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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: winter beekeeping

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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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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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CLOSER

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CLOSEST

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.

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At the least, you’ll get Sweet Saturday Bees.
Sting you next week!

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