What if my alpacas get flees and other insane thoughts

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” Thomas Fuller, circa 1650 I woke up at 3:30am and my first thought was, “What if my alpacas get flees?” It would be a reasonable question… If I had alpacas! It all started partly because my wife is afraid that opossums will eat our beloved chickens….

The Magnificent Seven

Hive-B.1.1.VSH “Adopt the pace of nature: her secrete is patients.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson I’m down to (8) hives; one at the old farm and seven at Dr. D’s. However, three of those hives are from recent splits. Given my recent loses, I’ve been obsessing over these remaining hives. The thought wakes me up at…

Facing Reality – The Hive Count

“Most people give up just when they are about to achieve success.” – Ross Perot My heart kept whispering that quote in my ear yesterday to keep my brain from acknowledging my eyes. So what had my eyes seen? Hive-A.1.VSH was empty. The strong, healthy hive that I had harvested from this year and was…

Chickens: 107F Heat Index

This weekend was hotter than midget porn – 95͒ F and 60% Humidity. Summer in the Mississippi Delta is like nowhere else on earth.  It’s hard to say what is more demeaning; the way my sweat soaked shirt clings to my chest or how my testicles cling to my knee. Yeah, it’s that hot. Despite…

Queen Cages: (4) living (3) Dead (1) Stillborn

Just a note: The Queen Cells I caged Monday have hatched. As stated in the title, (3) are dead – the cause of death is unknown but I suspect starvation. This has been a hard year filled with ups and downs. However, I take these setbacks, not as failures but as lessons. This lesson is…

Miller Method – (8) Cells and (1) Virgin Queen

“You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.” – the Stones I miscalculated the birth of the queens. On my queen rearing spreadsheet, queens hatch at (16) days – however, that is from the day the egg is laid. The queen actually hatches just…

Chickens Day 1

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore RooseveltSaturday I bought five Barred Rock chickens – that’s not…

My First Successful Grafts

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” James Allen At least two of my grafts have been accepted. This is…

More Queens Than A Cher Lookalike Contest – Graft #2

“Agh, that is bad luck. But grandfather say, ‘It never rain everyday.’” – Mr. Kim, The Fifth Element I’ve been quoting that line since 1997 (holy shit – I just realized how old that movie is… even worse… how old I am) – actually I’ve been misquoting it, as the case may be, since I always say, “It can’t rain…

The Beetles Kill Another Hive

The bottom board of Hive-D “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me,” John Lennon… but then John never kept bees! I was sure that all was well in my home apiary. I had strong (though queenless) hives and minimal comb. So you can imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon, when I went to check…

A Good Day to Make Splits

“Five hundred. … five hundred fights, that’s the number I figured when I was a kid. Five hundred street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being…

The Harvard of Bee Yards

If “failure is the best teacher” then my bee yard is the Harvard of bee yards. This weekend proved to be heartbreaking. The two Five Frame Nucs I made have both been destroyed by hive beetles. Out of the two nucs, one was filled with lots of bees from Hive-A. It should have been a…

Hive Location – A tip for the beginner

I cut a 1″ hole in the cheese cloth this morningto let Hive-D.3’s foraging bees slowly enter. I swapped Hive-D with Hive-D.3 yesterday. This segues into today’s topic – Hive Placement. Most books will tell you that the best location to place a hive is in a sunny area, with a windbreak, and an easterly view… and…

No Queens – What to do?

I finished up teaching classes on Saturday and so Sunday I finally had time to check my backyard bees — The two Mini Nucs and Hive-D.3 — sadly not one of the three had a queen. That being said, I suspected the queen was gone from Hive-D.3 as soon as I opened it because when I gave my…

Beetles – My Arch-nemisis

I’m still struggling with the Mating Nuc Concepts. The idea to leave one of the nucs closed up with tape worked out pretty well. Except for the one that I didn’t keep closed  absconded. Abscond is a beekeeping term that gets used to say the bees left. However if you look it up in Merriam’s…

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing… But I’m Doing It!

Noah and the (3) MMNs … and poison ivyall over the damn fence!!!!! The new Mini Mating Nucs (MMN) we made the other day aren’t doing well. For starters, they had dysentery as could be seen from the brown streaks on the front of each box. At first I thought it might be Nosema but…

Mini Mating Nucs – First Use

Yesterday, shortly after 5:00pm, Noah arrived and we headed out to Dr. D’s. Hive-D.1 is still full of hive beetles. All the traps were empty. But a frame of wax had (20) or (30) beetle larva that I could see and I killed about (20) additional beetles. This time I cleaned the bottom board and removed the…

The Best Easter Eggs Of All – Queen Eggs

My biggest hurdle of beekeeping is not mites, moths, or beetles – it’s self-doubt. It took all my resolve to go out to the bee yard at Dr. D’s.   Actually, Noah wanting to go with me is what tipped the scales. I would have gone anyway, but it might have been later Saturday or…

A Swarm Is Like Manna From Heaven

I caught my first swarm last night and it was like God just handed it to me. But first… I’ve decided not to post so much about my personal life on here. I imagine if you are reading this, it’s because you are interested in bees and not in me. That being said, I have to tell this…

A Walk In The Clouds

This is a short one… not the kid, the blog. I imagine everyone has a vision of what the perfect life would look like. For me, it’s the movie A Walk In The Clouds. In fact, it is the very reason I became a beekeeper – as I mentioned in a past blog. While I doubt…