Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Putting the Swarm in a Hive

It stopped raining long enough today to put the new swarm into it's permanent digs, so to speak.

This is a matter of opinion but my experience tells me that the most important resource a new hive can have is drawn comb.

I have seen package bees die off swiftly over and over when put in a hive with no drawn comb while I have seen an almost dead hive with no more than a cup full of bees left bounce back and produce honey in one Summer when they were left with frames of drawn comb. One reason I stay well clear of frame-less hive types as it makes it more difficult to help out a new hive and destroys so much comb when harvesting honey.

Comb is also the reason I grow my apiaries mostly using captured swarms. I have read that bees typically only produce comb for a few weeks of their short lives. Like when they are between 4 and 5 weeks old or so. However I have also read that swarming allows older forager bees to produce comb for a short period as well. I don't know if those two statements are completely true as I often read conflicting information but I do know that NOTHING builds comb like a newly captured swarm.

The above picture is how much comb this new swarm has built in about 72 hours. I figure the swarm occupied the trap sometime on Sunday and I hived em up today. The longer you wait the more wasted comb the girls will build inside the trap. This swarm had already started laying eggs in the full frame of comb I baited the trap with so I know it won't be going anywhere now.

As you can see from the top picture after dumping the bees into the new brood box and putting the bait frame in I leaned the trap over against the new hive. This allows any bees remaining inside the trap that maybe nurse bees to make it into the new hive without having to fly. Sometimes young bees are reluctant to take wing unless encouraged to do so.

I will remove the trap and lid tonight after all the bees have made it into the new hive. I know I got the queen in there because the entrance was full of bees fanning her scent out so the stragglers would know where she was.

This turned out to be a good sized swarm too. I am pretty sure it is actually the one that got away from me Friday afternoon or at least it is about the same size-wise anyway and well within the swarming distance. With the swarm I have in a trap in town I have now replaced my Winter losses so it's all growth from here on out.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When It Rains and All That

Been a very busy last couple of days. Sunday night I noticed I had captured my first swarm in a trap about 2 miles down the road East of me. I suspect it is actually the swarm that came out of my hive last Friday that disappeared so quickly because it was that very afternoon that this particular trap began being over run with scout bees.

I waited until after nightfall Sunday evening and took the trap down and moved it to it's new hive location.

You can see the advantage to capturing swarms this way in the above picture. I place the bottom board I plan on using when I hive the swarm under the trap. When I spin the entrance disc back open I use the slotted entrance which will let the worker bees out but not the queen therefore I do not have to worry about the bees not liking their new location and it forces the foragers to re-orient to their new location. The next step is to leave the trap alone for two days so as not to upset the newly moved swarm. Inside the trap are two complete frames of drawn comb (Taken from a hive that died out over Winter) this allows the new hive to begin building up and storing food and let's the queen start laying eggs if she is so inclined.

After two days I will suit up and open the trap, remove the frames and shake the bees into their permanent boxes with a full compliment of frames. This limits waste from the bees building new comb from the top of the box and ensures any workers out and about will come back to the right spot.

On my way home from work this morning I noticed I had captured swarm number two in another trap way South of me so I will need to go get it tonight or tomorrow night.

My plan was to move this new hive over this afternoon but Mother Nature saw fit to break our dry spell with a pretty severe storm all afternoon. We got at least an inch of rain I think along with hail, some as large as golf balls and 60+ MPH winds.  I also have yet another roof panel that needs fixing now oh and one of the last two hold out ewe's decided to drop her twins as well.

To top it off one of the lambs has gotten an infection on her tail where the band was and I had to take her to the vet and then go pick her back up. They kept her a few hours for observation but finally said she will be fine.

So much for getting any thing done on the fence though and I doubt it will be dry enough tomorrow yet either.

Like the saying goes when it rains it pours. It seems we only have an off and on switch around here sometimes. Either it comes in a flood or not at all.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tractor Time - A New Flavor

Finally got to hook up the two bottom plow I bought late last fall and plowed up what is ear-marked as this year's Buckwheat plot. I hope I have better luck with it than I did last year.

The ground sure did look good though....

I actually didn't do too bad a job for someone who has never plowed a field before. Managed to only make the rows a little curvy. I plan on plowing this little section a few more times and waiting until about mid-June to sow the seeds this year. Last year I put them in too early and while I got some good sprouts and even some flowering that the bees loved the late rains killed the crop off.

I probably should have used the 861 diesel or the 850 for this plowing job but I didn't want to unhook the post hole drill from the 850 nor risk messing up the half complete paint job on the 861. The old 8N did a fine job. Never hit one rock at all and the soil was just a little moist yet but turned over well. I did find some left over roots from some of the small weed trees that I had removed from this section last year though but the plow went through em like butter. I will plow this section at least another time or two before tilling it next month.

Now I know many of you saw the "Tractor Time" heading and went "OHHHHH YAAAA" so I don't want to leave you Jonesin. Keep in mind however I am doing a daily "Tractor Time"post from the Twitter feed you can find linked to the right as well....

