Bee Help

Part of the excitement of this new project is the help that is offered by near and far friends. Friends I have met through this blog and friends that I have met through other friends. The local one, recently introduced to me by a spinner friend, with her husband has 14 hives and she was excited to see our set up. She came over yesterday and made a few suggestions. One was to lower the bottom strand of the electric fence as it was high enough for skunks to go under it without touching it. She said a skunk would scratch at the front of the hive at night, causing bees to come out to examine why and get picked off as they left the hive.

Last night after dinner, bee jacket and veil put donned, fence equipment box hauled down to the enclosure and the electric fence reworked with strands 6″ off the ground, 14″ off the ground, 30″ and about 42″. This should discourage most of our local predators. There are now 4 strands instead of 3, lower and closer together. If I can figure out how to use the volt meter, I will test it’s strength.

When the enclosure was reached, all 4 feeders were empty and the hives were very active. After fencing was finished, syrup was made and the feeders filled. The activity at the hives was encouraging and many of the bees were out foraging. Soon it will be warm enough and they will be settled in enough that the feeders can be removed.

She also suggested placing a brick or rock on top of each hive. That didn’t get done today but will tomorrow.

The distant friend from the blog has offered many suggestions on predator deterrent and winter feeding, providing a website link and all that has helped and will help as I move forward with this project.

I did learn that that the bee suit is very hot when the outdoor temperature is above 70f. I can just image what it will be like come August. But the bees are very docile. I have filled their feeders from behind the hives twice, reaching over to pull the feeder to fill and today mowed a 10 foot wide path in front of the electric fence both with no protection on and no bees bothered me.

None of this would have been possible without our youngest son asking to put hives on our property and teaching me how to work with them between his trips up here to check on them.

Our local teenage grandson came today for riding mower lessons after farmer’s market. It was nice having most of it done while I stayed on the porch or in the house. Since this was his first time, I did the “difficult” parts, the steeper embankments, orchard, around obstacles, and the section below the garden that used to be garden and is very rough. He did a great job and seemed to have fun zooming around the yard.

A most excellent day

Thursday night, Son 1 arrived late and Friday was spent with him, as he made some repairs for us and we all took a walk. Friday in time for dinner, Son 2, a granddaughter , and the bees arrived. We visited, unpacked the pallet of boxes, frames, suits, and other accouterments needed for raising bees, and I found out that the two hives I thought we were starting with was actually 4 hives.

Hubby and I had purchased a post, ground rod, and pavers (for two hives) earlier on Thursday.

This morning, the work began, first pulling a huge pile of Autumn Olive bushes, clearing the space to set up the electric fence to surround the hives, and the guys pounded in poles and dug in the post while I goffered for them and prepped Easter Eve dinner for 10. When the post were set, I strung the electric wire and they determined that the charger wasn’t generating sufficient current to deter bears.

Daughter, her kiddos, her friend and his daughter arrived and we had a scavenger hunt style Easter Egg hunt for the kiddos. The two younger ones had clues from one egg to the next, finally to an Easter basket of mostly crafts. The two teens and Son 1 had escape room type puzzles to solve to move them from egg to egg and finally to their baskets. Son 1’s prize was Easter dinner, a huge spread with lots of delicious food, ham, roast beef, au gratin potatoes, green beans, asparagus, deviled eggs, rolls, and a honey cake with strawberries and whipped topping.

After we gorged, Sons 1 & 2 donned the bee keepers garb and moved two of the nucs down to install two of the hives. I sat at a reasonable distance and watched, one of the nucs had allowed a lot of bees into the net sack around it and that batch was angry, but settled nicely once their queen was in the hive. The second nuc may not be as healthy, though they did find the queen.

Sons at work in a cloud of angry bees

Then I got my jacket, gloves, and veil and Son 2 and I installed the third and fourth hives, he did one and showed me, then I did one. They were both healthy hives, though we didn’t see the queen in the last one, there was evidence of one.

Me setting up a hive while supervised.

These two were much calmer, but wow, what an experience to be setting up the hive with the swarms of bees surrounding you. He has two more nucs to take home tomorrow to set up two more hives there.

Today was great, all three kids, some of the grands, good food, good company, and a brand new experience and addition to the farm.

Not Lost

But not much to report. The huge family Easter Eve dinner has been reduce by a handful due to familial conflicts, but all three of our grown children will be here. Only 3 of the grands, though Easter egg hunt baskets had already been purchased. The ones for missing grands will be sent home with their Dad. The beehive set up is still on board and Son 2 will arrive with the bees, a suit and veil for me, and feeders for the two hives until they are free to roam the property. He says they will go for the dandelions first. The native bees love the Dead Nettle which is prolific. Fruit trees are blooming, lilacs are about to, Redbuds are blooming, so soon there will be plenty of pollen for them. It is already in the air and granddaughter local and I have already had to begin our daily antihistamine.

This is one of the Thanksgiving cactus plants. Both are in full bloom again. Never since they were introduced to the house have they fully bloomed twice in one winter/spring.

The hydroponic that was planted with basils is not doing well. One plant is thriving, the others molded. Perhaps it was not fully rinsed after cleaning it out. More basil and other veggies will go in a starter tray soon. The peppers are ready to move into 3″ pots which will free up that unit for salad greens. The herbs that were transplanted into pots are thriving, but move in and out of the house depending on the daily weather. It continues to flip flop between warm days and nights to cool days and cold nights and we are currently in one of the cool periods. The tomatoes have gone in and out with the herbs.

Yesterday, I was reboosterized (as Son 1 said) and this one hit me harder than any of the other vaccines with body aches, chills, and a massive headache for about 14 hours. It finally subsided after my third nap yesterday enough to prepare dinner, do evening chores, and finish knitting the second mountain hat for the museum. In two weeks the second Shingrex is scheduled and I understand the side effects will be similar.

The peas and potatoes are not showing signs of appearance yet and one of the hens got into the garden and tried to scratch up the potatoes. A few wheelbarrows of compost need to be added on top. We are looking forward to spring veggies, but even the asparagus are still not showing.

This year’s spinning challenges have been to earn Bingo cards, up to two a month and that doesn’t appeal, so not a lot is getting done. Some spinning, mostly when a passenger in the car, the hats for the museum knit, and a scarf from some of my handspun is also being knit.

It took a few attempts to get the hat design workable, but two have been added to the two “Swiss flag” ones for the museum gift shop.

Perhaps, more attention to the construction details should be made so the pattern can be published. It might sell at events at the museum. Or a pattern with yarn and button as a kit.