Thursday, August 09, 2007

Catching a Bee Swarm

Haven't posted in a while due to the business of farming, family, and school, but thought I would put a link to a video of my father, Bob Wilkes, and me catching a swarm in our front yard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tractor Woes

The farm came with a 1953 Ford Jubilee tractor that ran great and had several implements. It is very handy to have around, especially for hauling wood and turning the large garden. So, being without the tractor for the past few weeks has not been easy. The starter went bad, I thought, and I got a new part from Ebay that took forever to get here. It came today, and I put it on after some effort only to find out that it still wouldn't start. The engine is frozen up somehow. It was running fine when I parked it, so this is rather odd. I tried towing it with the truck while Galen was riding the tractor and had him put it in gear ... the wheels on the tractor stopped completely and just slid while I dragged it with the truck. Oh well, it looks to become a yard ornament. What do you do with an old tractor that doesn't work anymore?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ant Boat Races

You never know what boys will come up with. Galen designed a 2x4 scrap outrigger with sticks for masts and leaves for sails and built two of them, one for him and one for Sullivan. Then they raced them down the creek from footlog to footlog. Later they were digging in the dirt in the barn and found some big ants with big pinchers that can grab onto your finger. For some reason they decided to put them on their boats and float them down the creek.

This is "ant boat" racing:
  • put your ant on your boat
  • put the boats in the water at the same time at footlog #1
  • if your ant falls off before reaching footlog #2, you lose
  • if both ants fall off or both ants stay on, the first boat to footlog #2 wins
Stop by if you are in the neighborhood and join in the fun. Maybe I can get a picture of the boats and ants tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Of bees and such

I try to keep a bee log (I suppose that could be a more accurate use of the word "blog"). Here is what I have from Winter/Spring 2006-2007:

Finished last season with 13 hives, 3 were swarms I had caught. There was little to no fall honey flow, so I fed the bees the best I could going into the winter. Most hives were very light and not expected to make it. They were all treated with apistan strips and with menthol soaked paper towels Papa gave me.

Lost the 3 swarms before winter had really begun. Lost 2 hives following the first cold snap in December – they had honey, assumed they froze as I found the cluster intact. Lost 2 more hives following a 6 week very cold spell in late January and February – they had stores, assumed they froze as I found the cluster intact.


· checked hives during a warm spell, 4 hives were okay, two were very weak with a handful of bees each. One of the weak hives had some brood and a queen, the other had no queen, so I put them together with newspaper. They joined forces, but were still weak. That leaves 5 hives from the winter.

· Bought 6 hives (brood plus one super) from Gene Pierce in Millers Creek for $80 each. Hives were of varying strengths, but all in good shape with new brood and about 3-4 weeks ahead of mine. Mine had not really broken cluster yet.

· Received 8 packages on March 31. One queen was dead in her cage, so I put that package with the weak hive. Installed the others, 6 with internal section feeder, all with entrance feeders. Fed 15 gallons of syrup over the next two weeks to packages.

· Extreme warm spell the last week or two of March accelerated blooming and all hives were active, though ones from Pierce were very active, looking like the strongest wanted to swarm.

· Two of my wintered hives are very strong with brood rearing in full swing in the bottom brood chamber and two are in good shape, but all in second super, so I swapped the shallow and deep to encourage them back into the deep.

· For the strongest hive, I put a honey super on it and pulled alternating racks up to the new super to try and raise the honey ceiling to prevent swarming. Will see if it has any effect.

· Removed meds from two hives in Mountain City. Swapped the two brood chambers on biggest hive. Bottom board is rotten, need to replace. Both hives are very strong with lots of stores and need space.

· Extreme cold spell after the warm slowed things down.


· When removing queen cages, I discovered two queens were dead. Both in cages, one had been opened, but she was apparently already dead. The other had not been opened. I pulled fresh brood rack from strongest hives and put in two queenless hives, hoping they would make a queen. Brushy Mountain is sending me 3 new queens, so I will put them in upon arrival and check for signs of queen rearing. Will use the extra queen to make a split.

· Put a new bottom board on double deep in Mountain City and added a honey super to the other. Got a speeding ticket on the way to Boone to pick up Margaret, 62 in a 45!

· One of the queenless hives must have a queen from somewhere because it has brood. I added a queen to the other. Used the remaining two queens to make splits, one in a nuc and one in a full hive.


· Added another honey super to my strongest hive from Wilkesboro. Bees were hanging out of the hive even though it already has a brood and two supers, so I added a third.

· The nuc is not doing well. Appears to be making lots of queen cells and I couldn’t find a queen. The split in the full hive is doing well.

· One of the queenless hives appears to have a laying worker. I think they killed the queen I installed. Need to get another queen.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


A summer afternoon break in the swing, resting from the constant farm chores. It is not so green right now, but we are looking forward to the warming of the soil and the renewal of life.