Monday, April 17, 2017

1925 Bee Market In Holland

The old ways of doing things can be so entirely fascinating.  People sure were a lot tougher back then!

At the bee market in Veenendaal, Holland the principal buyers are the bee-farmers of the Veluwe, living near buckwheat fields and the heath. When the season is favorable, and the buckwheat gives honey (which it does not do always), the skeps may be filled in two or three weeks. In case they are entirely filled up with buckwheat honey they are emptied before the heath begins to flower. If not, the partly filled skeps are brought to the heath in order to be completed with honey of the heath. The latter crop being over, the bees are generally killed, and the bee-farmers await the next market to buy new swarms.

At the Annual Bee Market at Veenendaal, Holland, a hive of bees typically sold for around $3. Once a sale is made, the deal is concluded with ritualistic handshake, beekeeper and customer smack hands together hard, first in high position, then in lower, repeating.
Posted by Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History on Monday, January 12, 2015

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Interesting Farm Week (some "icky" photos)

I had some fun this week.  

I got to castrate a pig.

Talk to the Game Commission about bear damage.

Got good news about the turkey eggs. 

And help pull a calf out of a cow.  

First, I've had our local veterinarian show and walk me through piglet castration.  I watched it on Youtube (there are a lot of different variations on the same method!) and I had an experienced friend come and walk me through when the day finally came to perform the task.  I didn't take any pictures because my hands were obviously full.  But the operation went well and our little meat boar - now barrow - is healing well. 

The Game Commissioner came to let us know we could make a claim on our bear damage.  We won't get a lot of money, but it will be enough to stay in the beekeeping game!

The Ag teacher, to whom I had given some of our turkey eggs, reports that they found evidence of growth inside after candling the eggs! 

And finally, our neighbor raises black angus beef cows and as we noticed a cow in labor as we drove past yesterday.  She was still lying there when we came back and the farm worker was watching her because she had been trying to get the big calf out for a long time.

At one point, another cow walked up to her and started bellowing and the rest of the herd started coming over (I was very nervous and ready to get on out of there if need be!).  The other cow made the laboring cow get up and walk around a bit.  We hoped that would help...

...but it didn't, and we ended up putting a rope around the calves feet and pulling out the calf.  What a relief when the calf finally slid free!  We were worried it might be dead because it was stuck for so long, but it was, happily, still alive.  We immediately retreated so that the mother cow could take care of her calf.  When we left, momma cow was sitting up, but as of yet I'm not sure of the status of mom and calf.  An update will follow later today!

Hope for the best!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Day! Bear Captured!

It's a miserable rainy day, but we have a big reason to smile.

A bear (and we hope THE bear) was captured!

If you read my previous posts, you see that we had problems with a bear coming into our bee yard and destroying hives.  The PA Game Commission came and set up a trap... 

...and today we got this!

No more honey for you!


Very displeased!

Now we feel a lot better about using our bee yard again.  We have plans to beef up security around it too!

Help The Bees!

And for goodness sakes please DON'T use glyphosate AKA "Roundup" on them!

Read about it here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Bear Came Back To Finish The Job

Darn if that bear didn't come back and tear apart the little bit of bees I had been able to save.  

You can even see claw marks in the honey frame. 

The Game Commission set up a bear trap.

The spring bees that we'll be putting in will be at our house bee yard  for now.  We'll use our Odin site when we make splits - hopefully the bear will be caught before then!  

We'll hook up a marine battery to our solar charger to make sure the fence is staying charged at night.  

And keep on trying. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Bear Did It Again

These are the words a beekeeper really, really hates to hear. 

Last fall, a bear came and tore apart three out of four hives in our Odin bee yard.  This week, a bear, possibly even the same bear, came back to finish the job.  

We tied the hive to the wooden pallet with ratchet straps to keep any wind from pulling the hive apart and we've found that it gives the hive a fighting chance of not being torn apart if a bear comes.  

This bear didn't care.  It took the shock from the electric fence.  Then, it dragged the whole wooden pallet and the hive all together and tried to pull them out of the bee yard.  It couldn't go any farther when it got to the wire fence, so it stopped there to pull the hive apart. 

When I got the message, I loaded up my supplies and headed down to the bee yard to assess the damage.  Surprisingly, you can see an almost intact deep box (upside down) in the middle of the bottom picture.  This was the top deep and you can see that, thankfully, the top lid is holding everything together.  

This box was filled with a large cluster of bees!

So I pulled the pallet out of the fence and set up the bottom board.  Then I very carefully flipped over the single deep onto the bottom board.  Yes, I was wearing my full up bee suit.  That batch of bees were angry!

I fed the bees some dampened sugar inside their hive (It was an emergency feeding.  I lay down a piece of wax paper and dumped the dampened sugar on top of it, then put on the inner cover to leave a cavity, and then the lid).  After that I ratchet strapped the whole thing back together. 

It kind of feels like I put a band aid on a bullet wound, but if the queen survived we may be able to pull them through. 

This bear has developed a sweet tooth, so I've called the Game Commission to ask them to put a bear trap near the hives.  Maybe this bear can be relocated to a more remote spot and will stop going after my poor bees! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bourbon Red Turkey Hopes

One of our farm hopes is to raise Bourbon Red turkeys.  They're so beautiful and we hope, in the fall, to find out how good they taste.  We've heard excellent reviews!

When we got our poults, I asked the gentlemen if he knew what their sex was and he said, "Your guess is as good as mine."  We found later that we ended up with three jakes and one hen.  So I'm always telling our hen that all of our flock hopes are pinned on her.  

Saying that, if there is someone that has a bunch of Bourbon Red hens and wants to trade a jake for a hen they should contact me!

Our hen has started laying.  Of course she doesn't lay eggs in the nice big pile of hay that I put in her coop, but instead on the bare ground.  So far, I've found eggs frozen to the ground so I'm sure they're not viable.  

However, I'm hoping the warmer weather will give me a chance to stick a few eggs under some chickens (I'm crossing my fingers for one of the girls to go broody) and to deliver some to the high school's Agriculture department for placement in their incubator.  

I'll keep a couple of eggs under our turkey hen to see if she'll set and I'll give her a chance to be a mommy.  But I've been told that they're terrible mothers and often leave the eggs after two weeks of sitting.  

It seems like there's always some interesting experiments/projects going on around here!