Spring is fast approaching. Which means, lots of spring and summer preparations going on around here. For better or for worse, we are also still working on homestead expansions at the same time. The end result, a to-do list that grows faster than it shrinks and lots of things being half-way done. Speaking of which…
Preparing for Bees: Swarm Traps
Bee traps! We tried keeping bees our first summer here. As you may have guessed from the list of animals in the homestead address back in January, they did not survive very long. Yeah, turns out, when you are supplement feeding bees over the winter the ratio of sugar to water REALLY matters. Anyway, we want to try again but with a different strategy this time.
See, last time we tried bees we bought them and bees are expensive! However, since then, we have been doing some research and came across the work of Dr. Leo. Dr. Leo captures and raises wild bee swarms right here in Southern Missouri. Plus on his site he tells you how to do it yourself!
So I got together with some a friend from Piney Creek Farm and started building some swarm traps. The idea is to build a box that will attract wild bee swarms to them. Once the swarm moves into the trap you can move them into a permanent hive.
The swarm traps are easier to build in bulk so doing with some friends and spreading the wealth is always a good idea. Together we managed to assemble 9 boxes in an afternoon. Sadly, they are not finished. They still need paint and we still need to build the frames that go inside the box for the bees to build comb on. Also sadly, I forgot to take any pictures….sorry… Anyway, our adventures in preparing for bees will continue even after the swarm traps are finished since we will also need to build some new hives so stay tuned.
A New Friend
While I was at Piney Creek Farm I also fulfilled a honey-do from my beautiful wife. Piney Creek Farm has a pretty decent herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. We also happen to have two Nigerian Dwarf does who are rather unfriendly. When you walk up to our goat enclosure, our does practically run to the opposite corner. It has been a sore spot in our homestead that our goats are so difficult to work with.
The goats at Piney Creek though don’t run away, they walk right up to you and want attention. It is a night and day difference. So, I bought a buck of my wife’s choosing, and brought him home. Our hope is multifold, first I have read that have a mellow buck in with skittish does can help calm them down. Two we want to grow our goat herd and having a calm buck there when the kids are born will likely help the kids be more human friendly than their mothers are. Three his presence will make working with the goats more enjoyable and less of a chore.
We will have to see what happens between him and our ladies, they are being a little slow to warm up to each other (not terribly surprising). For now I am calling him Billy Bob (Sarah says the name will have to change but I like it).
Our last ongoing and unfinished project of the week was inoculating more mushroom logs. We did not get tons done on that front. With help from a sister of mine who was visiting, we inoculated 4 more logs. 3 Shitake and 1 Rieshi. At this rate we should have them all done in another week or two. This is a slow to return project but we are really excited for all these mushrooms!