I hope everyone enjoyed their first week of delicious, fresh vegetables from our farm! As nature constantly reminds us, we’re part of a vibrant ecosystem. A snapping turtle laid her eggs by the pavilion last week, and our bee colonies—essential for pollinating our crops—are burgeoning.

First, the turtles. We have a stream, Baiting Brook, that runs behind the trees along the eastern edge of the farm and is home to snapping turtles. The afternoon before our first CSA pickup, Kerry and I noticed a turtle by the pavilion. She made her way to one of the posts and began digging a hole.

Kerry and I watched her lay at least 10 eggs before we returned to work! When she finished, she covered her eggs, then made her way under one of our sheds and (we assume) back to the stream that runs along the farm.

Since you will use the pavilion frequently, please help us protect the eggs. For the time being, we’ve placed a barrier of flags around the site where the eggs are to prevent anyone from walking over them. Kerry and I put a reminder in our calendars so we know when to start looking for baby turtles!

Bees and Stearns Farm Honey

As many of you know, one of our CSA members, Arthur Johnson, keeps some of his hives at the back of the farm, near the blueberry bushes. He has been super busy this year checking on the hives that survived the winter. The bees have been doing so well this spring that he has been able to make several more colonies from ones that have nearly outgrown their boxes.

When a colony grows beyond the capacity of its home, the bees will decide that it is time for some of them to move out. This is called a swarm. When a colony swarms, they raise a new queen to remain with half of the worker bees, and then the old queen and the other half of worker bees leave to find a new home. Though a swarm can look intimidating, the bees are extremely docile at that point because they don’t have any honey or home to protect.

Being an experienced beekeeper, Arthur is able to anticipate when a colony is getting ready to swarm and he will split the colony up to give them more space. Just this year, he has made about eight new colonies at Stearns alone, and even more at his other sites.

If you’re careful, you can observe the hives yourself. Stay on the farm road, so you do not disturb the bees. They will sting if they feel threatened.  If you are allergic, take appropriate precautions.

Arthur plans to extract honey and will potentially have a limited number of jars for sale by early August. If you’d like to reserve a jar, please email him ASAP at arthr31@yahoo.com. (I highly recommend it. The honey is delicious!)

Until next time,