I’ll be honest, the first thing about a Warre hive that caught my attention was the absolutely charming appearance. Any beehive, whether it’s thrown together with spare materials, a beautifully crafted cedar hive or a simple white Langstroth is wonderful to my eyes. Long before I began keeping bees I was tempted to pull over on the side of the road at the sight of a beehive to stop and stare. That being said, there really is a unique beauty to a Warre hive and it’s not all superficial. After some experience keeping bees in our own Warre hives I have gained quite a lot of respect and appreciation for not only the trials and errors of Emile Warre but his ultimate design.
A Warre hive is sometimes described as a vertical top bar hive but it’s not quite as simple as that name would imply. It has several unique features including a quilt box at the top lined with sturdy cloth and filled with wood shavings or straw to help control climate and moisture. Also, the roof is vented which helps to promote favorable conditions inside the hive. The bars that go across the top of the hive boxes for the bees to build their wax from have no sides or bottoms and use no wax foundation. Some beekeepers use wax foundation strips but we just melted some beeswax and painted some onto each bar which worked great. Because the bees obviously need to move up and down through the boxes, the top bars do not rest end to end as they do in a horizontal top bar hive but with space in between them more like a Langstroth. New boxes are added to the bottom.
While our Warre hives have observation windows which I love, I find that I know less about their week to week or even month to month activities. Warre hives are to be opened once a year for harvest after the main flow and really no more than that unless there’s a good reason or you’re adding a new box. Let me share with you a few things I have noticed about our Warre hives though:
As I see steep population booms and drops throughout the season in my Langstroth and some of my top bar hives I’ve noticed a slow and steady rise of the population in the Warre’s.
During the hottest months when I see significant bearding (bees hanging out on the front of the hive) I see very little of it on our Warre hives.
They seem to have a greater population going into fall and slightly larger stores (possibly because of the moderate population during hot months).
A couple of weeks ago at the end of November, I saw many drones still coming and going from a particularly active Warre. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve seen a single drone in any other hive. They must have plenty to share!
Regular hive inspections aren’t part of the deal as this architecture is supposed to promote ideal conditions for bees to thrive with minimal intervention from the beekeeper. This makes Warre hives ideal for gardeners or farmers who are interested in pollination, people who want to keep bees but have little time to commit to regular maintenance, or people who just want to help the honey bee by keeping a beautiful hive or two in their yard and enjoy watching the comings and goings of these amazing insects (as if some fresh, sweet backyard honey on your toast every morning isn’t enough reason).
There are plenty of websites that sell Warre hives but if you’re on a budget you can find even more websites that have free plans to build one yourself. Also, if you’re interested in the philosophy of Emile Warre you can find his entire book “Beekeeping for All” published many places online. It’s not only a fascinating read for anyone interested in bees but serves as a sort of manual for keeping bees in a Warre hive.
The brief overview I’ve provided here is just the tip of the iceberg so if you’re intrigued, I urge you to explore further by taking advantage of all the free information out there. Even if we all just learned a little more about bees it might drastically improve the future outcome for this amazing little insect that (whether or not we know it) we all rely so heavily upon.
Lindsay Williamson is a stay at home Mom to two beautiful boys and keeper of several hundred thousand (bee) girls. She also enjoys gardening, cooking, baking, sprouting, and brewing at her home in North Carolina that she shares with her partner Vance and their children.
Photo by Vance Lin and Lindsay Williamson
After our goats spent many summer months with only a small shed for shelter, we decided it was finally time to build them a real barn. Winter was quickly pressing upon us, and it would soon be followed by kidding season in the spring. Also, our bossy new Alpine doe made it necessary for us to provide more space for the others to get out of her way, especially since they would soon be pregnant. So, using a continuous supply of homemade apple pie as a bribe, and we got a crew of a few family members and friends and got to work.
The blueprint was simple and rather small, but it would provide sufficient space for our needs. The structure would be a 12x24 lean-to, which would be divided into an 8x12 feed room and a 12x16 area for the goats. The goat side would then be divided into three 4x6 kidding stalls and one 10x12 open area. The feed room and goat section would each have a large, 6' sliding door. The plot for the barn was situated on the crest of a hill about 70 yards from the house, which was also on a hill. Unfortunately, the tops of hills were the only flat areas on our property.
