We Go With the Flow

This is a brief update to my recent post, Covered in Bees.

I’m a bit late since this was a busy work week for me, but I really wanted to share a bit about my follow-up entree into the hive. As I mentioned before, I needed to go back in to place a new honey super and make room for the booming population in my small hive, and take advantage of the warm weather.

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As it turns out, the nectar flow is in full swing! Even more so than I had originally anticipated. That seems to be the theme of the month when beekeeping is at hand. Last week I put two foundationless frames into my hive to replace the frames of honey I was removing. I also really wanted to see how my bees handled building natural comb. I pulled the outer of the two frames and say this:

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I think, “Cool! It’s only been 5 days and they are fervently building comb!” Then I pull the next one that went in next to it and almost dropped it in surprise.

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I hadn’t expected the weight of it! It was totally drawn and already mostly filled with nectar on both sides with bees working away at it. I replaced both, replaced the excluder and stacked on a new box with some regular frames and some without foundation to see what they would do with it. I’m planning to go in three weeks from now to inspect and I’m hoping for an extraction in four.

The nectar must flow!

Covered in Bees!

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After work yesterday, I checked the weather and discovered it was still well above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, I rushed to my mother’s house and got geared up to go into my hive for the first time since last June. I had no idea what to expect, and I was going in alone. In the past, I’ve been the only person working on the hive, but have always had a remote helper to hand me tools from the patio, or take photos. This time no one was even home. I was pretty anxious, but deeply determined to go into my hive.

It was hard. I have an anxiety disorder and recently cut back on my medications in an effort to learn to cope without dampening all of my emotions. This was one hell of a test of those coping skills to be sure, and I’m very proud of myself for how well I did given the circumstances.

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My original plan was to remove at least two frames of honey if they were doing well, replace those frames with empties, and add a queen excluder and honey super. I didn’t quite manage it, but I did fairly well I think, given my relative inexperience. Sadly, I crushed a far more bees than I would really like, and I’m still a little panicked that I could have possibly killed my queen. It’s very unlikely, but fear isn’t always rational and I’m so invested in this give that I think I would be devastated if I was responsible for its collapse.

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The reason I wasn’t able to complete my mission is that I got stung, which spiked my adrenaline. At first that adrenaline was a much needed kick in the pants, and I pulled the frames I intended to remove and replaced them with blank ones. Unfortunately the adrenaline crash that followed, hit me hard. I got shaky and nauseous to the point that I had a hard time even putting the excluder on, and putting on the next box was just impossible. I decided the best thing I could do was to close everything up and wait until Friday to place the new box.

I’m glad I did too because my body was so overwhelmed by the chemical rush that I fell asleep on the couch right after getting my suit off, leaving my two precious frames of honey outdoors! Later, I went out to retrieve them and found them covered I bees, desperately trying to retrieve any honey they could despite it being after dark. One of the frames which had only been filled and capped on one side was light enough that I was able to bring in by myself. The other had to wait until my mother got home so I would have a second pair of hands to handle the heavy frame while I brushed all the bees off.

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Now I have them uncapped on one side each, draining slowly into a big steel tray. I considered cutting out all the comb and crushing it to get my honey faster, but I just couldn’t bring myself to destroy all the hard work my bees put into building the comb. I’m hoping it will be drained by tomorrow so I can give my bees those frames right back… And because I want my honey!!

Now, I may be writing a very dry post about what I did, but I’m actually giddy at the prospect of having my own honey finally. These bees have had it all to themselves for a full year! I’m ready to get something back on my investment here and with the rate at which me and mine all suck down honey, I’m hoping for some really great harvests this year!

I just hope my new roommates don’t mind it too much. I just moved into a new house two cities over and I don’t actually want to drive my roommates nuts.

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They Grow Like Weeds

Despite odds being 50/50 for sex on chicks I’ve hatched myself, I always name them all with girls names. It’s my own bit of superstition, but genetics aren’t much influenced by superstition and as such in fairly certain I have two pullets and two cockerels.

Our pullets:

Felicia

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Idris

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And our bold young cockerels:

Milo (formerly known as Milla)

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And Finally, Dame Edna (whose name doesn’t need changing)

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Teenagers of all creatures look equally awkward. Add to it that Idris and Edna are surprise frizzles and the awkward trips from gangling into clownishly cute! I will be heartbroken if we end up needing to part with either Milo or Edna. They are mere weeks old, and they already feel like family.

Success!

I’m happy to announce a successful first weekend tabling with my art and handicrafts!

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Next I will be attending the Pacific Poultry Breeders’ Association to bring my work to other like me with feathered fancies!

I’m excited!!!

Right now, I’m offering a fun deal. Hey feather friends! I make feather headdresses (like the one below) and brooches made from collected feathers. I’m looking for people who have collections of feathers that they don’t know what to do with. I will be vending at the show so you can bring me your clean feathers (or comment and we will arrange shipping) and I will use half to create a unique fascinators, headband, wedding garland, brooch, hairpin, or earrings. The other half is your payment for this unique custom creation and I will only ask you to pay for the shipping when it is complete!

If you want to do this, just plan to bring me feathers at the show where I will take your info, or comment with the type of feathers you have. Remember! The more you bring me to work with, the more you get back!

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Our Newest Additions

A week ago we hatched some cochin chicks out of eggs purchased from Aarron Hunsinger. If you ever fall in love with bantam Cochins the way I have, I highly recommend getting in touch with him. He breeds several gorgeous lines of Cochins and sells his hatching eggs at the best deal I’ve yet to see.

We had a very tough couple of months during which we lost three of our favorite birds, each under different and devastating circumstances. When Aarron offered up some hatching eggs, I knew it would be a good way to salve my broken heart.

Out of 29 eggs, 10 hatched. For eggs laid in winter and then shipped from Pennsylvania to California, that’s a pretty good ratio. I have no need for 10 new birds, so I split the hatch with another local urban homesteader, and kept only 4 for myself.

Meet Edie (aka Dame Edna)

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Her passions include standing in the water dish, looking fabulous in blue, and sleeping in people’s scarves. She’s the oldest of the bunch but young at heart.

Next meet Idris

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Idris is a messy girl but makes it look cute. She loves sleeping in the food dish, wearing heavy eyeliner, and is always first to check out anything new.

Here comes Felicia.

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Felicia is the baby of the bunch. She is smaller and younger, but don’t let that fool you. She can scream her head off if she’s unhappy and is only happy when her twin sister is nearby.

Speaking of, here she is. Meet Milla

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Milla is a fierce little red head and is always looking out for her sister, Felicia. She loves staring out the window and long walks on the coffee table at sunset.