Friday, May 2, 2014

Buzz, Buzz!

Yesterday as we were loaded our trailer with hay, our son-in-law's large trailer and flat bed set up with a small plow, hay spear, tin less horse shed, tractor, and old 1957 truck frame, I received a phone call - my step-father had died.  The old saying, "You can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink." comes to mind in thinking back at the past few years as we made countless phone calls, set up meetings, and researched trying to better our parents situation and prepare them and their finances for their death, which we knew was shortly to come. I'm sure a mess awaits us and I just pray for the strength and wisdom for my siblings and I to deal with it. We most definitely don't have the finances to. If things become a bit silent next week know that I'm thinking of you and I promise I'll be back. I do have wheat sprouting for the chickens that is going well, grape vines hopefully going to root, and more to share but it will have to wait until I deal with the challenges at hand.
 Right now moving sounds like a reprieve instead of the dreaded task we have been undertaking. Life is definitely a matter of perspective.  I will find the measuring tape and get the laundry room measured as requested and try and get caught up on other tasks pushed to the back ground.
 For today, I'm going to share with you photos taken by our oldest daughter of the arrival of our bees right before Easter.  
In the above photo the bees are in a box next to me and I'm placing sugar water at the entrance of the hives to drink though there is crystalized honey frames inside each of the hives. Crystalized honey must be rehydrated and so it is not a readily available food, hence, the sugar water. I am amazed how quickly they set to work to bring in pollen and set up house keeping. Not a moment to loose as spring will surely be here sometimes soon.
The four pounds of bees come in this box frame. The tin can blocking the entrance has holes in the bottom and was full of sugar water to sip for the long trip from California but is now nearly empty. 
Next to the can is a narrow slit with a metal tab attached to a tiny screened wood box that holds the queen inside. She is attended by her maidens who feed her sugar water through the screen. She has to be kept separated from the other bees as they adjust to the fact that she is the queen of their hive. Before this acceptance they will kill her. For three days you keep her protected before pulling out the cork plug that opens her cage.

The bees were taken from different hives and I can see mainly Italians but a few darker bees that could be Carolinians. The bees will communicate through the four pounds of them that their previous queen is no longer and that a new matriarch has taken the throne. The queen herself is very dark, unlike a Italian queen who is light and she will soon lay eggs and transfer the entire hive from Italians to Carolinian heritage bees.

Once I place the queen inside the hive, in her little protected box, I begin shaking in a forceful downward thrust to drop the bees into the hive.
I tip the box from side to side and continue thrusting downward until most of the bees are out flying or have crawled inside the hive. Then I stick the box a little ways away from the hive and close ;up the lid on each of the hive frames. The bees will want to return to their companions and by nightfall most all of them will be inside the hive. If you are wondering why I'm not suited up, it is because the bees are not as likely to sting at this time. They will crawl up your pants though and if pressed - sting. Hence, the pants tucked inside the boots. I am wearing a veil as bees have a tendency to go for your head and face especially if mad. I could tick one off doing this little shake, shake and in fact I heard one or two that weren't real happy with me. The gloves are because I use my hands to gently move bees off of areas. Plus, I'm a chicken. I may have been stung many a times and over forty at one time when I really ticked off a hive in the late fall but I try not to invite it.
The next day I went inside to release the queen. You can bet I suited up as they weren't nearly so amicable. They had a hive now to protect. The weather has been super windy, rainy, and occasional snow flurries and until yesterday I would not have been able to check inside the hives as to how they were doing. Of course I was moving yesterday so that didn't happen. Today I will suit up and make sure the queens are laying brood. I sure hope so because it isn't likely that I can get another queen at this date.

Note the chicken waterer beside the hive. It is a gallon size and two hives of bees empty it in two days. I'm going to have to pick up a larger waterer today when I go to town. I have placed rocks and a couple twigs in the red part for the bees to land on and sip. I read about using a chicken waterer and I'm pretty pleased with the results. It beats using an open feed dish filled with water and rocks. The water stays cleaner and less water evaporation. Kirk won't be able to tend the hives as he is gone for 16 hours a day or night depending on the shift. That leaves zilch time for chores. I've got to get the chickens and goats set up better too before I leave when ever that is.

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