Monday, May 20, 2013

Chickens and Bees

It is definitely Spring around here! The temperatures have warmed; the chicks are relocated outside, and the honeybees are setting up shop in their new hive. It is not unusual to find a mason jar filled with leaves, twigs, and some little reptile that Big Fish and the children have found on their "snake walks". Snake walks are not to be confused with creek walks. A creek walk has a very important purpose: to obtain bait for the next day's fishing. Bait around here includes salamanders and crayfish. Snake walks are as simple as a stroll in the backyard or a more strenuous hike up the back hill in which many promising looking rocks and logs are overturned in search of interesting creatures. Mama doesn't usually participate in snake walks.

Last week the nights were still chilly, but we thought the chicks were fine in their coop. We tried some hot water bottles for them snuggle, but it seems the chicks themselves came up with the best plan:

I like to term this method the "let's all pile into one nesting box" method. Yes, that is all 14 chicks in one place usually designed for a single laying hen! I checked them often to see if they were in danger of suffocation, but they were very happy in there. There little heads poked out all around the edges.

The honey bees have been transferred from their packing box (they come from California!):

The above picture is 3 pounds of bees plus a queen. There is a feed can in there too with a sugar solution to keep them alive during their travels. The queen is in a tiny little cage and will slowly be released, as the worker bees adjust to her presence and prepare wax comb for her to use for egg-laying.

Here is pretty much everything I used to set up the new hive:

I made my own sugar solution to fill the little white plastic bucket feeder, and you can see the hive boxes and some rectangular frames that are inserted down in the box. The frames provide a place for the bees to build their nest using wax to make the honeycomb. So fun!

Here is a closeup of a few bees in the front entrance of the hive a day or two after I released them from their packing box:

Finally, a picture of the "whole shebang". Notice my new electric fence (Happy Mother's Day to me - materials and installation provided by my beloved). Early this week I will open the hive to see if the queen is out of her little cage and to see what kind of work is being done on the inside. We have not had a bear sighting in over a week. Hopefully he has retreated deeper into the woods!

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