Thursday, October 30, 2014
Winter Preps and Kitten Update
Was a beautiful Fall day yesterday. I was in the middle of making this post this morning when I got unexpectedly called into work so I am running a bit behind now. We are just about completely finished with the Fall hay harvesting now. The field behind the lake you see above is the Western-most portion of the series of hay fields and we start on the East side and work our way West. Since my Step dad is now officially retired I actually haven't helped him nearly as much this year. Usually we are so pressed for time I do most of the raking but I think this year he has enjoyed doing it mostly by himself. I did help stack and put away about 100 square bales yesterday morning though.
BTW that lake has the biggest Black Catfish I have ever seen stocked in it. One of these days I am going to get back down here and catch some again.
The West Apiary is nestled in right below the bank that holds this lake. I was heading there to finish stage one of the Winter hive preps.
Stage one involves putting the plastic inserts in the screened bottom boards, you can see them laying under my bee jacket above, and placing my Winter inner covers on the hives that I feel are going into Winter without a sufficient honey supply. It's the blue thing with the hole in it. You can see it is a few inches deep, this allows me to put dry sugar in it and then put the top on. This cover also has small entrances you can use to keep moisture from collecting inside the hive. The sugar also sucks a lot of the moisture up as well.
Here's a picture of Saybrook Hive with the cover in place and sugar poured inside the hive. If the bees run low on supplied they will consume the dry sugar. It isn't the best choice but under Winter conditions about the only thing you can do.
I then go around and remove the bottom inserts from the screened bottom boards. I use these because the plastic ones are just not enough to protect the bees in Winter. Also unless a hive is having mite issues no need to to keep the screens open so I leave the wooden inserts in place. This way I can open em up a bit if it gets too hot or close them if they are not needed. This year was cool enough I didn't need to open the bottoms up at all. For Winter however I put the plastic inserts back in above the wooden ones as it helps seal the hives up much better.
Here's the backsides of Ferryland and St. Johns colonies with the plastic inserts in place and then the wooden ones put in to snug the whole bottom down. Together they keep the cold from coming up through the screened bottoms.
The cats were really feeling playful yesterday. Queen Sasha climbed up on my truck in an attempt to keep me from leaving to go take care of the hives. When I tried to make her move she encompassed my hand in a furry grip of teeth and claws and started kicking with her back feet.
The new edition had his first vet visit yesterday too. He weighed in at a whopping 9 ounces. His eyes are beginning to open up as the antibiotic ointment clears the infection away and he has started to eat a bit more. My son has taken over his care and feeding and the little guy has learned to mew at him whenever he is hungry. He has started to prefer the high protein moist food over his little bottle too which makes things a bit easier. I was kinda worried he wasn't going to pull through there for a few days as all he did was sleep but the vet confirmed he was no older than four weeks and was not really ready to be out of the nest yet. Today he met one of the dogs and one of the cats for the first time which perked him up quite a bit to the point he even managed a playful swat at a nose and tail. We made him a little nest with a heating pad right on my son's computer desk and he is adapting very well. Still sleeps 85% of the time but he knows when he is hungry all he has to do is stick his head up and mew and food is delivered for his consumption. When he crawls out of the nest he is placed in the litter pan and has been using it as well.
Total cost to date is running somewhere in the $90.00 range though and my son has already started making hints that maybe this one shouldn't go to a new home. Even if we keep him we are still down two cat spots total for the year so who knows.
Suppose to get a hard freeze tomorrow night and then I can complete step two of the Winter preps for the hives and I will be finished. I can then focus on cleaning the barn some more and finding spots to store all the machines I use for Summer.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!