2017 Season

Feb 9 – Baby goats born! Named Presh (white) and Cici (black).

Mar 11 – Vaccinated sheep, 2nd round. Clipped ram’s hoofs. Cici and Presh continue to grow well. More than doubled in size in 1st month.

Apr 9 (Palm Sunday) – Baby lamb born, “Sunday”.

Apr 18 – Installed new package of honey bees. 4th time’s a charm?

How do you recommend arranging the different size bars in a TBH?

Michael Bush: All the 1 1/4″ (brood bars) near the entrance. All together. All the rest of the spaces filled with 1 1/2″ bars. If your entrance is at one end, then all of the bars from the beginning (by the entrance) on back until you run out. Later when they start building a fat honey comb, move all the 1 1/4″ to the opposite end to get them out of the way and then feed them one at a time (as they get drawn and filled) into the brood nest. The problem is that honey comb is fatter than brood comb.

Apr 21 – Removed queen cage. Must have knocked down comb because bees were all clumped on the bottom. Later in the day bees were active by the entrance so they probably recovered.

2016 Season

Mar 21 – R.I.P. Velma

~Mar 27-29 – Hen starts setting (Hatch Apr 16-20)

Apr 10 – Michael Bush, Bush Farms:

I usually put the 1 1/4″ near the entrance followed by the 1 1/2″. If feeding combs into the brood nest I use all the 1 1/4″ first, then the 1 1/2″. If they start building fatter comb on the 1 1/4″ I move them to the far end and put the 1 1/2″ next. The bees make these decisions. I just respond to them. When the bees build combs too fat to fit on the 1 1/4″, I give them a 1 1/2″ next.

If you have a follower they are a good idea. I’ve never gotten around to making one. Managing space can make the job of the bees much easier. (http://www.bushfarms.com/beesspace.htm)

Apr 9 – Built top-bar hive

Apr 11 – Inspected hives. Total loss in first, probably second as well. Many frames still had pollen and capped honey, though not enough to extract.

Apr 15 – Installed mason bee package from Will (temporary housing 1st year).  Saw tornado of wild bees robbing honey from the loafing shed where all the left over bee hives remain. Decided to try to lure some of the wild population into the empty hives. Waited until dusk when the bees left for the night. Set up 4 single deep hives behind the loafing shed (after dark, couldn’t see what I was doing hardly at all!). Set out all the remaining boxes (about 6 more deeps) and frames nearby to attract the wild bees. Will see if it works.

May 4 – Goats arrive!  Darcy and Precious.

May 5 – Fiasco with the electric fence, goats break free but run back into their stalls. Scale back the electric to a run outside their door.

May 13 – Honeybees arrive. Install successful and fairly uneventful. Covered hive with blankets due to very cold weather and queen being stuck on the bottom (inside cage). Drilled hole in sugar plug to speed up exit.

May 16-18 – Grove perimeter fence mended.

May 18 – Goats re-introduced to grove, inside electric.

May 18 – Inspected to remove queen but she was still stuck in cage! Bees had waxed over sugar plug hole. Ripped off screen altogether and set back in hive. Best I could tell the queen was still alive. Sugar water about 40% consumed (roughly 1 pint per week).

May 19 – Bees obviously much calmer, less swarming around entrance. Happy to have their queen.

May 25 – Goats finally making some progress in the brush clearing. But very slow. Would probably take a dozen goats to clear the whole grove in one season.

May 28 – Sheep arrive! 3 ewe lambs.

May 29 – Inspected beehive. Seems to be doing well. 8 bars have at least some comb started, all on the guides. Don’t know how to gauge 1 1/2 vs 1 1/4 bar placement. 3 bars left before follower. 1/3 syrup left. Placed 4 bait frames (with lemongrass oil) in Langstroth hives. A few straggler robber bees but none have set up colonies.

May 31 – Set up electric fence for lambs, opened outside. They got shocked within a few minutes and now won’t come out.

Jun 3 – Inspected beehive. Visual on larvae and nectar. Refilled sugar syrup. Same 8 bars with comb but more of it. Still 3 empty bars. (Same morning the neighbors had 9 pallets/36 colonies of beehives delivered, doing a favor to a commercial beekeeper. Some concern about robbing and decimating the nectar/pollen in the area, not to mention bees everywhere. Neighbor changed mind and now they should be removed any time).

Jun 5 – Still having trouble convincing lambs to eat outside grass.

Jun 7-10 – Lambs started eating outside and have been doing great ever since!

Jun 12 – Bees still not drawing new comb after about 10 days. Michael Bush:
All colonies go through shifts in goals as the season progresses. A
package has a sequence of events that is driven by their circumstances.
They start out, hopefully, with young bees who are good at making comb
and they start out with no comb. Bees build comb when they need it.
The package has the goal to build up it’s population and get enough comb
to do so. Then their goal will shift to putting away enough for winter.
But the first six weeks are critical because the bees in the package
are dying. It takes three weeks for the first of the brood to emerge,
if the queen was laying right away. Until then the population is
dwindling. As the new bees emerge they start caring for brood at first.
Only after a week or two will they start drawing comb. So part of the
issue is the age distribution of the colony. Part of the issue is also
the goal, which is not so much to build comb as to make more bees right
now. And part of the issue could also be the flow. If there is no flow
they will not draw any comb. I would try to figure out if there is any
flow. If no nectar is available, then you will need to feed. I would
not feed if you don’t need to as that has it’s own problems.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#feedingcanthurt
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm

Jun 12 – Finished new mini-coop/brood coop for Maddie’s chicks. Moved them in last night.

