Of Bees and Baby Chicks

hive Spring is here, and blogging always seems to take a back seat. But I’ll do a quick post mostly to share some photos. Bees are really an endangered species, it seems. There are reports of a smaller than average number of swarms and threats to crops that rely on pollination.

We decided to do our (very) small part by setting up hive on the farm. This year, we started with two of them and installed our packages of bees on March 20. We’re feeding them sugar water at a rate of 1:1, that’s five pounds of sugar to 10 cups of water, and they seem to be doing OK with one hive obviously much more active than the other. (That’s why you do two…hives don’t always make it.)

But, my bees are a little out of control. The last time I opened the hives to make sure the queens had been freed from their little shipping cages and were laying eggs, I discovered that they were busy building comb all over the place rather than on the lovely beeswax foundation I had provided. I put the lid back on and hoped for the best.

A couple weeks ago, I met members of the Southside Beekeepers’ Association at a local festival and had a chance to ask about my bees. It seems that I need to get them under control so tomorrow, one of the local beekeepers is going to come by to give me a hand. I think we’ll be scraping off that comb, taking time to identify the queen, and just generally getting things into shape. I’m really looking forward to it.

This past Saturday I was able to attend an Open Hive demonstration sponsored by the group at the home of several members. We all suited up and headed out to inspect the hives. We saw how to mark a queen so she is easy to find, looked at comb in all different stages, and learned a bit about how to grow queens. Really informative but also nice to just connect with others, most of whom are not just beekeepers but also farmers.

chicksNow onto baby chicks…we have two roosters in our flock and wondered if we were getting fertilized eggs. So, Bob pulled out 12 eggs randomly and put them in the incubator. Out of the dozen, we got 8 hatchlings with 6 surviving and thriving. It’s fun to have chicks with their happy little peeping. One of them suffered from spraddle leg but we were able to fix it with a bandaid and some rehab.

And, finally, the practical nature of farmers: my birthday present. I LOVE this little tractor. It totes a cart that can be filled with tools, weeds, flowers or debris. I feel very independent as I drive around the farm.


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