Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness


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Zinnia is here!

My newest colony of bees arrived a few weeks ago and so far everything is going great! I had my handy, dandy assistant (husband), take some pictures of me installing this package and I’ll share them later in this post.

This year, I got my bee package from Mountain Feed because I’ve been very happy with the nuc I got from them last spring. This package of bees are the carnelion breed and I chose them because they are known for their disease resistance and gentleness. This breed is more likely to swarm if the run out of room but I’m not worried because I plan on giving them plenty of space to grow! You can read more about the different bee breeds and their qualities here.

The month of May has been unseasonable cool and it seems we’ve had more rain than in January…which honestly is great! Thankfully, the weekend I got these sweet bees, it was warm and not too windy.

This year, I picked put the package all by myself, which is kind of big deal because last year I was SO NERVOUS picking up my bees. I was very calm as I drove home with a box of 12,000 bees in my car!

Another thing I did alone was release the queen. I was still VERY nervous because I didn’t want her to fly away. Probably the most difficult thing was getting the bees surrounding her cage off so I could get her out. They were not happy that I was messing with their queen!  I had several bees buzzing angrily around my head as I focused on carefully getting her out!

Thankfully, I was more prepared with all the tools and things went really smooth. She jumped right into the hive box once I got her out of her cage. I didn’t get pictures of the process this year, but if you want to see me releasing “Lorde” the queen from Verbena hive, click here.

Now onto the cool part, pictures of me shaking 12,000 or so bees into their new home. Enjoy!! Continue reading


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Horray for Native Bees!

I’ve been paying more attention to the native bees in our orchard this year and it’s been really neat to watch all the different bees visit and pollinate the blossoms. Some are so tiny, I almost mistake them for a fly or gnat!

High Ground Organics is a local farm that I receive weekly updates from about their CSA offerings and other news of what’s happening around the farm. This week, they included this very cool article about a research study they participated in back in 2012.

I found it super interesting and thought it was “share-worthy” 🙂 Enjoy!

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First Year Beekeeping Lessons Learned

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One of my bees enjoying some honey last summer.

Last February, I excitedly decided to give beekeeping a try. Two months later, I was bringing home my first package of bees! You can read more about that fun day here.

If you’re interested in giving beekeeping a try, this time of year is a perfect time to do your research, and if you decide to go for it, to get your supplies. You can read about how much my first year supplies cost here. It’s easy to find packages of bees for sale via a web search, or contact a local bee guild for bees from your local area.

Speaking of bee guilds, I highly recommend finding out if you have a local beekeeping guild. This website has a comprehensive list, however I didn’t see my local guild. If you don’t see your area listed, do a web search for your city or counties name with “beekeepers guild” after it. Another important thing is to check your city ordinances. Many cities and counties allow beekeeping but may require a permit.

I’ve learned a lot my first year! I hope you find this post helpful and it encourages you to give beekeeping a try! Continue reading


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To Bee, or Not to Bee

 

The bees from Verbena colony finishing up a pollen patty this past October

The bees from Verbena colony finishing up a pollen patty just a couple of months ago.

Earlier this week, I experienced my saddest day as a beekeeper. About, ninety percent of my Verbena colony died. I found myself suddenly scrambling to keep the remaining bees alive! It was not a happy way to end my first year as a beekeeper  😦

Heading into winter, I thought Verbena would be my “strong” colony. I got this colony in April of last year, you can read more about their first day on the homestead here.

Before leaving for Germany for thymus and stem cell therapy, I left both colonies with enough food to last two weeks. When I got home in mid-October, they had eaten it all up, so I fed them more!

At the November bee guild meeting, the mentors suggested it was time to stop feeding so the colonies could reduce in size, just like they do nature. I was a bit nervous about doing this but figured the mentors knew more than a “new-bee” like me did.

The bee guild members, and several books I’ve read said that starvation, or mites are usually the cause of a new colony dying off during the winter. Another concern can be moisture inside the boxes, this can happen during our rainy, wet winters.

To help counteract moister entering the hive, they recommend slightly tilting the boxes of the colony forward so any water that entered would easily run out the front entrance. They also recommended building an “awning” to keep the colony dry.

My awesome husband got busy building a very sturdy, “awning” for each colony, and we had them on before any major rain hit our area. Here’s a picture of the colonies with their “awnings” on top of the boxes.  The bricks on top help keep it from being blown off during windy weather. Continue reading


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What’s up with “Bee-yonce?”

Yes, I’m still beekeeping! There has been activity outside both colonies everyday since I returned from Germany, and that is a good sign! I haven’t checked inside the colonies since I got home. I plan on taking one last peek this Sunday. After that it will be too cold to check on them again until spring.

Here are some pictures of what’s been happening with the Cosmo hive and their queen, Bee-yonce over the summer. This colony was started late in the season because the beekeeper providing these bees had an issue with the queens. We finally got a picture of Beeyonce during the August hive check 🙂

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Thankful Thursday #3 – Tour De Coop

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Is it Thursday already?!? This week has gone by fast! This week I’m so, so thankful I’m slowly starting to feel better after a few rough months!

It’s been such a blessing to feel good. I think the yucky antibiotic “left overs” from my most previous treatment plan are clearing out, and I’ve been feeling about 80% most days during the past week. I’m hopeful things will stay stable for good.

Feeling good allowed me to attend a fun event that I heard about last year called the Silicon Valley Tour De Coop. This FREE, family friendly event is a bike ride throughout various Bay Area neighborhoods. Urban homesteaders open their back yards for the entire day, and share gardening, chicken keeping, beekeeping and other homesteading tips.

My husband and I enjoyed the last weekend of summer biking through the Rose Garden neighborhood near downtown San Jose. He went to high school in this neighborhood, so it was fun to tour his old “stomping grounds.”

I’m thankful for all the volunteers who organized this cool event, the wonderful homesteaders who warmly invited us into their yards, and all the friendly attendees we met on the tour.  Take a look at a few pictures from the ride! View the pictures →

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Feed me, feed me!

I attended a beginning beekeeper summer check-in class in mid-June, and terms like dearth, robbing, and right sizing were explained. At the time, I didn’t realize how quickly I would experience all these things! Today’s post is about dearth, and the importance of feeding a new colony, something I kind of learned the hard way!

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