Bee inspection & second harvest

Yesterday we did a bee inspection and the second harvest from the Flow hive (see the first harvest in a previous blog post).

We did a full inspection of all of the hives (except for one box of the purple hive, as they were being extra cranky). Here’s Jenn starting on the bottom box of the Flow hive:

And the top box:

A frame with a bunch of honey:

A bunch of worker brood:

Harvesting honey from the Flow hive:

Jenn relaxing while waiting for the honey to finish, as we enjoyed the shade and quiet (other than some cranky guard bees):

The haul: six pints of honey (about 3 liters). About half as much as last time, but still not bad for three weeks:

Five years

Yesterday marked the five year anniversary of moving in to our homestead.

It was already landscaped when we bought it, but we have done lots of additional improvements, including planting lots of trees (and removing some too), adding bark and other decorative touches, adding and extending garden beds, and much more.

It’s impressive just looking at the tree growth over these years.

Here are some pictures from five years ago, and the corresponding views today.







Building a cat shelter: floor & roof painting

I thought I wouldn’t do any more till next weekend after Sunday’s painting, but I decided to do more painting yesterday afternoon.

I started by separating the components; this is the first time I’ve removed the walls from the floor since building them. As expected, it’s a little heavy, but not too heavy for me to lift, so that’s a relief for installation:

I then painted the floor a dark brown color:

I also painted the underside of the deck; not entirely pointful, but it’ll help protect the untreated deck boards from ground moisture:

I painted the edges and underside of the awnings with the same color (which closely matches the metal drip strip that will go around the edges):

Plus the roof eaves:

And finally the top of the facades:

(By the way, I made a mistake when painting the front of the facades: the right side in the above picture should be red, not blue. I’ll fix that when doing the second coat.)

Now I’m really done till the weekend (plus or minus a few days; weekdays have no meaning for me).

First honey harvest

Yesterday afternoon we did an inspection of the beehives, and our first harvest of honey from the Flow hive.

Firstly, we added a second brood box to one of the new hives (the one in the foreground), as they were ready for more space. The other new one (next to it) wasn’t ready yet; that one started out behind, so will be another few weeks before they need another box:

Here’s the queen excluder from the purple hive; this grid lets worker bees through to the honey supers, but keeps the queen out, so she doesn’t lay brood up there:

A brood frame with lots of honey (their winter reserves; we won’t harvest that):

On inspecting the Flow hive, all of the frames had at least some honey, so we decided to do our first harvest. Unlike traditional honey supers (which we’ll have on the other hives), the Flow one is designed to make it easy to harvest honey like turning on a tap. By opening the back, removing some covers, inserting a tube, and turning a big metal key, the frames split open, and the honey oozes out. When done, the process is reversed, and the bees refill the cells; no bees are harmed, and they’re hardly disturbed:

Here’s a video of the bees working on the leftmost frame, through the inspection window on the side:


And a video of harvesting from three of the Flow frames:


Harvesting honey; the cheesecloth is to keep bees out of the jars:

A full jar:

While we waited for the honey, swapping out jars as needed, we also put a Ross Round honey super on the purple hive. These are a different kind of special frames, where the bees build their comb in circular frames, which can then be easily packaged into round containers of comb honey:

Close-up of a bee on Jenn’s bee suit:

Our harvest: 7 quarts (about 6.6 liters) of honey:

Not bad for about 3 weeks of work from one hive. Well done, bees!

Irrigation & bark

Yesterday I added irrigation for some of the new trees in the field. I didn’t have enough parts to do all of them, so will have to go to Home Depot sometime to complete that, but at least a bunch of them are now getting watered:

The corkscrew willow tree is putting on some leaves:

As is the tulip tree:

Irrigation for the leyland cypress additions:

And extended the irrigation to two of the new apple trees, but the new third row doesn’t have irrigation yet, since I didn’t have enough pipe:

Here’s one of the apple tree additions:

Blossoms on one of the new apple trees:

I also shoveled a bunch of bark onto the triangle area between the veggie garden, old chicken coop, and back lawn. This area used to be part of the lawn, so has just had dead grass for a couple of years, so good to finally get it barked:

Another angle: