Several inches of snow

Yesterday was predicted to have 2 to 5 inches of snow, but nothing much eventuated during the day:

However, in the evening it picked up a bit:

And continued overnight, culminating in almost 8 inches this morning:

The camera that watches the front of the cat shelter was buried:

Another angle; the front of the cat shelter is in the middle of the photo:

The chickens were not impressed:

And once again the chicken run roof netting didn’t fare too well:

We took Rory out for a walk in the snow; she loved it. Here we’re checking on the beehives; her one chance to get so close to them:

The chicken coop:

Frozen pond:

View of the pond arbor, brown gazebo, and trees:

Snow on a tree near the white gazebo:

Our new apple trees might be regretting coming here:

Rory really loved scampering in the snow:

Bird feeders:

The cat shelter again:


It unexpectedly snowed overnight. Apparently areas above an elevation of 1,000 feet around the Portland region received some snow… and we’re at 1,100 feet.

Only about an inch, and it’s raining now, so it’ll probably be gone later today. But still fun to enjoy it while it lasts.

The feral cats are cozy in their heated shelter:

But the weight of the snow tore down the end of the chicken run roof netting:

So I went out with a staple gun and ladder to fix it:

Snow on the brown gazebo and trees:

Snow on the white gazebo:

The pond deck arbor:

The beehives:

Notice the clearer patch in the center of the roof, from the heat of the bees clustered inside:

Winter bees

I posted a photo of our beehives on my new personal blog, but thought I’d cross-post here too.

Our beehives seem to be surviving the winter so far. I just refilled their feeders (2:1 sugar syrup), which supplements their stored honey if needed:

A bonus pic; a closer view of the purple hive. There are some dead bees in the entrance, but that isn’t anything to be concerned about. Bees don’t live long, and they just haven’t had the energy to take out their dead yet. If the hive survives, they’ll clean up in spring:


It’s been a little while since my last blog post. I haven’t done much around the homestead of late, with the rainy and cold weather, and lots of Dejal work to do.

One tiny thing was to repair a screen covering a hatch under our bedroom closet. The outdoor cats (or some other wild animals) had ripped off the old screen:

So after evicting the kittens, I recently repaired it with three layers: hardware cloth, insect screen, and more hardware cloth. Not the prettiest job, but that should prevent any further intrusion:

We’ve had a lot of wind, so this morning I set up an ad hoc windbreak in front of the beehives, to give them some shelter, using some bits of junk I had lying around:

Speaking of, we’re currently feeding the bees some 2:1 sugar water, though they aren’t taking much, since they’re largely dormant, except on warmer days (they also have their honey stores to sustain them):

Bee inspection & varroa test

I joined Jenn for another bee inspection the other day. The main mission of this inspection was to do a “sugar shake” or sugar roll test to check for varroa mites; a common pest on all beehives. It’s a kinda amusing test — scooping about 300 bees into a jar, roll them in powered sugar, shake them vigorously, pour them out. Basically treating bees like liquid. Yeah, they get a little cranky at being scooped & shaken, but it doesn’t hurt them. 

We had a few mites, unsurprisingly, but not too many. We’ll do the treatment once the weather cools off; can’t do it in this heat.

We also removed the honey supers, since they need to build up supplies for their winter survival. We won’t harvest any honey this year, as expected, but if they survive the winter, they should be able to provide lots of honey next year.

A couple of nice combs of honey, for the bees to eat over winter:

Sugar-coated bees, returned to the hive after the test (don’t worry, the others will clean them off):

Worker bee cells:

More honey (from the other box), on a foundationless frame:

So pretty holding it up to the light:

Beehive inspection

We inspected the beehives today. Usually Jenn does this by herself, but this time I helped out, since we were anticipating adding honey supers.

Here’s a frame with a bunch of brood (worker cells), and a little honey in the upper corners:

A bunch of honey. Note, all of this honey isn’t stuff we’ll harvest; it’s in the two brood boxes, for the bees to eat over winter:

Look what we spotted — the queen! I circled her on the picture. It can be tricky to spot the queen, amongst the thousands of other bees (plus she likes to hide away from the light); usually we just see the eggs she lays:

A foundationless frame, where the bees make their own comb, with a little honey:

Lots of honey, with some damaged cross-comb, where the bees connect two frames:

Another great-looking foundationless frame of honey:

Adding a honey super. This is a Flow box, designed to make it easier to harvest honey; we have one Flow hive (for liquid honey) and one regular hive (for comb honey):

Both hives, each with a honey super:

Beards are cool

The bees are “bearding” this morning: some hanging out above the entrance.  Totally normal behavior on hot or humid days, to help them regulate the temperature inside. Today is rather muggy, so that’s probably why.

Bee inspection

A few pics from a recent inspection of the beehives, when we added a second box to the purple hive. (Captions are now below the photos instead of above, as in previous posts.)

Jenn inspecting the purple hive; it’s amost full, so time to add another box.

Both hives now have two brood boxes, which is full-size; once they get mostly full, we’ll add a queen excluder (a screen the queen can’t get through) and honey supers (smaller boxes that will contain honey, no eggs).

Checking on the second box of the other hive; they’ve barely started on it yet. The black is the plastic foundation, the white is where the bees are starting to draw out the comb.

Bees: inspecting the hives

The sun came out for a while, so we did the second inspection of the bee hives (not counting the initial installation).

One of the boxes was getting sufficiently full, so we added a second 8-frame deep box to give them more space for brood.

Here’s some drawn-out comb, with honey in the upper corners:

The other side is still being drawn out on top of the darker plastic foundation:

A bunch of worker cells:

More honey:

Not sure about these… might be drones or worker cells:

An example of a foundationless frame, where the bees build the entire comb, attached to a bar at the top:

Beecoming beekeepers

Time for another phase of our homestead: we are now beeks — beekeepers.

This morning we picked up two nucs (nucleus hives) at the “local” bee supply store in Wilsonville (about an hour away, but pretty much everything is from our place):

The nucs are four-frame ones, half the size of our hive boxes, giving them each four empty frames to expand into before we need to add another box:

Here’s Jenn examining one of the frames. One or two bees there, all happily doing their thing:

After removing the four frames, there were a bunch of bees left in the bottom of the box:

So they got dumped in too:

Jenn in her bee suit (and you can see the new chicken coop in the background, which will give you an idea of where the hives are located):

Bunches of bees:

A frame from the second nuc:

Both hives populated, with sugar water feeders (plus pollen patties inside):

Settle in, girls! I hope you like your new homes.