I guess these tractors could pull a plow just as well as the 8N....

This last one might be a bit over powered for a two bottom plow though.

Ain't Spring great!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Reading - The End of Rocky

We tried to get the rooster out of his aggressive attitude. For the last two months Rocky has been getting more and more irritable and had taken to charging my son whenever he heard him out in the yard or around the barn. Before my son left for Florida I couldn't even get him to help me carry a cattle panel without Rocky coming from out of nowhere and attacking from behind.

Just about everyone was walking around carrying sticks to fend off the aggressive rooster except me since I couldn't really carry a stick and get the work done I needed.

Then a few weeks ago I noticed every time I turned around there was Rocky coming up behind me. When I would notice him he would turn sideways and pretend he was eating but I could tell there was now a problem brewing between us. About this same time several of the hens discovered the front porch on my mom's house and the dogs accepted the hens as members of the farm and stopped chasing them. All seemed to be in harmony between the canine and ground fowl worlds.....

Except for Rocky.

Rocky was NOT happy that his hens were hanging out with the people nor so close to the dreaded evil dogs. He got to where he was stalking any human who was out in the yard or around the barn and was being really mean to the hens when he could catch em.

I tried feeding him extra treats and acting non-aggressive with him but nothing seemed to appease him.

The final straw came yesterday when we had some annual visitors who brought their young children out for lamb petting. Rocky wanted them dead. We had to post a constant guard around the children to make sure they weren't attacked. It didn't help when the hens came up wanting to be petted as well either. This put Rocky in an even fowler (pun intended) mood.

After the visitors had left I went down to the barn to get the mower out and it wouldn't start because the battery was low. While hooking up the booster charger Rocky came up behind me and attacked. Not even me turning around and confronting him got him to stop this time. I had to boot him halfway across the barn and out into the lot to get him to settle down and then he turned on one of the hens and just about pulled her comb off he was so angry.

I will spare you the details after that. Mrs. PP tried to argue in Rocky's defense but I had finally had enough. I am pretty much convinced he wasn't actually getting his job done with the hens anyway as I have looked for fertilized eggs several times and not found any. Roosters are a dime a dozen around here anyway and too easily replaced to put up with an aggressive one no matter how pretty he is. Lately he hadn't even been doing his job with the hens either as his rough behavior was driving several of them away.

Looks like we have an opening for a new rooster now.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Two Strikes with Swarms Today

After work this morning I went and checked all my swarm traps on the way home. Nothing in any of them. The one that had so many bees flying around it yesterday was empty this morning as well. On my way in to get a bite to eat and change into work clothes for some bee hive checking I happened to catch one of the garden hives sending out a swarm itself.

I destroyed a couple of swarm cells out of that hive back in March but as usual they just started all over again.

Remember what I have always said about bees. It's easy enough to get them to do what they want to do but like dating college age girls it's impossible to get them to NOT do something they want to do. No matter how bad it maybe for them in the end. Or you for that matter.

So I stood and watched hoping the swarm would ball up on a lower branch. No such luck. That queen lead em to the highest part of a Boxelder tree right behind the hive. It was at least 25 foot in the air and on some very thin branches too.

I decided to try and recover the swarm. I figured I could brace a ladder off the trunk of another tree and reach the branch the ball was on if I was very careful. I went inside to change out of my shorts and into long pants and when I came out the entire swarm was gone. I have never seen a new swarm leave the initial swarm spot so quickly before. Sometimes they literally hang around for days.

No clue where the swarm went or anything. Maybe they swarmed without the queen and went back into the hive. Like I said I haven't a clue.

All I know is so far I have struck out twice for swarm season this year. I sure hope my luck improves soon.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Did I Catch a Swarm?

Turned into a pretty nice day today. Cool enough for the lambs to be more interested in running around than sleeping in the shade and although it threatened to rain a couple of times it never did.

I started shuffling Summer implements out of the Winter storage shed. Moved the tiller up to the barn lot, took the manure spreader to the front of the barn and then hooked up the brush hog to take care of the horse pasture and East sheep pasture (at least when I get it fenced for now it is still horse pasture).

If you think I complain about mowing the lawn wait until you hear me cuss and carry on about brush hogging the useless nag pasture. I am not fond of useless nags anyway but the fact that they think they are too good to eat all the vegetation in their pasture just really makes me angry. If I put the sheep out there I would never need to brush hog it again but with horses the weeds come up and they won't touch em.

Just another line on the "why I hate horses" list.

Anyway. As I was out brush hogging the front five acres of the horse pasture I passed by one of my swarm traps and noticed a large number of bees coming and going. No pollen coming in yet that I could see but if there isn't a swarm in there then the scouts are holding it for one I would bet. Sometimes the scouts from a swarm will hold a potential hive location until the main swarm arrives. Sometimes the swarm never arrives and the defending scouts kinda get forgot about too. It happens. Sometimes it looks like the trap is full of bees and then you open it and find it mostly empty too. Hard to tell until I look which I will do tomorrow. This particular trap is barely five foot off the ground so it will be easy to collect it up but I will have to move it down to the orchard apiary to get enough distance to keep the bees from going back to the original trap location.

