Saturday, November 19, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bee Camp

Last week and this week is bee camp at Oakhurst community gardens.

We learned about bees, crushed and strained honey, used solar wax melter to clean wax and then made poured candles with the wax.  Lots of honey and honey products are being enjoyed and we built in lots of free play time to just enjoy the wonders of the garden.  This week should prove to bee just as much fun!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smithy bee swarm

I was contacted yesterday about a swarm of bees that was high (30ft) in a tree on Friday/Saturday then moved to the ground Sunday/Monday.  They were reported as being a bit defensive (poor basset hound was the one to find them on the ground) so my first thought was that they might have been poisoned already and would probably be gone by this am when I could go and look at them.  Luckily for me they had reformed on a branch that hung from about 2.5ft high to the ground with their weight.  I would guess it was 5+lbs of bees.  I picked up the part of the branch that was laying on the ground and put in into the swarm box and then simply snipped branch that held the bees and I had the queen and most of the bees.  They are now living at my friends house and they seemed quite happy to have a roof, stores and a place to lay eggs.  Per request of the nice couple who contacted me to get these bees I dub thee Smithy Bees.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What happened?

Last night we had a pretty bad storm here and the kids and I were out.  I had thought that I put the chicks back up before I left, but when we returned home I found 5 little chicks huddled under the coop and the 6th is nowhere to be found.  I was hoping somehow she would be in the coop and waiting to rejoin her friends when I woke this am, but I still see no trace of her.

Since I don't know what happened, I think they will not be having anymore outings for a couple of weeks w/o supervision.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More of the chicks

The chicks were starting to look a little cramped in their brooder so finally broke down and purchased the floor covering.
Max of course had to check out the new flooring right away.  He said he thinks they will like the pretty diamond pattern.  LOL

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Old fashioned honor system

Yesterday I set up a Nuc box to sell honey from my front porch.   All 7 jars were taken and paid for.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This years flow

This years flow seems to be great!  I'm having a hard time keeping up with swarm management and adding more frames to catch the flow.  I'm pretty sure one of my hive has already swarmed and some are so tall I have to stand on cinder blocks to work them.

All of this has me thinking about extracting vs.crush and strain.  I have a manual extractor, but have been doing crush and strain.  This keeps my wax from staying in the hive for years with build up of toxins, but make re-waxing the frames a PIA and I loose some of the honey flow.  Time to reconsider.  To be perfectly honest, I'm thrifty and hate the tedious work of wiring frames.  2" starter strips or just plain old popsicle sticks are cheap and easy but I don't think my best choice any longer.  John Jones uses pre-wired foundation with his electric extractor with lots of success.  He has lots of pre-drawn frames that are ready to go after the bees finish cleaning them.  Cost is extra .50 per frame, but if I use the frames for 3 years (then melt for candle wax) it's worth the cost to not have to re do the frame and catch more flow.  Always learning as I go.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chick update

The chicks seem to be growing by the hour, but there is a distinct difference in the growth of the EE's and the other three which are heritage breeds.  I added a mini perch and a sand box for them today.  The sandbox is them to eat and scratch.  Since birds don't have teeth, grit is required to help break up food in the crop.
Notice the wing feathers and the start of tail feathers.

Chick update

The chicks seem to be growing by the hour, but there is a distinct difference in the growth of the EE's and the other three which are heritage breeds.  I added a mini perch and a sand box for them today.  The sandbox is them to eat and scratch.  Since birds don't have teeth, grit is required to help break up food in the crop.
Notice the wing feathers and the start of tail feathers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The chicks are here!

The chicks were shipped express mail yesterday from Norwalk, CT and arrived here today at 11:00am.  The postal system really is a pretty amazing service.  The post woman told me they get chicks in almost every day!  All 18 were alive and look healthy.  I wish I would have taken a picture before I took them out of the box.
I quickly put them into the brooder that I had turned on before leaving for the post office, after checking that every one was well.  Being sure to dunk each chicks beak in the water. 

Twelve of these chicks were for my friend Mandy.  We split an order since shipping is $35.  In hind site that wasn't such a thought out plan.  There was a total of 5 breeds and one rooster.  The rooster wasn't marked!  Mandy lives in the country and wanted a rooster, so hope it all works out well.
They quickly start to run around and peck at the food and water.  I really almost hated to give Mandy hers.
Chicks like to be at about 95F the first week of life so I'm going to have to keep up with the temp changes since they are in a container in the chicken coop.  It's going to drop down to 48F tonight so I  covered half the container with the lid to help hold in heat.  The worst thing for baby chicks is draft, and this coop is draft free on the floor since all the ventilation is built on the top.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Swarm bucket and chick update.

Slide show of John Jones using his new swarm bucket at Oakhurst Community Garden.  He was kind enough to make me one as well, I just have to buy the extension pole.  He posted how to make this great tool on his blog.

Some additional info on this particular hive that swarmed.  This hive is the only hive that I could save at Oakhurst Garden last fall.  Correction, I believe the genetics is actually what saved it, not me.  It came of out winter very robust with a deep and two mediums.  This hive has shown it's self to be very defensive.  Not aggressive, but defensive non the less.  It has stung me and chased me to my car before after working them.  It has also stung another member of the garden staff and a few visitors.  I welcome the new queen and pray she is a kinder ruler.  That also being said, I'm glad that George Andl, who is the one who notified me of the swarm, is going to give them a home and keep this strong genetics going.

The chicks will hopefully ship tomorrow and be here by Thursday at the very latest!  I'm very excited!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The coop in progress

It seems to have taken forever, a thousand trips to Home Depot and some extra help from my friend John to get to this point.  Shingles still need to be laid when it stops raining, trimming still needs to happen.  Hardware cloth for the ventilation for the top was donated by another friend George and still needs to be stapled in.  Then the fun of digging the fencing.  It's going to be 6' tall and about 10' out from the coop then run down to my vinyl fence.  The fencing will need to be dug into the ground and skirted out so predators (my dogs) can't dig down.
The exterior yellow box is a nest box.  I plan on a yellow flower box below the window.

The door was made by my friend John and I love it.  It has a little window and the chicken door is built in it as well.  I want the fence to run from the right side of the coop out to give my family a little more usable yard space.  We live on a small lot and maximizing every foot is needed.

My life right now feels like my garage.  So much going on, bees, chickens, kids and life.  Crazy but full of excitement, learning and fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The bee and chicken combo worked so well at OCG that I have built (almost done) a chicken coop for our house.  SHB stand no chance against the chicken.  Great compost, entertainment and eggs are all extras for me.  I can't await their arrival the first week of May.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How did my yard far this winter?

CSX came out of winter with lots going for it!  Two deeps and a medium mostly full of brood and mixed stores. This hive picked up SHB from the DHS gardens and I have mostly got them under control but I will wait another week or so before adding another medium.

Package #1 had a deep and medium completely full so I added another medium.

Package #2 has 4 mediums.  Two weeks ago I added another medium since they looked very congested.

CSX split had 3 mediums on it.  There was quite a bit of extra room but not to much, so I reverse the boxes to put the queen on bottom and give her room to go up.

Demeter Split and Demeter both didn't come out of winter as strong as I would have liked.  Both of these hives seem to be slowly starting this spring.  I reverse the boxes on Demeter and DS and removed the bottom Deep on DS that was almost completely empty.  Hope they kick it in!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

DHS bee club

DHS's bee have died.  Communal beekeeping is different then keeping bees in your back yard.  Who feed them last?  do they have enough pollen?  is the bald face hornet bothering them?  how much do they weigh?  do the brood boxes need to be reversed?  ect....

Keeping bees is different then having bees.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What to do when it's almost to late?

The DHS hive isn't where it needs to be to get through this unusually harsh Georgia winter.  Late winter hive feeding are best done with bee candy.  It's hard for the bees to metabolize moisture during cold weather.
One four cups of water were brought to a boil, then ten pounds of sugar is mixed in and stirred till it reaches 145F.
a candy thermometer is a must.
I poured the mixture after it slightly cooled.
after an hour I have a nice slab of candy.

A 2" shim between top Hive Body and the Inner Cover will keep the candy from interfering with the inner cover.  We will lay small wooden dowels perpendicular to the frames within hive, and gently place the sugar cakes onto these so it can be accessed all the way around.  

Even a hive with stores can starve if they move up to fast and don't eat the stores on the sides.  Hopefully this will help them when they reach the top.