Transplanting a Decades-Old Crape Myrtle Tree

Author: Meera, May 15, 2018

Friends said it was a bad idea. The tree was too large, too old, and too unwieldy to dig up and transport from my daughter’s property to mine. The crape myrtle  would not survive, they told me, because its large root would need to be severely cut. Also, without a crane or other lifting device, three of us would be struggling to deal with such a heavy tree.

 

 

 

The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter

The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter

 

 

 

 

I won’t say moving the tree  was easy. It had been standing for 28 years next to my daughter’s house, but she wanted to make way for new landscaping. When the family decided to part with the tree, they called on a family friend who worked as an arborist. He would do the cutting and digging of the tree.

 

Crape myrtles (of the genus, lagerstoemia) are available as shrubs and trees and are lovely in bloom with showy paniculate flowers in pink, fuchsia, red, or lavender. They are one of the trees that make little-to-no pollen (great for allergy sufferers). Light pruning during the growing season can produce a second bloom. Much beloved in the deep south, these trees remain stately and beautiful for up to fifty years.

 

My daughter’s tree arrived at the farmette in mid-October strapped onto our friend’s truck. The roots had been cut away. There were no fine root hairs or stems left–just bare wood. Ditto for the tree canopy–just a few hefty branch stubs. I wondered if our efforts would prove futile.

 

Hubby and I prepared a large planting hole just off from the patio. We added amendments to the clay soil and drove in stakes to keep the tree stable for a year or more until it had sufficiently developed roots. I added root hormone to the soil and watered deeply the first day and several times that week.

 

 

 

A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree

A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree

 

 

 

The winter rains came. I watched, waited, and wondered if there would ever be sprouting of any kind on the woody ends where branches had been amputated. Despite a canopy, the tree’s trunk, a beautiful, gray-green wood, afforded a kind of beauty to the austere winter garden. Before spring, I scraped a fingernail on the back of the trunk and discovered the wood was not dried out but as green and moist as a young sapling.

 

A spell of warm weather and the buzzing of bees in early spring drew my attention upward. Our tree had sprouted a flurry of bronze-green leaves. Pink blooms will likely appear in June or July.

 

I’m happy now that we went to all the trouble of bringing that tree onto the farmette for transplanting. We’ll have lovely pink blooms over the remaining summers of my life thanks to the crape myrtle tree being so long-lived.

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about gardening and farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing).

 

Each book is chocked full of tips for gardening, keeping bees and chickens, and growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. There are also plenty of delicious recipes to try. Find these books on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Walmart.com and other online retailers or purchase at traditional bookstores everywhere.–Meera Lester

 

 

 

My debut novel, the first in a series of three cozy mysteries set on the Henny Penny Farmette

Novel #1 in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available September 27, 2016

Novel #2

 

 

 

This new novel is available Sept. 26, 2017

Novel #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pie to Welcome Autumn, Plus a Few Apple Facts

Author: Meera, September 15, 2017

Autumn officially arrives next Friday, September 22, 2017. That means peak apple season has begun and nothing says “fall” like an early-autumn apple pie.

 

A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color

A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color

 

 

Here’s my easiest apple pie recipe.

 

COUNTRY APPLE PIE

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

 

3/4 cup granulated sugar

 

2 tablespoons butter

 

1/8 teaspoon salt

 

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

2 tablespoons flour

 

2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)

 

1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (to make an egg wash)

 

 

Pie ready for top crust

Pie ready for top crust

 

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

 

Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmegr in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the apples. Spoon the apples into a pastry-lined baking dish or pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and distribute over the apples. Place the second rolled-out crust over the pie. Snip off the excess crust and cut a design into the top crust to create a steam vent. Flute crust edges. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash over the top crust.

 

Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake

Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake

 

 

Bake for 10 minutes. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil to keep them from burning. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Crust will be golden brown and juices will be bubbling.

