Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awe Inspiring Video!

I watched this video in awe and faded back to my younger years (yes i have younger years) in which i used to stop and smell the roses, now i just seem to walk past them... it made me remember the younger me fascinated with everything natural from digging holes to catching caterpillars to keep and hatch. I guess this is why i am into bees so much.

But what this video also made me do is think once more if i am doing right by my family and life. Do i have too much going on and rush through my chores instead of spending the time sitting and relaxing watching time go by, looking and watching the sky and stars, am i spending enough time with my girls? I don't know if it was the video or just me, but it had me almost teary eyed with wonder and thought.

Should i cut back? i don't spend a whole lot of time on my hobbies, but they keep me busy enough to mold my schedule. Should i cut back. I have things pretty efficient nowadays with watering and fencing etc? I maybe spend 30 mins an evening with them. But should i be more focused? would i be happier? i don't know for sure. I am a busy body by nature and on a rainy day even while doing things indoors that need to be done, find my self anxious to get outside and work. So i cant say if i would be happier with less. With summer and the girls growing up they can "help" me, and enjoy feeding the piggies and baby chickens, this i find a wonderful things and need to do more of.

But i still wonder is life passing me by with out be even glancing as it passes?


Monday, May 16, 2011

All things BEES

I inspected my hives this weekend for two things, the large ones for swarming, and the smaller ones for needing more boxes.

Well i used a few deeps, removed feeders on some, and installed a number of mediums... all in all they are building wonderfully. The big hives do not show signs of swarming like they once did. most have laid in my super above the brood nest on a few pieces. I am wondering if what i did stopped the swarming instinct? Basically on 4 hives i removed about 2 brood frames to asist other weaker hives and installed foundation there, i had always an empty super above them and then any honey supers above that, that had honey in them, and i cut swarm cells out for 2 weeks in a row. Now they seem happy to stay although i will keep an eye on them. I now also see no signs of backfilling like a few weeks ago. I belive removing 2 brood frames, cutting swarm cells, and always having an empty super above them worked!!! we will find out again next year.

One other thing of note is the fact that i have 2 hives at my father-in-laws about a miles through the woods. I have made 3 rounds of splits up there and ever generation gets "darker" to the point they are now almost all black from what i have seen this past week. They are also some of my most defensive bees as well. The others i can work wit no smoke etc, but these without smoke will explode on you. If you use smoke they are very workable and calm down. So they are not that bad.

In my opinion there has got to be some feral hives past his house away from mine in which the queens are mating with and the ones at my home are not. I do not see this change at my home.

They are def. showing the traits of the so called german black bees or Apis Melifera Melifera.

I am wondering what to do with them to be honest and that yard... i do know they build up wonderfully and have been some of my strongest and best bee and wax producing splits i make...

All things NOT bees

We had a good weekend, the girls were having fun feeding the chickens friday, got two tamworth piglets (one male and one female) on saturday, and i inspected all my hives to see if they needed more boxes and if the big ones were going to swarm.

Here are a few pics:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2 more new hives

Went to New Kent yesterday after work to my parents place. He has 4 full size hives and 1 recent swarm hive. One of his hives he has been cutting swarm cells out for 3 weeks now trying to push them for honey. Well upon inspection to make a split as he was tired of digging into it every week, the hive had 2 full mediums of honey, about 10 swarm cells capped, and i found one OPENED queen cell. Upon further inspection as by looking at this hive you would have never known it had swarmed, i got luckly and found the virgin queen! Anyway, since they were still cramed i went ahead and made an 8 frame medium split with all the swarm cells.

The next hive was fine and moving along drawing out a super and storing a little honey right now.

The next one was borderline swarming, say some backfilling but hes going to push it a little too, i will probably go back in 2 weeks and make a split.

The next hive which has been hanging out front during the rain and cold (see pic below) was working on super foundation and had 3 swarm cells, 2 capped and open being extended, so i made an 8 frame medium split as well on this one and dispersed the foundation frames in the middle brood nest to open it up. Even after splitting heavy the hive still sat out front heavy even when i left at 8:30... pretty wild really.

