The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

New bee brood in January

Honeybees with a bit of capped broodA beautiful sunny afternoon on Monday gave me a chance to dip into our two remaining hives.  I knew they were both alive because I've taken to holding my ear up against the lower brood box now and then to listen for a happy hum, but I didn't want to risk another hive dying of starvation.  Just like at this time last year, both hives seem to have barely eaten anything since I checked on them near the end of December, probably because they're down to such a small cluster, so starvation is no longer an issue.

Honeybee on a bare handThe east hive surprised me by having a small nursery already in action!  A few capped worker cells and more uncapped larvae and eggs suggest the hive is already bulking up for spring.  I'm thrilled that they're building their numbers, although a few dead larvae on the floor of the other hive's brood box suggests cold weather put a damper on the other colony's early brooding efforts.

Meanwhile, I've decided to take advantage of winter's minimal bee colonies to learn to work the hives with no gloves.  I hate to squash bees, especially when their numbers are so low, but clumsy gloves make bee kills inevitable.  (It's also a lot easier to take pictures without gloves on.)  During my first attempt, I got stung once on my thumb, but I was surprised to realize that my tough fingers barely register any pain from a bee sting.  And most of the bees who landed on my hand just chatted for a while, then flew on, so I guess I'm on the right track.

Our homemade chicken waterer is the perfect way to get your chicks off to a healthy start.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm sooo jealous. I have a mild allergy to bee stings so I can't keep my own hives, and I certainly couldn't handle them without gloves!
Comment by Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook Tue Jan 25 11:16:38 2011
We'll see how jealous you are when I go bare-handed when the hive is chock full and get stung a lot. :-)
Comment by anna Tue Jan 25 18:24:42 2011

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