top bar method since the bees return closer to their natural size that they are intended to be.

Are You Interested? We had a good turn out at the meeting and we have people that are interested in making bee hives as well.  Jason Harper, our speaker has been so helpful and he will be walking us through all this.  We will be doing an assembly line type building project on Saturday February 20, 2010.  You will pay the cost of the supplies.  It is about $50.00 for two hives.  You need to call ahead and reserve a spot first and we have to have some things precut for you.  Call me at 512.667.4379 or 512.878.0474 or email me at ediblesanmarcos@gmail.com You need to order your bee package now so that it will be here in the spring.  Apparently they run out early and you want them delivered first.  Here is the local link for your ordering your bees http://www.rweaver.com/order.html Now if we didn’t make it easy enough for you, we have many other things going in the way of bees.  We have a program designed where we have a mentor to help you along for the first year, and then you in turn help someone else for a year.  That is just one visit a month!  We also have hive sharing programs.  If you do not have room for a hive and you want to work one.  Or if you want to work a hive but do not have room for a hive.  Call or email and get connected with the benefits now is the time.  Here are some great sites so you can see what a top bar hive looks like and what the plans are like for building them. 1. http://www.lulu.com/content/815182 2; http://www.top-bar-hive.com/my-beehive/searching-for-the-right-top-bar-hive-design/ 3; http://www.biobees.com/images/build_top_bar_hive/ 4; http://topbarbees.wordpress.com/about/design/ 5; http://bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm

I look forward to seeing you soon. I hope that I have excited some of you whether it be for pollination or for food or just a hobby, bee keeping can be fun.  It is inexpensive and you have a support group, it is always nice to do things together!  Aren’t you glad you live in such a great community!   I hope we can save the bees together!