His recent swarm he got at my Grandma's has brood and doing fine, other than building comb every which way but on the foundation...LOL that will be fixed later as they grow and can handle comb removal... they seemed to build comb between the foundation...

I now have 32 hives...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Expanding Expectations and the Hard Road

I normally wouldn’t write this kind of stuff, but it’s on my mind at the moment. I sit back at times and wonder not how I do what I do, all I do, but why I do what and all I do. Currently I have a wonderful wife, 2 twin girls, 1 baby on the way, 3 alpacas, 3 sheep, 30 chickens, 3 hogs, 1 steer to be, 2 dogs, a half acre garden, and 30 hives right now.

My plan is to have say 50 full size hives by the end of July and split them into 2 overwinter nuc, this will give me 100 nucs to tend to in the fall and winter. Then in early spring when they are ready to go into 10 frame hives I will then sell them before they need transfer. This will provide the new beek an overwintered proven queen and the possibility of honey their first year as they will be receiving a nuc prior to packages etc. This cannot be said for spring made nucs. Then with say the 50 nucs I keep they will build up for me and will need splitting again, so I will then sale spring made nucs. All this will provide me with a hobby that will pay for itself and hopefully make this business plan worthwhile.

However, the issue is getting there with my sanity in tacked. Currently my biggest battle is keeping up with equipment needs (I am behind on making screen bottoms and medium frames), and keeping up with the larger hives keeping them from swarming, which in the cases of my honey hives means weekly inspections and fingers crossed. But in the other hives that are growing they are bumping on swarming and in some cases I have split some into three hives due to swarm cells.

I also have far too many hives where I park (I believe about 15 or so now and some of my largest), this is starting to cause problems, and will cause problems once the populars stop blooming and these starting hitting the ground clover… So I need to move these hives and organize them all. But this has to be done at night and I have put it off for a while. The problem is this area keeps getting new bees…LOL

So currently week head plans will probably include another round of splits and possibly breaking my honey hives down and calling my honey amounts, but we will see. Based on what I can remember I have maybe 8-9 hives that need splitting with another possibly 3 at my dads I am inspecting this afternoon. Doing this and being aggressive means at or over 40 hives. I need to make sure I have 2 available for next Friday when my fancy Glen Apiaries Queens arrive at $123 each including shipping!!! Then I have another 10 queens from Russell Apiaries coming the first week in June. So I need to make sure I have enough hives strong enough to be split by then as well. I should but need to be sure.

I am struggling with the idea of splitting as I have been doing all I can including having some hives in 3 deeps to keep swarming off in prep for my Russell queens, but I also want to take advantage of the nectar flow for build up, and in some cases hives are not waiting till the first week in June! So splitting will occur. Most of my large hives could be split right now into 3 or 4 splits and build up fine, so splitting one hive off should be just fine.

I guess in the end I am worrying too much, I know in the back of my head I can make the hives if needed even from stealing 1 frame from 5 small hives and making a 5 frame split, after all I have 30 hives… But I worry anyways. This is really my main cause of stress is keeping these large hives, wanting to keep all bees, and make many splits. If I just split them down and gave up on anymore honey (after all I am out of drawn comb!), then all I would have to do is feed and inspect every so often, especially after I confirm a laying queen…

You can probably see my broken writing and thoughts that go round and round… but it is what it is.

In the end i am still enjoying all i do, so i will continue!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Updates All over the place...LOL

1) Grandma's swarm is in a hive and doing well...

2) We have sheep (3 ewes for now), so far they have been wonderful. i have built a woven wire fence for them since the pics were taken. they follow you anywhere with corn...LOL

3) I built a Top Bar Hive and Demoed it at the Charlottesville bee club. Its made out of a solid piece of Tobacco Barn Wood off the farm and rough cut air dried pine for the bars. It mimics Dennis Murrell's Kenyan hive closely but not exact due to wood width issues etc. I think its neat!

4) Not Bear Damage: This is how you find out if your girls are too young to be a beekeeper... LOL they did have fun playing with daddy's "Bee Frames"...LOL