The weather has been great for the local wildflowers, we see them blossoming all over the place now. This also means our bees have been on overdrive gathering nectar and pollen. Meaning they might be filling up their comb faster than they can make it or have room to make it!
It had been a little over two weeks since our last full inspection of the hives. We didn’t feel we had to do a full inspection since there’s been lots of activity in both hives, but we did want to make sure they had ample space to expand comb if needed. Continue reading
The chicks have been growing incredibly fast! The cardboard nesting box we built for them was once spacious and luxurious for the little chicks, now these little hens are all bunched up and nearly able to jump over the walls when we take the top off to replace their food and water. Luckily for them, spring has come to Northern Virginia early this year! We’ve had many warm days so have taken the chicks into our yard to explore the new surroundings, under strict supervision of course.
This weekend we went to give the chicks fresh food and water and saw a bunch of little hens! All six of them had all their down feathers completely hidden by feathers. They were also continually getting their water dirty and knocking down their perches by pushing at the walls of the cardboard nesting box. I think they were sending us a message, time to move out! Continue reading
Our chicks are now approximately five and three weeks old (if you recall we have two varieties: Araucanas and Golden Comets). We recently made another trip to the local feed store to get some more chick food. The twenty-five pound bag we purchased when we bought the chicks is almost all gone already, so we purchased another three twenty-five pound bags of non-medicated chick food. This should last them until they are ready to go outside and eat “layer” feed.
Chicks Enjoying Their Perch
The chicks have all been developing very quickly (relatively of course, since we have no prior reference, being new to chickens). We’ve noticed that they have all been roosting a lot more on the perches we put in their brood box. They are also a lot bigger and have a lot more feathers. The Araucanas are almost completely feathered with almost no down visible anymore. Continue reading
Its now been about three weeks since we first installed our bees and I wanted to share with you how they are doing. We were a little apprehensive after first getting them installed because we went on vacation for a week three days after installing them and worried something might happen while we were gone and we’d lose our hives. As you’ll see, the bees made it through the week we were on vacation despite our absence!
The day after installing them I was very excited to see how they were doing. Before going into work I went out back and took this video of them. This was about 7:30am yet they were out early flying around getting oriented. One even flew over to say good morning, landing on my hand while I was recording the video. It was a great feeling seeing them there after the first night and not all flying away (I had lots of worries after reading about all the things that can go wrong when introducing a new package of bees into a hive).
Bees On Syrup Feeder
Prior to leaving for vacation we did a mini-inspection of the hives. The first thing we looked for was how they were doing with the syrup. Since we’d be gone for a week we wanted to see how fast they were drinking the syrup to determine if they had enough to last the week we were gone. You can see from the picture that they were all over the feeder but after two days it looked like they’d be fine for another seven with the remaining syrup.
Being new to beekeeping, the most sure fire way to get bees for our hives was to order packages of bees from a bee supplier. Some people order them through the mail, we were fortunate to have a local beekeeping supply company near us in Northern Virginia called Virginia Bee Supply. They bring packages of bees up from larger apiaries and sell them on a weekly basis during the beginning of “bee season” (typically mid-late April – May). We called in early March and while sometimes packages of bees can be in short supply, we were fortunate that this year we were able to get our packages from one of their early shipments (last week of March).
We also needed a smoker, bee brush, and veils which we also ordered from the supplier to be picked up with our bees.
Each package includes approximately three pounds of bees and a queen bee. The package includes a can of syrup that the bees feed on during transportation. Next to the feeder hangs a separate queen cage that contains the queen bee. They are kept separate because the queen was not necessarily part of the group of bees in the package so they need time to get used to her. Continue reading