Hootenanny Homestead

A Homesteading Journey

Tag: Bees (page 1 of 2)

An Update on the Birds and the Bees: Summer Maintenance

Ahh, it’s summertime and the living is easy….oh wait, no…. It’s summertime and there is an awful lot of things to be getting done.  But you know how it is, critters need tending, the bugs want to attack the garden, have to harvest stuff before it is attacked by bugs and then, of course, the lawn wants to grow and grow.  Plus, since it is hot you go out, do stuff and the energy is drained right from your being.
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Pollinator Week: Pictures

Well, at times things can get pretty busy around places.  As such, I didn’t quite do as much as I had at first planned to for pollinator week.  But still, I have some happy news.  The other day out at a patch of creeping thyme I took some photos of some bees.  I had known that I had honey bees and that there were carpenter bees about as well.  We had spotted some bumble bees too, but my wife noted that it seems in addition to the common bumble bee we have a few yellow bumble bees that are hanging out around here too.   So I have a few pictures to share with you all.
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Keeping up with the Hives: Installing Some New Bees

As we go through our livestock update it would only be fitting to discuss the bees as well.  I had mentioned that I lost a hive over the winter, but the other hive was able to pull through.  I had gone through and ordered another package and purchased another hive to put them in, though I was late to the ordering party, so these didn’t come in until now (end of April).

beehivesAt first, the bee plan for this year was looking like it would be simple, but then I went to my local bee club meeting.  We learned about making Nucs, and it hit me.  This isn’t that hard, shoot, I could do this.  They discussed a process where you pull out 5 frames from a strong colony that has over wintered and put them into a Nuc box.  You make sure that you have a mix of honey, pollen, larva, and eggs.  Having some swarm cells is a bonus.  Make sure that you fill in the frames you pulled with empty frames so your bees have somewhere to rebuild.

Once the frames are there you put a queen excluder and a plywood piece (with a hole about the size of your Nuc box).  The box goes over the hole and is left there for several hours.  Some of the nurse bees will then go up to this new box to care for the larva.  They will beehivesend up staying with the hive since they haven’t gone out on an orientation flight and such.  Then as new bees emerge the older bees go out, never realizing the hive they were born in is just a few feet over there.  Anyway, after a few hours you can close up the hives and life is good.

So, I got my supplies and set up everything.  When bee day came I got all of my gear together and headed off to my bee supply store.  I picked up my package of Italian bees (at some point I may see about trying some others too) and headed back home.  My dad picked up the package that would be put into the hive at his place.  I headed home and got my package installed and set up my little nuc.  Then off to the next location to install bees there too.

Bee PackageWhile it was a long day all went smoothly.  I got the bees in, I had some various other stuff to tackle too, but the bees seem to be all snuggled into their new homes.  Now I just have to let them be a while, they need their space to settle in and build up their set up.

Hopefully, things will go well and I’ll be getting some honey out of at least the hive that overwintered this year.

Just What is Going on with the Livestock

First, there were bees and bees were simple.  But then we moved into trying out other livestocks (poultry this year).  I had a plan of getting 12 ducks.  I thought that would give me plenty to deal with and then I would be able to see about growing the operation in future years.  Well, that isn’t exactly as things went.  First, we added on some chickens and a couple more ducks.  Then, the other day my wife returned home from work with some additions.
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Livestock Update: Just What Do We Have Around Here

So we have technically had livestock since shortly after we moved in here.  As bees are lifeforms that are kept to produce honey, they are considered livestock and since we got them a little after we moved in, nearly a year of livestock.  But this year we have acquired some additional livestock around these parts.  I’ve written a bit about the 12 khaki campbells that moved in in January, but recently there have been a few new additions as well.

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Bees and Dead Bees and Happy Bees

So I mentioned in a previous post that I lost a hive over the winter.  There were some bees that were in there, kind of frozen in time.  I thought that since bees tend to move around a bit when alive I would use the opportunity to play with the macro lens and see if I could get some decent pictures.  They didn’t turn out amazing.  But I’ll share a few here.

Former Bee

Former Bee

 

But to keep things fair and balanced, here are a few live bees from the other hive.

Bees

 

Bees

But Where Did the Bees Go?

As you have seen I’ve been keeping bees this year.  I had been making sure that they would have enough stores and such to live through the winter.  As we’ve had a few warm days I went out to check the hives and was meant with some sadness.
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Mason Bees: Solitary Native Bees for the Homestead

A few days back I got a guest post put up on another great homesteading website, Small Town Homestead.  The owner does the Modern Homesteading Podcast that I had mentioned back in my podcast post.   I wrote a bit on mason bees and thought I would share a bit more information here.  Now I don’t think that I will be giving up on honeybees and I would still recommend that if you have the space and the inclination it is worth trying your hand at keeping bees.  So let’s compare honeybees with their native counterparts…the mason bee.
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