Signs Of Spring

It has become like Spring here overnight! Of course it won’t last, but while it’s been nice I have been outside scoping out how things did over winter.

My grapes are looking good. My neighbor helped me to prune them. This is my second year with them, so no grapes until next year, but pruning is required to help train them for when the grapes come.

Some daffodils near the house are about 2 inches up out of the soil. I checked in the woods where I have several batches and they aren’t up yet. The trees are keeping the sun off of them, so they tend to grow and bloom later.

My garden boxes are looking good. I really need to get some seeds started NOW. Hopefully this weekend. I’ll have to put it into my goals, so I will look at it over and over and get it done ūüôā

One of our bee hives fell over and all of the bees died. We still have 1 hive, so all is not lost. My son T,  is 12 is planning on doing Beekeeping for 4H this year.

We have mole trails everywhere. I don’t really care except that L keeps tripping over them, falling down, and crying. She isn’t all that great at getting up from falling, but practice makes perfect.

I will need to paint some of the trim around the house, especially around the double car garage. The winter has caused this to be more noticeable.

I would like to paint the shutters on the house. They have faded terribly over the years. A nice coat of paint wouldn’t be hard and would freshen up the front of the house.

Window boxes need to be filled with flowers, but that will have to wait a couple of months until the weather is in full cooperation. I love filling them with fresh flowers!

Everything is so brown and ugly. But, the sun has been shining and things will green-up quickly.

A huge tree branch fell and hit a wooden bridge that my son J made as a trial bridge for his Eagle Scout project. That needs some work to make it functional again.

There are lots of sticks to pick up because we live in the woods.

It feels good to see the stuff that I enjoy and the jobs that need attention this year.

How about you, is it Spring where you live yet? Are there jobs that you can see needing to be done this year?


Our Package Of Bees Have A New Home

Our package of bees arrived at the post office Tuesday morning.  They called first thing in the morning wanting the bees out of there quickly.  I picked them up and brought them into the garage and gave them a spritzing of water.  My husband had school, so they just hung out until this evening when my husband got home from work.

A package of bees is 3# of bees plus a mated queen.   There are about 10,000 bees in a 3# package.

3# package of bees

Here are a few shots of the bees.

My husband opened up the package and got the queen cage out.  She was in good shape.  Here are a few shots of the queen cage.

the Queen and her attendants

The queen lays eggs and that is it.  The attendants feed her and get rid of her waste.  She is a full-time egg layer and she can lay up to 1500 eggs a day!

Our supplies are ready

My husband is our primary beekeeper.¬† He remembers everything he reads and bees are pretty complicated.¬† I tried to do some stuff with the bees, but I can’t remember all of the details like he does.¬† So for now¬†I am his assistant.¬† I run and get anything that he needs so that he can stay and do the things he needs to do at the hives.

While we were out there at the hives, my husband checked our other two surviving hives.¬† They look really strong.¬† The middle hive was a new package last year, and they survived.¬†¬† When we opened up the hive there was burr comb and larvae on top of the frames.¬† This was a good chance to check for varroa¬†mites, which we didn’t see any of, thankful.¬†¬†The hive¬†looked great and we put a honey super on for them to fill.¬† Here is a picture from the top of the hive.¬† This is a nice calm hive.¬† I got right up there and took the picture without any problem.

Tons of bees wanting more space to expand

When we opened the hive we could see larvae and burr comb--they need room to expand!

Our third hive is a different story.¬† They are our only hive that survived our American¬†Foulbrood¬†infection several years ago and they are defensive.¬† The last time I was out there, in February, they were crazy.¬† The same for my husband today.¬† They were buzzing around and all over the hive bodies.¬† They don’t like being disturbed.¬† They are a strong hive too.¬† We also put a honey super on for them.¬† We are planning to requeen this hive to hopefully calm it down.

It was a good day with the bees.

My husband will get the queen cage out in 3 days.  We will put sugar syrup on their hive to help them get started.  I hope this is a good year for honey!

2 Hives Alive-1 Dead

2¬†of our bee hives¬†have made it through the winter, but one didn’t make it.¬† Bummer.¬† We are in the process of trying to get a nuc hive to replace it.¬† The difference between a nuc hive (about $125)¬†and a 3# package (about $80)¬†is that although¬†they have¬†about the same number of¬†bees, a nuc hive¬†already has an accepted queen who is laying eggs and comes with 4 frames and¬†brood.¬† The big difference is that the nuc hive is already a family of bees.¬† They are established with each other.¬†¬† They have accepted the queen.¬† They aren’t thrown together like a package of bees.

We could do a split with our current hives at no cost, but we are trying to get a lot of honey this year as we are constantly needing more honey.  We have some established customers who like our honey and want it pretty consistently.  This increases our chances for getting honey.  A package of bees spends a lot of time in the beginning trying to get established.  A nuc needs less time to get established, like a couple of days, instead of a month like a package, and therefore the bees can spend more time foraging and establishing their colony.  This gives them time to make honey for them and us!

Bee packages don’t usually get extra¬†honey their first year, but nucs generally will produce some extra honey their first year.

How about you, how did your bees do over winter?¬† I’d love to hear about it!

This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop.

The Bees

We currently¬†have 3 hives of bees.¬† I love having them around to pollinate our flowers and vegetable garden.¬† They don’t take all that much care.¬† We aren’t the best beekeepers, but our bees seem to like it here.¬† I hope to take over the beekeeping in 2012 from my husband.¬† I am home with the children and so I am available to take care of them at any time.¬† When my husband is around on the weekends, I like to do family time and having the bees taken care of¬†allows for more free time on the weekends.