Well, yes, it's been a while. Even though I haven't been blogging, I have been checking in on the bees. After my initial inspection post cross-comb correction, I didn't really see much in the way of new comb, but I chalked that up to the fact that the bees were busy rebuilding the other areas in the hive that had been torn up and rearranged.
A couple weeks later, I went back to take a peek and was somewhat surprised to find that they still hadn't built new comb. The brood pattern was looking really good, though, so I wasn't too worried. I think the nectar flow is slowing down now, and I still have yet to feed back any honey that was harvested earlier this summer. I thought I would give it some more time. So when I opened up the hive again today, I was concerned when once again, there was almost nothing in the way of new comb.
One of the bars where comb was cut off. We stuck a small piece on which is what you see protruding. This has not changed in over 2 weeks.
"Oh, look at this nice comb guide. Let's not build anything on it."
So, what are they doing? They are raising lots of brood. I have seen tons of bees coming in with pollen, which is another indicator that they are in brood-rearing mode. Something else I noticed was the lack of drone comb and drones in general. I've seen absolutely zero drones the last two times I checked the hive, and no drone comb at all. When I first started, there was always some drone comb. I'm wondering now if that was because I had a laying worker instead of a queen bee. Anyhow, it seems they've kicked the boys out for the time being. I got a pretty cool shot today of uncapped brood in various stages of development.
The bees were definitely storing some honey above the brood nest, which is a good sign. And guess what else??? I saw the queen again. And not only did I see her, but I got a picture! I know you're probably not as excited as me, but here she is in all her royal majesty:
She's right in the middle, with a larger body and bit more reddish-gold in color
As I went about working the hive and pulling out each bar to check, I felt something strange. It's still hot, but it seemed like I was getting more of a breeze than usual. I looked down only to find that the zipper on my bee jacket was broken, and it was unzipped halfway up from the bottom, not giving me much in the way of protection. And as luck would have it, under the jacket I was wearing the color they say you should never wear when working with bees: black. So what did I do? I stopped to take a picture for you, of course, and then I kept on going. I thought about stepping a way for a minute to try and fix it, but I would have had to take off the veil, and the bees were being fairly cooperative.
Walter T Kelly, this is a FAIL!
I'm a bit concerned about this happening again, and also rather disappointed considering that I bought this jacket in April. Luckily things ended up fine.
When I started this bee adventure, I never imagined that I would want more hives so soon, but I do. Next year I'm sure I'll add at least one. But this year I have another exciting new addition: chickens! I'm not sure when the chicken idea started. I've loved animals since I was a kid, and the dream of living on a farm was always part of my horse obsession. When I started researching backyard bees, I also came across a lot of information about backyard farming, homesteading, and urban chickens. It sparked my interest and I began to do more research. In early July I went to a workshop in Indiana about keeping backyard chickens. The woman who gave the workshop brought four of her own hens along. One of them laid an egg during class, and afterwards we even got to hold them. After that day I knew that I definitely wanted chickens. They are really fascinating creatures with so much personality, and I loved the idea of getting fresh eggs from my backyard.
I am lucky not only to have a supportive family, but also a family full of skilled and handy people. My dad drew up the plans for a coop, and the two of us along with my grandpa have been working on it for the past two weekends. It's going to be a nice sized coop with an attached enclosed run for the chickens. At the end of this I will not only have this awesome place for my chickens to live, but also some new knowledge and skills. Hopefully it will bring me one step closer to being able to build things myself. It's so awesome. I also really appreciate being able to spend that time with my dad and grandpa. It will make me happy when I see it everyday and know that we built it together.
The beginnings of the coop on the left, and my beehive on the right.
Last week I got my chicks and they are incredibly cute. I could watch them for hours. I took a video, but I must warn you that my video skills are basically nonexistent. You might still want to watch though, just to hear their super cute happy peeping. And yes, that is an egg they're eating. Supposedly it's good for them. Rosie has a barking cameo about halfway through.
Right after I took this video, a bee flew into the garage. I think it was on a kamikaze mission. I do feel slightly neglectful of my other creatures now that I have these cute little chicks, but I'm sure things will calm down and I will find a routine that allows plenty of time for all of them.
Lots of excitement going on around here. I love it. After that chicken workshop, we walked across the street to see an all organic, self-sustaining farm that was also home to three flocks of chickens. Walking through the fields with rows of vegetables, pastures full of cows, and into barns full of chickens, I thought my heart would explode with happiness. It reminded me of the feeling I get when I walk into a barn with horses, or driving through the mountains in Oregon. There is just something there that kindles the flame of happiness in me. Something about those places feels like "home." And right now I can't have a horse or a barn, or relocate the Cascades to Ohio, so I'm building this dream in my backyard with bees, chickens, a compost tumbler, and next year, a garden full of fruits and vegetables.
I think someday I'll probably have that farm I dream about, but at least today I can have a piece of it in my suburban (well, practically urban) backyard. Knowing that I have all this life around me is pretty amazing. Knowing that with some luck and some hard work I can keep it going and even expand and grow gives me a hope and a happiness that I struggle to describe. I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.
I've stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it's rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.
I want to go in the back yard now
-From "A Song in the Front Yard" by Gwendolyn Brooks