Bees · Supplemental Feeding

Division feeder

Last week, we installed a division feeder in my English hive.    When I checked the hive yesterday, the feeder was empty.   Some must have evaporated as the ladders don’t quite reach the bottom, but the bees drank a gallon of nectar.   It was easy to remove the cap and ladder to check and refill the feeder.  (The cap and ladder we have is a wooden block with ladders similar to the ones in the link, but I’m not sure where hubby bought them.)  We like the idea of feeding just our bees and this seems to work better than the bucket feeders on top of frames.   There were no drownings, and that’s always a good thing.   It would be interesting to know how long it takes a hive to drink a gallon, but I don’t want to disturb the hive too often to check.  Regardless, we were putting out 5 gallons of syrup every two days and feeding every bee in the neighborhood with the exterior feeders.

It’s hard to tell how much nectar the bees pulled from the feeder and how much they are finding on their own as there are clear signs that we are exiting the summer dearth, but the bees sure did fill a lot of frames in just one week.   It doesn’t seem to be enough yet to inspire growth — there are still new larvae present, but not in great numbers.   There was a lot of capped brood in our one large hive — they are ramping up and producing some drones again, but nothing like we saw in spring.

Hubby is out inspecting our other big hive right now, but I am staying indoors and nursing my mixture of ant bites, mosquito bites, and bee stings from this week!    An oatmeal bath followed by application of lavender essential oil finally stopped the itching.  The fire ant bites are the worst, but the fire ants are also the easiest to deal with!    After an application of Amdro, there are no more fire ants in front of the English hive, so neither the dog nor I need to worry about watching the bees go about their day.   It may be a good thing that the dog no longer wants to sit in front of the hive — if it prevents her from getting stung again, I’ll suck up the bites on my feet.

The two big hives are jam-packed, so we made some splits this morning.   We already had some bees in the queen castle, but they never managed to produce a queen that we could find.  There was some uncapped brood in there, but no young brood.  We moved the frames with resources over to a nuc and added some brood from the other hive and then created one more nuc.   We’ll move those nucs out to the out-yards one evening this week and hopefully get new queens soon.

It’s hard to be so far from the farm for so long and not know what the bees, trees, grass, and flowers are up to in our absence.   Those bees were pulling in nectar from the woods three weeks ago, and we left them with room to grow.  It will be exciting to see what they are up to!


Meet Maggie

Maggie – August 4, 2016

Meet Maggie, the four-legged (as opposed to the two-legged and four-winged) queen of Magnolia Hill Farm, from whence her name is derived.  We’re still working on the hierarchy of the different queens, but most of the time I still consider myself to be at the top of the list.

We adopted Maggie from the Coweta County Animal Shelter.  We went there to look at a different dog, but Maggie was just so sweet, she won us over very quickly.   We couldn’t bring her home for a week as the shelter does not release animals until after they have been spayed or neutered, but she has made herself at home in just five days.

Maggie is a Catahoula mix and has already shown hunting instincts and/or training.   One characteristic of Catahoula’s is that they stalk silently and only bay once they have treed their prey.  It was two days before we heard Maggie bark, but she has since alerted us to things that she thinks are noteworthy!   Oddly, she barks a lot when hubby comes home from work.   We think the diffference to her reaction to my returns to the house and hubby’s have to do with her being in her crate when I leave to run errands instead of being asleep on the couch when hubby has arrived home the past two evenings.  We’ll get confirmation of that when hubby comes home at lunch to let her out tomorrow.

Maggie got a clean bill of health at our vet yesterday and behaved very well during our two hour visit there.   In fact, she was less irritable than I was!  Between my doctor’s visit and hers, I spent far two much time in uncomfortable chairs yesterday.   (At least I didn’t pee on the floor like somedog I know!)

On Friday, my plan was that Maggie would not be a couch potato, but by the time I got up at 6:50 a.m. on Saturday, she owned half the couch at the RV and now claims anywhere from 1/3 – 2/3 of the couch at the house, depending on how many humans are sharing the couch with her.    She enjoys pouncing at the lawn mower and vacuum cleaner, but grows bored very quickly with toys.  She does not like us to be out of her sight.   Right now, we’re hoping that being car-sick was a one-time deal, but I guess we’ll find out this weekend!

Maggie helps fold laundry.

Maggie has to be right in the middle of everything we do, including folding laundry.  She curled up in the middle of the unfolded and then the folded clothes this afternoon and did her best to prolong a chore that I don’t much like anyway.    After six weeks in the shelter, we understand her being a little clingy and that is getting better as time passes.   Owing a dog certainly isn’t always convenient, but we are really enjoying her company, her curiosity, and her affection.