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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: bees

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Last weekend, instead of writing on my blog site, I was prepping for a big, icy extravaganza. Yes, we do live in the Southern most major city area (greater Charlotte region) smack in the Middle of North Carolina (Mount Holly). We’re a 4 hour drive from the beach. Yet, we have had not one, but two 2018 tropical storms that devastated areas on the NC coast as hurricanes. The second one blew our chicken coop roof off.

On Saturday, the 8th our first winter storm was starting up. We filled water buckets, since if we lose power, we lose the well pump. I pulled out the heat lamps, also for the well pump. Laundry was caught up and all the dishes washed. Before that, I had cleared out the garage for the van and also for the duck flock. We didn’t want ducksicles. The coop was shored up a bit for the chickens and guinea fowl. The preparations went on for hours.

So, the third major storm of the year was an early December rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, sleet, black-iced roads from the run-off event. You can see the honey bee hive near the tree up on the right. I put a piece of spare roofing at the back for a wind chill break. It was nasty out.

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We didn’t lose power, so I then watched the weather channel.

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I had needed to clean and do other chores anyway, so I killed two birds with one stone(s) in tidying up on Saturday. It gave me the time to do some things that I enjoy on Sunday. I love bird-watching.

I filled up the bird feeders and made some home-made suet with duck fat leftover from Thanksgiving. This pic is in my old bird book. We got one of the male Towhees that day. He was spectacular!

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Three of the five photographs above are from my daily work week art project. As noted in a past blog, it was something that I started to make sure that I took in the day a bit, no matter what was going on. It’s actually a challenge to keep up with. But, it is a good reminder to attempt to seize the day.

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This last one was taken at night instead of in the morning. Now that I have been doing the daily pics for about two months, I think that I’ll let myself slide here and there with timing. And, since “Tis the Season to be Jolly” is now, ending with our front stoop lights seems appropriate.

PS – It rained all day today and yesterday. The ice and snow have melted all the way down finally. The ground has been over-saturated for a while now, and it’s a mud pit outside.

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Our honey bees are quiet right now. This pic was taken yesterday, which was rainy. Even if they were out and busy, they wouldn’t have bothered Barry unless he had poked his head up to entrance level.

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I was going to write some more about wintering honey bees, but I was pleasantly interrupted by our teenage son and delayed this blog until today, which turned into tonight.

He had wanted something interesting for dinner. This is the same child that loves to feast on Hot Pockets and Flavored Doritos.

To say the least, I jumped at the chance to make a few suggestions. And then that turned into us making a somewhat Mediterranean meal together. There was falafel mix in the cupboard and dry rice in the pantry.

We took advantage of a fresh red bell pepper that was leftover from Thanksgiving, a few grape tomatoes and a bag of fresh spinach I had acquired at the farmer’s market just that day. I had picked up one dragon fruit which he insisted on including in the meal, albeit a Central American fruit.

He topped dinner off with store bought hummus (another Thanksgiving add-on) and pretzel crackers (yes, another holiday purchase). He reveled in the fact that we made international cuisine that was also healthy. When did this junk food junkie change his attitude? Maybe just last night…

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On Saturday, one lone worker girl honey bee rests on the front side of the hive at 11:43 am. Fall has come full force to Southern North Carolina in the Greater Charlotte Region.

At 12:56 pm, the temperature had come up to 55 degrees. This Saturday, a sunny one, made it enough for our honey bees to venture out to take advantage of the mustard flowers and other fall bloom on the outskirts of our little farmette.

I didn’t realize until I viewed this short video that there were bees hanging onto the lid of the jar. When I saw that I took a look. And, yes, they were still there, so I let the whole jar drop to the ground.

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As you can see, the mason jar front entrance holder has honey bees in it. I’ll fill the jar with sugar syrup and give them boosts throughout the cold weather season. I’m adamant about keeping this hive going. At the least, pollination for the flowers and our spring gardens will be enhanced. But, hopefully, at the most, we’ll be able to harvest honey for our own use this coming summer 2019.

I’ll purchase another bee box in March to start a second hive. Between the bees and the poultry flock, I keep plenty busy, so this is our livestock limit plan for the near and distant future.

