Tag Archives: bee keeping

Homestead Update 5/28/2017

28 May

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I looked out our back door last week and watched a red fox stroll across the yard. The family of Foxes have been around so long my dogs in the pen don’t even bother barking at them anymore unless they come really close to the pen. But if I want to see a Red Fox up close and personal, I can just go visit my niece who recently BOUGHT a Fox Kit to raise in the house. Are you kidding me!? She has another small house dog and I told her when that Fox is grown, he will probably kill that small dog one day. Some people, Huh?

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I have been in the fields working all week and I came upon this large tortoise easing across the field.

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I also encountered this 4 foot long Speckled King Snake. I let him live and go on his way; he is a good snake!

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I was sitting in my truck one morning, waiting for my employees to come in for work, when I looked up and saw three deer wandering around in our front yard. I am really lucky to be able to go out to work and encounter so much wildlife.

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I found this patch of Dewberries on the edge of one of the fields I check. When we were children, we would pick these berries, put them in a bowl with sugar and cream and have a real treat. We would put so much sugar on them, when we ate a spoonful it would crunch because we used so much sugar! These berries in my hand were so sweet you didn’t need to put any sugar on them. And speaking of sugar, I have been mixing sugar water to feed to my honey bees. I have captured and transferred 7 bee swarms this Spring and I have two more traps with bees waiting for me to bring them in. I hope to do that this week. I’ll keep you updated. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

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Homestead Update 5/14/2017

13 May

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I have 30 gallons of used motor oil that I drained out of my dirt bikes and ATVs stored in unapproved 2 1/2 gallon jugs. I need to pour them over into a five gallon container and carry the oil to the recycling center. I picked up the yellow bucket out of a farmer’s junk pile then I spotted the black bucket on the shoulder of the road so I stopped and picked it up. But wait a minute, this bucket is not empty, it’s completely full. This bucket is brand new, never been opened. five gallons of free oil for my Kubota. It probably fell off of some farmer’s service trailer as he was driving past. SCORE!

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I made some sugar water feeders for my bees out of used plastic jars and scrap wood.

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I made a little wooden stand with hardware cloth covering the opening where I put an old plastic jar with tiny holes drilled into the lid. Works perfectly! I transferred 2 of my newly captured swarms into hives this week and I plan on getting more this week. I need to go through my old hives and see how they are doing and possibly harvesting some honey. I have several people wanting some! I’ll keep you updated, until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 4/16/2017

16 Apr

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I had some slopes on the Homestead that were starting to wash and develop the beginnings of gullies so I went to the Nursery and bought 1/2 of a pallet of Zoysia Sod.

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I used my Kubota tractor and disc to work and loosen the soil before laying the sod. Since then I have been watering the sod every day and it is supposed to rain several days in the coming week so I hope it takes hold. If this works out I plan on doing more of this next Spring because I have several spots with washes starting.

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The lettuce in the raised bed is doing really well. Sweet Thing picked a big mess to take to the in-laws for Easter dinner and I expect it will be delicious.

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Speaking of Sweet Thing, she has been working to straighten up and organize her sewing room. I noticed 5 different sewing machines over there and I asked her why she needed so many. She asked me how many woodworking saws I had so I just shut up and smiled!

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She really has everything neat and organized. Maybe I should ask her to come straighten out my workshop!

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On the bee keeping front, I caught my first ever cluster swarm. This lady called three weeks ago and said she had a swarm in a bush, but before I could get there the bees left. Then she called a few days ago about this swarm.

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The swarm was so low to the ground I couldn’t rake them into the box so I just reached into the swarm and pulled off several double handfuls of bees and dropped them into the box. Eventually the stragglers began to go into the opening on their own.

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After the cluster got smaller, I got brave and removed my glove and scooped up a handful of bees barehanded. That is a really strange feeling to have a hand full of bees, and not one single sting! I transferred them into a hive when I got home and now after 5 days they seem to be doing fine.

