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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

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Farmette 1769’s honey bees are no worse for the wear after Tropical Storm Florence last weekend. I guess I can take the tent stakes out of the ground now. Or maybe my shadow can take care of that task.

 

Our honey bees were out enjoying this hot, sunny Saturday. They had been doing this all day while I was at Carolina Chickenstock. It’s like Woodstock, but with chickens.

It is actually a large poultry buy and sell gathering that happens twice a year in Taylorsville, NC. It is almost an hour away from me, which is doable. Breaking an hour and a half total driving in a day is difficult for me. I have degenerative discs in my cervical spine of the neck. I have had surgery, but you fix one spot and the one below crumbles more. I broke my self-inflicted limit and will pay for it for a day or two, but it was so much fun!

I purchased a pair of white homing pigeons, which were being sold in pairs only. We only had one pigeon here since Petunia’s boyfriend was killed by a snake.

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This is the new pair. They’re gorgeous!

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The quad travel cage was still in the back of my truck, so Petunia came all the way into the garage to investigate the familiar sounds of friends. The new pair will stay caged for 2-3 weeks until they know that this is their new home.

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I was lucky enough to happen upon a Dark Cuckoo Maran Hen for sale. They lay dark brown eggs. Even though the nutritional content is the same, we love having the variety of colors in our egg basket.

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I stole this pic off the net. This is what her eggs should look like. We have brown, tan, white and blue egg layers right now. It will be great to have this color too!

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It really was my lucky day. I found a juvenile pied guinea fowl. We have two juvenile pearl, which are this color without the chrome aka white splashes. The contrast is beautiful, albeit hard to see in this photo at this angle.

I got up really early to pack up for selling, did a lot of buying and chatting, came home and got the newbies settled in, took care of Barry the giant, crazy puppy and a gabillion other things.

So that’s all for now – I’m tired.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

 

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This is the first stretch of the storm gully up next to the roadside. Our property goes downhill from here. This pipe accommodates water from several properties up and down Old NC 27 Hwy (it is more of a small, winding road than an actual highway).

The arrow points to our main poultry coop in the distance. I put a big blue tarp over it before I wandered up to check out the water situation.

This is the same spot as the following photo from this morning.

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Pic from the previous blog post this am today.

The water line has come up quite a bit. The rain is a fine, dense downpour, and steady.

Later down the gully is the third spot where a pipe goes underground and out again. This one is much larger than the first two.

Before it gets dark,out again, I’ll go out to see what is happening. If there is a major change, and I still have access to the internet or LTE mobile network, you’ll get to see what is happening.

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NCmapFlorenceFlorence started off as a hurricane with far-reaching effects, especially on North and South Carolina. It metamorphosized into a tropical storm. We got the tropical storm part of it first, and are now experiencing the tropical depression phase.

There have been 35-ish MPH winds, and some gusts that seemed to be in the high 40s. And then there is all this rain.

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This is a small section of the run-off gully for our back-slanted property. It can fill in up the sides when there are heavy downpours. The cement pipe can barely be seen within the overgrowth. But it is not covered with water, which is a good thing.

The loss of power so far has been a less than 24 hour period. That’s pretty good for us. Being out on the country roads with a smaller population, our power restoration just does not have the priority of the cities full of teaming masses.

I left the suburbs of NJ, just across the Betsy Ross bridge from Philadelphia, when I was 18 years old. Then it was big cities for 25 years (Atlanta/GA, Frankfurt/Germany, Burbank/CA, Wilmington,/DE, etc.

Our first home purchase was one side of a duplex row house with .10 acre(s). When my husband got a job transfer offer of the greater Charlotte, NC area, we jumped on the opportunity to get acreage. It was less than 1/2 the price of the NE/USA area.

So, now we are out here. Big storms never bothered me much in the suburban or city locations. I actually love rain and storms, especially thunderstorms. But with them, out here on the country roads, preparation is a necessity. Not knowing just how strong the winds would be, we cleared the grounds on Wednesday; roofing material, wood, cages, poultry feeder/drinkers, etc.

When power is out, our water is out – due to the well system. Last night, when I should have been writing this article, I was filling up buckets and washing dishes; after the power came back on.

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We had planned to move the honey bee hive, first into the crawl space underneath the house, and then the nook right to the side of the front stoop. After further consideration, it was left in place.

I put the screen block on the hive entrance. The bees were overflowing when I was putting it on, at 5 am, so I left it at an angle. They can still get out, but it did slow them down.

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While adding the screened frame, I also strapped down the top, which is the most common recommendation for honey bee hives during hurricanes.

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This pic was taken early this morning. There are puddles gathering behind our hive.

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It seems to be time to take the screen off and let the honey bees out to weather the wet, stormy weather themselves.

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The arrow shows a big, dead beetle that dared to enter the hive. 

The bees seem to be happy to be out and about, although they are not storming out into the blustery rain.

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Florence should make its way past us today. Will more trees come down via over-saturated soil? Will we lose electricity again? I’m not sure at this point. But, albeit this weather event really wasn’t very bad for us, I’m really glad that we prepared well. Now that the yard is tidy and the household well-stocked, I may just get the chance to get back to that book reading I’ve been neglecting.

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This Saturday, I found time, around 8 PM, to wander out to the honey bee hive.

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My sidekick, Mr. Barry White, accompanied me. Since I needed both of my hands free, he was temporarily hooked to the tree that overshadows our hive.

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Looking in once again at the empty top “honey” super, I thought about how fast time goes and how winter is coming. That open space is not insulated; and it needs to be.

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So, I took the measurements of the inner walls of the super.

