Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bee update

Stupidly didn't get supers on beehives 2 weeks ago - when I checked yesterday the super on the old hive was full, and the deeps on two of the four other hives were also full, and the third had only one empty frame.  The fourth hive is the nasty one that only had one deep because they spend so much energy stinging things they are slow to bring in honey (that's my theory anyway).  But they had finally filled their one deep.  Sooooooo they got a second deep that I hope they will fill in the next 4-6 weeks, before everything stops blooming.  I do NOT want to have to feed those little jerks.  The other  hives all got new supers (and three of those were brand spanking new woodwork with brand spanking new frames not filled out, bummer).  Well, I'll get at least one full super of honey to add to the super full I've got in the cooler in the house.  If nothing else I'll hope the other frames get filled out to save time next year.  I am somewhat aggravated that I'm going to have to treat the old hive for varroa, since I saw three bees with mites in the beard at their entrance yesterday.  This confirms what MSU entomology has been saying - treat your hives or they will die off their second winter.  I'm not going to treat the new ones - they were all swarms, so they should have a reasonably low mite load.  But the two year old hives are getting treated with something the first week of Sept.  I haven't decided what to use yet.  I talked to a commercial beekeeper yesterday and he has gone to oxalic acid.  Have to check on availability and price (the local bee store doesn't have it in stock) online.  Something else to do this upcoming week...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Chickens in the heat

Egg production here is WAAAAY down due to the setting hens and the heat.  I have one hen that is being followed around by 8 little chicks that hatched 5 days ago, including the one whose scalp I had to superglue back on after it got pecked by another setting hen.  I sprayed it with veterycin and superglued it and let it rest for the day in my room (that was the day of thunderstorms).  Then I put it back under its mother.  It is moving and eating and drinking just fine, but I'm not sure it actually has any eyesight on one side... that side is still rather swollen, though it did seem less this morning than yesterday.  Anyway, if it survives this, we are still going to eat it in three months.  No more keeping the injured as pets (do you hear me, children?).

Other than that, the outdoor garden has gotten away from me again.  Going on vacation always lets the weeds take over.  Next year, I'm not going on vacation.  I have harvested a bunch of garlic and kale and cabbage, and have lots more of all three.  Also, I started broccoli for a fall harvest (I'm hoping it does better than the spring starts, which were mostly eaten by the groundhogs.  The Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes are ripening (I keep sneaking them off the vine), but the Hillbillies are still green.  I'll replant the beans this week(now that we are down one groundhog) and see if I can still get a harvest in the time left - maybe in the hoop house if nowhere else).  Gotta do something with the basil, too, before it all goes to seed.

It's a banner year for blackberries - I have 18 jars of jam done, and 5 more bags (enough for another 9  jars if I'm so inclined, which I am not) in the fridge.  I think I'll try some other recipe(s) with those.  Did a batch (8 jars) of black raspeberries yesterday.  There are a lot of berries but they are tiny this year, I'm assuming from the lack of rain... at least until this week.  I still have a tray of strawberries in the freezer to can into jam.  And I'm going to pick up 10# blueberries from the u-pick farm later this week (I'm not picking them this time, since the price difference is only $4).

My other MUST DO job this week is getting the last of the bee boxes assembled, painted, and on the hives.  And slapping a few more supers on top so I might actually get a reasonable amount of honey this year.

The fun never stops.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bees and such

I worked 5 of the 6 hives yesterday - one of the old ones got honey super, one of the new ones in a deep got more frames (fixing an oops on my part), one new one  got its second deep, and one of the new ones in a nuc got moved into a deep (doubling its space).  Then there was the last one in a nuc.  You know you are in trouble when 5 seconds after you open the cover, you smell bananas.  Wow, those bees were mad.  They had drawn wavy comb, not straight.  They had capped brood, but they hadn't bothered to draw out the last two frames at all.  And they stung my suit and gloves a lot.  I very quickly shut them back up and wandered off to do something else.  I'll take care of them later today, but I can't say I like them much.  If they don't calm down, they might just get their queen's head popped off and replaced with a new, calmer mommy.

Ha. I'm not new, but I'm slightly calmer now than I was at 5AM this morning when I was hearing bad noises from the chicken coop.  I grabbed the shotgun and investigated.  Discovered what better be the last egg sucking raccoon in the coop.  He is no more, but he destroyed all the eggs my setters were on before I could get into a position where I could kill him without potentially killing any chickens.  In the process I realized I might just have to attach my ear protection to that shotgun, because I didn't have it on this morning, and I couldn't leave the coop after I got there to go get them, because the coon would have escaped.  So my head is ringing.