Construction began early on a frigid, drizzly day in mid-October. We rented an auger for digging the post holes, which proved to be a worthwhile investment; clay soil and abundant tree roots would have made manual digging nearly impossible. The first half of the day was spent digging the holes and pulling out a tree stump. Meanwhile, I stood by pointing fingers, sipping hot coffee, and asking obvious questions — like any good foreman. By the end of the first weekend, the posts, framing, and rafters were complete. Although the majority of this progress should be attributed the brilliant engineering mind of my uncle and the tireless labor of my husband and step dad, I am sure at least a portion was due to my superior directing capabilities.
Of course, I assumed this project would take two full weekends at the most. We had the determination and the laborers, fueled by caffeine and pizza. Also, I was feeling the crunch of breeding season and pressure from Ms. Bossy. Every night I was jamming a temporary divider into the small shed to protect my small Mini Mancha from the Alpine's big ego. Most evenings were spent in frustration trying to herd, and keep, goats on the proper side of the divider, while most mornings found the divider disdainfully knocked to the floor. So, it was with a certain measure of unease that I watched weekend after weekend pass without the goats able to use the new structure. My husband was working ten hour days on the barn during the few days he had off of his regular full-time job, and immense progress was being made. However, the scope of the project was simply beyond my rather limited estimating capabilities.
After three weeks, the feed room was complete. At this point, I reached the end of my rope as a night-shift goat referee. So, I decided to lock the goats in the feed room at night. It was larger than their current shed, and allowed my Mini Mancha the room to escape if need be. Within another week and a half, the other side was finished and the fence was moved to allow regular access to their new home. Hooray!
Finally, our barn was complete. It looked a little patchy; temperatures suddenly plummeted below freezing before I could finish painting it the stereotypical Barn Red, but it was fully functional. It was with overflowing enthusiasm and thanksgiving that I quickly regained my sanity, my husband reclaimed his weekends, and my goats frolicked a little more gleefully around their pasture. Most importantly, my claim to be a farmer was slightly more legitimated by the fact that I now actually had a barn.
It’s been about two years since I first got my goats, so when I learned about the Yule Goat (or buck), I was intrigued. It appears that goats have been a part of Scandinavian Yule tradition longer than Christianity and have been incorporated into Christmas celebrations. Yule was basically — and still is with neo-pagans — a celebration of the winter solstice. Scholars think the Yule Goat (Jul Bukk or Jul Bock), may be a nod to Thor whose chariot is pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.
The Yul Bukk is also the last sheaf of grain from harvest. Imbued with magical properties, I suspect farmers looked at the Yul Bukk as being lucky. Having enough of a harvest to where having sheaths of grain in Scandinavian countries probably was lucky.
By the Christian era, the Yule Goat became the symbol of Christmas. Young people walked around caroling, playing pranks, and acting out plays that would often feature the Yule Goat. Singers would receive fruit, nuts and baked goods for their songs — presumably in bad times, it was a way for the needy to get food.
The Yule Goat occasionally showed up as an invisible critter who wanted to make sure that Christmas preparations were done properly. Over time, the Yule Goat morphed into a bundle of straw bound with red ribbons that stood in the shape of a goat. People put their Yule Goats on their tree or someplace where it can enjoy the festivities.
My goats seem oblivious of Christmas or the Yule Goat festivities. Even so, they are pranksters and would appreciate the lighthearted sentiment of the Yule Goat if they understood it. And while they’d rather eat the current Yule Goat than admire it, I think it’s only fitting that goats, the oldest of the domesticated farm animals be part of the winter celebrations.
To you and yours, have a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Merry Solstice, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate. And have a very safe and Happy New Year!
Living at 9.750’ in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains means that encounters with wild life are going to occur on occasion. As we humans spill over into their habitat it is important that we live in harmony with wild animals. When you reside in their habitat there will be encounters and how you handle those encounters is important. We have made a conscious effort to not disrupt their lifestyle but peacefully co-exist with them.
We have black bear, elk, deer, coyote, bobcat, lynx, grey wolf and mountain lion in our area. We have managed to live respectfully with all of them throughout our 16 years. In the process we have learned much about these animals and have had numerous encounters with them. We have been inches from bear and within 8 feet from a mountain lion and are still here to write about it. We have found that wildlife is generally respectful of our space and we in turn are respectful of theirs. Encounters are sometimes sudden and unexpected but by staying calm and not panicking we survive safely. We opened the back door once and standing there inches away, with only a thin pane of glass separating us, was a bear. By remaining calm and taking advantage of the bears surprise we closed the door, waited a few minutes and allowed the bear to depart. Most encounters have occurred just this suddenly and unexpectedly.
