It’s been 9 weeks since we moved the bees from the nucs to the main hives and we are seeing mixed progress. One hive is progressing well while the other, despite regular feeding and checks, is struggling.
The strong hive has been growing and is now at 2 deeps. They were filling out the second box last week so we added a 3rd box loaded with Flow frames. Some people have had trouble with their bees taking to the plastic Flow frames so we painted them with melted beeswax before installing them. Glad we did as they have already started working on the frames getting them ready for honey.
As a first year hive we will not likely take any this season but it’s good to know they are progressing so well.
The second hive however is still struggling. We have continued to feed and inspect with no clear evidence as to what is going on. We are seeing brood and stores but it just does not seem to be progressing. After some discussion with another beekeeper we decided that it is most likely a mite problem so we treated today and will wait to see how it goes. It’s late in the season and the colony is small so it may or may not make it. You never know though – bees can be resilient so while there is still activity we will hold out hope for this hive.
I knew the shade cover / protection on the run would not support snow and was already planning a different cover for the winter months but what I had not figured in for spring and summer was the hail. How did I forget the hail? The first hailstorm came through and filled the shade cloth, weighing it down like fish in a net. Obviously some extra support was in order.
3 hours and some common materials and we now have an arched frame to support the shade netting. Still need to see how it does when the hail is coming down but it should allow all but the worst hail to roll off rather than “pooling” and weighing it down. Not sure if they will support a “solid” sheathing for the winter yet but we shall see how it handles the hail first and then decide.
With the cover now taken care of we can focus on getting the last bit of stitching done on the sides.
The chicks are growing like mad and will soon be old enough to go outside. I’ve been working on the coop run as time allowed but with the chicks fast approaching 6 weeks it was time to get it at least done enough so they could be let out. With the number of birds we are raising we needed to have a good sized run. How big? BIG – as in 20 by 40 with 6 foot walls. Right now the top is open but we have a solution in the works for that and the run should be fully enclosed within a week or so.
I sure hope those birds appreciate everthing that has gone into this.
The hives have been prepped and ready for a few weeks waiting for the bees to get here. To get a head start we ordered nucs (pronounced “nooks”) which are 5 frame hives that are already up and running with a working queen instead of “package” bees which are a bulk of bees with a queen that has to be introduced. Well, today was the day our bees arrived.
While I went to pick up the bees, my better half was going to make a big batch of sugar-water for spring feeding. We both knew this was coming but somehow neither of us thought about just how much sugar we actually needed. She realized pretty quick that we had no where near enough in the house so a quick trip to the store was in order for a 25lb bag. Yikes, that’s a lot of sugar.
It was a little strange loading 10-20,000 bees in the car with me for the ride home but it was a cold day so they were pretty docile.
Once back at the farm we suited up, lit the smoker and sprayed suger water in the empty hives to prepare them for the bees. I’m not sure how useful the smoker was with the wind but I went through the motions anyway. The bees were relatively calm either way and I was able to do the inspection and search for the queens with no problems.
When all was done, we inspected each others suits for stray bees before heading into the house but still found a stragler on my suit as I was taking it off. A quick walk back outside with a soft brush and he was back in the wild.
The move from the nucs to the hives went smoothly and we apper to have two healthy colonies to begin our season.
Honestly, the hardest part was suppressing that urge most of us have to swat away a bee when it comes at you.
Our long awaited FlowHives have arrived! These newly designed hives were ordered from Australia 6 months ago and we can’t wait to get them into production. What makes these hives special is how the honey is harvested, honey is extracted with no disturbance of the bees or hive. You still have to do the usual inspections and maintenance but you no longer destroy the combs during harvest which should allow for quicker recovery. It’s an experiment using these but we feel it will be a great addition.
Bees are so important to natural farming and having our own hives on-site will only improve our natural pollination. After the hives establish, we will be adding natural raw honey to our product offerings.
One thing you learn quick when owning a farm is that there is always something to do. Since the property was in a bit of disrepair when we bought it,this is doubly so for us. One project I’ve been working on for a while now is the new goat fence to replace the old 4-wire fence that borders the property.
Drilling post holes, driving in t-posts and stretching fence are a challenge on uneven prairie but the end result will be worth it when we can let the goats out to roam the entire property.
The farm has been up and running and two questions we get regularly are; “How are things going?” and “When are you going to put up a website?”
The answer to the second question is “Now”.
With everything else going on, the website never made it to the top of the work list. It needed to get done but other things always seemed to come up. Now that we have things going, we should be able to keep the site updated and will share our progress along with stories about life on the farm. Some days will be just the boring goings on of day to day chores. Other days you might get treated to stories about life on a small farm and the critters that make things interesting. Hopefully you find them entertaining.
To answer that first question: It’s a work in progress, like all small farms.