First beehive inspection of 2021

Yesterday we did our first inspection of our beehives of the year, now that it’s warming up enough to open the hives.

We started with the Yellow hive:

Yellow hive

A frame with some honey:

Yellow hive: honey

A brood frame:

Yellow hive: brood

The deep frames in the bottom box were all empty; sometimes the bees move up to an upper box, but they don’t usually build downwards, so we swapped the boxes so they could expand into the empty one:

Yellow hive: empty deep frame

Next was the Turquoise hive:

Turquoise hive: bees on top

A bunch of bees on top:

Turquoise hive: bees on top

A frame with new honey glistening in the cells:

Turquoise hive: honey frame

The Purple hive didn’t look so good:

Purple hive: dead

As we suspected based on activity, the bees were all dead:

Purple hive: dead

Same story on the Orange hive, which we had also suspected was dead… very dead. They may have starved over the winter:

Orange hive: dead

The Hot Pink hive was a bit different — there were several full frames of honey (and signs of robbing, so would have been more over winter):

Hot pink hive: honey but no bees

But no bees; it looks like they had absconded, for some reason; weird, since they had plenty of supplies:

Hot pink hive: honey but no bees

Finally the Cedar hive; it was doing the best of all of them:

Cedar hive

A frame with old honey (blackened from being walked on for a long time) and a few drone cells:

Cedar hive: old honey frame

A brood frame; if you look closely, you might spot some new bees emerging from cells:

Cedar hive: brood, with some emerging

Another brood frame:

Cedar hive: brood frame

We also wiped out and refilled the top feeders with 1:1 sugar water syrup, to help supplement what flowers they can find at this time of year.

We didn’t spot the queens of any hives, but we didn’t look closely; we just wanted to see which ones had survived, and looking for signs of brood and recent laying. We’ll take another look in a few weeks time, weather depending.

So we ended last year with six beehives, but started this year with only three surviving. Not ideal, but we had a feeling that would be the case. We had some concerns about some of the hives, that were a bit weak heading into fall, and we could tell based on activity that it looked like some hadn’t made it. We couldn’t be sure until we opened them up, though.

Here are the remaining hives: Cedar, Turquoise, and Yellow:



Cedar hive:

Cedar hive

Turquoise hive:

Turquoise hive

Yellow hive:

Yellow hive

Finally, a picture of Jenn in her bee suit:

Jenn in bee suit

Cat update for week ending March 27

This week marked the passing of Poppy, the mother of our other outdoor feral cats. She wasn’t a pet cat, but it’s always sad to lose a cat of any kind. We were also visited by a bobcat for the first time (or rather, the first time I’ve seen one on my cameras).

Let’s start with some pictures of Poppy before her death; here she is with Porcini (left):

Porcini and Poppy

And with Spud on the deck:

Poppy and Spud

Here’s a cams app screenshot showing four cats; one in a cabin, one in the feeder, and two in the house:

Cams screenshot of four cats

Porcini looking out the upper back door, and Poppy below:

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy:

Porcini and Poppy

The last ever picture of Poppy, about the time she died; at least it was in the comfort of their heated house:


In the morning, Spud discovered Poppy’s body; it’s good that her offspring saw that, to help them understand that she had died, rather than just mysteriously vanished:

Discovering Poppy

Porcini also saw her:

Porcini seeing dead Poppy

Rest in peace, Poppy.

For the others, life continues. Here’s a cat in a cabin on a rainy morning, watching me walk by:

Cabin cat

Porcini outside the cabins, with Spud and Pommie inside:

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini joined Spud in the left cabin:

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini scratching a tree:

Porcini scratching a tree

Porcini again:


And again, watching me from a cabin:


A bobcat visited our homestead; this is the first time I’ve seen one (GIF):



Another GIF:


I wouldn’t want to encounter this suddenly:



The bobcat also checked out the cabins, with nobody home (GIF):


A still from that; so tall:


It was a busy night at the cabins; a few minutes later, a possum went into the left cabin:


Yawn, feeling sleepy:


It curled up and slept in there for a couple of hours:


The possum leaving:


A cat checks out the cabins, but decides she doesn’t want to stick around:


Good thing, since a raccoon also wanders by a few minutes later:


Finally this week, Porcini sniffing at the kitchen garden this morning (a sunny day, so bright reflections off the window):


Flock Friday for March 26

Chickens and ducks. You know the drill.

A new toy for the chickens: a mealworm treat roller, a container that dispenses mealworms as they peck at it, to keep them entertained for a while:

Chickens with mealworm treat roller toy

Ducks on the pond deck:

Ducks on the pond deck

Ducks on the pond deck

Ducks flapping wings:

Duck flapping wings

Duck flapping wings

Duck flapping wings





Chickens with the treat roller again:

Chickens with treat roller

Ducks amongst the flowerbeds:

Ducks amongst the flowerbeds

Look closely, and you can see more ducks next to the gazebo:

Ducks amongst the flowerbeds

Here are the other ones:

Ducks amongst the flowerbeds

The two groups joining up:

Ducks amongst the flowerbeds

Ducks zooming over the pond to get treats:

Ducks on the pond

Martha is being broody again:

Broody chicken

RIP Poppy, the best feral momma cat

I am sad to report the passing of Poppy, our feral momma cat. She died at around 21:00 last night, peacefully in the cat house. The cause of death is unknown; no injury that I could see. She was about four or five years old; a ripe old age for a feral cat.

She first joined us in 2017, when she chose under our front steps for her four young kittens. Here’s a previously unpublished picture of her with one of her kittens:

Poppy and kitten

She was a very attentive mother to her kittens, bringing them rodents to eat, and always looking out for them. Here’s a picture of her having a rest under a deck while the kittens play:

Poppy having a rest while the kittens play

I like to think that she chose well, as we started feeding them, and provided heated shelters, neutering, and more for them. If you haven’t seen it, you can read more about them joining us on the cats page.

Here’s a recent picture of Poppy on the cat house deck:

Poppy on the cat house deck

And a picture from the most recent Caturday of Poppy by the cabins, keeping an eye on me:


I will miss that Poppy-face.

We buried her this morning, next to our late pet cats beyond the pond.

Rest in peace, Poppy.

New garden cart

I got myself a handy homestead addition: another garden cart. I often have need of another cart, e.g. when my main one is occupied, as it has been with tools for the bee shed project, so I finally decided to get one.

One criterion was I wanted a cart that was similar to my main one, but a bit smaller, specifically for situations like taking tools to a project elsewhere around the homestead grounds, like the bee shed, the shop steps, various garden plumbing projects, etc.

So I chose a cart that is 34×18 inches, and to be different, got it in yellow (which isn’t available on Amazon anymore as I write this).

Some assembly required, as usual:

Cart components

The assembled cart:

Assembled cart

I also got a removable liner for it, to prevent small components from falling out:

Cart liner

I then transferred the tools I’m using for the bee shed to the new cart; perfect size:


For comparison, here are some pictures of the two carts; as you can see, the new one is quite a bit smaller than my older one:

Two carts

Two carts

Two carts

My green cart is one of my favorite pieces of equipment, that I use weekly for everything from hauling tools to chicken food and recycling (which I haven’t been able to do while occupied with tools). I’m sure the new yellow cart will be a valuable addition.