Tag Archives: bee swarms

Homestead Update 6/11/17

11 Jun

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I have been out and about working this week. As I was checking this cotton field in the foreground, I noticed that steep, highly erodible hillside in the background is planted to corn. That corn will never yield very well. Even if we have an unusually rainy Summer, the corn will still suffer from drought stress because when it rains, the rain will runoff the hillside before it can soak up. Looks like a bad decision to me.

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The tomatoes in my raised beds are looking good. As I was cleaning out the grass and weeds, I harvested about 3 dozen onions I planted last Fall. I don’t know what I will do with so many onions at one time.

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I made a new contraption for harvesting honey made from plastic tubs and wedding veil material. I needed the frames to stand upside down so the honey would drain properly since the cells in the comb are at a slight upward angle.

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I didn’t have a comb uncapping tool so I used this hair comb that Sweet Thing bought at the Dollar Store.

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After I uncapped the comb, I clamped the frames down with two strips of wood to keep the frames upright. This method of harvesting seems to work well, although I might not get too much honey this year. Yesterday I discovered two of my hives were queen less! I just happened to have a swarm captured in one of my traps still hanging in a tree. I went out and brought the trap home and did a news paper combine with the swarm hive and the old queen less hive. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

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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!

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!

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.