This year I had two planting’s, the first was with seeds older than 4 years, some came up, green beans and corn mostly but the germination rate was low.

The second planting was with seeds from this year and all is going fairly well. My nemesis, the weeds, are pretty rampant.

I was keeping up with the weeds pretty well until we had to leave for a week and then it got crazy but even with the weeds the garden plants seem to be doing pretty well.

Bee Equipment

I still haven’t figured out the best way to store all the hive bodies and for that matter really the frames with foundations. They are susceptible to mold, bugs and are easily damaged. Being well ventilated is supposed to help with moths and has seemed to work but still there are lots of problems.

I have found a really good way to store all the other gear like the hive tools, veil, protective clothes and lighters. I used to keep them in a plastic box but they are flimsy, the lid is easily knocked off and being one big container it can be difficult to keep organized.

A big tool box works well.

It’s durable, has wheels, a tray for hive tools and brushes and the top lid has two compartments I put lighters in. In addition to the tray being used for normal tools it is a good place to put my wedding ring if I forgot to take it off in the house, I never go in a hive wearing a ring just in case I get stung and there is swelling, it’s not worth the risk.

Bee Hives

Quite a bit late but earlier there was work to be done with the hives. Old foundations had been ruined and new ones needed to be installed.

When using new frames I used to worry about them being completely square but now I just estimate, with the foundation in place it’s easy to get close, I do like to shave away any edges on the frames after separating the wood with a chisel.

If at all possible using a brad nailer helps tremendously, I like to put two on the top and bottom vertically and one brad horizontally, if you put two horizontally the wood will probably split.

I don’t have a picture but there is a strip of wood that holds the foundation (wax part) to the frame (wood part), I use a stapler to fasten it down.

You can get wire to secure the foundation but using bobby-pins is much easier. I go to the dollar store and buy the cheapest I can, the wife doesn’t like me to use hers.

Using air tools new frames can be put together pretty quickly.

Spring Garden

I haven’t posted for a while for a few reasons, mostly because I got out of the habit because of a few disappointing events regarding posts. One of which I did a lot of work documenting putting up an electric fence and lost it all. Secondly the weather was crap, we had lots of late freezes and snows along with a lot of rain.

However since then, just before April, we got some new chickens.

I normally get straight runs, meaning it’s a mix of male and female but this time I just got females. All the roosters normally got canned but as far as resale it’s the eggs and the hens can get canned when they are done laying. I do think it’s good to have roosters but I still have four.

The garden is in.

Last year I mentioned wanting to not till but under my conditions and abilities it didn’t work so I bought a tiller just wanting to hedge my bets on having a good garden.

Philosophical ideas on gardening are good but if you don’t get usable product the philosophy is useless. It is better to grow your own vegetables with chemicals than to buy from big business. That being said I’m still planning on organic fertilizers and not spraying pesticides but tilling is getting done right now.

Bees in Winter

I haven’t posted for a few days because I haven’t done much, the weather has been cold and wet, neither of which I like to get the boy out in.

One of my concerns in this type of weather are my bees, on the few warmer days they fly and use a lot of energy. I do feed them with pollen substitutes like Bee-Pro. I like Bee-Pro because I can put it in my shed and they come get it keeping the hive cleaner.

However when the temperature drops bees can and do get stranded. As silly as it is I picked up several bees that got too cold to fly back home and put them in a jar.

I brought the jar, with a lid, in the house, and warmed them up. After they started flying I took them back to the hives, opened the jar and they flew out, hopefully home.

Miserable weather is a good time for putting honey in jars as well.

One advantage to doing this in the winter is that there are fewer ants to deal with if clean up isn’t perfect.

Feeding Bees in Winter

If everything is right you probably don’t have to feed your bees but it’s good to check on them and in my book it’s better to feed than not. It’s been so cold I haven’t opened up the hives for a while. I listen from time to time and thought I had lost one because I couldn’t hear any buzzing but when I opened them today (38 degrees) found both hives alive. However in one hive the bee cluster was at the top of the frames. Generally bees feed up so it scares me they were at the top.

I fed both hives in two ways, one was the sugar water. I’m not sure how that’s going to work since it’s supposed to get to 5 degrees tomorrow but I think that is towards Wednesday so they should have 24 hours on it anyway.

The other way I fed them was putting a protein patty in the hive.

I wish I had taken pictures when I had the top of the hive off but all I could think about was getting it closed as fast as possible.

As a hive normally is there isn’t room for a patty so a spacer has to be made, about one and a half inches high.

The top and inner cover of the hive comes off and the spacer goes on.

A patty then gets set on top of the frames. I actually put half of this in each one because hive beetles eat it and lay eggs in it, I’ll add more if needed.

Unfortunately taking the hive apart breaks the seal so after I had the hive back together I taped the joint.

The crack between my spacer and hive body could be pretty hard on them so duct tape was put around the top of both hives.

The black at the top is the tape. Hopefully they will make it through the winter.

Freezing Temperatures and Livestock

I am in what is the southern United States, freezing isn’t rare but it’s not continuous either. I’m sure that those that are farther north have better methods for taking care of livestock but here are a few ideas.

My chickens have electric water heaters mostly because the volume is small, small volume equals quick freezing.

Many people want portable chicken coups but if you do have a portable coup powering heaters may be a problem if you live where it freezes. I would also consider lighting in winter months, I run lights until 9:00 pm or so because it most definitely effects egg production. Two reasons to have electricity to your coup regardless of whether it is a portable chicken coup or not.

My horses are not where I can get electricity so dealing with their water is a challenge. Since it’s 140 gallons it freezes a bit slower and I can use a sledgehammer to break the ice.

This week however we have 4 days of the week with the lows in the single digits. When it is this cold if I can I give them water in a bucket from the house.

Obviously this won’t work if you have many animals or can’t keep rotating buckets due to time.

Keeping hoses drained is very important, if you can put water in the water trough it will melt some of the ice and give more mass to the container slowing freezing.

My property slopes slightly so draining isn’t hard but even then I had some ice in the hose that formed in a depression I neglected. When I got the ice cleared the horses appreciated the water.