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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: honey bee hive

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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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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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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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.

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

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The crisp fall weather has arrived here in the Charlotte, NC region, and our honey bees are tucked into their hive; with a few guards wandering out to the ledge of the hive entrance.

The following photos are not breathtaking by any means. I am saving up for a Digital SLR Camera (My SLR is a late 1980’s Pentax Film Camera). These are taken with just an iPhone. And, my menace of a big, young dog (Barry) was pulling on his leash while I was trying to get a good shot.

But here is what I was able to manage within those parameters.

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Maybe next week Barry will be sleeping and I can get an even closer close-up pic of a honey bee or two. I should probably pull out my old reliable Pentax, use that “through the lens” viewpoint and have some old school film developing done. I think I have some good Fuji 35mm spools around here somewhere…

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