Sunday, April 26, 2009

Introducing... Chickens

We just became "chicken-keepers". Here are a few pictures introducing the new chicks at six weeks:
"Ginger" is a Buff Orpington and is very friendly. She is the first one to come running to greet people. Click here to see Ginger in 3D (anaglyph 3D glasses needed)

Above is Beau-Peep. When she was a young chick, she looked just like one of those marshmallow Peeps you see around Easter. She is a Red Star and is friendly and even tempered. Click here to see the 3D image of Beau (anaglyph 3D glasses required).

Next is Gracie. She is named Gracie because she lays blue and green colored eggs or "Easter Eggs". She is an Araucana/Americana and is very shy and skittish around people and does not like to be handled. She is a beautiful bird and notice she has green skin on her legs and feet! Click here to see the 3D image of Gracie (anaglyph 3D glasses required).

This is Leia, a Speckled Sussex. She is a little shy, but will take food from your hands and will lay brown eggs. Click here to see the 3D image of Leia (anaglyph 3D glasses required).

Finally we have Ankita the Plymouth (Barred) Rock. She is friendly and even tempered. She will also lay light brown or pinkish eggs. Click here to see the 3D image of Ankita (anaglyph 3D glasses required).

Below is a photo of their new chicken coop and run:
We have to net the top of the run, to keep the hawks and eagles from stealing our chickens. The coop was painted to match our barn.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Queen release and other troubles

Well last weekend was cold and rainy and we weren't able to check up on the newly installed colony. I took today off and it was warm and dry, so we went to check to see how the bees were doing. We expected to see all the burr comb in the empty space where the queen cage was hanging, but we didn't expect to see the new Queen still inside the cage! To our horror the bees did not eat through the marshmallow and release her in 13 days. Instead they built burr comb over the opening, sealing her inside.

She was still alive and being fed by attendants through the screen. We quickly released her and she dropped into the hive with her attendants. But was it too late? Some of the burr comb had a new queen cell. It takes 16 days to produce a new queen, but when did they give up on the caged queen and decide to produce another? Will she be accepted now? Will she begin producing? Stay tuned for another update next week.

On to the surviving colony from last year. This hive was weak, but somehow survived the winter. There was new brood, but we did not find the queen. The brood patterns looked good and there was still some stored honey remaining. We hope this colony is now past the worst and will recover fully. Here is a picture of the brood from today's inspection:
Brood Pattern

We had some good rain last week and everything is greening up nicely. The dandelions are in full bloom and our fruit trees are just about to pop. We hope this translates into a good nectar flow soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Fresh Start

We got a new package of Minnesota Hygienic bees and put them in this weekend. Between the cloud cover and rain, there was only a narrow window where it was warm enough and we took advantage.
New Bees
See a 3D version of this picture here.

Removing the Queen
Removing the queen cage from the package.
View a 3D version of this picture here.

Dumping the Bees
Shaking the bees into their new home.
View a 3D version of this photo here.

BTW, Becky was the excellent sterographer for these pictures.