 

 

FACTS ABOUT APPLES

 

1. Apples were known in the ancient world; they’ve been around for 3,000 years.

 

2. Apples thrive in a temperate climate and are grown worldwide.

 

3.  There are roughly 7,000 varieties of apples worldwide, all members of the rosaceae family.

 

4. Washington state produces half of all U.S. apples.

 

5. Science shows that apples are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, are high in fiber, and  and aid in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. They can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

 

6. Some of the best-loved apple varieties include: Braeburn, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Rome.

 

If you want to know which apples are best for baking, eating fresh, making into sauces, or freezing, see, http://bestapples.com/varieties-information/varieties/

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about delicious farm recipes, growing heirloom plants, or keeping bees and chickens and you like a mysteries, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing in NY. They’re available online and in traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

Murders at a N. California winery are the catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie to search for a killer

 

 

 

Currently, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES is a featured title in Barnes & Noble’s September promotional BUY 3, GET 1 FREE sale.

 

WHAT IS THE BUY 3, GET 1 FREE OFFER?

 

Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display or any Kensington cozy mystery from BarnesandNoble.com between 9/5/17 – 10/5/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will:

 

–     Automatically be entered into Kensington’s “Cozy Mystery Bonanza” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $300 value gift basket. One grand prize winner will be selected after the sale has concluded.

 

–     Automatically receive a free Kensington Cozies recipe booklet plus a download code for the novel A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon after the sale has concluded.

 

 

*                    *                     *

 

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE FREE DRAWING AT GOODREADS.COM.

Win a signed copy of A Hive of Homicides along with a gorgeous reversible apron and a set of 2 chicken napkin rings. Enter before September 26 for a chance to win.

 

See, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33911114-a-hive-of-homicides?from_search=true

 

 

 

 

 

Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.

Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Things to Do on a Farm When It’s Raining

Author: Meera, February 6, 2017

Rain . . . unrelenting rain makes working outside near impossible. Since rain is in the forecast for the rest of this week, I’m doing indoor projects here on the Henny Penny Farmette. Why? Because let’s face it: try driving screws into wet fence boards or digging when the earth is like a giant mud ball, or pruning trees when looking upward against a downpour is rather ridiculous. Here are some things to do inside until the weather clears up.

 

1. Clean the clutter from the kitchen and test some new recipes

 

2. Read seed catalogs

 

3. Order beekeeping supplies (to be ready when the weather turns warm and the bees get active)

 

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

 

 

4. Make a batch of blood orange marmalade (since blood oranges are ripe now)

 

5. Feed bees, birds, and other wildlife

 

 

 

Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe

Our resident black phoebe eats a lot of insects but other birds are attracted to our feeders

 

 

 

6. Work on indoor renovation such as finish the installation of base boards and crown moldings

 

7. Sew curtains; make a quilt, or start an embroidery or knitting project

 

8. Start the spring cleaning in one or more indoor rooms

 

9. Plan the spring vegetable garden on paper with a drawing

 

 

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

 

 

 

10. Clean out closets and recycle unused items from cupboards and drawers

 

11.Make herbal teas  (for example: dried leaves of herbs such as mint, dried lemon or orange peel, spices, rose hips, and dried berries)

 

12. Catch up on your reading for pleasure or books and periodicals about farm and homesteading topics

 

13. Bring your beekeeping or gardening journal up to date

 

 

Bantam is a small breed; here, a rooster

This Bantam rooster likes to strut his stuff

 

 

14. Order supplies–antibiotics for the chickens or medicines for your bees and other domestic stock

 

15. Bottle honey from the bucket and affix labels

 

 

 

 

Filling from the bucket spigot goes fast because the honey flows quickly; it's quite heavy

Filling jars of honey from the honey bucket in the kitchen

 

 

16. Make a dazzling dessert

 

 

This sunflower bundt pan turns out a pretty cake

The  sunflower cake comes out near perfect when baked in a bundt pan

 

 

 

 

17. Mend clothing

 

18. Start working on the taxes for the upcoming season

 

19. Play your fiddle, piano, horn, or drum

 

 

 

 

Amendments are easy to work into the soil in raised beds

New seedlings moved to an outdoor raised bed

 

20. Start heirloom seed in flats or get some sprouts growing in a jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

If you enjoy reading about farming topics, check out my cozy mystery series from Kensington: A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides. Delicious recipes, farm lore, and tips for keeping chickens and bees add to the charm of these delightful mysteries.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017
COMING September 2017
These books are available through online retailers and traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

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Seasonal Blooms for Floral Arrangements

Author: Meera, November 6, 2016

Autumn in Northern California is one of my favorite times of the year. By November, many of the summer blooms in our flower beds have faded. Seeds have been collected for next year’s blooms. Now’s the time to put in bulbs and tubers for spring, but that doesn’t mean we have no blooms for a Thanksgiving floral arrangement.

