Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bees, Trees, Fine Weather, I Could Go On & On.......

That's a GroverGator
This may be a wordy post. I know its been hard to keep the photos to a minimumWhile we had much needed rain on Sunday and Monday, otherwise we have been enjoying some fabulous weather.  

So first, I guess I will mention that while I don't write about it much, our area is experiencing an oil and gas drilling boom.  It is really bringing some changes.  Not all of them good, in my opinion.  It has hurt our Real Estate business in that, since we specialize in farms and acreage, no one is selling right now.   Everyone is hoping for a windfall from gas and oil leases and drilling royalties.  Some folks have benefited from this already.  It is interesting to see new barns being constructed and new pick-ups in driveways.  But, there is constant noise.  And lots of traffic. About 50 yards beyond the far end of our property they are installing a gas pipeline across the road and parallel to our property line.  Yesterday, at least 2 semi loads of huge pipe went by the house. Hopefully once the gas line is done, we won't see much traffic anymore, but the noise will be around for awhile, I think.

Despite that there are still lots of wonderful spring things going on right now.  First, I checked into my top bar hive on Thursday to see if the queen had been released from her cage, and she had.  I also fed them more 1:1 sugar water.  And since I want to be sure this new colony has lots of sustenance to help them draw out comb so they can reproduce, I also got into the hive yesterday (Tuesday) to feed them again and to check on the status of things.

Here is a view between 2 of the top bars.  The bees are gathered on newly made comb.  They had drawn out quite a bit over the last week and while I did not see that the queen had started to lay eggs, I DID find her, which is a good sign.  

The bees kind of make bee chains and I think that somehow helps them to build their combs the right size and shape.  To the left, you can see bee chains that I have disturbed by separating 2 adjacent bars with comb-building in progress.

I will need to feed the bees again Saturday, so will be looking then for signs the queen has started to lay eggs.

So that is the top bar hive news.  The other hive, which I will now call the orchard hive, also needed some tending.  Last week I had moved some of the boxes around and had found the bees to be building comb where they should not have been, which led me to believe they were in need of more space.  So on Friday, I gave them a fifth box.

4 boxes

hive open

I remove the covers and here you can see the tops of the frames.  The bees have been smoked, so most are down inside the hive.

Here is my new box with brand new frames 

I stack it on top of the open hive and replace the cover
5 high

And now the bees have 10 more frames to draw out comb on and to hopefully fill with honey in the next month or so.  This top box will be the one I remove and harvest the honey from if all goes according to plan!

The pollen and nectar flows seem to be in high gear.  The bees have been very busy on the maple trees in our yard, which are also dropping bright yellow pollen all over our deck. 

We also have beautiful blossoms on our peach and apple trees.



And of course, it is time to start thinking about shearing alpacas.  It will seem so much easier this year with 1/2 the number of alpacas to shear!  It is now May, so I think we will likely start in the next few days, maybe this weekend.

And speaking of shearing, my worsted weight yarn is on its way to me from the mill.  I expect it today or tomorrow and I need to do some practice dyeing since I would like to try a new-to-me technique.  More on that later.

Here is another photo of the shawl I finished up last week.  I am so pleased with how it turned out.  

On Saturday the weather was incredible and I sat out on the deck and hand carded some of the black fleece I had washed on Thursday and then spun some of it up.  This is the start of the yarn for my handwoven blanket.  I will be spinning 3 natural colors and want to do a plaid pattern.  But I won't be weaving it anytime soon!

Rowdy turned 8 years old yesterday.  He had a hamburger (well half, Grover got the other half) for dinner and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Happy Birthday Rowdy!

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