Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Monday: The Waiting by Tom Petty

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Now you see it

 I had some requests for photos that have certain items identified.

Photo by me

Above are pollen cells circled. 

Photo from my brother Daniel

 Above, larve are circled. They look like white worms.
Photo from my brother

Above is the queen. See how her body is longer than the other bees' bodies?

Photo by me
Remember how we rearranged the frames so the bees wouldn't feel so crowded, so they would maybe stop building queen cells and not swarm? Well, instead of spreading out on all the frames, they abandoned some of them and are now clustered on the four frames farthest from the feeder. Last week they were clustered on the four frames at the feeder.

In the center of the above photo is one of the queen cells they had started. You can also see a lot of pollen stored in the comb.

The next three photos are from Mom.
My brother Daniel and I

Daniel and I again

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beekeeper's Meeting

Tuesday night, I attended a meeting of the local Beekeeper's Association.

There were 20 people there, and I was one of 5 women. A little boy that attended with his grandpa, two other women, and myself, were the only people under 40.

It was educational, and that was the main reason I went. Before the bees arrived, I kept thinking "I'm going to be a beekeeper" and then they arrived and I thought "Oh shit, I'm a beekeeper. I'm responsible for 11,000 little lives now."

Last Saturday, Mom and I noticed there was a queen cell in the hive. The bees had been installed for less than a week. On Sunday, my brother helped me find the queen, and we noticed a second queen cell. I asked the group leader of the Beekeeper's Association what he would suggest.

Typically when bees build new queen cells it is for one of two reasons:
1. The queen is not performing as needed - she's not laying enough eggs, or she's not producing pheromones that please the bees.
2. The bees are crowded.

Since the bees were only building comb on 4 of the 10 frames, I didn't think there was a crowding issue. However, my brother and I alternated the frames so there was one with comb, then one empty one.

The other beekeepers thought we should leave the queen cells alone. If the queen isn't performing, then the bees will replace her. If the queen gets her butt in gear, she will kill the queen larva. There's a possibility that the old queen will swarm with some of the bees. But there's also a possibility that a new queen will hatch and the two queens will duke it out to the death of one of them.

One of the bee books I've been reading, Fruitless Fall, discusses the colony collapse issue. In the past ten years or so, many commercial beekeepers have experienced a 50-75% loss of their colonies. It is unknown what the exact cause is, but there are theories of it being viruses, mites, stress or all three. While reading the book, I guess I imagined it to not be an issue here, but it is. Local beekeepers are experiencing losses as well.

Why do they have all these hives? Big Agriculture needs pollinators. Everything from almonds to apples uses bees as pollinators. Orchards rent the hives of bees for a certain period of time to pollinate their fruit. In addition to the money they bring in from the rental, the beekeepers also harvest honey.

What's blooming 4.25.12


 Clover! There's a honeybee hanging on to the clover in the center of the photo.
 My favorite, honeysuckle.
And peonies.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Garden Report 4.25.12

 Some of the strawberries ripened.
 I had to try one. So much better than storebought.
 Several of the tomatoes and peppers are overflowing their milk jugs. Guess it's about time to take them off!
 The potatoes experienced a huge growth spurt after last week's rain.
And the beets finally sprouted, probably also due to last week's rain.

I put fertilizer around the fruit trees and blackberries. I also put some on one row of potatoes and couple tomatoes, peppers and cabbages, to see if it makes any difference. Our soil report said we're low on lime, which we have a bag of and I need to spread. However, our potato crop has been subpar for the last couple years, so I'm looking for ways to make it better.


 We have many colors of irises on the farm.  They were brought to the farm by my Great Grandpa Maevers, when he worked for a local iris breeder, Mr. Niswonger.

  These irises have been on the farm since the 1960s, and are in bloom right now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Queen Sighting!

See the long bee that is vertically oriented in the middle of the photo? That is the queen!

After seeing the queen cells the workers were building, I got worried that maybe the queen had died or flown away. I asked my brother to help spot her and she was on the first frame we looked at! Still a little concerned because there are now two queen cells started.

I'm thinking about being a bee-nerd and going to the local beekeeper's association meeting tomorrow night. I just have this feeling I might be the only person under 40 there...

Music Monday: ELO Don't Bring Me Down

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Checking on Bees

 Yesterday Mom and I checked on the bees.

 They are working on about 4 frames of the hive so far.
 You can see they've started drawing out the comb. When the foundation went in the frames, it was relatively flat. Now they are storing nectar and sugar water!
We were looking for the queen, and may have found her, but aren't quite sure! We saw many drones though - the male bees that bum food and expect to be waited on hand and foot.

