Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pic of the day

A really cool pics of some queen cells on a frame from a winter killed hive.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The great egg experiment

I candled my eggs today and saw some very varied results. I had my incubator set too low for the first two days so I added more eggs to bring me to a total of 39 and started my hatch over at day one. I may have jumped the gun on that one as some of my eggs look like they are on day five and some look like they are at day three. There was even one where I could clearly see the chicks eye starting to develop. Some of the eggs that I added had sat out on the table overnight which normally would have been perfectly fine, but it was pretty cold that night and don't think those eggs will hatch. They looked pretty clear. I will leave them for a while and see what happens. As of right now I have thirteen eggs that are clearly viable and thriving. I tried to take pics, but they didn't turn out so I borrowed a few I found online so I could show you what I saw.

Day 3

Day 5

Pic of the day

Mutant bees!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet Max

Max is our new bunny. He is a year old and really needs some girlfriends. He bites. He chews. He is frustrated. Honestly though, he is a good pet for the boys. He only bites now when he is tired of being held. He loves to be petted and we are working on teaching him some tricks. We plan on getting him some girlfriends and raising some bunnies. We just need a good hutch for them first. Right now Max spends his days outside eating clover in the back yard in a small dog excercise pen and his nights in a crate in the house. He has never been an outdoor bunny and is really enjoying the freedom to run and kick and dig and act like a wild bunny. He has a strict hands off policy when he is in that mood. Just try and catch him. He thinks he's feral. Until it starts to storm or it gets dark. Then he reverts back into a pampered housepet. Goofy animal.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Adventures in beekeeping.

 I attempted to join my lonely queen bee and her few attendants with my strong healthy queenless hive using the newspaper method. The bees totally ignored the queen and her supply of helper bees dwindled even more. 
Yesterday things were pretty critical for her so I popped her into a queen cage with four of her friends and placed her in the queenless hive. I then went through the other frames to see which ones to keep in the hive and which ones to take out. Then I noticed it. Uh oh. I small very fresh looking empty queen cell. Oh boy. That means I just threw my good expensive queen in a hive with thousands of bees that are going to try and kill her. 
She was still in her cage and therefore ok so I went through some more frames and saw three frames full of day or two old eggs. Holy cow! What an impressive layer! Then I noticed that a few cells had more than one egg. Not good. That could mean a laying worker. Bad news. A laying worker is a huge problem as she only lays drones and she will totally take over a hive and ultimatly kill it becuase as bees die, they are not being replaced. They are very hard to get rid of because they look JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER BEE in that congested hive. There could also be several laying queens.
I retrieved my queen and rearranged my hive to work as a two queen hive with excluders to keep the queens apart (if there really are two queens). I am hoping I have two queens because with the set up I have with them now, the workers will care for both queens and two layers in a hive will build up numbers very quickly! Here's hoping! 

Just call me the bee tamer!

Oh yes! I just picked up that bee! got to learn to do this if I am going to raise queens.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mr chicken

Mr chicken lost several toes to frostbite this winter. He was too big and fat to jump up into the coop with the other chickens and too big of a sissy to let is catch him every night to put him in. So now until  his little toe stumps heal he has to be away from his girls. He really hates that. But if I turn him out into the run with the girls, they eat what is left of his toes. So for now, he's in solitary. The younger roosters are liking the arrangement though, they get the girls all to themselves. Something tells me I won't have a problem with the eggs being fertile this year. It's almost time to hatch out some chicks!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April/May hatch

Yes I am crazy. I am going to incubate some eggs. I have a bizarre assortment of birds and I would love to see what kind of chicks I get out of them. My roosters are blue laced red wyandottes. My hens are cochins, silver laced wyandottes, black australorpes, rhode island reds, barred rocks, buff orpingtons, naked necks (google those for real), and auracaunas. I have made my best guess on which hen layed which egg so it will be interesting to see if I am right.

I am also helping one of my friends, TinCanAssassin with a homeschool lesson on chicken development. Just for kicks and giggles, I am going to post everything here for you guys as well. Here is a hatch calender for reference.

If I start these tomorrow, they will hatch on my sons birthday. I think he would like that.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bee pic

Hubby checking for a queen. This is a good strong hive.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I am going to post pics of whateer is going on around here in the in between days when I don't have anything to blog about. I got some pretty cool ones during our last hive inspections.

Just me with our strongest and weakest hives.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bees and bunnies and seeds, Oh My!

It must bee spring. We traveled to California to pick up seven packages of bees last week. It was a nice trip but feel really bad for the bees. They went from an 80 degree climate where everything was blooming to high 20s and snow. Most of them fared really well, but we ran into some problems yesterday while checking hives.

This package was so cold they went into a dormant state. I thought they were all dead until I broke out the trusty hair dryer and warmed them up. There was an even bigger ball of bees sitting on the bottom of the hive (the last place you want your bees balled up) I am hoping the queen was somewhere in that pile of bees safe and warm. Today is supposed to be warmer so we will see if they get out and fly.

Another problem we had not expected was the difficulty of finding the queen on the foundationless frames. Out of all seven hives, we only found one queen and she immediatly flew out of the hive. I watched her zoom in and back out a couple of times before I lost sight of her so I hope she want back in and settled her court back into making comb.

There is a very big difference between productivity in some hives and others. Some were doing nothing at all, some had already started building comb. I know which hives I will pull my drones from!

I am going to attempt queen rearing this year using the nicot system. It's just too hard to climatize bees from other locations to our weird crazy weather here. I am going to use my nuc queen (now named Charlotte) as my mother queen and drones from my most productive hives as my breeder drones. I have a few ideas on how to select which drones I want an ensure that is who she mates with but I will go into that later.

My Utah hive is queenless. Don't know how that happened as her hive is incredibly strong. There was only one emergency queen cell in the hive (which broke open as we seperated two frames, grrrr.) So I know she didn't swarm. It is still so cold right now I would have a hard time believing they could swarm yet anyway. Our last remaining Nevada hive has been very weak. When we opened it yesterday, there were only about 200 bees and the queen was very weak. We decided to kill two birds with one stone and combine the Utah and Nevada hives. What in the world am I going to call THAT mixture!?!? Maybe I should name her Gracie. A Utah queen in a Nevada home. Hrmmm. That has possibilities, lol.

We got the first of our rabbits a few weeks ago, his name is Max. He has lived his whole live as an ignored house bunny. He was well fed and petted once in a while but he has obviously never been outside. We put him out during the day in a large excercise pen.. He jumps and twists and has decided that he is a wild jackrabbit. Until nightfall when he crawls into his crate and shivers. Being domestic reallly isn't all that bad I guess.

I have been getting so excited to start my garden this year. I just have to find a way to kick all of the chickens out of the back yard first. They seem to think my raised beds are their own personal dust baths.

That's the basic quick catch up on what's been going on in the world of Gracie. I am really going to try hard to get better as this whole blogging thing.