Giant Silver Perch!

We had a good harvest of silver perch from the swimming pool, using an adapted prawn net. We netted 8 fish, all of which were over a kilo, but the biggest of all was this one- an amazing 2.7 kg! We assume it was one of the original perch we put in 5 years ago, to get to such a size……… either that or it is a real greedy guts!

A whopper!

Leefcutter bee

Over the years we have seen the circular holes made by the leafcutter bee, but for the first time we had the camera on hand and photographed this amazing native bee in action making a nest inside a hole in the mortar between the bricks of our house. the location is a surprise, as it is right by the spade and tap that we use regularly in our front garden!

Heading for the hole with its neatly cut piece of leaf

Heading for the hole with its neatly cut piece of leaf

Entering its nest

Entering its nest

Twisting upside down to get into position

Twisting upside down to get into position

Leaving the nest ready to cut the next piece of leaf

Leaving the nest ready to cut the next piece of leaf

It was a fascinating process to watch! It took about 5-10 minutes to source and cut the leaf (not sure where from as it seemed to fly over the house). This is despite a rose bush being right next too it, which is often used and had some of the tell tale circular holes cut in it already. Once it entered the nest, it took about a minute or two before it flew back out.

Wonderful!

More bugs and beauties!

It is so important not to just work, work, work- even though there is never ‘nothing to do’! Sometimes, it is great to just wander around the garden, camera in hand or not, and see what there is to see. This Painted Jezebel kept hanging around the mistletoe on one of our wattles. After watching it for a while, it settled in laid eggs! It was fascinating to watch, and a really good reminder to just enjoy the moment.

Painted Jezebel

Painted Jezebel

There are a few different native bees around too, especially now the weather is warming up. They like the old nail holes in wooden beams!

Native bee peeping out of the hole

Native bee peeping out of the hole

We have seen a few different types of case moth- this is the latest:

case moth

case moth

And of course there are always those we see with no camera at hand- like the Blue Banded Bee. One day we will get a nice photo of it!

 

Oranges, oranges and more oranges!

We have the most amazing orange tree- it fruits prolifically and the oranges are delicious. Only problem is, there are SO MANY oranges we can’t possibly eat them all so we need to preserve them.

One days picking

One days picking

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Another day’s picking, after giving loads away!

 

One of our favourite ways is to make Orange Brandy Liqueur. It uses up lots of oranges (and brandy!) and tastes divine, however we still had plenty left from last year so really didn’t need to make more with this year’s harvest.

Last year we also froze a load of whole oranges so we could juice them when we wanted- except we didn’t and they were still in the freezer! So out they went, and after a search of the recipe books we settled on:

  • Litres and litres of orange juice- some to drink straight away and plenty for the freezer.
  • We also cut heaps of orange wedges for the freezer- these are great to add to a drink instead of an ice block and are great to suck on on a hot summers day.
  • Orange chutney (18 jars!) – this is delicious, and while it took ages to peel the oranges the result was worth it.
Orange Chutney

Orange Chutney

  • Orange, coconut and apple crisps-we happened to have some apple sauce left over, so whizzed up some with oranges and coconut in the Thermomix to make a paste. This was then dehydrated and broken into pieces for a delicious snack!
Orange crisps and orange, coconut and apple crisps

Orange crisps and orange, coconut and apple crisps

  • Orange crisps– we did this last year too, and is well worth maintaining a supply for quick snacks or to add flavour to cold drinks or tea. The oranges are sliced with a mandoline and then dehydrated.
  • Orange infused vinegar and oil- the dehydrated orange slices give a great flavour to white wine vinegar or a light olive oil. Great for cooking with or for salad dressings.
Orange infused vinegar and  orange infused oil

Orange infused vinegar and orange infused oil

  • Marmalade- it is hard to not make marmalade with a surplus of oranges, so 20 jars were made, which is more than enough for us and for gifts!
Orange marmalade

Orange marmalade

  • Orange paste– by now we were wondering what else to do with so many oranges still. We kept giving them away, the last basket was starting to linger, and we love the fruit pastes that go with cheese so decided to try Orange Jelly (paste). It is quite a simple recipe and really delicious! We made 16 jars, so plenty to last a long time!
Orange jelly- a fabulous paste to have with cheese

Orange jelly- a fabulous paste to have with cheese

And that, finally, saw the end of the baskets of oranges. Now we can enjoy  the wonderful flavour in so many different ways for many months to come, and we have added to the shelves in the produce room!