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14″ Wide by 17.75″ Deep. I’ll cut a flat board that size and attach a handle to one side. Then, I’ll carefully place it on top of the queen excluder mesh/screen (handle side up).

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I was thinking about filling the empty space with straw. I’ll have to think more on that. The top cap will still go on as usual. The main hive should stay warm enough, especially with the massive amount of honey bees and winter food storage down there.

That rusty reddish color is curious. I pulled the following from this article;

How to read the frames

Capped honey
There should be a reserve of capped honey at the very top of the frame, this often extends around the corners. If there isn’t, then the bees are running extremely low on food reserves and you will need to feed them. This can happen at any time of year, even in summer if the bees haven’t been able to fly for a week because of bad weather.

Nectar
In the rows of cells immediately underneath the capped honey, there should be stores of nectar. This is a snack food for bees, the equivalent of having a bowl of nuts on your desk, which you can dip into as you work. The bees consume this and feed it to the larvae.

Pollen
Next will be pollen, this may not be so clearly defined but you should see cells packed with pollen, often different shades ranging from bright orange and red to almost black. Pollen is the protein, which bees eat, if there is none it would probably coincide with a prolonged period of bad weather.

Maybe it’s pollen? I’ll have to read up or ask around…

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CLOSE

While I had the top cap off, I went ahead and took a few close-up photographs.

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The only insect that tried to bite me tonight was a mosquito. To date, since getting the honey bee package in March 2018, I have been stung 4 times. That’s not bad, considering that I’ve only worn a mask and gloves a few times. I prefer risk with a clear view.

If you haven’t already, please follow Farmette 1769’s blog (choices below).
At the least, you’ll get Sweet Saturday Bees.
Sting you next week!

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This first photo is of the front entrance at about 10:30 PM. They were all very calm, so I had the opportunity to get really close.

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This honey bee is not alone by far; but, for some reason, no one else showed up in this particular pic.

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There are some of her fellow co-workers moving out to investigate a potential intruder – aka – me, myself and I.

Videos seem to auto-zoom on my iPhone SE. That’s a good thing for this hive front entrance video.

Lastly, I opened up the cover to look into the top super. That plastic mesh is the queen excluder material that helps keep the queen out of the space that was added just for honey.

I’m sure our queen bee is laying eggs galore in the bottom main hive area in order to create more workers. She has to keep this going to replace the ones that die off.

The workers wander into the the additional super a little, but for this first year with a top bar natural maze-like comb structure, the honey bees are focusing on the base hive area for their honey storage.

We’ll have to be patient. I’m thinking that the inevitable up-close-and-personal honey harvesting will be worth the wait.

 

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Our Honey Bees (All fifty-some thousand of them) are doing well. Today they were in and out, in and out, in and out… gathering nectar for the present, and also as stored rations for the upcoming winter.

The status of our hive is stable. They are sticking to the main hive for their activities. According to some beekeeping co-workers of my husband, the reason our honey bees are not using the top additional, queen excluding, honey-access-only super is due to the fact that they are filling up all the space in the main hive.

They will likely not use the upper super until next year. I made indirect contact with a beekeeper today – one that keeps bees as a business – with 600 hives. I have his business card and was offered access to call with questions; about how to get them to produce honey outside of the brood/honey maze that is now the main hive contents.

It is fun just to have them. We’ll probably buy another boxed package of bees next spring; and have another hive set up in a slightly different configuration. It will be a set-up that encourages a “Honey for Humans” section.

Since this is a somewhat short article, I wanted to add something extra.

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This spectacular Yellow Garden Spider had a nice web amongst the branched leaves of our Yucca Plant. I am pretty pleased with this SE iPhone photograph. It was enhanced a little in clarity, color and richness, and I retouched these weird shadows along the tree line, but other than that, this pic is true to life.

If you see any of these spiders, please let them be. They are not poisonous, are great for pest control and help to keep a good natural balance for your outdoor space.

They are a bit intimidating, since the body alone is over an inch long, but they won’t hurt you. The insects in the web aren’t so lucky!

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Since there really hasn’t been any change since last week, I decided to write a combo article.

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Here are a few bees at the entrance of the hive… The End

Just kidding. The really big news is that we finally released our homing pigeons. Actually, it is just a pigeon – singular.

I had purchased a pair, to train as wedding/memorial doves (yes, those are actually white homing pigeons, not real peace doves).

But, there was a small gap in the cage door. A snake got in and tried to eat the male pigeon. He could not, since the pigeon was too big, but in the process of getting to the impassable shoulders, he smothered the bird to death.

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This is the inside of the female pigeon’s new digs. I was in the process of building this when the snake got into the old cage.

It is designed specifically for homing pigeons. The photo shows “Petunia” inside, from the viewpoint of looking in from the newly opened gate entrance.

She had gotten settled in for about 2 weeks. This is long enough for homing pigeons to think of a new space as home.

My husband took a pic of me taking a pic of Petunia. She made it to the landing pad.

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Then our sole homing pigeon hopped up to the top of her house. It is attached to the main chicken/duck coop.

Petunia tried to hang out with the chickens on the ground. One of them got territorial and chased her, so she flew up to the coop’s roof.

26E8E98D-2A68-46D2-832F-1C03A6118267This photograph shows our one and only wedding rental, enjoying the top of her personal home. This image is from the day after her maiden voyage out into the world.

We’ll take our girl farther and farther away from our house, until she knows the home base location well; and can then be used for events.

I’m hoping that the people that sold me the pair are at Carolina Chickenstock poultry sale again in September (It is held twice per year in Taylorsville, NC.).

It would be wonderful to get a few more that are this smaller-sized pigeon (They tend to run larger.), so that she has some matching buddies.

Happy Weekend! Have a great one!!!

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