I need to get into a few of the hives tomorrow afternoon anyway so I will walk down and open it up then and see what's going on. Could be a false alarm like I said but we will see.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Promises Promises

Maybe it's the fact that as a child then later a teenager and young adult I saw all the social promises that had been forced fed to me as a youngin reneged on over and over again but I can't help but wonder just how so many people today can be so oblivious to what is actually going on. Even if someone had not been paying a bit of attention before 2008 they should be able to see a clear pattern developing since then. Yet....

Investors still buy municipal and corporate bonds despite the haircut the investors got from Detroit and Government motors.

I still see Hillary and Bernie stickers on cars even out here.

Everyone and their mother make retirement plans counting on their pensions and social security with no backup whatsoever.

Oh I could go on. The numbers of Whites out there that still refuse to believe the so called "Minorities" are coming after all their wealth and property still mystifies me. Even with videos like the one below making the rounds every few weeks.

Not like White Americans haven't been paying reparations for over 150 years or anything, especially the last 50 or so. These types are never going to stop and the Femocrats who enable them will never stop either because it's those reparation payments that pay their salaries.
Then there is the pension and social security situation. Social security has already taken several hits and payment reductions from reduced COLA payments to pushing up the actual full payment retirement age. So the government has changed the rules and broken it's promise yet those who get pensions seem to think their so called "promise" is sacred?
Here is another article from Zerohedge on the up coming reduction of payments for the Central Teamsters union.
So my next question, before I have really even discussed the first, is, when did retirement stop being retirement and become some type of second life with mortgages, trips and toys? 

Anyway. Back to the first question. When did we stop taking charge of our own lives and start expecting empty promises to be there for us? If I was ever so gullible when I was young it was quickly shaken out of me as I watched the lies pass by over the years. I have seen our very government change the rules so many times, always to my detriment, that I can't understand how anyone would think a pension haircut is not on the table.
I just don't get it. Does no one understand circumstances change and no person can make promises so far down the line that you can take them seriously? Even planning your own retirement means nothing these days. Why if those in the video above get their way the government may try and take my property to pay their reparations. All you can count on is what you can hold and skills that cannot be taken away but you should always have a backup plan.
As I said I just don't get it. Red flags going up  everywhere these days and so very few seem to be seeing them at all.  Only thing we can do is hunker down and prepare to take care of ourselves because it's coming. No one can stop it now.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quick Update and More Shameless Lamb Pics

We seem to have a break in the lambing right now with two ewes yet to go. I guess they are going to be some long term hold outs at this point. That takes a little of the pressure off my time crunch since I don't have to band, shoot and tag any more babies but I am still so far behind I can see myself going right now.

The "not yet fenced" pastures are growing weeds like no ones business and need brush hogged now. I am behind on cleaning the chicken coop along with a million other things and I need to start building some more bee stuff like NOW. I am getting reports of swarms here and there but so far nothing in any of my traps.

I can't be certain but I think I have finally made some progress on getting the dogs to stop killing the chickens. As I said not sure they are totally broke of it yet but these pictures do show the dogs at least are not as enthused about chicken chasing as they once were.

I also need to get the partial bale of hay I have left in the big field moved into the barn lot so it doesn't just go to waste. The garden needs tilling, I got about 20 loads worth of barn waste that needs spreading out and after the rain we got today I am sure I will need to mow again by Sunday.

I also had a new post I was working on that once again did not get finished. There just are not enough hours in the day right now I am afraid to do anything more than snap a few photos and write an update every other day or so.

Anyway here are also a couple of shots of the main type of lamb we been getting from the new Ram. Mostly black boys with partial or almost full badger faced markings. They sure are cute little buggers I must say.

What amazes me about this batch of lambs though is the fact that the about half the mothers don't really seem to care all that much about where their babies are. In the past it seems when one got out of direct eye sight the ewes would start bawling until the lambs were found but this year it's the other way around.

The moms lead the lambs out the gate to what I have taken to calling the day care center and leave their babies there in the shade. The lambs seem content to hang out there together and every so often mom will come by to check on them. Occasionally however one will lose his mom or siblings and start screaming at the top of his lungs. All the while mom, who I KNOW can hear the distressed lamb, ignores it until I get so sick of hearing it I grab the lamb and carry it out to it's mother.

Today's cry baby award went to this little guy who I have taken to calling Frosty for obvious reasons. His mother is not very attentive at all and he was running all over the place looking for her. She was way out in the middle of the field with his two brothers so I guess maybe she figured only missing one still put her ahead or something. This guy was afraid to leave the day care center to look for mom but just ran around crying at the top of his lungs.

Anyway sorry I am behind on comment replies and posts I will try and catch up a bit more tomorrow.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!