Understanding Wild Animal Behavior
We have found that wild animals are far more predictable and respectful than many people we know. Many of the stories we have been told and read are far different from what we have actually experienced. We are never careless around wild animals and do not encroach upon their territory. Most often wild animals go out of their way to avoid us. I hope no one interprets this to mean that wild animals are your friend because that is clearly not the case. They are wild animals and will do what wild animals do but if suddenly encountered and you keep your head and stay calm you will most likely walk away from the incident unscathed. Understanding what the animal is telling you by its behavior and body language is imperative to staying safe. A close encounter with a mountain lion where the cat was coiled on the ground, ears laid back and snarling was its way of telling us that we had invaded its safe zone. We slowly backed up and made no menacing gestures, remained calm (not always easy) and it finally bounded away much to our relief.
I hear people espousing how dangerous wild animals are and in fact they can be dangerous, but usually they only want to retreat to safety. Our numerous experiences reveal that if we are caught in a situation with a wild animal when we stay calm and be respectful of their space that most of the time the incident will favorably resolve itself. I would never suggest that when you encounter a wild animal that you try to get closer for a photo or better look. That is clearly inviting a potentially disastrous encounter.
Our personal experience is that when you encounter a potentially wild animal that you first and foremost remain calm and not make any aggressive or sudden moves that would threaten the animal. Quickly assess your situation and if possible slowly back away from the potential threat. If you choose to live in their habitat you will have encounters and it is how you handle those encounters that will largely determine the outcome.
Common Sense with Wild Animal Encounters
Not all people should be exposed to wild animals outside a zoo. Some seem to lack the common sense to handle the situation properly. A good example would be the time we were camping in Custer State Park where buffalo roam free. A totally wild buffalo was resting by the road when a car pulled up and out jumped two adults and two small children. The man directed the woman and children over to stand in front of the buffalo so he could take a photo. Then he directed the woman to put one child on the buffalo for a photo - which she refused to do. People with this approach to wild animals should not expose themselves to wild animals. They are tempting fate that potentially could end with disaster.
While bears are very curious, trying to get close to one in the wild would be a major mistake. I have witnessed them lift a large rock with one paw that I would have trouble moving with our tractor. They are tremendously strong and nothing to be trifled with. Equally careless would be jogging in a mountain lions habitat. They see something running and their prey drive kicks in and they pursue and attack. Even though we have mountain lions around we still see people jogging down our road with ear buds and music in their ears just inviting a potential attack.
When you live in predator habitat you need to constantly be aware of your surroundings and conduct yourself properly. When you do have an encounter, remain calm, check for an escape route and find a way to extricate yourself from the situation. If that is not possible look for a weapon to defend yourself. We once had to back away slowly from a persistent bear and circle about a mile around to make sure we stayed safe. If you have dogs it is best to have them well trained so they will not show aggressive behavior toward a wild animal. A small dog or any dog that barks incessantly or challenges another animal will certainly pose no threat to a bear or large cat but in fact may provoke the wild animal. Dogs running off leash need to come when called as they are no match for a bear or cat. Coyotes tend to lure them off into ambush. The most important part of an encounter is to stay calm and not panic. We have walked away from many encounters simply by following the above suggestions.
Photo by dreamstime.com.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and mountain living go to: www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to blog about bees and beekeeping! I must confess, I’ve never blogged before, but it should be fun telling you about the wonderful world of the honeybee. I’m very enthusiastic about these little ladies and, as you get to know me, you’ll understand why. But here’s a little bit of past history:
Here in the original Down East they call me “The Bee Lady,” but you might call me the “accidental beekeeper,” because I had no intention of becoming so involved with these sweet golden buzzers — I was a gardener first and foremost but found when I moved here from New Jersey, by way of the Turks and Caicos Islands (that’s a story for another time) there were no pollinators for my squash! The sad little squashettes were just withering on the vine! The thought of hand-pollinating gave me shivers, so I figured, “What the heck. Get a couple of hives.” Well, let me tell you, these little girls are addictive! Once you take a peek into the workings of a hive, you’re hooked.