Jun 21 – Still no comb growth with bees. Larvae is found, but probably drone larva from worker bees. Expect colony to die off. Extended goat fencing behind cabin. Really doing well with clearing brush and leafy foliage.

Jul 4 – Set up electric netting to put sheep into alfalfa a bit and let the goats mow down the lane to the apple orchard (which they are not really doing yet).

Jul 5 – Beehive blown over in massive windstorm. All frames spilled out, bees getting drenched in rain. I put everything hastily back together but doubt they will recover from this. Saw bees at entrance each day hence, but again, a major blow to an already weak hive.

Jul – Hive totally empty.

Aug 17 – Neighbor finds stray kitten, we adopt.

Aug 18 – New broiler chicks arrive (32 or 33, hard to count).

Aug 20 – Opened up entire woods to goats (took down electric). Expanded electric to all of apple orchard (12 trees). Sheep are loving the pasture area.

Aug 28 – Brought billy goat to farm to breed goats.

Sep – Broiler chicks catch Marek’s disease. Lose 15 over a few weeks.

Oct 17 – Brought 18 chicks to butcher. Returned billy goat.

Nov 7 – Brought (purchased) ram to farm to breed ewes. Bred the first day.

2015 Season

Feb 3 – First batch of eggs enter the incubators (4 eggs)

Feb 11 – (Day 8) Candle eggs. 2 are infertile, 2 are fertile with embryos. Added 4 more eggs to begin incubating.

Feb 20 – (Day 17) Last candling. All 4 new eggs are infertile. 2 embryos (now almost fully developed) appear to be in tact with veins.

Feb 21 – (Day 18) Added 1/4-inch hardware cloth for stability. Added 2 more sponges and sealed up all the vents to increase humidity (reaches 72%). Removed vent covers on side.

Feb 25 – (Day 22?) Between 7 and 8:30 first egg hatched!

Research appears to recommend:

  • Still-air: 102 degrees (99.5 for forced air)
  • Day 1-18: avg 35-45% humidity (I think 40% ideal)
  • Day 19-21: 60-65% humidity, increase ventilation (do not close up to increase humidity)
  • Towel over glass to decrease fog/droplets

References:

Feb 26 – Second egg hatched!

Mar 8 – Both chicks healthy and growing

Apr 7 – Moved chicks to garage.

Apr 10 – Inspected 2nd hive — collapsed. Dead clusters of bees, no brood. Likely queen departed a long time ago. Reconfigured to start two new hives from Adam’s splits, plan to move to apple orchard and add another 2 hives for a total of 4 this year.

May 11 – Picked up 2 new nucs from another supplier. Set up hivers in apple orchard like planned.

May 15 – Added 2nd box, as first box was already very full with extra honey frames and syrup bin. Placed one frame with nectar in center of 2nd box as instructed.

May 17 – Split hives arrived

May 18 – Transferred split hives to boxes in field. Still queenless. Ordered queen.

May 19 – Queen arrived, transferred to boxes in the afternoon.

Jun 3 – Inspected hives. One queen appeared to be missing from original nuc — lots of drone cells, not much brood compared to other hives. Thought I saw “morel mushroom” (queen cell)

Jun 6 – Inspected problem again, absolutely no brood (all the drones hatched). Going to try transferring open brood tomorrow as described here (repeat weekly until new queen is raised up):

Jun 7 – Added open and capped brood from neighbor hive top box to hive with missing queen. Reduced to one deep, split up weaker frames between lower box and neighbor hive.

Open Brood method was successful — after three weeks of transfers (and some angry bees), new brood was visible in the problem hive.

Continued to monitor throughout the summer, adding boxes when necessary. Decided to go to topbar hives next year–I don’t like how invasive/disruptive langstroth hive inspections are.

Aug 19 – Added 2 supers and 1 deep. Hives are now (from west to east): 3 deep + 1 super, 3 deep + 1 super, 2 deep, 3 deep.

Aug 21 – Saving eggs for brooding chickens, but mama chicken stopped brooding a few days ago after I cleaned the coop out.

Oct 5 –  Combined 4 beehives into 3. Could never find the queen, so we’ll see what happens. Extracted 8 frames of honey.

Oct ?? – Chickens stopped laying eggs entirely. Even pullets.

Oct 21 – Added 5 older hens to our flock from a neighbors farm, to help with compost production mainly.

Oct 27 – One colony collapsed entirely down to a small cluster on one frame, so I harvested all their honey (8 frames), leaving 2 remaining colonies.

Oct 28 – Extracted honey — 5 gallons! ~60 lbs. Retail value = $480.

Nov ?? – Moved beehives into loafing shed for winter.