 

another old garden favorite?

Nasturtiums will bloom until frost

 

 

 

 

 

These hardy roses bloom right through December.

These hardy roses bloom profusely right through December

 

The clocks have been turned back and the rainy season has arrived, but don’t tell that to the roses.

 

 

 

 

This red-gold polyantha rose will dazzle the eye in any landscape

This red-gold polyantha rose will dazzle the eye right up to Christmas

 

 

Red-gold roses, pyracantha berries, rustic seed pods, orange- and rust-colored zinnias, asters,  willowleaf cotoneaster, and dahlias are some of the garden plants that combine beautifully in a fall floral arrangement. To the harvest table, I also like to add some seasonal fruits like pomegranates and persimmons.

 

 

 

Zinnias are old garden favorites spanning generations of family gardens

Zinnias are old favorites spanning generations of family gardens

 

Thanks to the recent rain, the bougainvillea blazes in shades of fuchsia, orange, red, and purple.  Zinnia’s near the farmette’s bee house are still holding color and hanging on until cold weather arrives.

 

 

Pink geraniums are Interplanted with white bacopa in the kitchen window box

Pink geraniums are interplanted with white bacopa in the kitchen window box

 

And while pyracantha (fire thorn) berries add splashes of bright orange to a dark corner of the garden where bamboo towers to ten feet,  the Chinese lantern plant holds aloft dozens of small pink blooms like little lanterns.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese lanterns are easy to grow and look beautiful in almost any corner of the garden

Chinese lanterns are easy to grow and look beautiful in almost any corner of the garden

 

 

 

With Thanksgiving three weeks away, I’m feeling confident that our table arrangement will include some of the season’s festive berries, seed pods, and blooming flowers collected from around the farmette.

 

In the meantime, I’ll notice the splashes of color to be discovered here and there and consider how to use them in a holiday bouquet.

 

 

Always pretty over an archway or against a wall, bougainvillea is  a garden standout

Pretty arching over a trellis or against a wall, bougainvillea is always a  garden standout

 

 

 

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

NEWLY RELEASED–The Murder of a Queen Bee (Kensington Publishing, NY–Sept. 2016).

 

Discover delicious farm-to-table recipes, farming tips, and wisdom as well as sort out a charming whodunnit. Also, enjoy gardening tips and farm sayings. Dig for clues while learning about bees and chickens. To learn more, click on the link under the picture.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

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Predators on the Prowl

Author: Meera, October 1, 2016

Are they venturing out of the nearby dry hills and canyons for water? Or, in search of a fresh chicken dinner? Whatever the reason for their forays into our neighborhood, the foxes are back.

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting for food? Water? What brought these foxes into our neighborhood?

This fox pair  dug a den near a compost pile on the property adjoining our Henny Penny Farmette last year . . . now they’re back

 

 

 

My neighbor, who also has a farmette with chickens, bees, and fruit trees, alerted me first that the foxes had returned because they got one of his chickens.

 

 

With that worrisome news, I’ve decided against allowing my chickens to free-range forage around our property. Instead, I’m keeping them safe in the chicken run that also has poultry wire across the top to protect against high-flying predators like hawks or cunning little climbers like foxes.

 

 

 

Although we live fairly close (a mile or so) away from designated agricultural land, ours is still a neighborhood of families with pets. Some of us keep chickens and bees and even goats and horses and burros. I sometimes hear braying or neighing while having coffee in my garden on a bright, crisp autumn morning.

 

 

A flock of wild turkeys roams through our property this time of year, too. We don’t mind the turkeys but foxes, large raccoons, coyotes, and wolves can attack small dogs and cats. For that reason, we all stay alert and share news with our neighbors of predators prowling about.

 

*               *                *

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway–September 29 to October 6–for a chance to win a signed copy of a first-edition hardcover of The Murder of a Queen Bee. Three lucky winners will be chosen.