Full shelves

Full shelves!

Bee swarm!

Here in Perth, we have had an incredibly slow, cold, wet start to spring…….. but yesterday was a beautiful spring day, and the day one of our hives swarmed. The weather had been so awful, we hadn’t managed to check the hives for a couple of weeks, and we still don’t know which of our three hives may have swarmed (all look full and active).

Swarm in a tree

Swarm in a tree

After some discussion, we decided we would keep it, but locate it down near the orchard and ‘dam’ rather than near the house like the others. We had a spare super, lid and plenty of frames so we just bought a bottom board and we were ready to go!

We placed a white sheet under the swarm, climbed the ladder and trimmed the branches around it. It was good to have the white sheet down as quite a few bees dropped in the process. There were two main ‘clumps’ of bees which we carefully placed in the hive box, with four centre frames removed. When we felt we had as many as we could, we did a quick shake and placed the lid on, then wrapped up the bees on the white sheet, and took the hive (in a wheelbarrow) to the area we had chosen.

It all worked well, fingers crossed the bees like their new home and stay there!

so far so good....

so far so good….

The most delicious pineapple!

The waiting was worth it- the pineapple growing in the aquaponics system was finally ready- at the end of July in a Perth winter! Who would believe it? But, all who have tasted it agree it is the most delicious pineapple!

Magnificent pineapple!

Magnificent pineapple!

Juicy and sweet!

Juicy and sweet!

The other pineapple growing in a pot (see the May post), should be ready in a couple of months or so, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in the taste (aquaponics vs dirt). When this one is finished, the top will be prepared and planted ready to grow another pineapple!

Bee update-moving a hive

Having recently changed the kitchen hive to a Warre we have been keeping a close eye on it especially getting into our winter. A check last week revealed condensation inside the hive, and a little bit of mould and mildew. A quick google search revealed that a little bit of mould or mildew is not a huge problem as the bees will clean it up, if they are all fit and healthy. The problem though, is the condensation which causes it in the first place.

condensation inside the hive

condensation inside the hive

We realised that where the hive is it doesn’t get a lot of sun or air circulation. The Langstroth seemed to cope ok, but perhaps the different set up of the Warre makes it more susceptible. Anyway, this discovery led us to look for a different location and a way of moving the hive. There is a lot of information now on moving a hive, without the need to stick to the old ‘less than a metre or more than 3 kilometres’ rule, so we chose a spot about 100metres away, not far from the Topbar hive where the Warre can face ENE and get a good amount of winter sun to help dry it out, we hope!

After dark, the hive entrance was covered with mesh to allow for ventilation but no bees, and the hive was strapped to keep all the boxes in place. Next morning we loaded the hive onto a trolley and moved to its new, prepared location.

Moving the strapped up Warre to its new location

Moving the strapped up Warre to its new location

Once in position, we put some leaves near the entrance, as this obstacle apparently makes the bees more likely to reorient and slow down their exit (they are less likely to be on ‘auto pilot’ and return to the old location by mistake).

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Also to help their reorientation we kept them in for 3 days- apparently they can ‘forget’ their previous orientation.

Thousands of bees wanting to get out!

Thousands of bees wanting to get out!

Settled in its new location, near water and the topbar, but still closed up.

Settled in its new location, near water and the topbar, but still closed up.

After three days, we opened up the entrance, made sure the leaves were in front as an obstacle, and watched the bees pour out! Sure enough, they crawled out and circled above the entrance (a sign they are reorienting).

Bees first exit in their new location

Bees first exit in their new location

Unfortunately there were a lot of dead bees too, but we hoped that ultimately the hive was better off for the move. Soon we saw lots of bees circling the old location near the kitchen window, looking for the hive, but within an hour or so they had gone, we hoped back to their new home.

Subsequent days there were more bees flying in the old location, but again only for a short time, hopefully they returned safely. The Warre is getting some lovely winter sun and hopefully drying out. In another day or so we will check it out and see how it is going. If necessary due to a loss of bees we can take the top box off and reduce the size. Fingers crossed!!

Birdlife

It is wonderful to see a variety of native birds on our property- and always exciting to see something new, especially when it is a bird we have heard many times but just could not see it! The Fan-tailed Cuckoo is one of those! It has a very distinctive call, so was easily identifiable….. but it always went quiet when we started to get close enough to see it! Well, finally we saw one- and managed a photo!

Fan-tailed cuckoo

Fan-tailed cuckoo

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