Monday, September 14, 2009

Hens, Bees, Peaches and Apples

How are my little hens doing?
They are almost full grown. In two weeks or so, they should start laying tiny little eggs. How exciting! We have one Barred Rock who likes to exercise her wings. At first we were concerned that she was a he, but other than being slightly larger and able to fly a little bit, she doesn't display any other "he" characteristics. But we're still watching, just in case. She occasionally hops out of their chicken run and waddles around outside, but she wants to be with her friends, so shortly after doing a little exploring she pops back in.
Don't you just love the barred rock feathers?
So pretty.
Here is one of our New Hampshire Reds, Pearl.
Uncharacteristically, her legs are pearl color. Usually, when a chicken is older their legs slowly bleach out. Pearl's legs are literally pearl colored. Recently highlights of brown have shown up.
Here are six of them (out of eight) giving me the one-eye.
My bees. Oh, my bees. As you know if you've kept up with my bee saga since April, my left hive swarmed in spite of all of my efforts to make sure they had "room". I'm starting to think that eight frame hives tend to make bees swarm -- I have got to research it. Has anyone read anything about this? My left hive made their own natural queen who was able to return safely from her mating flight, and starting laying. The hive is calm, thriving, and I happened to see the darling lady two weeks ago, and she's HUGE. Wonderful!

My right hive has been thriving. There have been a TON of bees in there. I have carefully added on supers to give them room, but ultimately I think I had a case of "my queen only wants to travel UP" syndrome. I hadn't gotten down to the bottom box to check in 2 weeks because I was inspecting on my own, which would have been fine, except that I was getting a bit overwhelmed by HOW MANY BEES there were. It was set up just as you see it here and every frame was PACKED with bees. This is when the foragers are out, so at night and early morning there were even more in there. An extremely healthy hive. Anyway, I dutifully went to do a hive check and go down to the bottom box when I'd noticed eggs in the first honey super the week before. I should have done it THAT week, but the bees were crabby with me.

I let a week and a half pass and they had made swarm cells. There were about ten of them. I'd just talked to a life long beekeeper and he'd suggested that at this time of year it is possible to stop a swarm. As a new bee keeper, I was very proud of myself for removing all of these cells. For me, when crazy things happen in the hive, my brain short-circuits and goes to mush. All I can focus on is the crazy thing (whatever that might be). This is where my error was. I didn't look to see if there were fresh eggs in the hive, to know that the queen was still in there. There were still so many bees in there, frankly I couldn't tell that any of them had left. I know, it sounds crazy. What can I tell you, I'm new at this. So, without a queen in the hive, I removed all of the queen cells. What does that give you? A hive without a queen! Not a good thing.

The woman I was working the hive with that day thought that she'd seen some queen cells that were torn open, which would mean that at least one queen hatched. So there was the slight possibility that a virgin queen was in the hive. I checked two days ago for eggs and still saw nothing, so I made the call to get a new queen. Just in case. It's getting a little too close to fall and cold weather to play the waiting game for two long.

So, just yesterday, I put my new queen, in her cage, into the hive. The bees noticed her right away and cruised over. The big question now is, if the hive DOES have a virgin queen in the hive (that should start laying within days), they will kill the new queen. But, I was willing to take the $25 gamble to make sure I got a queen in that large hive pronto.

I'll let you know how it goes.
I wasn't able to use my organic sprays this year because of the lack of time spent at my house, so my fruit trees have had some issues -- but all in all, they are okay. The peaches were finally ready on our two dwarf peach trees.
These apples weren't quite done yet, so they are still doing time.
One apple tree, and Empire, had apples that were ready. It was a very small harvest and each apple had issues. But hey, it's only my second year. Right?
We gardeners live for the hope of the next growing season.


muddigrl39 said...

It seems like your the busy bee...
I always love your post

Earth Angel said...

Hi Sandy! This is Angie from Utah. I harvested my honey this weekend. It is beautiful and yummy. I have more orders than I have honey. I use 10 frames in my hives. I did not have a swarm. But, a beekeeper from the University of Utah told me I must get another hive for next year or it will swarm ;) LOVE your site.