Critters in the Country … Quick Takes, 5-11-2016

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This morning, a pregnant brown recluse crawled under my bed. This afternoon, went to work the bees and saw two huge huge snakes directly in our path. Received multiple bee stings (only two actually got through my clothing, thankfully,) and afterward found a gigantic dog tick on my 3 year old’s head that we’ve apparently been missing during our nightly tick inspections.
Ahhhh, life in the country!

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Thankfully , the upside of living in a place where we have to deal with critters like these is that we also get to deal with critters like these:

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First kids of 2016!

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I did learn a few things from my experiences today, though.  First, never ever ever to get into your bees on a day when it’s supposed to rain and they’re cranky.  Second, if you must get into your bees on a day when they’re cranky, wear proper protective gear, including gloves.  Third, a sting on the finger hurts with the pain of a thousand paper cuts.  Fourth, if the hive body is too heavy for you to lift, it’s best to ask for assistance to avoid dropping it on top of the hive.  Fifth, if you do drop the hive body on top of your hive (ahem) it’s good to have a bee-whisperer with you.  Apparently, my 13 year old is one such person.  When I went running to the woods with tons of angry bees stinging everywhere they could, my daughter was just as cool and calm as could be.  She stuck around to put the cover back on the hive and didn’t get stung once (although she says that one of them did try to sting her.)  One!  I must have pulled at least 30 bees off me, stuck butt-first inside my clothes, and only one even bothered trying to sting her.  Not only did she put the cover back on, but after that experience I couldn’t go near the hives (every time I tried, I ended up covered in angry bees) so she got into the third hive and did the rest of the work herself … without the smoker (which by that time had run out because I still don’t know how to properly light it.)  She never got stung.  She’s amazing.

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Gwenny is due soon, so we’ve been working on getting her used to coming down to the “milk parlor” (ie the carport) for grain every day and training her to stand still for us (“training” may be a bit ambitious… “getting her used to” is more like it.)  I’m hoping that by the time she has a calf, this is old news and she’ll be fine with me (or the girls, if they get their way) milking her.  We don’t exactly have a milk stanchion, so if she decides she’s not too keen on being milked, we won’t exactly be able to force the issue.  Thankfully, she’s pretty mellow so I don’t expect her to give us any trouble.  I love that cow.

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A few pictures from last week’s foray into the hives:

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Inspecting each frame

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Jon would check one side and I’d check the other, looking for queen cells (a sign of a hive about to swarm)

We went through about 30 frames, altogether, just from this one hive

We went through about 30 frames, just from this one hive

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And we DID find a queen cell with larvae inside. If we did nothing, the old queen would most likely leave the hive when the new queen is born, taking most of our bees with her.

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Rather than let that happen, we split the hive, moving the queen and some of her brood (baby bees) and nurse bees to a new hive, to make room in this hive for the new queen.

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Splitting the hive involves grabbing some frames full of bees and SHAKING the bees off of the old frames and into the new hive!!!

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Now we have THREE hives!

running away!

Me running away, leaving Jon to fend for himself after getting stung one too many times.

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