 

 

These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as a charming cozy mystery.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s blog will be a short one–I’m tracking down the foxes that showed up on my front porch after snagging a chicken from my neighbor’s hen house.  The foxes stood on my front porch late last night. My hubby saw them and thought they were cats. He checked on our chickens to make sure they were safe and called me.

 

 

I am house-sitting and pet-sitting for a relative who lives a mile away. This means I am running back and forth between the two properties, while trying to blog, do farming chores, and clean.

 

 

 

But today is special because it is the official release day for THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, the second cozy mystery in my Henny Penny Farmette series. So I’m taking an extra hour or two here and there to blog and post publicity.

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

Enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a copy of Lester’s newest offering

 

 

I’m thrilled that already the book is garnering praise from industry publications like Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist. Additionally, it is creating buzz in the cozy mystery and new fiction blogosphere.

 

 

Goodreads has a giveaway for three autographed, hardbound copies of THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE. The giveaway drawing runs from midnight September 29 through midnight August 6. See more at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28439447-the-murder-of-a-queen-bee

 

 

Happy birthday/release day to my second novel, and good luck everyone entering the drawing. I hope you like ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie’s newest adventure involving the murder of her herbalist friend Fiona and Fiona’s links to a New Age cult.

 

 

 

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Birds that Eat Bees

Author: Meera, August 18, 2016

 

Lately, I’ve noticed a scrub jay visiting my apiary. The bird most often lands on the bubbling water fountain near the front of the hives, but it visits other fountains in the yard as well. A favorite spot is the pink birdbath near the Pyracantha bush and stand of bamboo.

 

 

The bird eats its fill of bees corpses on the gravel path in front of the hives. Occasionally, I’ve seen it snatch a bee out of the air–something I don’t like. After washing down its meal with water, off it goes.

 

 

 

 

Blue jays are omnivores and eat nuts, seeds, berries, and insects, including bees

Western scrub jays are omnivores and eat nuts, seeds, berries, small rodents, reptiles, other birds’ eggs, and insects.

 

 

 

While bees aren’t the primary dietary food of scrub jays, the birds will eat bees that are dead or alive.

 

 

Purple Martins, the largest type of swallow in the United States, eats bees in flight, too, provided the insects zoom high enough to enter the Purple Martin’s flight zone.

 

 

 

Other birds that eat bees include flycatchers, tufted titmice, swifts, and shrikes (because of their feeding habits, some shrikes are known as “butcher birds” because they impale prey on thorns). European beekeepers must deal with Bradfield’s swift and the Green Bee-eater; both eat bees that are flying about to forage or mate.

 

 

The majority of bee-eating birds belong to a relatively small group of twenty-four species that feed mainly on honeybees but also devour bumblebees, dragonflies, wasps, ants, butterflies, hornets, beetles, and moths as part of their diets.

 

 

 

But back to the scrub jay–these birds serve a custodial function for my apiary. With dead bees attracting hornets and yellow jackets, the scrub jay is doing me a favor by cleaning up around the hive entrances. This is especially true in the autumn, when the worker bees preparing their hive for winter, push out the drones (male honeybees) to die.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for professionals and readers who write reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed, “The earth laughs in flowers.” Among the many flowers I plant around the Henny Penny Farmette each year, sunflowers are my favorites.

 

 

What’s not to love about these gorgeous beauties that inspired master artists like Van Gogh, Monet, and Gauguin as well as farmers like my grandmother who put them in fruit jars and crockery to brighten the rooms of her Missouri farmhouse?

 

 

I like to grow smaller ones at the back of a flower bed and the giant ones against walls or at the back of my patch of summer corn.

 

 

 

These sunflowers stand about 12 feet tall and produce several heads

These sunflowers stand about 12 feet tall and produce several heads. Heritage varieties produce several heads.

 

 

 

Giant sunflowers need space to grow to full size since they will grow well over six feet. In my garden, they tower over the corn. Bees love them for their pollen. Kids love them when the foliage of the plants create a secret fort or a fairy circle. Humans, birds, and squirrels love them for their seeds.