Today I'm going to fix all the automatic crap (doors, waterer) down at the coops, in the hopes that there will be no coons or possums to trash them (just in case I actually get to go on vacation).  I've been trying to get this down for weeks now, but something part is always missing, or some other emergency comes up that must be solved sooner.  My only emergency for today better just be catching the duck and getting more antibiotics into her eye.  Because I'm about out of energy and it's only 6:15AM...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gardening Record and demise of coon #1

The regular (orange) sweet potatoes are in the outdoor straw bales now.  The Kentucky Wonder green pole beans are in the dirt outdoors (breaking my June 1 rule, but I think it'll be okay, since it's 87 degrees) where the taters were last year (hence the few taters I missed digging are coming up there now too).  I ordered some of the stuff I'll need for irrigation while I'm on vacation next month.  I still have to find a place to kennel the dog, though.  The cukes were sown in the hoop house a couple days ago (not up yet).  And I managed to shoot one of the two stupid raccoons in the tree above the chicken coop.  The other was not at an angle/height I could get to, so he'll live a little longer (on my duck eggs, the jerk). I did this with the Mossberg 590, which I hadn't shot before.  I must say for a 12 gauge, it has no kick.  And the ghost ring sight is sweet.  I still have to get the last of the Adirondack Blues planted in the tires, and the runner beans and bush beans, and the beets, parsnips, gourds, (those are all soaking tonight) zukes, watermelon, pumpkin, and I'm sure there is stuff I'm forgetting. All this while trying to keep the house from falling in, and convincing Younger Daughter to DO HER JOB and weed whack the yard and garden area.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Well, that was fun! Swarm #4!

In another disrupted plan to get the taters planted, I caught a fourth swarm and spent the remainder of my afternoon dealing with that.  We were pulling into the library parking lot when I drove through a cloud of bees.  That says SWARM! to me, so I went into the library, picked out my books, put them in the truck, and then wandered around to see if the bees had landed.  Yes they had - in a pine tree at the apt complex next to he library.  I went to the apt office and politely informed the property manager that she had a swarm of honey bees on one of her trees, and could I pretty please take it home?  She was quite happy for me to do so, so I went home, grabbed my bee suit (which I didn't need, but makes people feel better) and a  kitty litter box (because my nukes are already full), and then drove back to pick up the bees.  Fifteen minutes later I had the bees in the box, my suit off, and I was driving to ICA to pick up the Pirate.  Another easy capture, standing on the ground instead of climbing a ladder or a tree!  When we got home, I dropped off the Pirate, and the bees, and drove to Dadant's in Albion to get more deeps (I only had  enough for the 4 swarms to have one apiece instead of the two they need) and more frames (I admit I got the pre-assembled ones because I just don't see myself having time to put together 50 frames before the Poland trip).  Now all I need to do is assemble the deeps, covers, and bottom boards.  And paint them.  But I WILL plant those stupid taters FIRST.  REALLY.

I am quite glad about the bees, in any case.  I am back up to 6 hives, and it didn't cost me the $100 per pkg that I would have had to pay had I ordered them instead of catching them.  Yea!  If I could get up to 10, then I would stop.

Not really, it's an addiction you know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


It snowed on Sunday morning.  WTH Michigan?  It's a week past my last frost date!  The maters and basil seem to have survived (both those in the hoop house and those in the bales outside), so I'm not going to complain much.  Also, the day before that,  I captured three swarms from the feral hive in my old barn.  This was not what I was planning to do with my afternoon (that was planting taters), but when you walk by a tree with big blobs of bees just hanging from it at a height you can reach FROM THE GROUND (!?) well, I'll take them and be glad, especially since I was down to two hives.  There was one huge swarm that I put in a full deep, and two smaller swarms that went into nuts.  There was a fourth little bitty (softball size) clump, but they were gone by the time I finished the other three, and I expect they actually belonged with the bunch they were hanging closest to.  I left that nuc open until evening to catch the stragglers and then carried them all up the hill to the apiary.  I used ratchet straps to hold everything together, which turned out to be a good thing when I fell down on top of the deep. Since I stumble in that stupid hole on a regular basis, I think I'll try to fill it this week before I really hurt myself...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lilacs are blooming!

The sand cherries are done, but the pear trees are at the height of bloom.  The apples are about to start, and the lilacs opened this morning, which made everything smell wonderful - I had to walk all around sniffing things until I figured out that's what it was.  We've eaten a handful of asparagus and a dish of rhubarb cobbler, with much more to come.  Almost finished off the red radishes, but several rows of white icicle await.  The maters on the outdoor straw bales appear to have survived the little cold snap and rain this week.  And I chainsawed a respectable amount of black walnut left by the loggers and most of that stacked behind the house.  Also chainsawed half of the rails making up the old paddock - I still need to remove those and figure out what to do with the wire preventing me from taking down the rest of the rails.  I am feeling I managed to accomplish a reasonable amount of work outdoors before the rain showed up.  While it rained, I sewed - working on some quilty UFOs that have been hanging about for far too long.  I have 8 tops that need to go to the long-armer, and 8 more that are small enough for me to quilt on my own sewing machine.  Then I have about a dozen more UFOs to finish (yes, that's terrible).  After that, I'll start sewing for an Etsy shop to make a little cash. That is the plan, anyway.  If the weather and life cooperate.