Tag Archives: Homesteading

Bee Day

Today is bee day at our farm. It is the day that the honey bees that we ordered have arrived and we must set them up in their new homes (hives). This year, as in the past two, we ordered our bees from Osage Bees in Avoca, MI. Osage Bees do not raise the bees here in Michigan. Instead they take orders from local customers then travel to Georgia where they pick up the bees and bring them back to Michigan. We find this to be a great option for acquiring bees, especially after our tragic mail order experience a few years back.

Our order was for five 3 pound packages of bees.

This is what three pound packages of bees looks like. There is an estimates 9000 – 12,000 bees in a three pound package.

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The bees are huddled together in a ball surrounding the queen cage to keep her warm and protected.

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There are a few dead bees in the bottom of each package but that is to be expected.

My husband did all the hiving today, but I wanted to be there to take some photos to share with my readers. You won’t see me in the photos, but in case you are wondering I was wearing a bee suit similar to the one my husband has on.

Before I get into todays activities I should mention that a lot of the prep work has been done over the last few weeks. That involved making sure that we had five hives ready (clean, assembled and set in place).

This morning when he went to pick up the bees I made syrup that we would use to feed the bees for the first week or so. We generally don’t like to feed sugar syrup because it does not have the nutrients that the bees would get from nectar or from honey.  We try to keep enough extra honey on hand to be able to feed the bees if necessary, but this year we did not have enough honey to make that happen.

I will also say that there are many methods for hiving bees and for bee keeping. What is right or wrong is largely a matter of opinion, and what works for one bee keeper may not work for another. If you have seen things done a different way or do things differently feel free to ask why we did what we did.

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Before opening the package of bees my husband opened up the hive that he would be putting the bees in. He also removed the center two frames to make room for the bees.

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He next removed the small piece of wood that sealed the top of the package shut. Removing the piece of wood gave him access to the feeder can. The feeder can has syrup in it and small holes that the bees can suck the syrup out of. There is enough syrup in the can to keep these bees alive for several days. This can was still pretty full.

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As he removed the can he remembered to slide the small piece of wood over the hole because he still wasn’t ready for the bees to come out of the package.

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The next step was removing the queen cage. The queen cage is a very small box with screened sides that contains the queen bee and a few attendant bees. The queen is kept separate during travel to protect her. The safety of the queen is of utmost importance because a hive can not function without a queen.

You don’t get to see the actual queen cage because many worker bees were clinging to the cage. Protecting their queen is a large part of their job. Because it was chilly outside my husband held the queen cage in the hive while shaking and brushing the excess bees off.

The next thing he did is not recommended practice, but because of his schedule for the next few weeks it was necessary. He placed the queen cage in the hive and removed the screen so that the queen could get out.

Normal procedure would have been to keep the cage intact and allow the worker bees to get her out by eating the sugar candy that is used to plug one end of the cage. This process usually takes a few days but it is important to check after a few days to make sure she is out. My husband is just not going to have the time to do that check.

 

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After the queen was in the hive my husband emptied the rest of the bees into the hive. In past years when we have done this we have found that when the package is open many bees are eager to get out and bees begin flying out and around the area. Our experience today was different. Presumably because of the cool, cloudy weather the majority of the bees stayed in a ball – huddled tightly together.

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Shaking the package

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and smacking it on the bottom is what needs to be done in order to get the bees out of the package.

There are usually a few bees left in the package so he sets the package on the ground next to the hive so they will find their way in.

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Since we don’t like to open our hives often and disturb the bees he adds a queen excluder and a honey super (the third box). He then put the feeder on top and puts sugar syrup in it, before placing the top on the hive.

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This one is finding it’s new home.

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As I was taking pictures I felt something tickling my hand. I looked down and found this girl checking me out.

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She  seemed to be tasting my skin but certainly had no ill intentions. One of the precautions we take when working with the bees is to not wear anything scented (perfumes, deodorant, hair care products) as the bees might be attracted to it.

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So maybe I am just that sweet. LOL!!!

I only stayed around for the first hive but my husband repeated this with each of the other four hives.

He then reported to me late this afternoon that all of the hives were active and after the sun came out there were busy bees all over the dandelions.

This was a good day!

 

A Blessed Weekend

Before we get to the weekend I have to tell you what happened Thursday. I was standing on our deck when I saw this family of geese walking down the sidewalk in front of our house. I was caught a bit off guard. I have seen geese walk through our neighborhood on a couple of occasions and it always seems strange. This is the first time I have seen them with a gosling. As soon as I saw them I ran in the house for my camera, but by the time I returned they were nearly out of sight. They were headed for a ditch that runs through our community. I pointed my camera, pushed the zoom button to the max and clicked in their direction. I am surprised that I got a decent shot of them.

Looks like a fun family outing.

