I cleaned up the other two hives today. Both had pollen but no honey left. Also both had mice in residence. I’m unsure of what happened to the first one I cleaned up. It may have starved, but it may also have succumbed to XXX and then been robbed. The second I’m pretty sure died with honey in the hive and then was robbed. There were fragments of chopped up cappings everywhere. Both Valerie and a neighbor who used to keep bees report that there were many bees in and out of the hives last year. This had to be robbing. I’m actually glad to hear that there are bees close enough to come rob our hives.
I set up four single body hives to be ready for the arrival of the new bees. Each one has about ten pounds of honey, and at least nine vaguely drawn frames of comb. There are a couple frames that the mice had seriously chewed but, but that also had a pound or more of honey. I erred in favor of passing on the honey. The feeders are soaking overnight. Tomorrow I’ll bring them in and clean them with bleach to kill the mold. Put them back out and we’re ready to go. I put duct-tape over the entrances to keep mice out. Hardware cloth mouse excluders also sound a good project.
Betterbee is seriously pushing polystyrene hives on the grounds that better temperature regulation makes more honey in the summer, and gets less eaten in the winter. We have two of their polystyrene hive tops. They may well help in the summer. In the winter they’re on top of the feeder, so I question the help. However the real issue I have is that wasps have drilled four separate holes in one of them in order to get to the syrup in the feeder. the second has no holes, but I so don’t want wasps in my hive. The second issue is that they are light. Unless you put a brick on them, you will have topless hives in a decent storm. This is a bad thing. Perhaps selling them with metal casing, as is done with wooden hive tops would be a good thing. this also makes me rather leery of buying styrofoam supers.
Other items: The feeder in the llama pen has just not held up to use. I repaired it with thinner wood, effectively longer screws. Hopefully it will stay together now.
The egg issue has continued. We were down to one a day for the last few days. However several people have suggested that it’s PTSD from the move and they should recover soon. Today I found one in the unauthorized nest in the coop and one on the ground. Clearly eggs on the ground are a bad thing. However I’m fairly sure this is a new thing. We’re out there several times a day, and this one was right out in the open. Still, we need to get them back to laying in the coop.
We got another hundred bales of hay delivered today. It remains very, very stemmy. Lisa has added a cup (ish) of soaked beet pulp to the girls ration to give them a few more calories for the lambs. (It’s carbs not protein but they can use anything they can get.) Keith is going to check if he has any second cut available to sell us for these last few weeks. Next year we’ll buy the stuff up front. Without knowing lamb count or sex, I’m figuring 500 bales of first cut and 200 of second cut for the sheep.
Which brings up the next item. When Lisa went off to Hellburg two years ago, I promised her a horse at the end of it all. Well, it’s over: We deposited the last check Thursday, and here’s the pair of percherons she wants. (And chickens. And a dog. And pigs. I think I missed something somewhere.) Keith mentioned that he has a special price for the 2000 bale a year club.