Friday, April 22, 2011

BeeKeeping for Dummies

In case you're not sure, I'm the Dummy here.

Checked Avalon for eggs.  Found eggs and all looks pretty good.  Then the frame slipped out of my hands and dropped on to the top of the hive.  There were very angry bees after that, of course, Godzilla's at work again.  My concern is for the Queen.  I am hoping she dropped back into the hive or had already run for another frame as I pulled that one out.  Paul is assuring me that all will be well, but I feel like...Godzilla and so clumsy.  But all we can do is close things up and wait.  I will probably look into the hive in a week, just to make sure that all is still well.  And once things warm up, I will take the entrance reducer off the hive.  But it's been so cold, I left most of it in place, but did open up a second entrance up today.

When the dandelions start to bloom (who doesn't LOVE dandelions?), I will take a good look at Dionysus.

If you can trust us this season to keep bees for you, there are a few openings on Avalon Sharing.  Please let us know by the end of May if you would like to continue with us.  Returning sponsors are $25.00 for the year.  New sponsors are $30.00 for the year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Day Inspection of Avalon

Taking off the cover and box over the can of sugar syrup.  

Smoking the hole of the inner cover...don't over-do the smoking!!  Just a little bit to encourage the bees to move away.  

Removing the inner cover.

The queen cage.  You can see the burr comb the bees have already built up.

Removing the cage from between the bars.  This requires some prying with your hive tool as she will be stuck in place with wax.  

The queen cage covered in bees.  This was our first sign that she had not been released from the cage.  The candy holding her in place was almost completely eaten through, but we released her from the cage anyway.  

We pried the staple up with our hive tool, being very careful with the cage and the queen inside.  We tried to get a picture of her, but even though she won't fly, she's a fast little bugger.  But she looks good!!  

We placed another frame of honey into the hive and closed her up.  We'll check again in ten days to see if our queen is laying!  

Thanks for coming along with us!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Bees

The bees are buzzing away.  I'm thinking there is most definitely a robbing issue going on, but we blocked the big entrance to the hive and left only a small entrance that will be more easy for the Russians to defend. They are a good, cranky, hardy bee...I wouldn't want to mess with them, so all might be well.  Send happy, strong thoughts their way!

I just hope they aren't too angry at the world, come Tuesday when we're taking a good peek inside!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hiving a Package of Bees

The Russian bees arrived today.  After a bit of a spill in the trunk of the car, we moved them to the back seat and buckled them in for a grumpy ride back to the farm.  

We hived slightly differently this year, not pulling any of the frames to dump the bees in and leaving most of the bees in the package to find their way into the hive.  This worked because of the happy, spring weather.  

We were also lucky to have frames of honey that had molded in Bree over the winter that we could not use for our own use, but we can use to feed the new bees.  We left the honey frames in the sun to use the UV rays to clean up some of the mold.  Unfortunately, I think that (and the happy spring weather) has created a robbing issue where bees from other hives (probably our own at Apple Blossom Farm down the street).  So, tonight, we are going to have to use an entrance reducer to help this smaller hive of bees protect themselves.  

We are trying for a play by play of the hiving of the bees so that you can see what it is really like.  

Here we go:

The package of bees and me preparing to pry the cover off!  Beneath the cover is the top of the feed can and to one side of the can is the queen cage, which needs to be pulled from the box carefully and the cover flipped over (so the staple ends don't make a gap where the bees can escape) and place back on top of the box.  
The spray bottle labeled 'garlic and soap' is actually sugar water with HoneyBHealthy in it.  

Inspecting the queen cage to make sure that the queen is alive and well.  We initially thought that she was one of the dead bees, but she seems to be alive and well.  She is small, but bigger than the other female worker bees, including the five or six that were in the box with her.  I am concerned that her small size may mean that she wasn't mated properly, which is a more common problem these days with so many beekeepers and bee providers rushing the mating and packaging.  But I believe the Russian queen is a smaller bee normally, so it should be fine.  I am not too worried.  

