Monday, September 13, 2010

This Weekend...

...was busy. 


Brunch, football game, bees, chickens, and an afternoon with the HNA gals.

Here's the evidence: 

 I think perhaps I've mentioned that pregnant ladies can't clean chicken coops? And that we decided that coffee chaff was not the ideal bedding, given our garden shed/coop combo?

No? Well, if not, a) I can't and b) no, it's not (for us, at any rate). So there you have it. 
 Chris cleaned out the coop this weekend AND applied a protective coating of paint on the floorboards.  
 And then we bought ourselves a bale of hay. A new experience for me. I felt very country. You can now call me Cowgirl Sonja. Except that we placed our newly purchased hay bale into...our prius. Hmmm, maybe not so country. 

Yuppie chic? 

City nerd? 

Yes. 
 Anyway, the girls didn't seem to notice that their bedding had been replaced. Our little piggies have a one track mind. 

Have you brought us food? Yes? Good. 


 I went over to Mom's house for a quick bee check. 

Last time I reported that the ladies were a little behind on the honey storage front. The supers were pretty empty and we had very few cells of capped (ready) honey. I was disappointed but not too terribly surprised. This time around was a bit more heartening. The girls have used these first few days of September to cap a bit more of their stores. 

Keep up the good work, ladies. 
So we decided to slap Mom's newest toy onto the upper supers. This nifty device, placed between the lower boxes and the upper honey supers, is supposed to usher the girls out of the supers and down into their brood chambers. Similar to a fume board in purpose, but without the chemicals. However, I should note that it take a few days to be effective. One consideration to weigh when looking at bee exiting options. 
 It reminds me a bit of a have-a-heart device. Or maybe a lobster trap: you can go in, but you can't go out. Except that in this case they can only go out. 

We'll keep you posted on its effectiveness. [update: this thing is awesome! read about our results here]
 Unfortunately, last time I did a hive check, I made a rookie mistake. Which would be understandable, were I a rookie. [did you see that superb use of sports lingo?! There is hope. A glimmer, perhaps]. 

I removed the queen excluder that we'd placed on the hive a month ago, after we'd observed some eggs in cells that were reserved for honey. 

I had decided that  the excluder wasn't needed because our monarch had lots of empty room down in her brood chambers. Since she was residing in the lowest one, I figured it unlikely that she'd climb all the way up into the honey supers for egg-laying purposes. Also, some Beeks (that's beekeepers, for you non bee people) are of the opinion that placing queen excluders on hives hinders bee movement and delays honey storage activities. Hoping to encourage our girls in their storage efforts, I took it off. 

In hindsight, that was really dumb. Because this is what we ended up with:
 Larvae (and drones, to boot!) in our honey supers. 
 Bad news. Bad queen. 
 Sorry mom. 

 The good news is that we do have some harvestable honey, so that's what we're going to focus on extracting this week. 


 And that, my dears, is the end of our pictures from this weekend. 
 Except for these two of a sweet little mystery flower that we have growing in the backyard. 



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