Posted in Beekeeping, Christian living, communication, health and wellness, Hobby Farming, Life, Uncategorized

Baby Bees – Arrived

We are pleased to announce the arrival of our baby bees to the Darg-Kelvin family! After much anticipation and frustration, yesterday we were able to pick up to nucs or nuclear boxes with a queen and some rather unhappy bees who have travelled a long way; been inspected and then travelled to the farm in the back of a pick up.

We had expected them the previous week but thankfully they weren’t ready as the weather was foul! The week they were ready was amazing weather, this week back to foul! So they arrived in perfect conditions.

There was a bit of an issue as one of the boxes wasn’t sealed well and we had some “escabees”! Naomi sat in the back seat watching the escape, giving us a running commentary of how many were finding the  rushing air too much, and ended up blowing off the back of the truck! We had to don our suits as soon as we got home as they formed what is called a beard on the outside of the box and then got a little upset when we shifted them around to their new home. Some settled on Paul’s tool box so we had to take the truck and then the tool box near the garden to try and coax them in to their hive.  At this stage we have opted for the traditional box system but will look into investing in a “Honey Flow” hive from Australia, a system that has taken the bee world by storm!

Carol our mentor came to help us set them up which was much appreciated as there was some nervousness regarding certain aspects of setting up and she was like a midwife, guiding our questions and our concerns!

It was very exciting to watch them start to settle into their new boxes. There were 5 frames sent in the nuc and we set up another 5 frames in each box to begin the process of building wax onto and collecting honey to make brood and build their numbers. We have opted for plastic starter frames and it was recommended we give them an extra coat of wax and we also plugged the edges with wax to stop hive beetles hiding in there (a design problem apparently).

We are feeding them a sugar mixture for a few days just to keep them settled. Our flower garden planted around their new home will be amazing but they have so many honeysuckle vines and a local wild violet that is out and blackberry vine flowers and all the flowering trees on 16 acres, we think we won’t have to sugar feed them for too long!  I am sure we saw quite a few out already searching for flowers after they spent some time circling around their new home orientating. It is amazing that they circle their area getting their bearings on the hive and then take off within such a short time.

We saw one queen in one hive but not the other. So we have to go back in the next few days and have another look otherwise it can be a little problematic and we will have to get another queen asap.

They also had a little “swimming pool” built for them out of an old bird bath. They need water so we just decided to put the bath close by.

It was fascinating to watch as they settled and started immediately to clean up their new home. We watched as a few came out with the dead bodies of their counterparts, either squashed or perhaps overheated during transit.

“Bring out your dead!” Naomi commented, as we watched them toss them off the side of the hive. We left the transport box as the few stragglers found their way into the hive and cleaned off any useful material on the inside of the little box. They were leaving nothing behind and getting rid of anything that wasn’t productive to the hive!

Three bee lessons from today!

  1. Stick close to the source. The ride on the wind might be exciting but will soon send you reeling when it picks up speed! Those bees who thought they should look outside of the hive soon found more than they bargained for! Our God is our source of life just as the queen is. Always stick close to where He is regardless of the temptation to experience the “excitement” of the world!
  2.  Stay on top of things! They are not called “busy bees” for nothing. They are always busy, as should we. Not just flapping our wings either but with purpose and vision for what we are doing! They cleaned up the good things, wax, pollen, any thing else that was beneficial to their hive and left the superfluous or potentially harmful things behind! “Get rid of those things that so easily entangle us,” Paul the apostle says! Those dead bodies were immediately tossed. What do I need to toss from my life that is potentially smelly and disease spreading?
  3. Be prepared! There was no way any of us were going to go near our little bee friends today without the correct clothing. Suits with hoods, to stop them coming up to our faces, every zipper closed and Velcro closed to stop crawling critters as well as leather gloves with elastic to keep them closed. It was soo hot and we looked like space   walkers or rappers in Naomi’s case as her suit was too big and her crotch hung down passed her knees, but it is worth the safety factor. Don’t try to walk this life without the proper clothing! Paul again tells us in Ephesians 6 about the armour of God. So many times we become blase about the fight we are in and forget to put on the armour that helps us fight against the enemy. That is a blog in itself…but just a quick reminder we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers!

So we start our journey into keeping bees! I am sure we are going to learn a lot more as we keep pressing on!

Until next time

Be blessed and keep busy

Narelle

 

 

 

Posted in Beekeeping, Christian living, health and wellness, Hobby Farming, Life, Uncategorized

The Birds and the Bees!

