Thursday, April 24, 2014

Swarm!

Yesterday the kids and I were outside working on the garden (they were actually on the slip and slide). All of a sudden Ethan told me to look at the bees.   They were going crazy in a huge tornado-like swarm.    I knew right away they had to be swarming because we had already known they might since  they had been building swarm cells.  So, we immediately called for help.   A local beekeeper walked us through what to do and headed to our house with a new hive and his equipment.   Within 10 minutes the whole swarm of bees was in a tight cluster on the branch of a pine tree, about 30 feet high! Chad got out the hose and got them wet.   That is supposed to give you some more time because it makes it harder for them to fly off.   After about 30 minutes, however, the cluster broke up and they started swarming around the yard really low.   Then they headed back to their hive!   We were then able to look for the queen and split the colony and make it two hives.   Hopefully everything was done right and we now have 5 hives.   We'll get less honey this year but next year we will have a whole extra hive.   Swarms are supposed to be much stronger than packages of bees as well.   It was such an exciting and educational experience!

I found this post very informative as to why bees swarm.  


This is the cluster of bees up in the tree.  It's hard to see, but, it was about the size of two footballs.

This is after they had started trying to go back into the hive.


In the center you can see an empty queen cell.  They look like a big peanut.


This is a frame from the brood box that looked great.


In the upper corner you can see another queen cell.



We also learned from some mistakes we've been making unknowingly.   We ruined a few frames because we had too much space between them.   We also switched to foundationless frames for several reasons.    They drew out the comb beautifully except for they were all drone cells.  So, we're going to give them a starter strip of foundation to guide them. 


This is the new hive.


Here is a video of when they started to swarm and go into the tree. 
video

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hummers!

We've been watching the map that shows hummingbird sitings as they migrate.   We knew that they were spotted in E. TN this week so we were ready!   This morning Christy yelled that she saw one at the kitchen window so we all started watching.   Sure enough...this little guy stuck around for a lot of the day.   I've never seen a hummingbird so close.  I've always just seen them whiz past my head.  I didn't realize how gorgeous they are! 








Thursday, April 3, 2014

Goings on...

We continue to see so many different birds in our yard.  It's so fun to watch them!  There are male and female Red Bellied Woodpeckers that come by everyday.


Lots of little Wrens.


I'm reading Large Family Logistics and so far it's helped a lot.  We've implemented afternoon chore time instead of trying to get things done in the mornings.  It's made a huge difference for us.




We found the bottom of a bird bath in our woods so we bought a tray to go on top. 






Ethan caught a Brown Thrasher.   This guy is really fun to watch! 



We just started seeing these Brown Headed Nuthatches the other day.   They are really cute.




It seems like we've skipped spring and gone straight to summer!   That means lots of time playing in the water hose!





Sometimes big brothers are awesome!


Sometimes they can be a little annoying.


Well, very annoying.



We also got two more packages of bees and set up two more hives.   Our first two hives seem to be doing so good.   I'm so excited to get some of our own honey this year!   


Nature Study

So, it's been a rough few weeks.  Monday morning I felt like I just could not do "school".   That's when I knew we needed to head for the hills.   The kids wanted to go through Cades Cove so that's what we did.  I'm so glad!  It was a great day and we all learned so much!  It was so warm so the kids had fun splashing in the creeks.   The kids each found some things of interest to them and then we looked them up in Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study.  Then the kids did some nature journaling.   The rangers were out with lots of fun stuff for the kids, such as pelts and  old-fashion toys.   As we sat on our blanket trying to read, a little sparrow (I think) sat on a branch singing.   Every time she started to sing she threw her head back and closed her eyes.  It was so adorable.   We all needed the refreshing time together and to be in nature, reminded of God's glory and love.  













The bird that kept singing for us.   I just thinks it's face is adorable!















One of the highlights of our trip was seeing this pileated woodpecker!   It's one that we have never seen before.   We saw the male and female.