The queen cage.  The end of it is packed with candy and a cork.  Before placing her into the hive, you have to pull the cork (umm, forgot to do this and had to go back in later...always remember to PLAN what you are going to do BEFORE you are surrounded by a thousand irritated bees).  In my defense(?), I did plan my course of action...I just completely forgot about the cork.  It is also good to have a piece of marshmallow ready in case the candy isn't don't want the queen coming out of the cage too soon: if the bees have not accepted her, they will kill her and acceptance takes time.  

The queen cage tied in place with the screen facing to the open side so she can be fed and also breathe.  

The rest of the bees.  Three pounds of them.  About 10,000.  

I've taken the cover off and am now prying the feed can out of the box.  You can see the square area next to the can where the queen cage came out.  It helps to bump the box on the ground before prying out the can to lessen the number of bees that are going to come out with it.  

The can with some bees.  It is important to kill as little bees as possible in this process.  Not only because you paid for the bees and want all of them, but every bee that dies sends off a panic pheromone that alerts the other bees to some sort of attack and puts then on the defense.  So, you have to be careful when setting things down that have bees on them.  A bee brush helps in most cases.  

Dumping some of the bees onto the top of the frames over the queen cage. 

The pile of dumped bees.  

The inner cover with the feed can on top.  Beneath the can is a hole so the bees can get to the sugar water.  Tonight, I will put a yellow box around it with no frames so that I can put the outer cover over it and keep other bees from coming to the food.  

How we left it.  The feed can on top.  The package box tilted to the door of the hive.  The scent of the rest of the bees and the queen will lure them into the hive.  By nightfall, everyone should be in the hive and we clean things up and secure the hive a bit better from robbers.  

Agitated bees.  But we're done.  

I hope that helps give everyone an idea of what it involves to package a hive of bees.  If the weather were rainy or cold, we would want as many bees into the hive as possible.  Those left in the box could easily die from exposure.  

In three days, Tuesday, we will check to make sure the queen is out of her cage.  If not, we will release her.  

In ten days, we will check to make sure that there are eggs and larva.  If not, either something happened to the queen and she is no longer alive.  Or she left.  Or she wasn't properly mated.  In which case, we get a new queen from where we purchased our package.  

So, for you Avalon Sharers, that's your new hive in place!!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who rules the barn yard?


We cleaned up the hives a bit more this week and extracted another pound and a half of honey off of Bree. The honey on the right is from our August harvest and the honey on the left is the new honey from this week.  Quite the color difference.  They say the later the honey harvest, the darker the honey.  I just guess so!!  But it is all delicious.

In other bee news, the new Avalon Bees come tomorrow!!!  Yay.  We will keep you posted on how the hiving of the bees goes!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Peepers are a peepin'

it must be spring.  or the peeps have given up waiting!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Charlie and Lola at Sentinel Farm

Mean Roosters

I read an interesting article at the book store the other day...and can't even remember what it was in.  But it was an article about matching aggression with aggression in regards to a mean rooster.  The man who wrote it could not bring himself to attack his rooster, and when he finally did, he made the rooster even more aggressive.

What he learned was that roosters attack other roosters.  When you catch them off guard or do something to make them feel threatened, they attack you, and to attack back makes them regard you as another rooster.  What should be done...and I don't want to have to test this theory, I like my gentle giants!  But, that you should be sure to always have scratch or treats and feed them.  A rooster will not associate a human who feeds them as another rooster to fight for dominance.

Hmmm.  I'd be curious to see how that works out...if any of you have roosters heading toward meanness.  It does make more sense than to fight for dominance against a creature much smaller than we!  Or the stew pot would probably work too!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day Joke (but with new snow, we know no one snuck into the coop)?

Guinea egg?  

Mutant Chicken Egg?  

Mother Nature is Laughing!

So is the GroundHog!!