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I was out and about putting out my swarm traps and I noticed this shrub. There were many of them in this fence line and most of them had really pretty red flowers on them. I researched it and determined it is a native plant “Red Buckeye”. I think it will be suitable for naturalizing so I am going to dig up some of the smaller ones and replant them. Have any of you had any experience with this plant? And oh yeah, my swarm traps. I put out 22 traps, some of them have been out 3 weeks, some 2 weeks and some 1 week. I checked them all Friday and I had no bees. Skunked! 0 for 22. I still expect to capture several swarms and I’ll keep you posted.

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I hope all of you had a peaceful, blessed Easter. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 9/24/16

25 Sep

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I finally had a good rain on my garden area to bring up the turnip greens and deer browse I planted 2 weeks ago. I checked yesterday and it appears I’m going to have a good stand of greens to pick in a couple of weeks. I love some fresh winter greens! I found this good, heavy metal barrel on the side of the interstate. I’m not sure what it held, but the label said it was some sort of coating and sealer. It looks like it was full of thick, tan, rubberized paint. I might use this for collecting sawdust in my workshop. When I start working on a lot of wood working projects, that creates a lot of sawdust that I want to keep.

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I started feeding my bees with this 5 gallon community feeder. I know I am probably feeding bees from all over the area, but I haven’t had time to put the screened feeders on the hives, maybe next week. I lost another hive recently. The hive was fine two weeks ago, then I noticed a lack of activity yesterday. I opened the hive up and found no bees, and it was full of wax moth larvae. Nasty! I still had 15 swarm traps out because I couldn’t pick them up as I have been housebound. Well, I went out yesterday and picked up 6 of them and low and behold, there were bees in one of them. I brought them home and transferred them over, but they are really strange. I don’t think they have a queen. They have built 4 pieces of comb about 6 inches square, but there is nothing inside the cells, there is no honey, pollen, or brood. It will be interesting to see how long they last.

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These are some commercial hives beside a field I check each week. I know commercial bee keepers do things differently than us hobbyists, but these hives are on the north side of the tree line. These hives will be shaded all day long and the books say put your hives in the sun to help reduce small hive beetles. I have my hives in the sun and I always worry they are getting too hot. I have lots to learn about bees, I guess. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 8/27/16

28 Aug

I thought my psoriasis was getting much better until I went out to look at a cotton field and walked around for a couple of hours and got hot and sweaty.

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Now I have this red, itchy rash again! Oh well, I guess Sweet Thing was right, it is too soon to get out and work. Man, I hate it when she’s right!

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We were out looking at some cotton with a new disease for our area called Target Spot. If you look at picture closely, you can see a pile of leaves on the ground underneath the cotton plants. The leaves are supposed to still be on the plant, but the disease infected them and caused them to prematurely defoliate. That caused the cotton bolls to be underdeveloped and probably not be harvestable. There is really not a good cure for this disease, so that is just one more problem to worry with!

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I did manage to check my bee hives again, and they were doing quite well. We harvested 4 frames of honey and ended up with almost a gallon of honey. Sweet!

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My bees have been searching for water and I noticed them drinking out of this bucket I placed under the dripline of my barn. I use this water for watering my plants when the bucket catches some rain. I sliced some 1/4 inch slices of swimming pool noodles and placed the slices in the bucket for the bees to land on and get a drink. So far, they are not using the slices, they still land on the bucket and walk down the side to the water.

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I filled up this plastic tray with rocks and fresh water and they started drinking from it as well. I guess I am going to start feeding them sugar water again. I have been looking around for plants that might be blooming to provide forage for the bees and I see very little available. I guess we are in the late season dearth. Some of the fall plants such as Goldenrod will be blooming soon, but until then they could use some supplemental feeding I think.I promised myself I would take better care of my bees this year. Last year I neglected them due to beginners ignorance, and this year I was unable to tend to them for 8 weeks due to my allergic reaction and psoriasis. Well, even though I missed the summer caring for them, there is no reason to neglect them now. Hopefully next year will be the year they finally improve and excel. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 6/25/16

26 Jun

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It has been so long since I posted anything I hardly know where to start. The picture above is what a good garden should look like, unfortunately it is not mine. I just grabbed one from the net to show what I hope to obtain someday. I do have my one raised bed that is looking very good, but now is the time of year to determine whether the raised bed gardening method is do-able. It is becoming very hot and dry so I will have to see how the bed holds up with the amount of irrigation I can apply to it.

