Flow hive, day 2

Gave the bees a day to discover the Flow honey super, then checked yesterday to see what was going on inside. This is what greeted me when I removed the back cover:

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At this point, it looks like they are cleaning the cells of any debris, and the sugar water I sprayed on it to entice them. It may be difficult to see in this picture, but it looks like they have begun to fill some spaces with wax.

I wasn’t expecting this much action a day after I put it on the hive, but I’ll take it. The view was the same in the other Flow super – bees climbing in and out of the cells, cleaning and preparing.

Adding the Flow honey super

It looks like the temperatures are finally moderating (at least for now!), and the bees are bringing in lots of pollen, so it seemed like a good time to add on the Flow honey super.

After opening and closing the Flow honey super to make sure everything was working, I misted each side of each frame with a 1:1 sugar/water syrup. I’ve read from people already getting honey from their Flow that this is a good way to get the bees interested in the frames. They will clean up the sugar/water and start filling the cracks in the frames with wax, then start on honey production.

The hives were pretty mellow this morning around 11am – it was in the mid-50s and a slight breeze. All the action was at the front of the hive, so with a little smoke, I was able to remove the outer cover and inner cover. I checked the bottom brood boxes and things are going well. They have 70-80% of the frames drawn out and full of brood, honey, and pollen. That percentage seems to be the conventional wisdom of “full enough to add another box to the hive so they can expand”.

Easy peasy to set the honey super on top of the queen excluder, then inner cover on top of that. When setting the outer cover in position, I saw that the knobs on the top wood strip are too long and the outer cover will not sit flat. Next time at the hardware store, I’m going to look for smaller knobs. I may remove the current knobs and see if I can sand them down enough to let the outer cover sit flat.

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The hive without the Flow honey super is my weakest hive. They don’t have the frames in the bottom boxes built up enough for me to add a honey super. I’ll keep monitoring them. If they get a honey super this summer, it will be a traditional 10-frame medium box.

If you’re wondering about the bottom board, it’s a Freeman Beetle Trap bottom board (comes in 8- and 10-frame version). The white thing in the back is the pull-out tray where you add a mixture of oil and water. The bees will hassle the beetles, which fall through a screen and drown. You can replace the oil/water mixture when it gets gross, or strain the solids out of the oil and reuse. I’m happy with the results – have caught hive beetles and some ants. It also catches falling debris from the hive, so the mixture will get scummy if you don’t change or strain it regularly.

All three hives were busy this morning – lots of pollen arriving. Some pale yellow, bright yellow, and orange. All the girls coming back with pollen were loaded down. It’s amazing how they can fly with that much on their legs!

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Sheep? Why not!

Way back when I was in 4H, one of the main things I did was show Corriedale sheep at the Miami County fair. After I aged out of 4H, the sheep were sold and that was the end of that.

Fast forward to me learning how to knit. How to knit socks, in particular. That’s really all I wanted to do, is make socks…until that got boring.

Then I went to Wool Gathering with my Mom. Buy a spinning wheel, she said. Mom, I don’t know how to spin. You’ll learn, she said. Happy Birth-Annivers-mas. Um. Now I had a spinning wheel and spinning accessories. I learned how to spin (thank you Fiberworks!).

To spin, you need wool. Lots of it. Good quality prepared wool is expensive to buy, especially those to-die-for hand-painted braids….mmmm…..

I had a though. THE thought, that usually means an outlay of money, effort, and time. I CAN DO THAT.

It started with “I can dye plain wool that I’ve purchased somewhere. There are lots of books and tutorials on natural plant dyes (because we certainly have a lot of plants around here)” and ended with “I can grow my own wool”. Sigh.

Skipping a bit, I talked to a guy at the Darke County fair who ended up being the son of the guy we got the Corriedales from when I was in 4H, and he would love to work with us to get some good fleece lambs whenever we wanted them.

We picked them up yesterday.

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In no particular order – Bruce (the ram), and his 3 ladies Victoria, Sydney, and Matilda. Corriedales are from Australia, so Aussie names just seemed the right thing to do!

(The green line marks them as the ones Scott thought had the best fleece – there were 20+ lambs in that area of the barn, so he did this to be able to pick them out of the crowd! It’s water soluble and will wear off.)

Corriedale’s are a dual-purpose breed – wool and meat. I’ve read that they can be milked as well, so will be trying that next year when the ladies have lambed. Sheep cheese is good stuff!

The gang will be staying in the barn for a while to get acclimated to our farm, then will be introduced to the goats and the Pyrs. As with all things around here, time and patience are the keys.