Monday, December 1, 2014

Health Benefits of Bees and Honey

A friend posted this and I thought it was a really cute way to show what bees and their honey can do!

Click on "Source" for a larger picture.

I like that honey is shown to enhance sports performance.  I'm looking for a sports drink recipe to replace the nasty ones that the kids order by color at the sports events snack bar.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News Around The Farm: Bees Good And Turkeys Bad

Good News.

Yesterday we had lovely warm weather and I was happy to see activity around the entrances of all of the hives.  I was really worried about my bees after the very sudden and extensive temperature plummet last week.  The warm temperatures finally gave me a chance to put up the windbreak behind the hives.  The wind blows in that direction about 95% of the time, so hopefully it will give them a break. 

Bad News.

A few days ago, a bobcat got into our new turkey enclosure and killed all of my turkeys.  The sprinkling of snow on the ground clearly identified the culprit as a big cat.  

It was my fault in part that the cat was able to get in.  The dumb turkeys wouldn't go into the very nice house we built for them to roost so that we could close them in at night. They would sit on the ground in the back corner of their pen.  With the snow, I worried about them sitting on the cold ground, so I ran a piece of wood across the corner of their pen as a roost.  I put the wood diagonally through the fence.  What I didn't see, was the gap that the weight of the wood created.  This was the only place the bobcat could have got into their pen and it proved fatal.  

I really liked the turkeys.  They're dumb and not friendly at all, but I found them so very interesting to watch!  I loved listening to the jake's gobbling and the hen's cooing.  I would like to replace them, but if I do, I think they will be kept safely in the barn until spring and then put into a VERY beefed up outside enclosure.  I will probably keep them in their house for a couple of days so that they identify it as a roosting place and then they can be shut in at night. 

What a sad turn of events. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hive Quilt For The Bees

I've seen a number of beekeeper posts about the hive quilt put on top of a beehive and after reading all about it I decided to give it a try.  It seems as if it would help keep moisture out of the hive AND insulate the top a bit.  

The first blog I saw built a brand new box for the quilting box and I know I don't have time to do that before winter set it.  Then I saw this post on Tilly's Nest and it looked do-able!

I gathered my supplies and quickly built the boxes.

I first put fondant and pollen boards on the hives - called candy boards.  

Cooking the sugar water to a hard fondant.

After the candy boards, I put on the hive quilt boxes, filled them with fine wood chips, and made sure the hives had good ventilation.

It will take until spring to find out the effectiveness of this experiment.  

The only chores left are to create a windbreak for the hives.  I've got the t-posts and burlap ready to go and then we'll finally wrap the hives when the temperatures become consistently below freezing. 

I've done all I can for the bees.  Now its up to them and Mother Nature!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

And It Begins.......

The past few weeks have been a rush to get everything before true winter sets in....

Now it begins!

Each of the below chores have a multitude of sub-chores attached to them.  I've listed a few.

I've been caring for the bees
-feeding sugar water
-Combining weak hives
-Making winter "sugar boards"
-Insulating hive tops
-Stacking the unused boxes and frames and mothballing them

Trying to get the high tunnels put to bed
-Pulling out the dead plants
-Pulling and freezing or processing the last of the produce

This was some of the last of the raspberries I picked last week!  
-Fertilizing and mulching the fruit trees

Winterizing the animal pens.
-Dumping loads of mulch in the wet, muddy spots.
-Cleaning out the damp corners and liming the interior
-Airing and drying everything out
-And more, more, more!

Putting an awning over the barn's sliding door.
-Digging the post holes
-Picking up the necessary supplies
-Building the awning
-Putting stones under the door's sliding area

Plus the sugar house work, general clean up, weeding, and mulching, around the place in an attempt to tidy up!  

There are a few more nice days in the forecast.  Cross your fingers that I'll be able to pick off more chores on my long, long list!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bee Friendly Bombing

Another bee post.   I have bees on the mind lately!

I've been working with my honey bees a lot lately because I'm doing everything I can to help them get through the winter.  

I'm putting up windbreaks, putting insulating boards in the hive cover, making sure they have enough food, making sugar boards, making sure the queens are not honey or pollen bound, checking for mites, and preparing for winter wrapping.  

Although Cascadian Farms is owned by General Mills, a GMO food using company, the message here is still very good. 

3 Ways to help the bees:   

Plant more wildflowers.

Don't use pesticides, herbicides, etc. 

Don't use GMO seeds or plants.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Knew The Bees Were Hard Workers But.....

...I don't think I know it was THIS hard!  

16 oz. is a small one pound jar of honey.  

112, 000 miles is more than three times across the United States.

And 4.5 million flowers?  Look around your yard and neighborhood to find 4.5 million flowers.  

I think I'll appreciate my next dollop of honey into a cup of hot tea much more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why A High Tunnel Is Wonderful

I live in north central Pennsylvania and we've had temperatures dipping almost to freezing in the past few days.  

Oct 4

AM Light Rain / Wind
AM Light Rain / Wind
at 12:45 am

at 11:45 pm

And yet, on October 6th, I'm still pulling fresh tomatoes from my (now closed day and night) high tunnel!  

Their texture is not quite as firm as summer tomatoes - but they are still as delicious.  

Maybe even more so because I know how short lived this bounty will be.  Soon it will become a memory only tasted in the homemade spaghetti sauce I've canned.  

And I'll be seeing this...

...until next year's summer harvest.