Bees and beekeeping have become my Crusade, and it is on that note I hope to seduce you into the world of the honeybee. To pique your curiosity about these lovely ladies, let me give you a few honeybee facts:
Did you know that honeybees are not native to the US? English colonists brought German bees, or "dark bees," to the New World in 1621. And in colonial NC taxes could be paid using beeswax!
The average colony contains between 30,000 and 60,000 bees: one queen, a few hundred drones, and the rest workers. While a queen can live as long as 5 years, a worker bee will work herself to death in 45 days. She can fly as far as 3 miles and at speeds up to 15 mph (a 4-minute mile!). In her lifetime, the average honeybee visits at least 650 flowers and produces only ½ tsp of honey! So, if you dip honey with a spoon and don’t lick the spoon, some poor honeybee’s lifetime production is for naught!
You should know, too, that honey is one of the safest foods in the marketplace. It has many qualities that resist or reduce bacterial contamination. It is very important to never refrigerate honey! It will crystallize and you’ll think it’s gone bad (it hasn’t. . .you can restore it by placing the jar in a pot of hot water for a couple of minutes—or better yet, just put it on your dashboard in the sun for a day). The best way to store honey for a period of less than a year is at room temperature. For longer periods (who has honey for more than a year?), freeze it.
As for pollination, did you know that it takes 12-18 honeybee visits to a cucumber blossom during a 15-hr period to produce a well-shaped cucumber? I gotta tell you, these girls have their work cut out for them!
So far I’ve given you the good news. But you all know there’s bad news, too. Honeybees—and all pollinators—are having a dickens of a time lately. Losses of thirty percent are not uncommon and I—for the first time in many years—lost hives over this past winter and then had trouble re-queening this spring!
The possible reasons are many and I plan to cover all the possibilities in future blogs. But to sum up, beekeeping is a fascinating hobby, and we need more beekeepers if we plan on keeping the world in good nutritious food. I hope this bit of trivia has whetted your appetite to know more about our honeybees and maybe start keeping your own hives! If that’s the direction you’re going, I’ll be happy to help you along the way. And if you’re just here to help the honeybee, Welcome! We all need to work together. Hope we get to bee good friends.
I enjoyed Bryan Welch’s article about Elon Musk’s creations. Initially, I was caught up in the techno-wizardry of the Tesla car, Space-X, Solar City, and the Vacuum Transporter. After that spell passed, however, I found myself deeply troubled by what I read and, to a much lesser extent, the fact that it was in Mother Earth News.
When our greatest visionaries and social commentators are touting luxury cars as solutions to our greatest problems, then yes, we are doomed. No doubt Mr. Musk is an accomplished genius and businessman, but he, like most of us, is trapped in a paradigm which limits his visionary capacity. Fancy cars are within the box. A Solar City that merely allows us to buy more iphones is in the box. The box is the problem! Until that is addressed we are still racing for the cliff at 0-60 miles per hour in four seconds or, even worse, at rocket speed. Yes, they are small steps in a better direction but no, not really visionary to me. (An aside: Electric cars are touted for their enhanced efficiency – mpg in a way. But don’t bicycles get really great gas mileage? And keep us fit? And what about horses? And horses with buggies or carts? They’ve been around forever and don’t need much gas or wars for oil.)
Humanity's love of technology — be it fire, steel, atomic energy, or computers — usually dangerously outpaces our capacity to use that technology wisely. Our innovation curve is way ahead of our wisdom curve. And it’s only gotten more exacerbated as the pace of innovation along with the growth of population has quickened. We need visionary, out-of-the-box wisdom to confront and solve our greatest challenges.
Here’s a fun story: For a while I lived in Missouri around an Amish community. While there a friend shared a story about a decision one community made about their barns. Turns out this particular Amish group decided to remove the lightning rods from their barns because the rods were adversely affecting their community. Without the occasional fire, they were losing one of the most important traditions, some of the strongest glue, of their community – barn-raisings. If I were in that community, I might ask how we could have both the rods and the benefits of the barn-raisings without so much fire and destruction. But the overall point I take from the story is that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do something.