Our bees are coming! Well so they tell us. It is a bit like waiting for an overdue baby! Each time we get excited that they are coming – they tell us our nucs are not ready.

For the uninitiated such as myself, a nuc is not an N – U as in umbrella  and  C as in cat but an N – U as in unicorn and C as in cat or short for a nucleus. It is where a queen has separated and started to form a new colony. They then put it into a box with 5 frames and on delivery you put it in to your waiting brood box.

Then the true wait begins. They orientate and start to gather pollen and nectar to make honey feeding and breeding their babies as fast as they can to inhabit the hive so that they can work to produce their food – honey. Our first aim they tell us this year is just to keep the hive alive. The percentages are extremely high for the death of hives throughout the nation here and across the world.

Without bees we are told there will be some big issues! So we are going to do our best to get these babies through the winter and hopefully enjoy the taste of success as well by being able to rob a little of their efforts for ourselves and our effort.

We purchased a plastic frame we were told is a good way to start and then found a design flaw which allows hive beetles (a pest) to crawl up into the sides and top and bees are unable to get to them. So last week I sat for hours pressing soft wax in to the frame edges to stop the beetles being able to get in to them. We will see if it works.

Paul, Naomi and I also prepared a lovely garden bed for them, sowing an amazing amount of wild flowers so they can feast throughout summer.

I am surprised at the amount of feeding you have to do currently as opposed to years gone by when the hives were virtually set and leave. Now there is quite a lot of “farming” needing to be done including keeping pests etc out and overrunning the hive. Paul is having flashbacks to his childhood when he used to watch his uncle care for over 80 hives. He is amazed at just how much he remembers, which is just as well. However, we are blessed by a lovely neighbour who is also secretary of the bee keepers guild we have joined who has agreed to be our mentor. My phone calls and emails are testament to her patience with us plus she is great at pulling ticks out!

It is all exciting and hard work as we work on the farm putting in loads of vegetables but we are enjoying the harvest of our first spinach and lettuce already! I love that you can taste the difference!

On the home front at the beach house we have been blessed by the two families of doves making their nests on and under the front verandah. What a sweet delight to watch the mummies and daddies do shifts in sitting on the nest and feeding their now hatched young!

They have both chosen prime real estate, one on the head of a stuffed antelope and the other under cross beams under the verandah. Both are out of the elements and away from predators!

Nature has been all over us with ticks and chiggers (don’t ask) but the birds and the bees are a nice bonus! Oh and don’t forget the 5 or so snakes we have found as Paul cleaned the wood pile! Unlike Australia – they were all harmless! We are arranging for an epee pen as part of our beekeeping tools and as well I made up an essential oil mix to keep the ticks at bay!

A recipe I found is as follows:

a base of coconut oil, drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, lavender essential oils. I also added some water to enable spritzing but found on the first attempt I added too much, which watered it down too much. It does need to be reapplied frequently due to sweating and wearing off. I am happier using that then poisons.

So a lot of fun and hard work in the past few weeks, which meant having to make time while the weather is good to get things in to the ground and growing! But which meant little time at the computer to write!

So a change of pace at the beach, and then back over to the farm to hopefully await the anticipated arrival of our Nucs! Will keep you up to date on our journey into beekeeping.

 

Until next time (with photos of our newer babies)

Blessings Narelle

 

Posted in Beekeeping, health and wellness, Hobby Farming, Life, Uncategorized

Beekeeping 101 – Beekeepers “ordinaire”

What do you do when you haven’t a clue? You go back to school, which is what Paul and I did recently enrolling in beekeepers 101 course. The books have come out, internet, you tube and any documentaries we can watch to learn how to keep bees!

We aren’t beekeepers extraordinaire just “ordinaire!” But we are learning what constitutes a healthy bee hive.

Saturday we spent at an “open hive” where you examine what a healthy or not healthy hive looks like.

We have their little houses ready to go and their field planted with wild flowers, mowed and ready to welcome our bee-babies into their new home. I feel like an expectant mother awaiting her babies!

I guess it will be a bit like motherhood though, where no amount of books, information sources and classes can really prepare you for the practical lessons we are about to learn.

The reward will be loads of sweetness which sounds very much like parenthood!

Here are some of our pictures in our space age type bee suits and the group ready to examine hives. The newbies are the ones with the clean suits – everyone else is covered with goop from the hives which I hear can get rather messy – again another allegory to parenthood!

Anyway just thought I would share our latest journey into the world of beekeeping!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle