Category: Homesteading

Bee Inspection

A little after 1PM today, we inspected our beehive. Scott set appointments to remind us to inspect the bees on Sunday afternoon every week for the first few weeks. I filled the second frame feeder with a gallon of 1:1 sugar water. Figured it would be quicker and easier to swap feeders rather than try refilling the feeder outside.

We opened the hive — there aren’t as many bees on the top entrance board now that the hive has a larger entrance, but they did build some burr comb between the frames and the top board. Scott scraped off the burr comb, and Anya held onto it. There were a lot of bees across six of the frames. The bees have started working on the north-most two frames, so they were ready for the second deep hive body.

We removed one of the frames from the lower hive body — looking at the frame, we saw both capped brood and larvae. That’s great — we know the queen is laying! I found a cool picture of the bee lifecycle that made me think we wouldn’t see any capped larva yet (we released the queen 8 days ago … and “capped” shows up on day 9.

They are collecting pollen (we saw some pollen on the bottom board) and nectar (there’s already capped honey as well as cells with not-yet-finished honey). The frame was placed into the new deep to encourage the bees to move up into the new box. We removed the empty feeder, replaced it with the filled feeder, and placed one new frame into the lower hive body so it has eight frames plus the feeder.

We then put the new deep on top of the hive — it has the one frame we pulled from the hive plus nine clean, new frames. There’s a little gap between the two hive bodies that shrinks up when weight is put on the top. We put the top entrance board on the deep, set the lid in place, and placed a large cinder block on top of it all.

Bee Check-in

We checked on our bees this afternoon — it was a nice, hot day (low 80’s!). We turned the entrance reducer to give them more space to come and go. I frequently saw bee traffic jams! We removed the queen cage and some burr comb the bees had built up between the two frames where the queen cage was placed. I’d given them a gallon of sugar water when we installed the package, and there’s a bit left. But they’ve consumed a lot of the syrup. We’ll have to refill their food when it warms up again next week.

Bees, again!

I’d ordered a package of bees this year (we’ve got frames from last year that will give them a good head start), but the post office seemed to have lost them. They left Kentucky over the weekend and went into “umm … the package is on its way to the destination. Check back later” status. But, at about 6:30 this morning, the post office rang me up to let me know they had bees for me. I picked up the package and set them in the butler pantry (a nice, dark, quiet place!) and we put the bees in their hive at about 3PM.

New hatchling count

Started with 19 chicken eggs in the incubator — two didn’t develop and were removed. Three eggs haven’t hatched (three of those have pipped, but haven’t really gotten anywhere since). One little guy is really weak and still in the incubator so the other little ones don’t sit and lay on him. That means we’ve got a thirteen little chickens in the brooder. And, early next week, the ducks should start hatching.

Duck and Turkey Milestones

We no longer have 22 tiny birds in the house! Stream (the new duckling) spent Monday night outside in the duck coop. We’ve been letting the little one out into the duck yard to hang out and get used to each other, but bringing it into the house at night. I got up at 6-something on Tuesday morning to make sure the little guy was OK and the ducks are now hanging out together in the yard. It was cold — mid 50’s — when I let them out of the coop this morning, and they all were napping next to the pond in the sunshine. The little one was sleeping right next to one of the big ducks.

Then, in the evening, we put the turkeys into the pasture with the big turkeys and chickens. They’ve been hanging out in the baby tractor next to the pasture, so everyone has had a chance to get used to each other. The little turkeys can fly really well — on Monday, Anya got sidetracked bringing the turkeys into the house. She left two thirds of the turkeys in the baby tractor with the zipper open! I noticed the chickens and turkeys were not in the coop, and I walked over to let them in. All of a sudden, this dark shadow comes flying at me … literally, it was a baby turkey who flew some twenty feet and cleared my shoulder. Since they were able to fly themselves out of the pasture, we trimmed feathers on their left wings. Now they look a little asymmetrical, but they mostly stay inside the pasture. Unfortunately, the mesh isn’t small enough and they can pop themselves out of the fencing.

The turkey farm where we picked up four turkeys last year — the owner said the male turkeys take turns sitting on the nest and taking care of the baby guys. I totally believe that after seeing how the big turkeys are with the little ones. They puff up and circle around the gaggle of baby turkeys. When the babies split out into multiple groups, the two big turkeys kind of round them up into two groups and each watch over his group. Anya says they even tuck the little ones around them to sleep.