Consequences of Elon Musk's High-Tech Creations
So how do Mr. Musk’s creations affect us and our community? I see four very relevant consequences not touched upon in the article:
1. They share the common thread that they further separate people from place, often at great speed.
To me it is precisely this separation of people from place that is a root cause of so many of our greatest problems. Who cares about trees if they never plant one or climb in one? Who cares about a neighbor if one is not around long enough to get to know them? Who cares about the soil, ponds and rivers, polar bears and monarch butterflies if they’re zipping about in vacuum tubes or fancy cars (presumably to and from work to pay the $70K bill)? As we flit about to jobs, to sporting events, to the mall, to doctor’s offices, to gyms while connected to little screens telling us to how to look, how to spend, and ultimately how to think, we drop further into the abyss of consumption and destruction with blind allegiance to the military industrial complex that feeds on our separateness. Further, while cheap energy has it’s perks, if it only serves to get us more iphones, TV’s, x-boxes, and thermostatically-controlled homes (made of toxic industrial materials) so we don’t ever have to feel the sun on our backs and the wind in our hair then it is a grave problem, not a panacea. It is too much candy for a five-year old. The last time infinite, cheap energy was sold to us we ended up with atomic bombs, the cold war, and nuclear waste not to mention an ever greater disparity in wealth. Thanks, but no thanks.
2. They rely on complex technologies whose raw materials are most likely mined and built by exploited workers.
Who mines and processes these precious materials giving the Tesla its special features? And where? Chances are great that they are mined by people who are treated poorly and paid poorly in countries with governments that lack great humanitarian practices that are propped up by our vast military-industrial machine. The iridium or chromium inside that Tesla (or even the rubber/oil on its tires), the silicon in a solar panel, and the titanium on the rocket all come at a greater human cost than the hefty price tags alone.
3. They ignore their environmental impact in the creation and disposal of the technologies themselves as well as of the creation and disposal of the gadgets made available by cheap energy (from Solar City, for example).
The environmental impacts of the mining and extraction of materials for these creations are enormous. Yes, even the holy cow of solar has great impact. Add their disposal, including the 1000 pounds of batteries in the car, and the impact grows. How many cities in China or Africa are drowning in our techno-waste - its people, soil, water, creatures suffering from our insatiable desire for the latest shiny object.
4. They typify our culture’s (the one dominant world culture based on extraction) age-old belief that new technologies will “free” humanity and/or greatly improve our lives.
Yes, technological advances are neat and often helpful. I am grateful for antibiotics, books and libraries, the saw and the screw driver. But time and again an advance is most needed only because we humans have so devastated, so polluted, so contradicted our health and environment. Our wisdom lags behind our material “progress”. Has atomic energy made us freer? Have cars really improved our lives and the state of the world? Are manatees happier with tablet computers around? Waiting for the next big thing (Mars, 0-60 in three seconds, i-glasses…)is a wonderful diversion to the best of life – walking, talking, creating at the human scale, napping … In other words, doing the work that connects us to nature, spirit, and each other while respecting the earth and all of its inhabitants.
What Makes a Visionary?
It is not fair to expect Mr. Musk to put his great intellect to work solving our problems of greed and our deficiency of wisdom. He is a product of the “box” and performing within its confines extraordinarily well. It is also too easy to put him or visionaries like Gandhi or Jesus or MLK Jr. on a pedestal; just out of reach or at the safe distance of history rather than expect ourselves to come up with our own solutions. To do that work and that visioning, to “Be the Change we want to see in the world” requires us to look long and hard at ourselves. A difficult and often disturbing task made even harder by the great current of culture pushing the other way. It requires us to be in one place long enough to see what needs to be done; to ask and observe, to walk and to talk, to listen and wait. Only when we can do that, each of us, will real and meaningful progress ever happen. Only then will our wisdom begin to out-compete our technological prowess. Let’s hope it happens soon.
I traveled to the little town of North, South Carolina, and turned right onto Highway 178. After crossing a tea-colored stream, I went through a gate into my friend’s property. An 18-acre lake lay about a half mile into the property and it was a mild spring day. I loaded up a Jon boat with 150 pounds of fish feed and pushed off to fill fish feeders, and to survey the lake for early weeds. The lake water was also light tea-colored; acidic, tannin-colored water is common to the central part of South Carolina. The lake was fed by a swamp to the east, separated by a beaver dam, and then the lake fed the stream, which travels to Edisto River.
The lake was completely calm, and I paddled up a channel that ran along the shore. I slowed and let boat drift to a stop. Leaning over the boat and turning it so the light was still good, I could see about 3 feet into the water with my polarized glasses. There was a Christmas tree sunken under the boat. The needles were long gone but all the small branches were still intact. The whole tree was decorated with 1-inch fish ornaments. Young bluegill had taken up residence in this structure I installed in January. It was a great nursery habitat. Structure refers to three-dimensional habitat for fish to enjoy in a pond or lake. This occurs naturally in the form of aquatic plants, rock outcroppings, shelves that provide rapid changes in depth, and submerged trees. Fish populations benefit from increased habitat in the form of structure.