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We lost one of our two Swedish Flower roosters (Agador) during:

Hector, our remaining Swedish Flower Roo, fell victim to:

For three weeks, every day, I woke up to finding Hector surprisingly alive. His comb had changed from red to pale pink. He was coughing, sneezing and choking. His comb turned partially yellow. Hector miraculously survived, but he hasn’t crowed since. He has not attempted to mate with his hens either.

So I drove out yesterday, across the border into South Carolina, and purchased a second rooster. He is a;

White Yokohama.

“Yokohama chicken is an ornamental breed originated in Germany and came from the Japanese long tailed breeds. It was developed from two different Japanese Natural Monument breeds. One was the Onagadori and the principal ancestor was the Minohiki or Saddle Dragger.

Yokohama is not the place in Japan where the breed developed. It is the port from where the breed was first exported to Europe, where further breeding would create the Yokohama known today. Today Yokohama chicken is a long tailed breed kept as an ornamental breed and also used for exhibition.

The breed was admitted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of perfection in 1981. And the Yokohama chicken is globally endangered. Now it is listed as Critical on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.”

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Albeit they appear to be a “gamey” bird, this is not their temperament. They’re pretty chill. It’s the first thing that I asked about after “Is he still available”. We don’t keep any aggressive pets or livestock here and want to keep it that way.

He stayed overnight in a mesh-topped plastic crate in the garage. Then he was transferred to an open cage for the day. Tonight he gets to sleep with his new flock. I’ll confine him like this for a few days until he knows that this is where the food is, and that this is home. Then he can run around with his new friends at will.

Since I was unable to track down another Swedish Flower rooster, I went for an equally spectacular breed. I hope to find a hen of the same breed at some point.

But, in the meantime, I’m looking forward to his morning (and all day) crowing. I miss it. I enjoy the soft crows that start around 5 am. I like the stronger ones with the dawn at 6. Then come the full on, cock-a-doodle-doos at sunrise, around 7 now, that continue into the sunlight.

This makes for a beautiful day. The birds and the bees. They all make my day brighter.

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Pics from November 10, 2018

It was a working weekend for me, and last Saturday evening’s activities revolved around the 17th wedding anniversary of my husband and I. I squeezed in a few photos and a last minute queen excluder topper project that day also. There was no time to edit pics or write a blog article.

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This is what was happening last Saturday around 2 pm at 55 degrees, sunny and crisp. One lone girl wandered out to greet my potential invasion. The rest of the honey bees had retreated back into the recesses of the hive.

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I popped the top off to check the added super box situation out around 6 pm, having discovered that the overnight temperature was going to drop below freezing. It was projected to be 28 degrees. I had forgotten all about insulating the empty space from the queen excluder, into the additional super, and up to the top cap.

So my poor husband had to wait for me to speed hack together a solution, before heading out for our celebratory dinner date.

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A used board and a new 1″ x 2″ pine strip was available in the garage.

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We have both a hobby sized table and miter saw. The board was chopped to size. The strip was cut for gap fill and a cup hook added for future removal. I was doing it on the fly – fast. I managed not to chop my fingers off.

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When I opened the top of the hive again, the honey bee workers decided to come storming up through the queen excluder.

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I put the make-shift excluder top on, took a photo, and placed two strips over those gaps. Then the bees came to get me, so there’s no pic of that step.

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But here’s one of my big, loose jacket. It’s the one I threw off as I ran away from the hive. A bee had gotten up the sleeve. I didn’t get stung. I’ve only gotten stung 4 or 5 times since starting the hive and never really wearing any gear.

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This pic is the only one from tonight, November 17th. It shows those stop gap wood strips. I’ll probably use the battery driven screwdriver to attach those to the main board with some type of braces. It does not now nor will it look pretty, but it’s doing its job. Our 55,000 honey bees are staying warm and toasty in their complex little world – all inside a bee box.

 

 

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After a few extra rough weeks here on Farmette 1769, I was thinking about the idea of stopping to smell the roses. I’ve done it in horrible life cycles before, but I thought of a way to really force it into my life to a higher degree.

I am a morning person that loves the still and quiet breaking of the dawn. It is not being welcomed by rooster crows right now. We had lost one during the early October onslaught of terrible events. Our remaining rooster, Hector, barely survived the second issue with the flock. I really don’t know how he survived. His comb had drooped and was not only pale pink, but also had a yellowish tinge to it.

