In less than a week, our pond has completely de-iced. I got out there yesterday with a rake and pulled out old dried cattail leaves and a layer of algae mixed with fluffy cattail fuzz. Things are looking good. Only two dead bluegills so far, although last year I found 2-3 every week for about a month. The live fish are still dozing down on the bottom of the pond and won’t appear till it has been in the 60’s for a while. I’ll bring the fish food pellets out next week to see if I can lure them to the surface.
On the topic of cattails, I am debating how (and whether) to manage them this year. I let them go last year and they spread 3/4 of the way around the pond. They began to block the access from the shore and you couldn’t fish from the boulders anymore. I pulled some out by the roots late in the season to reduce the population, but it was difficult. I embarrassed myself a couple times as a plant popped loose making me lose my balance and fall backwards with a splash.
The company that built the pond suggested a chemical that discourages the cattails but doesn’t damage the other pond residents. I kind of liked some cattails for the beauty and interest they added to the shore but I don’t want to be overrun. I guess if I don’t like what I decide to do I can do it differently the next year.
The bees are not as happy a story. Of our 4 colonies, only one is still living. We had suspected that in March when it was too cold to really investigate fully, but now the one hive is buzzing happily and considering robbing honey from the others. We have placed an order for replacement bees from Georgia and found that there is a high demand this year. Michigan beekeepers have struggled with winter die-offs the last few years but this long, hard winter was even worse.
We’re confident we can get things going again. It will give us a chance to clean out the old brood comb and start fresh. This is now our fourth year as beekeepers and we’ve been feeling like we know what we are doing more each season.