Make Pond Fish Habitats
One of the pond management things you can do this fall to help your fish is to add three-dimensional habitat, especially if you have a bass-bluegill pond. Bass and bluegill are actually both part of the sunfish family and one of their attributes is that they like to stay near some sort of structure. It makes them comfortable. When you are trying to culture bass and bluegill in a balanced system, the bass should control the large number of small bluegill. Keeping them in close contact with one another is key. Structure does this. It also concentrates the fish population so that you know where to go when you would like to catch a few.
Each year, I would cruise the neighborhoods and pick up curbside Christmas trees in January. With the trees piled high on my trailer, I looked like a Grinch that didn’t arrive on time to ruin Christmas. Using Christmas trees for structure is a common recommendation when reading pond and lake management guides. Something you learn when trying to launch them: the trees float, and it takes more weight than you think to sink them.
There are several tried-and-true types of structure and you can use your imagination to make more. A good place to start is the weight: 5-gallon buckets and 20 pounds of concrete mix. Then you can add any type of structure that will make good three-dimensional habitat.
Three-Dimensional Options for Pond Habitats
• Vinyl siding that has been cut into small strips and bent in different directions
• Bamboo trees 4-8 feet tall
• Polyethylene irrigation piping pipe –used or new
• Other recycled material- piles of broken concrete, tires, pallets
After construction is complete, launch the structures in depths appropriate for their size, keeping in mind that deep areas may not have enough oxygen to support fish during the summer.
You can also cut small unwanted trees along the pond bank and allow them to fall in the water; some people like to leave 18-inch tall section of the tree stump as a hinge so that it does not float away. In addition to making good fish structure, this partially submerged tree trunk will be a habitat for turtles.
'Liming' a Pond
Liming is another fall activity. This involves adding agricultural lime, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to the pond. The calcium and magnesium components raise the hardness, while the carbonate component supplies alkalinity. Hardness increases the successful hatching of fish eggs and the survival of small fry. Crawfish and other crustaceans that your fish will use for a food source will benefit from hardness as well. The alkalinity reduces the daily variations in pH, giving your fish a more consistent environment. It also promotes healthy chemistry in your pond mud and helps to cycle nutrients.
Naturally-occurring hardness and alkalinity can vary greatly depending on your soil type, water source and geology. Lime is inexpensive; however, applying it is a challenge. Brace yourself: You will typically need one to two tons per surface acre.
How do you know if you need to lime? You can use pool testing strips or aquarium testing strips to get a general idea of the hardness and alkalinity in your water. Your county’s cooperative extension service system will usually have a testing service as well. A level of 100 parts per million (ppm) on both alkalinity and hardness indicates that your pond has adequate lime. 20 ppm would indicate a definite improvement with a lime application.
Lime can be applied by shoveling off a platform constructed over the front of your boat. It can also be sprayed in or washed in from the edge with a pump. One to two tons per acre is a lot of heavy material. Be safe with respect to your back, and also take care not to load too much on a boat and tip it over.
Pond plants are dying back for the season this time of year and developing thatch along the shoreline. Thatch varies among different plants. Pickerel rush and cattails are native plants but do produce a lot of thatch that dies in the fall. If left alone, thatch falls in the pond, and creates sludge and structure for the aquatic plants to grow on next year, creeping further into your pond and slowly filling it in. Unless that’s your goal, it should be removed or thinned. A brush ax and pitch fork are commonly used. The “Pond Shark” is a great tool specifically for managing shoreline vegetation on your pond. I have used it and it works.
Stop Pond Erosion
Erosion can affect pond health long-term and erosion control is a timely project for the fall. Patching up edges of your pond that have been damaged by livestock, geese or simple weathering is a good idea. Simple application of a winter rye grass or other cool season ground cover can be effective. Reinforcement products made from coconut fiber, jute, straw mat, or other fibers that are wildlife friendly can be installed and staked in to control erosion and make for more successful grass stands. Addressing developing erosion early can prevent silt and mud from washing into your pond where it will affect the volume and water quality over time.
And you thought you were just going to relax and enjoy the pond this fall?
Next time, I will talk with you about cage culture of fish.