But, Hector is running around full speed now, albeit lingering on the floor of the coop at night. I hope that he gets back to crowing soon. Either way, we’ll need to locate a second Swedish Flower rooster. It’s nice to have a back-up to help protect the flock. And, two crows are better than one.

But back to seizing the day, no matter what is going on in one’s own life; I started to take sunrise photographs. They are taken with just my iPhone. It’s quick-ish to do that. I can just edit with the light and color controls that come with my phone software. Then, posting right onto social media is easy.

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October 16, 2018
Noles Drive

Weekdays start with the morning drop-off. It’s nice to have some car talk time with our teenage son. He rides the bus home from school and could do so in the am. But, it gets us both rolling for the day.

I started this new project on 10/16/2018. It’s a Monday through Friday, one final photo per day, type of thing.

 

October 17, 2018
Noles Drive / Side Street, Mount Holly, NC

I couldn’t decide between these two pics, so I posted one personally and one publicly.

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October 18, 2018
Old NC 27 Hwy

This one was taken just across the way, in front of our neighbor’s horse field.

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October 19, 2018
Noles Drive

At some point, the people that own the house (down the driveway from where I have been stopping) may grow weary of my visits. But they don’t seem to be home on weekdays, so I may be able to get away with this for a while.

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October 22, 2018
Woods to the side of our house.

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October 23, 2018
Railroad Tracks – Downtown Mount Holly

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October 24, 2018
Noles Drive

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October 25, 2018
E. Central Ave. & S. Lee St.

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October 26, 2018
Catawba River, Mount Holly

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October 29, 2018
Catawba River, Mount Holly

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October 30, 2018
Willowside Drive

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Stockbridge Drive

I parked at the top of the drive at our son’s friends home. It had one of the best views on the street, and no one would think I was a stalker there. So, that is where I got out of my truck to take in the crisp, fall day aka Halloween.  It was my last October sunrise photograph for the year.

On the weekend following the last weekday of November, I plan to blog that whole month of pics in one fell swoop.

Next Saturday, I’ll stalk the honey bees.

 

 

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It’s 52 degrees Fahrenheit out tonight. I took these pics within an hour of when I started compiling this article – around 9 pm. The front entrance was very quiet, due to the weather cooling down into fall. No worker bee guards came to chase me off. I had to put my phone camera lens right up to the ledge; in order to get a shot back into where the bees were congregated.

There was not much activity, so I was going to use an alternate plan to make a boring blog post better. But, I’ll save that for a rainy day, since things got more interesting after I opened up the top/cap.

Without all the bees coming to get me, I realized that I could, with my bare hands, place my lens anywhere I chose, without getting stung. This clip looks down the back width between the farthest comb and the back wall of the wooden hive.

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Then I re-positioned the lens, and got a view eyeballed down through the queen excluder mesh.

My big flood flashlight is being used to avoid blown out detail from the phone flash.

Then I took another video from that angle. All three clips caught busy bee sounds. And, I did not get attacked the whole time.

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The two photographs are still shots from my excursion out to the hive.

It was a short trip out to the right hand sugar maple tree. It shades our honey bee hive and gives it a little bit of wind break. Albeit right out the front door and across the yard, it was akin to Gulliver’s Travels.

It was a wondrous adventure into the world of tiny creatures living a massive hidden city.

 

 

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Honey Bee Hive Front Entrance

It’s 56 Degrees Fahrenheit @ 10 PM. Sunday night into Monday morning, we will get our first freezing temperature of the season. That is when I plan to start feeding the masses sugar water syrup again.

As you can see, even at this temperature, our honey bees are no longer overflowing the front of their hive. They are hanging inside, keeping themselves and their queen toasty and warm.

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As anticipated I was able to get some close-up photos this Saturday.

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I popped the top off the hive and looked down onto the queen excluder mesh. This worker girl showed me her holster, ready to sting me at a moments notice.

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The extra super above this mesh, about a half of a regular hive high, is empty. I have not decided how to address this issue yet. I may build a drop-in top lid to keep the hive warm for winter, since the super is now glued edge to edge with the main hive; meaning that I can’t really take it off.

It is glued with whatever that orange-red substance is that the bees filled gaps with. I think it is nectar. Whatever it is, it sure acts like cement.

Short Clip – Inside Top View

That’s all until next Saturday! Have a great upcoming week!

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