A disturbing find was that the bees started building a queen cell. This is something they shouldn't be doing unless they are crowded and wanting to swarm, or their queen isn't producing correctly. They can't be overcrowded; they've only been in the hive six days.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Queen Bee(s)

 When the queen is shipped with the rest of the honeybees, she is in a little cage, suspended at the top of the larger cage. She is not from the same hive as the worker bees, so they may kill her. There is candy at one end of the cage that the worker bees eat and when they finish it off and release the queen, she is accepted as part of the family.  It's hard to see, but my queen also came with about half a dozen attendant bees.
Me in my get-up.
Me in my get-up. You might recognize the hat; I bought it in Puerto Rico on vacation last year. Mom made a netting veil to keep the bees out of my face. I bought some long, thin gardening gloves from Target. And I'm sporting my Crocs galoshes.

As far as I know, I've never been stung by a bee, so I'm taking precautions against stings in case I'm allergic! I even bought a small box of Benadryl to keep on hand...

Last night, I was checking out the germination progress in the garden and noticed several honeybees on the clover next to the garden. I wonder if they were "my girls"?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's sprouting?



the sage is still blooming


Day Two: Bee Story

 I went out to check on the bees yesterday. They ate an entire jar of sugar water. The first day I gave them an old Classico pasta sauce jar full of 1:1 sugar water, which held about 20 ounces. Yesterday I increased to a quart jar (32 ounces). I checked out several bee books from the local library, and they say to feed sugar water until the bees stop eating it, sometimes a month or more of feeding. I came to the realization that I probably need to buy sugar in bulk; 5 pound packages aren't going to last very long!

I'll probably take the grass out of the entrance today. I put it there during bee installation to keep them from flying out as much. But it also helps keep nosy neighbors (wasps) out of the hive.
I was glad to see the bees started housekeeping. There were some dead bees in the travel cage that fell into the hive when I dumped in the bees. The worker bees have pushed the dead bees out on the ground near the hive entrance. See the middle of the photo by the concrete blocks; the golden spots are dead bees.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baby Chicks

Our 62 baby chicks will be shipped on May 7, when they are a day old. We ordered them from Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO.

After a fertilized egg is laid, it takes 21 days for the chick to mature inside the egg. The eggs that hold our baby chicks were probably laid on Sunday.

Here's a website with the chick lifecycle.

According to this website, the chicks' hearts started beating yesterday. Today, the legs, wings and beak will start forming.

Oh, the wonder of life.

Bee Story

If these bees could speak, they would say:

Back in the Spring of 2012, we moved from Clarkson, Kentucky, to Whitewater, Missouri. "We" as in me, all my sisters (the worker bees), and a foster mom (the queen bee).
The three pound package arrived in the mail - I had to pick it up from the local post office.

a pound of bees is approximately 3,500 bees

Then we moved into this huge one room house, where I had to share a bed (wax foundation + frame) with my sisters.
The lower box of the hive, the brood box, holds 10 frames that are about 8" deep x 16" long.

We were treated like royalty for the first couple days, and were given a huge free bottle of intoxicant as a house-warming gift (quart jar of sugar water). Then, we started to explore and make our own intoxicant (honey).
The can on top of the hive is the sugar water that traveled with the bees. The jar on the lower right of the hive is the sugar water I made for them.

The little red wagon is getting a work out this year.
Honestly, though, installing the bees in the hive wasn't very hard. I watched several videos on but this one was the most helpful:

There were quite a few bees that didn't want to come out of their travel box, so I set the box up in front of the hive entrance. Hopefully the box is empty when I arrive home tonight and I can take it away!


No, that's not buffalo chicken sauce on my brother's face. That would be the juice out of the stem of bloodroot, a native wildflower.

Bloodroot is the plant in the middle

My most un-favorite plant, poison ivy.

I'm so glad my Dad doesn't use chemicals on the field. See above, our neighbor's field, covered in burn down. It's a no-till herbicide.

And then see our field. The darker spots of grass are the results of cow pies. Fertilizer au naturale.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Music Monday: Ticks by Brad Paisley

It's already that time of year. I was fixing fence with my brother this weekend and was covered in ticks...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting ready for bees

Friday after work, my brother helped assemble frames for the brood box portion of the hive. This is the lower portion of the hive where the queen will lay eggs.


After nailing the frames together, we inserted the wax foundation. 
Full of frames!
The bees arrive Monday or Tuesday by mail. Today we are setting up the hive in the orchard.
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