Archive for May, 2011

Burr Comb and Cute Bees

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

We did our first hive inspections yesterday. And I quickly realized that my little chat with the girls about the proper way to pull out frames was apparently totally ignored. Totally.

This was what we found when we opened the Girl Power hive:

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And this was what we found when we opened the Flower Power hive:

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As you can see, they were both bad this week. Flower Power hive being slightly better than Girl Power.

*sigh*

We have to take some of the fault here. But before we get into that, let me share something with you…….. if there is only one thing you need to know about being a beekeeper, this is it………

Every single hive is different. And what works for one beekeeper will not necessarily work for the next beekeeper.

OK, so technically, that was two things. But, I don’t think beekeeping can be considered a technical undertaking, and both of those are really closely related, so work with me, will ya?

The beekeeper we got our bees from fed all of his bees by laying a freezer bag, filled with a light sugar water, directly on top of the frames of the brooder box. He put a one inch cut in the top of the bag and then he placed a 1 1/2 inch spacer on top of the frames, followed by the inner cover, and then the hive cover on top of it all.

This worked beautifully for him, and he had many extremely healthy hives to show for it. But for us? Not so much.

The girls really liked that 1 1/2 inch above the frames. So much so that they built burr comb to expand the hive.

We really want the girls to expand the hive. Only not like that. We were kind of hoping they would draw out the frames within the brood box. Then we would add another box on top and they could move up and start drawing out those frames.

Apparently, what we had here was a failure to communicate. And….. too much space at the top of the frames.

So, the first thing we did in both hives was locate the queen. Thankfully, in both hives, the queen was where she should be – in the brood box, healthily and happily laying eggs.

Then we shook all of the bees off of the hive cover into the brood box.

Then we removed all of the burr comb on the inside of the hive cover.

We removed the 1 1/2 inch spacer and placed the inner cover over the top of the frames.

We put their sugar water on top of the inner cover, added the 1 1/2 inch spacer, and then closed the hives with the hive cover.

Then I had yet *another* chat with the girls and explained what was expected of them. They argued with me for a few minutes, but finally bobbed their heads in agreement.

Then I kissed them and Bernie and I came to the house to grill some steaks and enjoy a beautiful Saturday evening.

We looked in on them today. No burr comb. They still act a little miffed at us for foiling their original plan, but all in all, I think they understand what needs to be done and will diligently work on it.

And it’s really hard to stay mad at them when they are so danged cute!

PS – All that burr comb? Well, it won’t be wasted. I’d much rather the bees use it within the hives, bbut it will be added to my existing collection and eventually be rendered into bees wax that will make lip balm, candles, and a variety of things.

Honey Bees – I’ve Sure Missed Them

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The day finally arrived…… we picked up our bees! And even though it started as a cloudy and rainy day, the sun was shining brightly when we arrived in Stanley to get them.

Paul Kinser is a wonderful man to deal with, and the nucs he started for us were healthy and bustling with activity. Bernie and I purchased two nucs from him, and Si and Mary Ann purchased three.

As he loaded each frame into our hive boxes, we inspected them and looked for the queen.

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I get a little excited during the queen searches, so I elbowed my way right up to the closest spot. I can’t help it. There’s just something so satisfying in being the first to spot the queen. And, even though I only managed to “win” the first queen location round, it didn’t stop me from crowding everyone out for the next four either. Dangit.

Look at this pretty little queen:

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*sigh* Doesn’t she make you want to just kiss her wings right slap off of her?

And look at what some of those silly girls did while drawing out this frame – see that big blob of comb poking up there?

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Paul said they did that in one day – he had just checked them the day before. Those girls keep pretty busy. I like that. But we may need to have a little chat about how to properly draw out frames…….

This is the last nuc. It’s one of Si’s. Look at that beautiful frame loaded with brood and bees.

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Bernie and I strapped our boxes closed for the trip home.

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Si strapped his.

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Paul put screen in the opening, and we loaded our boxes for the trip over the mountain, to the girls’ new home.

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It was dark when we got home, so we left them in the jeep for the night. The next morning, just at daybreak, we put the bee boxes in the apiary, and Bernie removed the screens.

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It was early, cloudy, and chilly, but a couple of girls came out on the porch to see what the heck was going on.

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My heart smiles every time I see those little bees. I’ve sure missed hearing them buzz about. It feels right having bees on the homestead again.

I hope they like their new home. I hope they like us. And I hope we can do right by them.

May Apples and Hay Rack

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Look at all these pretty May Apples.

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I didn’t know much about May Apples but my walking partner, Mary Ann, informed me that they are extremely poisonous. I did a little research on them, and poisonous is apparently THE word for May Apples.

The roots are poisonous. Apparently, American Indians used the roots medicinally, but every thing I read on the subject came with a strong warning to ONLY try using the roots if you are a trained herbalist.

The leaves are poisonous.

The stem is poisonous.

Even the pretty flowers hiding underneath are poisonous.

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But that pretty flower? It will become the fruit of this plant – the “apple”.

Oh, and that fruit? It’s poisonous. Well, for a good long while it’s poisonous. From all accounts, when it is extremely ripe, almost to the point of looking rotted, the flesh of that apple is no longer poisonous. The skin and the seeds are, but the flesh is not.

Every description I’ve read of the taste of that flesh said it tastes “tropical”. Many described the taste as a cross between a pineapple, mango, and passion fruit.

How wonderfully delicious does that sound??? Some people even make jam out of the fruit.

I am completely obsessed with tasting a ripened May Apple. Bernie is not at all tempted to taste this fruit, and he’s not at all happy that I would like to. In fact, he’s pretty much insisting that I not taste it.

What do you think? Would you taste it?

Maybe you could think about it a couple of minutes while I tell you about the new hay rack Bernie made me for the goats…….

When we first got goats I struggled with how to make a hay rack for them. Everyone I talked to told me not to over think it, and just use some fencing. So that’s what I did. And it worked pretty well. Except……..

The goats climbed up on it, pulled hay out of the top of it, and flattened the front. Not only did they waste hay like crazy, they smooshed it to the point of being almost useless.

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This annoyed me no end. So, I came up with some requirements, and Bernie built a new hay rack.

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And now it annoys the goats no end that they can’t yank hay out of the top to waste, or smoosh the front of it any more. They can’t even climb on it.

And I could not be happier.