Miss Scarlett's Homegrown Produce, Texas-made Gifts & More

  (San Antonio, Texas)
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Hive loss over winter

This year has not been lucky for me as far as beekeeping.  However, as a new beekeeper, I can say the year has brought about several new "learning experiences" for me.  I got to try my hand at extraction twice this year, the first time being quite a bit more unorganized and messy than the second.  Unfortunately both of these extractions were the result of two hives lost.  The first was lost as a result of being queen less for too long, which caused the worker bees to begin laying eggs. This is called a drone laying colony, and once this happens, it is a difficult task to reverse it.  This happened in October, and being so close to winter I decided it would be to difficult to try and salvage it.  Besides, I still had two more hives, one of which needed to be split in the spring anyway.  The second loss was totally unexpected, in fact, the hive was thriving and doing well upon my last inspection- I even spotted the queen- not always an easy task.  I'm still not sure what happened, but there was very little to no larvae left in the hive, and some of the honey had begun to be robbed.  Perhaps it was mites, or ccd.  Maybe they needed more room and absconded.  I did read about a lab where you can send a sample of your dead bees and they will tell you how they died.  I think that would be worth the money it cost to have them sent.  One of the most important lessons I learned this season, is that when you feel like there may be a problem with your hive- TAKE ACTION! Whether it is opening the hive regardless of the conditions outside ( the first hive I lost because I wasn't doing regular inspections due to the scorching late summer heat, the second I wasn't opening the hive because it was winter and I didn't want to break up the bee cluster or expose them to the winter chill), or going on the computer and researching whatever you think is strange, to gain more insight to the possible problem.  Not doing so can set you back on your apiary goals as well as being very costly.  Hard lessons to learn, but at least my bees left me a little liquid gold to sell to recover my losses and replace the lost hives next spring...

 

I suppose the next thing I should consider is which type of bees to get.  My first colony of BeeWeaver bees, were bred in Texas and are a buckfast hybrid.  They quickly turned very aggressive and I swore that I would never buy bees from Texas again.  The following year I purchased Russians and Italians from Kelley Bees.  These bees were much more gentle, but they are also the two colonies that died, leaving only my Texas 'killer bees', as I call them.  Maybe there is something to be said about aggressive bees being better survivors.  Also, the BeeWeaver bees are said to be mite- resistant.  Maybe I will try again with BeeWeaver bees, and suffer the wrath.  I have also heard from another local beekeeper that Carnolians are a pleasure to work with.  I think I will try a split this spring and use a Carnolian queen.  Hopefully, that works out ok.  In the meantime, off to order a new package of bees before they are sold out


 
 

Overveiw of 2013 Preps

Since we have a Facebook page and a website, I suppose the next thing to do is to begin a blog.  Well, here it is folks, our first blog entry.  I just wanted to write this to give you a little preview of things you may read upon this blog.  We are approaching spring 2013 and we have a lot of things planned which also means lots of end of winter preparations. Some of the things on my to do list :

  • install drip irrigation in our peach orchard
  • install drip irrigation at the house (more of an urban setting- this should be fun since I will get to use an array of tubing sizes, emitters and emitter hoses)
  • till the area intended for new tomato rows, adding more space to grow, with the intent of 'rotating crops' which can be difficult for us trying to grow as much as we do in such a small amount of space
  • Make a run up to Fredericksburg to pick up tomato cages, and IBC containers intended for our new aquaponics adventure this summer (so excited)
  • purchase bulk seeds, for planting and beginning this spring we will be selling seeds at the store
  • Begin a potted herb garden outside the front of the store for our new in-store feature- cut your own herbs! For sale by the ounce, cutting only what you need, reducing waste and ensuring the freshest possible herbs
  • order pollen traps and honey supers for the Italian beehive, and get ready to split my large, Texas beehive (lookout for bee pollen for sale, and hopefully some delicious raw honey toward the end of summer)
I'm sure there is much more that I'm not thinking of, but I do realize now, that instead of being on this computer, I should be getting prepared.  And now you know a little bit about our plans for the spring/summer of 2012.  Check back folks for updates on the progress of the to do list, and more insight to each topic.  I hope to cover my experience with drip irrigation, aquaponics (including how we will build our setup), herb growing, making concrete planters, and beekeeping topics (this year I will be installing nucs, splitting hives, and hopefully harvesting honey). Thanks for reading, and giving me a chance to write down my goals for this summer.  Now it is time to get to work.
 
 
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