 

 

 

 

The florets are falling off and the seeds have formed on this giant sunflower head
Giant sunflower heads are a rich source of pollen for honeybees

 

 

 

For best results, plant giant sunflowers at the back of a garden. They need good soil and full sun. Plant when the danger of frost has past. A rule of thumb to follow is to plant them about one inch deep and six inches apart. While the seeds are germinating, keep the soil moist.

 

 

Later on, when the plants stand about three inches tall, you can thin them. Leave about one foot between each plant. This enables a strong root system for form. The stalks will become sturdy and measure about three to four inches in circumference when fully grown.

 

 

Giant sunflowers add dramatic size and color against stone walls, garden sheds, and wooden fences
Giant sunflowers add dramatic size and color against stone walls, garden sheds, and fences

 

 

First come the gorgeous petals in green to yellow and then bright yellow. As the bees pollinate the florets and they drop, the seeds will mature. Seeds are either gray or brown in color.

 

 

I always cut the heads when the seeds are plump, firm, and begin to drop. I let the heads dry well in the sun for days before I remove the seeds. Fully dry seeds can be stored in containers for human consumption or to be fed to the squirrels and birds. Don’t forget to save some for planting in next year’s garden.

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for professionals and readers who write reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Use a Screened Bottom Board in the Hive?

Author: Meera, December 21, 2015

When beekeepers see signs that the population of Varroa destructor mites are increasing in the hive, they will take action to reduce the mite population. One way they can track mite levels is by using a screened bottom board.

 

 

A close monitoring of a screened bottom board can give a beekeeper a good idea of whether or not the mite population is increasing or decreasing in the hive.

 

 

Queen cell that houses the queen who is feed royal jelly until she emerges

The queen bee in a hive  gets a special house that looks like a thimble on its side

 

 

Mites fall through the screen to the ground. A screened bottom board stretches across a platform that the hive box sits on.

 

 

When the mites in a hive fall on solid bottoms in a hive box, they can ride back up into the interior of the hive on other bees. A great article for building your own screened bottom board can be found at http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Screened-Bottom-Board_20110324.pdf

 

 

The use of a screened bottom board prevents bees returning upwards in the hive. One sign of mites at work in a hive are wings missing from newly emerged baby bees. There are other signs as well.

 

For lots of interesting bee “stuff” as well as farming tips and delicious recipes, check out my newest novel, A BEELINE TO MURDER.

 

Now available online and from brick-and-mortar bookstores everywhere. See, http://tinyurl.com/p8d6owd

 

 

 

The book cover for my debut novel, the first in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series

 

 

 

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Finding Time for Everything

Author: Meera, October 4, 2015

Anyone who keeps bees and chickens, maintains an orchard, and grows their own food will tell you that the work never stops. There’s always something to do. For me, the challenge is finding time now to clean and waterproof sheds, do the fall cleanup, feed my bees, clean the chicken house, pull out the tomato vines, and well, you get the idea.

 

 

 

tomatoes

 

 

 

 

For me, the past week and the coming week have been so packed with deadlines and fulfilling contractual obligations to my publisher and promotional outlets, that I’ve found very little time available to do anything but keep my promises. But I don’t mind. I am loving the journey of getting my first of three cozy mysteries launched.

 

 

 

 

My debut novel, the first in a series of three cozy mysteries set on the Henny Penny Farmette

The first novel in my cozy mysteries is set on my Henny Penny Farmette and is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores everywhere

 

 

 

Today, I’m taking two hours to empty out the six-by-six foot garden shed. So far, I’ve found a dead rat and two dead mice amid all the garden items, tools, and building materials in that shed.

 

A small rainstorm blew through last night and caught me unprepared. I’d left boxes outside and had to leap from bed and dash out into the pelting rain to get items indoors. Then, just as I finally put my head against my pillow and listened the wind howling through the eucalyptus trees out back, a skunk crossed under my open bedroom window.

 

You guessed it. That foul-smelling skunk spray really put the kibosh on drifting off to dreamland. But once I fell asleep, it was deep and restful–so important to a creative mind. But as soon as my feet hit the floor this morning, I harbored hope to have more energy today than yesterday and more time. I’m guessing you know what I mean.

 

Check out the reviews for A Beeline to Murder at: http://www.amazon.com/Beeline-Murder-Henny-Farmette-Mystery/dp/161773909X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443997291&sr=1-1&keywords=Meera+Lester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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