Tag Archives: bee swarms

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!

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!

Homestead Update 4/24/2016

24 Apr

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I was heading to town Wednesday and I saw that some low-life, scum sucking, sub-human piece of pig crap dumped this puppy on the side of the road. I picked her up and knew we couldn’t keep her so I headed to the Humane Shelter to drop her off. I arrived there at 8:30 and they didn’t open until 10:00. I needed to get to work so I dropped her off at my Vets office for the day. We intended to find a good home for her. We kept her a few days and decided to keep her, so we named her Brandi. An indoor dog was one of the last things we needed right now, but we couldn’t bear to take her to the pound.

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On the home front, I went to my bee yard and discovered one of my hives had swarmed. Darn! I split this hive twice this Spring and they swarmed anyway. I can’t believe how many bees came out of that hive. The swarm was 20 feet in the tree so there was no way to get them back. I have more to talk about but I just got in and I need to shower and get to bed, I have an early day tomorrow. Keep Prepping everyone!

Another Swarm Trap!

28 Jun

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This is my box style swarm trap hanging in a tree last Thursday. It must have been hot in that box, they had a small beard of bees on the outside. Sweet Thing and I went over about dark and picked it up yesterday.

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I sat the trap on top of their new hive home and let it sit overnight. After church we went out to cut them out and it still must have been hot in that trap, there was a big beard on the outside! There were 6 really nice pieces of comb drawn out and attached to the lid of the trap. The comb had a good bit of uncapped honey stores, but I didn’t see any brood yet. We did a cut out and placed them in the new hive. The bees were so nice and calm, I didn’t even put any smoke on them. After we put the comb in the hive, I shook out as many of the bees into the hive as I could. Then I just set the trap down in front of the hive and it took about 30 minutes for all of the stragglers to make their way into the hive. I really hope this swarm stays!

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You probably have trouble seeing it in this picture, but our lawn has a lot of white clover in it in this area. As I was mowing Saturday, I stopped and looked before I went over it and I saw dozens of bees working in the clover. I can’t run over those bees! So I just mowed around all the clover patches. I told Sweet Thing if she wanted the patches mowed she could go out about dark and mow after the bees quit foraging. She just gave me a really strange look, I didn’t quite know how to interpret it. What do you think it might have meant? Keep prepping everyone!

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Oh, speaking of prepping, I found this can of fruit cocktail in the pantry and the expiration date was June 2012. I decided to take them for my lunch and give them a try anyway. They tasted just fine! They didn’t have any funny taste or smell, although the color may have been slightly pale. Other than that, the can was just fine. So just because something is a little out of date, don’t automatically discard it without opening it up and checking it out. I have several nice posts in my head to go along with the pictures I take everyday, but somehow I just can’t seem to find the time to type them out. More to come.

Swarm Trap Failure!

26 Jun

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This is a picture inside my third swarm trap capture. There are not a lot of bees in the picture, there were twice that many on the lid of the trap and lots more circling around in the air. You can also see that beautiful, pristine, white comb they drew out. Sweet Thing and I cut out that comb and put it in a frame using rubber bands. I put it in a hive and shook as many bees into the hive as I could. We stood and watched for an hour and most of the bees went right inside the hive just as I wanted. I peeked back inside about dark and they seemed to be just fine. I looked in the next evening and Poof! THEY WERE ALL GONE!!! Not a single bee remained. I was really POed let me tell you. That night I went online and did some research and discovered it is not uncommon for a swarm to leave a new hive so I didn’t feel as bad after that. I read some suggestions to leave the swarm in the trap long enough for the queen to lay some eggs and hatch some brood in the comb so they will have more of a reason to stay. I have a fourth swarm in a trap in Missouri I planed on bringing in this evening, but it rained right where I need to go get the trap so I will have to wait a day or two. They have been in the trap at least 12 days as of today so they should be taking care of business. I have been having a problem with my two nuc hives as well. Oh, they have filled up the two deep brood chambers really well. They are so heavy I can hardly pick them up! One of the upper frames was completely full of honey on both sides of the frame. I decided it was time to add my medium super to the hive. After one week I checked it and the bees were walking around on the frames, but they had not drawn out even a tiny bit of comb, much less stored any honey. Again I went online and did some research and got some suggestions. The simplest fix was to try removing the queen excluder and spraying the foundations with sugar water to get the bees interested in the foundation. We shall see if that works. The next step might be to separate the two deep supers and place the new medium super between them for a week. Then if they start working it, I will move it back up to the top. I hope I get this figured out soon, I want those bees to make some honey! More to come!

Bee Day!

19 Jun

Last week for the monthly area bee keepers association meeting we met on a Saturday morning and went to inspect some bee hives at one of the older members homes.

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He said he was under Doctor’s orders not to pick up the hives anymore. I think he just wanted us to be there to provide some free manual labor to pick up and move the hive bodies as he inspected them.

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This is a really nice frame of capped brood surrounded along the top with capped honey. That is what a frame looks like when you have a good, healthy Queen!

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I was being nosy and checking out his garden and grape vines while I was there.

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After we inspected the hives, we met back at an area community center and had hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. Sweet Thing bought these cute cupcakes for our local baker. They resembled little bees sitting on top of natural bee hives. They were a big hit with the group!

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I caught my second swarm of bees last week. This swarm went into a box trap with 2 empty frames and they drew out both frames with wax and had some capped brood in less than 10 days! Our neighbor came over and watched while we transferred the swarm over to a hive and he was astonished at how docile they were. After we finished with the new hive we went and opened one of my older hives that started from a nuc 6 weeks ago. I was pulling the frames up and showing him things and he said why aren’t they attacking us? He thought when you messed with bees, they just went crazy attacking and stinging! He said he might get bees of his own someday. We might have a new convert!

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Some new bee hives showed up around one of the fields I check this past week. There were about 30 of these fancy, peaked roof hives. I have never seen professional hives look this nice and pretty so this must be an amateur like me, only with a lot more hives!

Homestead Update

16 May

I had to work every day this week so I didn’t accomplish much in the homestead area. I will show you how my work went instead.

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I was driving down a back-country road and came upon an accident being cleared. As I was sitting and waiting, I looked over to the side and saw this;

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Goats! I took this picture and sent it to Sweet Thing and wondered if the owner had any goats to sell. She sent back “No! You can’t have any animals until you retire. You are too busy to take good care of them while you are working so you will just have to wait. No goats, chickens, rabbits, quail, pigeons, peacocks, cows or mules!” Well, we will just have to see about that won’t we? Just kidding

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I was riding my ATV through a field and I came across these resident Canadian Geese. Hey, Can I have some Ducks and Geese on the homestead?

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I picked up this nice deer shed on the edge of a field. This could have been a nice 10 pointer!

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The honeysuckle is blooming like crazy, and when I drive my ATV past a big mound of it the smell will just overwhelm me sometimes. I just have to stop and breathe it all in!

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A bee keeper finally put some of his hives on the border of one of the fields I check. These are some really old, ratty, worn out hives let me tell you. The tops are bowed and warped and don’t seal up and there are big cracks between the supers where the bees go in and out. As bad as they look I bet the owner will not be on top of his game and probably some of these hives will swarm this summer. I am definitely going to put a trap near these hives, maybe I can catch one of his cast off swarms.

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It rained here yesterday and again all this morning. When it stopped I checked my rain gauge and had 1.75 inches. As I was checking it I could hear bees buzzing from 100 yards away. I walked down to my hives and they were really flying during this break in the showers. I hope my bees don’t swarm and fly away! Keep prepping everyone.