I think maybe the bees knew that they weren’t getting enough attention on the blog and so decided to do something showy. Showy enough to get some “much deserved” press. They are like the Kim Kardashians of the farm. Honestly, I am a little ashamed to even know who that is. I blame grocery checkout magazines.
Trevor is still at work so I am doing my best to properly assess the situation and do what needs to be done. It may not be as bad as I first thought. After sitting next to Hive #2 for a few minutes, just observing, I have come to the conclusion that only half of the hive has swarmed. The fact that there is still quite a bit of activity in Hive #2 leads me to believe that they haven’t all left in the swarm. I watched multiple bees going in with bright orange pollen on their legs. And if there wasn’t a big lump of bees sitting high in the tree across the yard, I would even dare to say that there is a fairly normal amount of activity in Hive #2.
I will have to do a hive inspection to verify what is going on, if there are any bees still inside, and if there is a second queen or queen cell lingering inside Hive #2. But in the meantime, I have made and set out a swarm trap box to try to recapture the bee swarm in the tree. The swarm is about 20-25 feet off the ground so I am really depending on them coming down on their own.
There’s no need for a fancy trap box really. All you need is a big cardboard box (or one of those paper ream boxes), some tape, and a frame of wax foundation. I would have put some swarm lure in there, but for some reason I can’t find it in the freezer. That sounds about right huh?!
1 cardboard box
1 frame (actually you could use more if they fit) of wax foundation. You do not want comb with honey or anything else on it for a swarm trap. If you do have a swarm lure capsule, stick it in there!
Seal that puppy up on every seam you can find; especially on the corners. You do not want any gaps for bees to squeeze through or any light coming into the box. MacGyver it and use some paper scraps to cover up even the smallest of holes that light can leak in through.
Lastly, cut a hole in the bottom front that is slightly smaller than a quarter. I even rubbed a little beeswax on the front near the entrance for the extra smell. Then put your box up in a tree or high enough off the ground to look appealing to bees.
Crap… we’ve got a swarm on our hands. Just a few moments ago I watched as Hive #2 started to beard at the entrance and then half of the hive swarmed off into a nearby tree. Crap. We have bee lure in the freezer (I hope it’s still good) and enough money in our pocket to build a new hive. Hopefully we can pick up the materials and get a new hive built before the sun goes down. Or at least a couple more super boxes to keep them comfortable and buy us some time to split the hive into two. It is still freezing at night here so I don’t think they will make it through the night if the swarm says up in that tree.
Trevor and I have decided to build our own Warre-style bee hives this year. I am working on the plans as
we speak I type. We are even hoping to sell our unassembled hives in our online Etsy shop soon! They will be pre drilled and flat packed for cheaper shipping and will include assembly instructions. Fancy right? I was even thinking of including a beekeeping resource list. We’ll see.
What do you think? I have to price materials before I know how much I will be selling them for, but I am optimistic that we can price them competitively. Frühlingskabine Hives should be on the shelves in just a few weeks!
We will also be splitting both of our hives this spring so we will grow our apiary to three hives. We would like to sell the fourth hive to a local beginner beekeeper. (So if you are interested in beekeeping send me an email at: email@example.com)
I love how “work” is such a loose term around here. Not to say that what I do during the day isn’t work, but as compared to a day job, I can accomplish tasks as I see fit as long as it all gets done within daylight hours. In the wintertime I have to work faster since the sun is out for fewer hours, but it is also much easier to care for the animals.
The bees are tucked away until the weather gives us a warm day to check on them ad the chickens could really care less what anyone else is doing. As long as they get to run around the yard for a bit, that is.
After a morning of hauling around a bucket of hot water to thaw seven water bottles and a chicken waterer, I am rewarded with work of a different sort. The fun stuff. Like reading through dozens of magazines looking for new ideas or more information on beekeeping and mushroom cultivation. The articles on goat keeping make me yearn for some dairy goats though. Someday Mother Earth News, someday.
I am also working on changing the way I sell rabbits. I will still sell some of course, but I also need to focus on meat production for my family. This, in a way, is much better for potential buyers since any rabbits that are sub-par and not exceeding the ARBA Standard of Perfection will be culled; leaving only the best of the best to be sold. It’s a win-win really. Each rabbit will be sold with a “birth certificate” instead of a 3-generation pedigree (which will be sold additionally) which should give me the ability to control where my lines go. Meaning, if a rabbit is not the best example of my name, then I won’t want it shown or bred since it carries my Rabbitry name for life. I’m still working on making it pretty…
So while Trevor may not think drawing pictures of bunnies or sifting through magazines is “work”, that is still what I am going to call it. To my own credit, I also start and keep the fire going in the house, bake bread twice a week, and give everyone some daily free-ranging time (including Cami). That all must count for something. Especially the fire starting! Come on… how many 20-something ladies can build a fire from scratch without a fire starter log or pine kindling? I’m old school using paper and skinny oak pieces. And hope. Lots of hope involved in fire building.
Look what I found at the local bookstore!
Tell me I didn’t need this…
Any book that suggests I “use the edges” is a-ok! After browsing my typical farm and garden section of the bookstore I was only coming up with books focused on gardening 101, how to plant a seed, what a chicken looks like, and those books that just skim the top of the subject of raising backyard livestock. God knows I don’t need more animals –with the exception of upcoming quail of course– but I was looking for something with ideas I hadn’t thought of yet. Not to imply that I know all or anything… I am just at the point where I know what I want to do, just not fully how to do it.
Then, before giving up and going to the cookbook section, I spotted just the book I needed. “Permaculture” in big, yellow letters practically poked me in my eyeballs! Bam! Sold. From what I’ve skimmed, this book focuses on the integration of all the different aspects of farming; large or small. So in the next few hours I hope to glean new ideas on how to get our micro-farm to work for… our micro-farm. Theoretically, every piece should contribute to another creating a waste-free and full circle system.
I’ll let you know.
Take a stroll with me as we walk along the Frühlingskabine and I’ll show you what our micro farm looks like in the dead of winter and share our plans with you.