Gardens, Bees and Worms, Oh My
North county residents learn tips and tricks to prepare for spring in the fall
October 16, 2019
The Medicine Bow Conservation District held its first urban workshop that went from at 8 a.m until noon on Oct. 3 at the Hanna Recreation Center.
The first guest speaker was Abby Perry from the University of Wyoming extension program with a specialty in rangeland.
She said getting a garden ready for winter can make a big difference with how it will do in the spring. She said it was important to recognize if plants were healthy. This can make a difference for the plants survival for the future.
Perry went over a guide on nutrient deficiency symptoms for plants. She used corn leaves as her example. She went over the chemicals that were needed to keep a plant healthy.
She said mulching a garden as fall approaches is recommended.
Perry said deer pose a real problem when they rub trees in the winter, saying the bark is essential to getting a tree water. She recommends protecting around the base for this pest.
"But if the deer might be kept away from the shrub, it might not keep rabbits away which attack new growth," Perry said.
To exclude rabbits, fencing such as chicken wire or cylinders of hardware cloth are often used to keep the deer and rabbits off trees and shrubs.
She said animal repellents can work once spring comes, but doesn't work well in winter.
She said trees with needles do need water all winter long. If there is no snow cover and it is about 40 degrees and the ground is not frozen, watering is recommended.
"The wind takes its toll and these trees need water," Perry said. "It depends on the weather. Sometimes the tree never has to be watered all year round.
She said when bringing plants indoors that have been outside during summer, all plants should be checked to make sure no insects are on the plants or leaves. Not checking can cause havoc to all indoor plants.
Perry gave the audience a chart that gave probability of what the temperature will be during all the months for Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow, Rawlins and Saratoga.
Perry had brochures on correct pruning, controlling insects, animal pests and promoting pollinators in your garden.
Concerning pollinators, the next symposium after Perry was one on bee keeping given by local beekeepers Sterling and Janet Conover.
Sterling went over the different hives available and made clear how important pollination is to our food sources.
He said bees are the most important pollinators in Wyoming. He said there are 4,000 species of native bees in North America. It is estimated there are 800 species in Wyoming. He said the bees he uses are the Italian species.
"Honey bees came from the Eastern part of the world," Sterling said. "We prefer the Italian because they are considered the most docile, and because they have been the most successful for us."
He said he got introduced by a friend. His friend told him the one thing not to do is make them mad. Sterling said he was hooked.
They started with two hives. The boxes started with 3,000 bees in each hive. 11 weeks later there were close to 15,000.
He said they were able to keep them alive during the winter. They decided to have apiaries. These must be registered so that the state can inform sprayers of pesticides of their location. A bee usually has a three mile radius of gathering pollen.
"If we know the day that they are spraying, we cover the hive," Janet said. We keep them covered for 24 hours."
A problem with sprays is sometimes the pesticides get into the pollen. Then the bees create honey that has these chemicals. Janet said it not only effects the bees and their honey, but it effects ants and butterflies.
The Conovers showed the different hives available for the local beekeeper.
They went over facts of honey bees. They pointed out the duration of the egg, larval, and pupation into an adult worker honey bee is usually between 18 to 24 days. An adult worker bee starts out performing hive support and feeding the larvae the first week. After two weeks, the worker bee starts building honeycomb and brood cells by secreting beeswax and creating cells. After three weeks, worker bees enter the last part of their lives as foragers to gather food to keep the colony alive in the winter.
The Conovers explained how the queen was kept alive by royal jelly and how drones waited around the hive to mate.
They told of the challenge of ants attacking their hives.
"We looked up on the internet that ants didn't like cinnamon," Sterling said. "We discovered the ants walked through the cinnamon we had spread and the next thing we know, the ants are enjoying cinnamon honey."
What did work was putting motor oil around the stand of the hive. He said to make sure no grass touches the hive or the ants will climb the grass.
An interesting fact that most bee species in Wyoming are solitary ground nesters.
The Conovers showed off the honeycomb from their hives. They passed around beeswax. He said beeswax is a cash crop. They also passed around honey for the attendees to taste.
"The darker the honey, the more nutrition there is in it," Sterling explained. "The lighter the honey, the more carbohydrate. Honey is simply dried out pollen."
After the Conovers were done with their bee class, Joan McGraw demonstrated worm mulching.
"I use red wigglers," McGraw said as she got a plastic tub ready for her worms. She said worm bins would be used for breaking down vegetables, fruits and grains.
"Red wigglers are found at a store in Laramie," McGraw said.
She said that the mulch is combination of soil, waste and newspaper. McGraw said the paper is there for insulation and to keep the smell. She said it is important to keep the soil moist with distilled water. She didn't recommend using tap water.
McGraw said that worms from the outside would not really work and that red wigglers did not survive outside in Wyoming.
Once McGraw was done making her worm bin for the audience, it was given away as a prize in a raffle contest.
At the end of the symposium, attendees thanked Liz Ellis, the organizer of the event, who works for the Medicine Bow Conservation District.
She in turn thanked the Carbon County Visitors Council for their sponsorship and the University of Wyoming extension office for their help.
Ellis is hopeful this will be an annual function.
The response of those who came are hopeful this program will be.