Yes, we are adding the finishing touches for our honey bee welcome wagon, the hives are painted—we asked the ladies whom the hives are named after what colors they wanted: Olga—orange, Kitty green. We went pastel and the colors are actually creamsicle and pesto.
I practiced using my smoker. The beekeeping instructors said that they would rather work their hives without a bee suit than without a smoker. It will be an important tool to keep the bees calm, and I need to know how to light it and make sure I have enough fuel inside to keep it going while I work the colony. The smell of wood smoke make the bees think there is a forest fire and they go deep into the hive and eat hone. Also, if a bee stings you, it releases a phermone that communicates to other bees, “Hey, guys, I found something nasty over here and I stung it. Call in the cavalry to sting more!” If you puff smoke over the sting, that masks the phermone and keeps your from getting stung further.
Just another few weeks and then I get to hive my bees—can’t wait! The instructors said that when we install the bees that we really won’t need the bee suits—they even showed the video and the instructor only had on jeans and a t-shirt—no gloves. They said it’s more important that we be comfortable so if we want to wear the full suit for the installation we can, I wonder what I’ll do. Right now I am thinking I can install the bees without the suit, but that may change when I’m holding a buzzing box full of three pounds of honey bees.
I checked all the nest boxes around Mr. Neil’s property while we were there and they are all unoccupied at the moment. I only found one bluebird pair, but others may be further south waiting out this cold spell.
While digiscoping the bluebird, I had the feeling that I was being watched. Do you see anything in the above photo? Let me bring it closer:
In the middle of all that was a wary woodchuck giving me the hairy eyeball. Good grief, give this guy some floppy ears and he could qualify for a disapproving rabbit.
When we arrived, one of the feeder poles was knocked down and all the feeders empty. I was worried that they bear had returned that destroyed all the feeders last year, but all the feeders were relatively intact, no punctures from large teeth. Some smears on the baffle confirmed my suspision. With all the rain we’ve been having the ground was wet and we had noticed a few weeks ago that it was leaning. It looks like some raccoons tried to climb it and knocked it down. Even so, I think we will get an electric fence for our hives. Once we got the feeder pole back up, the birds moved in right away like the above chickadee.
And I think nuthatches are now my new favorite bird to photograph, they just strike all these great poses that seem to say--photograph me now! Remember from the pileated woodpecker post that it had white on the underside of its bill? Nuthatches have the same thing.