Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness

Robbing and Swarming!

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CRAZINESS! That’s a good word to describe my bee colonies this September!  It’s been very unpredictable, and they are keeping me on my toes!

As you know, California is experiencing the worst drought in over a century. It is dry, VERY DRY out here. It has been for the past three years. This is the hottest summer I remember since I moving here in 1996, we’ve had several over 100 degree days. The drought means nectar flow season is completely messed up.

Fruit trees bloomed 2-3 months early, and although we typically don’t get rain from May – October, we are normally able to water ornamental plants that provide nectar and pollen for honeybees and other pollinators. This year, many people stopped planting or watering their ornamental plants; that caused the flow of nectar to be less than usual and it also stopped earlier in the season, at least two months early. When nectar flow ceases it’s known as dearth, and although dearth happens every year, the drought conditions have made nectar extremely scarce this year and for the past few years.

Last year, my colonies didn’t experience any robbing. My husband made robbing screens to help protect their entrances from yellow jackets and bees from other colonies who might try to steal their honey.

This year is a completely different story!  I was going to do one last hive check of the season on September 20th, a 99 degree day! Not a fun time to be in a bee jacket and hood 🙂

When I approached Zinna colony I  noticed some weird behavior outside one of the boxes. I quickly realized that other bees were trying to get in and rob the sugar syrup in their feeder and honey inside the colony. Thank goodness I caught it early, otherwise the robbing bees may have overtaken this colony. Here’s pictures of what the early signs of robbing look like: View the pictures →

This gallery contains 9 photos


Our Rainwater Harvesting System

We got our system installed in January, before we had significant rainfall. The husband designed, and set up the system himself, I told ya he was handy 🙂 We anxiously awaited the rain, because we were ready to collect 3500 gallons of water….yeah, we got a little crazy!

Our average amount of rainfall is usually around 30 inches. As of today, almost every tank is FULL, from only about 15 inches of rain! Our rainy season usually ends by April, so we’ve probably collected the max. amount for this year. We anticipate that we’ll use all the water this summer. So without further adieu, here are pictures of our do-it-yourself system. Continue reading


Rainwater Harvesting Workshop

Today, the husband and I attended a free rainwater harvesting workshop held at a local garden center. We wanted to learn more about this conservation method, since our last couple winters have been unusually warm and dry. If we purchase tanks this weekend, we’d get a 15% discount! Bruce, from Bushman, was presenting the information. He said when designing a system, it’s important to remember the four C’s – Catchment, Conveyance, Containment, and Consumption. Thankfully, he went into detail about each “C”. I took notes to help us design our system, and now I’m sharing them with you! Continue reading