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My longtime readers know I am a fan of Hostas. I recently received these Hostas in the mail. I was real leery of the condition these Hostas would arrive in, but they looked great! I ordered them from Hostasdirect.com and I have received one other order from them and it arrived perfectly as well.

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I planted them in pots and placed them under a tree. You might notice the two pots on the right seem to be empty. That is because they ARE empty! These pots are sitting on an 18 inch tall table, so the only thing I can figure is a squirrel got up there and ate them. Well, if it’s not slugs or Voles it is going to be squirrels. Just another reason to hate those filthy treerats!

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I’ve had another bad experience with my honeybees. I ended up with 7 swarms captured, but through my own neglect I lost one of them. I went out late one evening and picked up the trap then placed it atop the new hive where I intended to transfer it to. When I went out at 7:30 am to do the transfer, there was a passing, brief, pop-up thundershower occurring. I needed to go to work so I left, planning to be back by 10:00. It turned out to be 1:30 and when I opened the trap I was sick. Those bees were dead, suffocated from heat. I killed those bees plain and simple. Well, I will chalk it up to  a lesson learned. You can’t leave the traps out in the direct sun when the temperature is 85 degrees. That is making me wonder about my other hives sitting there in the full sun. I am definitely going to construct some wire vents to put on some of them when it really gets hot to check if they do better than the conventional hives.

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Two weeks ago, I developed a case of shingles. I had these red sores under my arm and running down my ribcage. I went to the doctor and got some medication for the problem. About one week after I started this round of medicine, I had a severe (and I do mean severe) allergic reaction to the drugs. The rash started out as whelps on my stomach and back and it has steadily gotten worse.

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Now I am covered with this rash, front and back, from my neck down to my knees. As you read this, I will be checked into the hospital receiving treatment, so I will update you on how this works out. Keep prepping everyone!

Honey Bees!

30 May

I want to do a quick post about my bees.

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This is what my best hive looked like yesterday. I have just been dying to get in there and split that hive before they swarmed again, but I just have not had time until today. Not only did I split the hive, we kept 3 frames of honey for ourselves, which was our first! Oh, and as I was looking through the frames, I actually found the queen! That is the first time I had a positive ID on her! That made me really paranoid, I VERY carefully put that frame back into the super and carefully put the next one beside it so I would not smash her. That would have been tragic because she seems to be a super egg layer!

 

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I don’t have an extractor so I used the scrape and crush method.

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We scraped 3 frames and ended up with just over 3 liters of honey. It seems to be a bit foamy after we screened it through a screen colander and a nylon mesh paint strainer. I’ll look in the morning to see how it looks then. Of course we had to sample the goods while we were working, and it was the best tasting honey the world has ever known!

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I also ended up with 2 quarts of this honey/wax mix. I don’t know what it is good for so I will just freeze it for now. I managed to transfer two hives that I caught in my swarm traps, and I have 4 more swarms trapped that I am sure about. I need to get them this week if at all possible.

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This trap had a swarm for at least 2 weeks before I brought it in. The trap was so heavy, I had trouble lifting it. When I opened it, I found lots of bees and lots and lots of brood. I put them in a hive and immediately gave them another empty super to build in. I am going to keep a better check on this hive than I did my other hives last year.

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This is one of my traps that ended up on the ground because the limb holding it up broke. When I discovered it, I had my ATV in the back of my truck so I had nowhere to put it. I moved it to the side of the field and came back in two weeks to pick it up. Low and behold, it had a swarm of bees in it! It was sitting on the ground, the entrance hole about 4 inches off of the ground, facing North. I guess those bees didn’t read the bee manual! Keep prepping everyone!