Wednesday, June 21, 2017

While I Was MIA . . .

Here's to share a couple of things that have been happening around our little homestead while I was unable to post.

On June 10th we had a swarm from one of our honey bee hives.  Swarms don't occur every year and this one was unusual in that it happened early in the season.  Papa Pea happened to be out in the yard when he saw the huge cluster of bees in the air in front of the hive right before they took off.

Lucky us, they landed in a small apple tree in the poultry yard where the attempted (and successful) capture could easily be engineered.

If you look closely, you can see the clump of bees in the tree above the stand set up to hold the hive box. 

Papa Pea getting ready to get the bees to drop into the readied box.

A good hard downward shake . . .

. . . and the clump dropped with most of the bees landing on the box.

Good job, Mr. Beekeeper!

So far, the bees seem very happy in their new home and are doing well.

The garden bed of mixed salad greens is coming on fast and strong.  (Radishes, too.)  This is a picture of the very first harvest.  They're oh-so-tasty and we're into our summer routine of a big salad nearly every day now.

On June 15th, another one of our Muscovy female ducks (who made her nest in a nest box in the chicken house) hatched out 10 little ducklings . . . and two chicks.

Here the ducklings are only a day old.

The chicks entered the world earlier than the ducklings (shorter incubation period) and were either kicked out of the nest by Mama Duck or jumped out.  These two have decided another broody hen (chicken) in the house is their mother and have been happily scampering around in the chicken house often seen snuggled on top of the expectant chicken mother who is still sitting on her clutch of eggs.  The hen seems to have adopted them even though she continues to wait for her own brood to hatch.

This newest duck family has been moved to their own little hut where they'll stay until the ducklings are a bit bigger and ready to be introduced to the great out-of-doors with their mother to guide them into the ways of the poultry yard.

Our June weather has still been very cool and wet.  Seems we get rained on at least twice a day even though we've not had any great accumulation.  

The no-see'ums are simply awful this year.  We have to suit up in our bug shirts each night when we go out to close up.  Even so, a couple of nights ago, I got 5 bites on my head and face.  I can only assume they somehow made their way up under my shirt to torment me.  Seems unlikely but it happened and I was not happy.  Oh well, could be worse.  We do have periods during the day when the vicious creatures seem to be napping (or planning their strategy for another attack), and it's possible to work outside without a full set of armor on for protection.  One of these days, their cycle will be over and we'll be free of them.  (Can I count on that?)

More catch-up to come in the next post.


Michelle said...

Well, that swarm made it easy on you! So glad you were able to give them a new box and keep them on the homestead.

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - For sure! Certainly beats the time a swarm landed in the top of a very tall fir tree and Papa Pea was on the tippy-top of our longest extension ladder trying to coax the swarm into a cardboard box because that's all he could carry up the ladder with him!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Keeping bees is an incredibly lovely hobby - I would love to do that one day! We eat alot of honey in our house!

Our weather is likely very similar to yours. Today its pouring down buckets and its been cool and oh so cloudy. If we get a sunny day it just doesn't last. And the nights are cool! Good only because it keeps the mosquitoes away but my garden is lagging. We need sun!

Those ducks crack me up!

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - Before the "bee blight" hit, we would get enough honey from our hives that I used it for everything in place of sugar. We still purchase honey, but don't use it as much as we'd like. Hopefully, we can get these bees of ours built back up to where we'll be producing our own again.

Your garden is lagging . . . good description of mine! Everything has sprouted but just doesn't seem to want to g-r-o-w!

All "baby" animals are pretty cute but in the fowl kingdom, I don't think you can beat ducklings!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Those ducklings are incredibly cute. I don't know a lot about bee keeping. What actually happened there? Did those bees leave one of your bee boxes and attempt to go somewhere else to start a new hive? What would have happened if your husband hadn't gathered them up again? -Jenn

Mama Pea said...

Jenn - When a hive becomes too crowded with bees, they will raise a new queen, and the old queen will take a portion of the bees forming a "swarm" outside the hive. They will fly away to attach themselves to a tree in the area while "scouts" go out looking for a new place to call home. (Usually a hollow tree or some such place. Unfortunately, in our severe winter environment, they won't survive long and will die out.) It's actually a good sign to have a swarm. It means your bees are strong and reproducing at a good rate. The problem is seeing and being able to catch the swarm and install them in new man-made quarters (another hive) which increases the number of honey making hives you have.

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea! :) I've been missing your posts! That's very cool about the bees and I love your photo description! I like the idea, but honestly, don't think I'd have the nerve to keep bees which is too bad because I know how beneficial they are.

The ducklings are adorable! And your salad looks delicious! I have to branch out a little bit from just lettuce and spinach!!!

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Nice capturing of bee's!!! All prepared, and no one was stung :-)

Babies!!! Little ducklings, so cute. Sometimes you wish they just never grow up...they remain little feather adorable weights.


Mama Pea said...

Rain - (Can't believe how long it's taking me to get caught up from when my computer was down.)

Unless you're allergic to the bee stings, the keeping of bees is fascinating and we need more people to try to build them back up from near distinction. Nothing will grow if we lose them.

I harvested a big bunch of spinach yesterday and we had some of it sauteed as a side with our quiche last night. This morning I put a bunch of it chopped in with our scrambled eggs. I think I like fresh spinach almost as much as fresh lettuce!

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - All baby animals (or fowl) are cute but I think ducklings win the prize for the most adorable!