Bee Stings · Construction · Gardening · Honey · Lazer Creek Apiary · Pests - Bees · Queen Bee · Storage

Slowly Moving West

We have started taking plants and boxes of household goods to the farm — just what will fit in the vehicles each time and what we have had time to pack.  Most of the bee stuff is down there now, which makes getting around in the 40-foot container challenging!   Still, the bees are rapidly going through the frames we’ve built, so empty totes come back to the city with us in time to be refilled.

Shop Site
Shop Site

Building the shop has become a priority so that we have more space to put things and so that we have a clean space to sling honey this summer.  As we want to sell in Georgia, we need to be certified in Georgia.   Hubby spent most of the weekend leveling the shop site and was working on trenching to install conduit last time I talked to him.   (I came back early to get laundry done for the week.)    Our neighbor has been a great help, both in terms of giving advice and helping on the tractor.   His company will be pouring the slab next week and then the construction can start.  It’s exciting!

Spring border
Daffodil, iris, crinum lily, and other spring transplants.

Even though there was a lot to get done, hubby was still willing to help me get spring bulbs transplanted.  They’re all looking rather sad right now, but I know from experience that they’ll look great next spring, if not before.   The grass and wildflower seeds are doing well, and I added some clover seed and fertilizer yesterday.   If we can just get enough growing to slow down the erosion, we’ll have a less muddy driveway when we get those Southern downpours!   The drainage ditches hubby, my brother-in-law, and I have cut are making a huge difference, and plants will just be the final touch we need.

Smoker with new bellows

Of course, we didn’t neglect the bees this weekend, even with all the other tasks we needed to accomplish.    We had to replace the bellows on one of our smokers, and we love this new Pro Bellow from Mann Lake.   There’s a nozzle at the bottom that blows air directly into the smoker, and that has made it easier to get the smoker lit.   I’ll let you know how it holds up, but for now I’m sold!

I intended to just check the queenless hives, but we ended up checking all the hives for space after seeing how much nectar the bees have brought in over the past week.   Two hives have already started capping honey, and I only saw three small hive beetles all day.  There were no new wasp nests started in lids, but there were enough cockroaches on top of inner covers to keep the hair on the back of my neck standing up!   Talking of hair — if you have short hair, don’t pull your hat too tight — hubby got stung on his head through his cap yesterday!

Bricks on hives
Bricks on hives to indicate which hives have queens, and which do not.

We continue to use a combination of methods to track what’s going on in hives.   A flat brick indicates that the hive has a laying queen, and an upright means that the hive is queenless.   In addition, I write notes on the lids with a Sharpie.  We have three hives with queen cells that have hatched since last weekend, but I didn’t see a queen yesterday, so I like having that history at my fingertips when I go to recheck.   Then we have a spreadsheet in which we track hive inspections, treatments, and mite counts.    That’s becoming quite time-consuming and I’m working on automating some of the reporting and tracking, although I probably won’t get much done until summer.   As my new school starts the new year 3 weeks earlier than South Carolina schools, and we need to get this house on the market, and build the workshop, and move my work clothes, I may not find much time to refine the database while keeping up with a growing apiary!    It’s a good set of problems to have!

We’re looking forward to May’s Mid-Carolina Beekeeper Association meeting on Tuesday.  Has it really been a month since the last meeting?   Time flies in spring, which is why we all have to get hive equipment ready in winter!

Enjoy the (finally) warmer weather and take time to smell the roses.


Secure storage

Shipping container delivery

One of the biggest inconveniences we’ve encountered over the last few months has been a result of not having anywhere to safely store tools and supplies when we are not at the farm — or even overnight while we’re sleeping!   Since moving the RV to the farm, we’ve used it as storage — piling stuff in there before we leave and then having to drag it all back out again when we return.   And there’s only so much we can pile in our mini living room.   Even after living on our land for three weeks now, many of our tools and fencing supplies are still at BIL’s farm, in the city, or riding around in the back of my car.   It is so very unproductive.  

We looked at metal and wood storage buildings.   One big enough to double as a work-space and storage area would cost at least $6,000 and they all have windows, which makes them fairly easy to break in to.    We went round and round for months, and finally settled on getting a shipping container.   It is cost-effective and secure.  

The next step was finding a company from which to purchase one.   BIL bought one in spring and had to deal with missed delivery dates and an eventual delivery that was four hours late.   We were prepared for a big hassle.   If we had known how easy it could be, we may have bought one sooner!  

We went to Jenco Sales, Inc. in Newnan, Georgia and received great service, a great price, and a delivery man who apologized for being five minutes late.  I was a little hesitant when we arrived at the sales office because it looked different to what I expected, but that all changed the minute we were greeted and shown the different sizes and conditions of containers for sale.  (Hubby thinks I’m crazy for expecting a car dealership type setup!)   The staff could not have been more helpful and friendly.   We had to cancel our first delivery date due to weather, and the company took that in stride.   Hubby talked with office staff and the owner as we worked around predicted thunderstorms, and everyone was wonderful.     

We don’t have much in there right now, but we like knowing that it would take a whole lot of effort and heavy equipment for someone to take our garden rakes and shovels!    We especially like knowing that the rakes and shovels will be in the same city as we are next time I want to plant a daylily!