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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: beekeeping

At some point I realized how crazy (utter madness) it was to be hardcore about frequent blogs within a hectic life (KOYAANISQATSI). So I broke off from them in December 2018, planning to return shortly after the first of the year 2019.

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Part 1 – The Wild, Wild West

It’s suddenly May 2019. Here I am now writing amongst a large pile of other projects awaiting my attention. And that’s the thing. One project (or even five) never seems to be enough. I can’t count how many are in the queue right now.

My lack of sole project focus shows up dramatically in beekeeping. But the bees survived the winter well, with no sugar water syrup support from the onset of freezing weather… and none since.  The hive turned 1 year old on March 17th.

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Now Farmette 1769’s honey bee hive has gone hog wild!

My approach is normally as natural & artistic as possible with everything; no pesticides, no tight plan, no frames, reduce/reuse/recycle and so on. The 55,000+ bees could do anything they wanted to their hearts desire/content. Maybe that helped get our hive going full force.

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Part 2 – 110,000+ More Honey Bees!

I know that the main hive is doing really well since it swarmed at least twice this spring. Neither time was I prepared.

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The first swarm formed on March 26, 2019, about 50 feet from the main hive. I tried to drop the mass of bees (surrounding a new queen) into a bin. That was a hot mess. Then I found a few videos on YouTube and made a temporary hive with one top bar.

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After getting the bees onto a tarp, as shown in many beekeepers’ YouTube videos, they funneled themselves right into the box as soon as I placed it where I thought the queen was.

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I was SO excited that this worked and reveled in the bees going in & out of a cardboard filing box for a solid day and a half. The neighbors then saw them swarm and leave.

Apparently, you must capture & cage the queen, or at least screen the swarm in for a few days (with syrup feeder access). A real wood nuc hive box would have helped too.

I was horribly disappointed, but it was still great fun! A second swarm formed a week or two later, but I was too slamming busy to do anything about it.

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Part 3 – The Empty Honey Super

I obviously like to build and up-cycle wood, etc., but both my time and energy are getting sucked up with contract work (I LOVE working for a major online retailer!), raising a teenager/up & coming rock star, nagging my dear husband, chores and the “never-ending livestock and/or pets trying to get eaten by wild predators or die on us” bonanza.

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Since my homemade honey super with top bars only (no framing) has been a bust,

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I finally broke down and ordered a half stack, fully assembled super, with frames and wax-covered plastic comb. The idea that bees would be forced into rectangles bothered me, but if I hope to get honey from our bees this summer, I must give in to the stricter approach.

They had this lovely super add-on box with frames on Amazon. I hope that it comes mint-colored as shown in the pic, but that is most likely bad lighting. It says “painted wood”, but the color is not stated. It will probably be white (that will change).

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I also ordered a metal queen excluder to keep her from going up into the super and brooding eggs amongst the potential honey. Having started off with an awkward, bendy plastic excluder for my homemade super, I decided to pull out the big guns this time.

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The main hive is a maze that can’t be disturbed at this point. There is one spot that is open and the rest is forever sealed with bee goo. I’ll attach the new excluder onto the bottom of the new super and just pop it all on top of the main hive.

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Right now the cap rests on the base hive. I went ahead and took the old super off before the dawn this morning. That top will end up on the new super and we’ll get the party started. There are three big bags of sugar in the pantry from last year, so I’ll have to break those out to help encourage the bees to make us some honey.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to write regularly, albeit maybe not as often as last year.

See you’all soon!

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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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Our honey bees were having a great Saturday out and about. And, they let me stand at the front entrance to take photos without trying to sting me.

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These were taken after one of my favorite Saturday outings – The Farmer’s Market. Whenever I go, I usually spend every last penny in my pocket. Everything is fresh and a lot of it is homegrown. You can get meat right from the livestock farmers.

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There are plenty of fruits and vegetables,

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flowers,

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and seasonal items; like this weird pumpkin that is now gracing our front stoop with it’s awesome presence.

It was a nice cloudy day with threatening dark clouds that never produced rain. I got out walking in the humid, yet fresh, air. It was a busy work week and the markets allow me to stretch out some of the aches and pains that I get from hunching over my computer all day.

There is a farmer’s market in our town down the road that I like a lot, but it’s slim pickings after Labor Day when it becomes a tailgate market. I also like the Dallas, NC Flea Market that is not too far from here. There are a few Hispanic run produce hubs at that one that I just adore.

But today it was The Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market. Their website fails to show just how great it is. They have four, huge, covered, open-ended buildings with a few cooked food vendors outside too. If you live in the area, it is a must visit for the Greater Charlotte Area.

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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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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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It has been raining a lot. The sun has come out today and will remain for most of the day. Our honey bees are taking their time getting out and about. In a few short hours they will be out full force.

In the meantime, here is a video from today to start your day… Saturday.

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I’ve been letting “our” honey bees fend for themselves a lot. They’ve likely been visiting our gardens, our wild flower patches (aka bunches of weeds), and our neighbors gardens, and the ones down the road…

This pic and the following video (from this past Wednesday), show the lack of mason jar in the sugar-water drinker base at the hive entrance. Rain is coming, so I’ll likely add supplemental food back into the mix in the upcoming 10+ days of thunderstormed weather forecast.

 

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I opened up the top of the additional space super to the main hive just now. Retrieving that mini drinker incentive is a no go tonight. The bees were less than pleased with me peaking in, even though my expectation was that they would be calm in the darkness. I may be able to sneak it out when the rain comes in soon. They’re usually pretty chill during wet weather.

What I am very pleased with is that the bees have started to move up into the super. They have not made any comb on the top bars (not shown), but at least they know the extra space is there. Maybe they’ll make some honey-focused comb soon.

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But in the meantime,

Good night moon,

Good night honey bees,

Good night everyone!

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