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Saturday was the craft sale at Special Dreams Farm and what a great day it was. Like all outdoor events weather is always a concern but this day was blessed. The weather was variable, sweat shirt weather for sure – sometimes cloudy and sometimes sunny, sometimes calm and sometimes windy but not a drop of rain fell on us and considering how many rainy days we have had this spring we were most thankful for a dry day.

Even better than the weather was the company. I was set up between my cousin Abbey and my sister Kathy. My sister Jamie and my cousin Laurie, Abbey’s Mom, were also there. I guess we could call it a family affair.

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This was Abbey’s first craft sale. In fact I believe it is the first time she has sold any of her art work. Some of her pieces were painted, some were done in pencil and others were done with a wood burner.

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I think she is very talented

IMG_4966and judging from how many pieces she sold I would say that shoppers agreed.

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Like Abbey, I had a good day for sales. My dehydrated Garlic Granules and Garlic Dill Dip Mix were both big hits.

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Kathy sells memory bears that are custom made. Customers provide the garments, usually shirts, that she makes into bears. Often these are done in memory of a loved one who has passed away and the clothing would be something that was worn by that person, other times they may commemorate a special place or event.

There was a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day, some of which included more family members and friends, and many who were there to support this wonderful organization.

I received a follow up email from the Director of Special Dreams Farm thanking me for attending and saying that they are planning to hold this event again next year. I will definitely plan on being there.

Sunday we had glorious weather and the icing on the cake was that my husband had the day off from work. We spent the day together just catching up on things that needed to be done. We potted some more of the plants that he had brought home and made sure all of the plants had water. He got the small lawn mower going and I cut the grass at the house, while he cleaned the chicken coop. He also got the riding mower going at the farm, but the grass there was too wet (muddy) to cut. It’s hard to say when I will be able to start cutting the grass at the farm because today brought more rain.

I didn’t take many pictures of our Sunday activities. In fact I only have this one to share.

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Our cherry tree has begun to blossom, and while I enjoy the beautiful blossoms I will be praying for a good cherry crop this year.

Thanks for reading and I hope your weekend was blessed as well.

 

 

Nature At It’s Best (Continued)

I just had to do a follow up on my post from last week.

After moving the flat of pansies several times with the nest still intact, on Sunday my husband removed the nest and nestled it securely in the crotch of a small tree in the grove behind the bee hives. When he told me what he had done I was relieved that at least we had not destroyed the nest and all of the work those birds had put in to it. It felt like a suitable compromise to me.

Yesterday he showed me where he placed the nest.

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As we looked inside this is what we saw.

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How surprised we were. We are speculating that the robin(s) who built this nest had been watching for several days as we moved it around. Perhaps they had even been back to it when we were away. It seems that they too are satisfied with my husbands choice of locations and decided to make it their summer home.

Don’t you just love a happy ending? 🙂

Nature At It’s Best!???

Last December my husband installed this knotty pine ceiling in the over hang of the barn. He spent many hours going up and down the ladder, measuring and cutting boards, then fitting them together and screwing them into place. It turned out beautiful!

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We decided to put the ceiling in to keep nature out.  Before the ceiling was put in the upstairs of the barn was not fully enclosed. There was about a six inch gap along the entire length of the barn. Not only did this gap allow cold air in it also made easy access for bugs and potentially even birds.

The rafters were exposed on the underside of the overhang making a tempting location for wasps to build nests, and the cedar box which encloses the front horizontal support beam was also open. This could have become a perfect nesting place for any number of birds or even a cozy place for raccoons to camp out.

While we have a great appreciation for all God’s creatures there are places we are not willing to share with them. Thus the ceiling served to keep these parts critter free.

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Yesterday evening my husband worked at the farm staining bees hives, preparing them for the bees that will be arriving in a couple of weeks. After he had finished staining this hive he placed two flats of pansies on top to keep them protected from the heavy rains that were in the forecast.

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This afternoon, as I went to move the pansies, look what I discovered. Despite our best efforts someone (bird) decided to make our barn their home.

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Now there is no disputing that those pansies make a beautiful home, but this just isn’t going to work. The bee hive needed to be moved into the barn for now, but will soon be moved to the apiary where it will become home to some of our new honey bees.

I would be happy to donate this flat of pansies to these birds so that they could raise the next generation, but I am not sure that we have place to locate the flat that would make everyone happy.

 

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Just shaking my head.

A Dip In The Pond

Our weather has not been warm enough for me to even think about going for a swim yet. In fact it will take a few consecutive days with temperatures in the 80’s Fahrenheit to warm the water to my liking.

Trooper on the other hand found the water most refreshing. Every year he is the first one in.

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He also enjoyed some time laying in the shade.

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I did get some yard work done this week while soaking up some vitamin D (sunshine) and starting on my tan. 🙂

My dip in the pond will just have to wait.