Thursday, April 23, 2015

Finishing up and My Deadout Hive

Today was the day to take care of a few things that I had been lagging on finishing up. I ran into to town and got the pressure treated boards I need to finish the corner and gate posts I placed. Then since they are forecasting rain starting tomorrow I brush hogged the East pasture.

There is something rather satisfying about brush hogging the horse pasture. Whenever I am out in their pasture the old nags always come up and get in my business but they hate it when I am on the loud iron horse and can take them on. They will run up and stand in my way like they dare me to hit them and then bolt at the last minute when they realize I sure as hell will hit them and enjoy it too as I drive over them cackling loudly.

Why if they let me hit em I might just paint kill silhouettes on the side of my tractors :) Too bad there are only four left which means I won't get to be an ace. Maybe the Donkey could count as the fifth?

So anyway the East pasture is now brush hogged. I am trying to keep the cockle-burr plants from getting seed heads on them this year. The horses won't eat them (of course because horses are useless) but once I get the new fence up the sheep will chomp em down to ground level. They love the cockle-burr plants. Leaves, stems, flowers but not the actual burrs, but if I keep the plants mowed down when I do let the sheep out they will finish em off for me.

Sheep are wonderful. I love sheep. But not in a Muslim kinda way you understand. I had to put that in before the Kimber troll jumped all over it. He's kinda like that.

After the brush hogging was done I put a few almost finishing touches on my wooden tractor carryall I been working on. It isn't completely finished yet as I need to add a back tail gate kinda thing, some eye hooks to tie stuff down on and a paint job but this was the test to see if my design was solid.

It worked wonderfully. At one point both my son and I were standing on it which should get us close to 400 pounds and the thing didn't even groan. It should work perfectly for shuttling bee hive equipment and swarm traps around when it's too wet to use my truck. It actually wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be either, I am able to hook it up easily by myself.

The last thing I needed to get done today was opening up Jamestown colony and seeing if it was truly a deadout and the neighbor bees were robbing it or what. The sad news is that it is indeed a deadout.

From the look of things I am pretty sure this was another unfortunate starvation loss. The robbers had opened up plenty of comb with honey in the lower box but the original bees had all died in the top box. My guess is that last cold snap we had back in late March caught the bees too far up and they starved. More than likely they had the queen up there laying for the Spring build up and just couldn't break the ball in the cold to go down and get the honey under them.

One of the biggest problems with bee keeping around here. Sudden cold snaps in March and April can catch the bees positioned poorly and with very widely spaced stores. If the cold snaps last too long the cold temp ball can find itself starving out within a day or two with food just out of reach and nothing they can do about it. I am partly to blame as I often leave the bees too much space over Winter in an attempt to give them extra honey in the Fall.

At least I know the answer now and got that hive picked up before the vermin and pests could get into it. All those drawn frames will give this years splits and swarms a good headstart to building up for Winter.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Shame about the hive but at least you know early on. I like your frame lifter, it's unusual to see something for a tractor made out of wood but it makes sense as itd much easier to work with.

    1. Kev - I know you can buy the carry all attachments but I thought since I basically had the stuff laying around why not build one. I imagine the wooden frame will loosen due to the vibration and isn't as strong overall as a metal one would be but I doubt I will ever need anything to carry more than a couple hundred pounds tops. I just needed a little carry all for a few things in case it's too wet to get into the fields.

      We will see how long it lasts though.

  2. I've been wondering, what is the minimal input that can be done on a beehive. I'm thinking of starting a hive, once we have property, and pretty much maybe collecting honey once a year/ every other year. Maybe a short primer? Thanks

    1. K - As I got up above 2 or 3 hives I quickly began questioning some of the time spent and recommended by other bee keepers. They tell you you shouldn't have the cover off too long but a full inspection on a large hive can easily take an hour or more. I think the trick is learning to identify problems at a glance and then attempting to fix em. In turn that would make the actual time per hive small until there was a problem.

      In a more Southern climate that would work well but up here all too often I notice problems, like lower entrance activity, when the temps and weather make opening the hive impossible and usually way out of queen season. When that happens I just learn to wait and see.

      In the end really the bees are not the hardest part of a hive really. If you can catch swarms each year replacing the bees becomes free the hive is what costs you money.

  3. The carry all looks good you could spend a lot buying something like that. When I had goats, they wouldn't eat cockle-burs and in fact brought seeds in and scattered them around so another reason not to have goats. Sheep sound like pretty good animals.

    1. Sf - When the sheep got out into that part of the pasture last year I watched em and they loved those big broad leaves. They would strip a cockle-burr plant down to the stalk in no time and go off looking for more. The only thing I saw they wouldn't eat to nothing were those big purple thistle plants and even on them they would nibble off all the new tender growth until it was just a little clump as well.

      I think the only reason sheep are not more popular is the shearing thing. It's a real pain for most people.

  4. teehee. i was sort of hoping the Kimber troll would have commented by now. i love your homemade carry-all, and you know jam is saying "huzzah". good job buddy!

    your friend,


Leave a comment. We like comments. Sometimes we have even been known to feed Trolls.