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2017 Bee hive swarm information, history, lessons, successes, etc.

Discussion in 'Bee Swarms, Bee Behavior, & Bee Queens' started by soarwitheagles, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. Jul 6, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    Why is your clover still green? Are you irrigating it 'cause that sure doesn't look like CA pasture this time of year. I'm a tad jealous.
     
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  2. Jul 6, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Hi babs,

    Yes, we planted our first ever perennial pasture last October and that is what you see. The pictures I posted were taken today. The pasture is thriving, but I would like to try adding sheep manure to make it grow even better. We are irrigating because otherwise it would die. It is an experiment. We are attempting see how much the water costs are, how well the sheep do on it, and how well the bees like it. So far, we are batting 3/3!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  3. Jul 8, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    you are on a well ? PG&E power?

    I'm really curious as to costs etc as I now have level land and would like to plant. Please let me know what you decide as to water costs and value.
     
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  4. Jul 9, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    babs,

    No problem. We have a 3 hp well pump. The well technicians told us we could easily water an acre or more with this well without placing undue stress upon it. The key is to set up the watering in a manner that the well is on the entire time, and does not continuously turn on and off or cycling as they called it.

    Our first perennial pasture is approx. .75 acres. I wish I had the time last October to prepare and plant an entire acre, but time did not permit. It was so easy, but did require adequate time if it was to be done correctly. Correct planting required deep plowing, discing, leveling, dragging, killing all sprouts twice at 5 week intervals, then planting the seed.

    To water .75 acres here with SMUD as our electricity provider costs us $30 per month during the super hot months when we have had the extreme heat waves. So average watering cost per summer month is between $20-$30 per month per .75 acre.

    One full acre would be required if we wanted to do rotational grazing all summer long for 30+ sheep on this pasture and that would also include really good soil.

    Presently, we have never used any fertilizer, and plan on spreading sheep manure from the sheep pen through out this new pasture on a repeated basis. I estimate it will double, yes, double the rate of growth due to the poor condition of the soil at this time [it is nearly solid clay]. Spreading fertilizer and keeping sheep on this pasture would require 2-3 years to make the soil optimized for maximum growth year round...presently, we obtain roughly 40 yards of composted sheep manure per year when we compost the manure in the sheep pen.

    For the very first time ever, our feed bill has finally dropped to zero. For the very first time ever, we are finally beginning to make money, rather than lose money on sheep.

    So in our situation, planting and maintaining a perennial pasture is a total no-brainer after we crunched the numbers,
    planted the pasture and placed the sheep on these pastures, seeing how they would do.

    Last, I discovered two years ago that the Barbados and Dorper sheep do quite well at self monitoring their intake of clover and other legumes. Therefore, I planted pasture with a nearly 70% mixture of clover...and for some types of sheep, this is a total no-no due to bloating. The only time I have ever seen a sheep bloat here was during winter when they found something in the forest they really liked. To be honest with you, I really don't think they were bloated, but just had super full rumens. They only had super large tummies for one day, then went back to normal, and no sheep looked sick or ill at any time.

    We still allow our sheep to go out into the forest and forage there...most of it is dry grass, live and dead leaves, twigs, bark, etc. and I figure it provides a type of hay for the sheep for the days when we keep them out of the pasture. Since these sheep are also browsers, they eat quite a bit from the forested areas...

    I hope this helps you!!!

    PS Special Note: Babs, we innoculated all clover seed for a very special reason before planting it...innoculated clover plants will remove nitrogen from the atmosphere, and inject 200+ pounds of nitrogen per acre into the soil per year. So, strange as it may sound, it has the ability to fertilize itself and amend the soil all year round...what an amazing plant!
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  5. Jul 9, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    Thank you for the information. That is a big pump; what is your GPM on the well? And that is a great price from SMUD. We have solar so we are on a time of use meter which means all big electric stuff, including irrigation, gets done between 9 PM and 10 AM when rates are cheaper.

    Ours is only a 1 HP and our well isn't the greatest for volume, 13 gallons a minute, so we would pump to a 5000 gallon tank and then water from that. As it is with watering my orchard, the very small lawn, berries, garden, and various flowers my well runs a lot. We have a constant pressure controller and had it on a 2 gallon pressure tank but it was ALWAYS on. Any little sprinkler drip would cause it to run continually. The evaporative cooler made it run continually too; I called it my leak detector. We switched it out to a bigger pressure tank just so we didn't have to hear it run 24/7, it is right outside our bedroom window.

    The new property we bought had a well but the county doesn't want to give us permission for the power to be turned back on since there is no house there. I need to go and argue with them about that. As soon as we get some time we will hook up our generator to the well and see what we get. We need to put a new controller on it as someone stole the one that was there while the property was for sale.

    The ground has a lot of rocks, like it grows rocks. We are almost afraid to disc it (we don't own a plow) for fear we will have nothing but rocks. But we are going to do one pass and see what it brings to the surface. There is one area that is a run off from a drainage, almost like a delta, that I am hoping has some silt and soil in addition to the rock. And then there is another area that might actually require bringing in soil and manure, there is not much top soil there at all. We will see what we can do this fall. Did you use roundup to kill the sprouts?

    The goats have already cleared the land and trimmed up 6 acres of oaks and poison oak; they are very efficient land clearers. There are many little olive trees on the land too, the goats don't touch them, but they make good shade when they get big so that's ok.

    I have dutch clover in my lawn, I don't mind since I have the bees, but I have no idea where it came from. I am wondering if the lawn seed I used was contaminated, I used some really cheap stuff when I did some overseeding. I wanted it in my orchard and could never get it established but instead I have it in my lawn. Oh well...it's green and that is good enough for me.
     
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  6. Jul 10, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Babs,

    Dang, the county won't let ya turn power on on property that you own? Sure sounds like another classic example of over regulated California insanity! Well, I hope you can find a way to irrigate some land and make it into a garden of eden for your goats!

    I can't remember how many GPM at the moment. I think we obtained filling a 5 gallon bucket every 15 seconds, so that would be 20 GPM...BUT, that was using the 3/4" pipe coming out of the tank. Then, the most wonderful thing happened! A friend told me too bad we did not have a 1.5" inch pipe coming out of the tank, because that would be a massive game changer...well, guess what? Yep, when I looked carefully, I discovered there IS a 1.25" pipe coming out of the tank and after turning it on, we found a massive geyser over 100 ft. away from the tank...I sure felt dumb, because even after 4 years of living here, I never saw the 1.25" pipe! I have not yet measured the GPM coming out this 1.25" pipe, but it is massive...I estimate it at 30-40 GPM. We are presently in the process of cutting the ground and running the 1.25" pipe to the irrigated pasture as well as another area where I would like to plant a large corn field.

    We are still catching swarms here...but some of them are exactly what one of the people here stated: "after swarms." Most have a laying worker and no queen. No problem at all! We simply take the bees and place them in a new box, add two frames of brood, one frames of eggs, and a frame of pollen and a frame of honey.

    And now, an exciting experiment...my parents own properties in the Bay Area. They recently gave me permission to bring bee hives there and build a bee yard. My understanding is there is a year round flow there. So I am excited about this prospect and hope to begin transporting bees there next week. I will keep ya up to date on this new endeavor!
     
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  7. Jul 15, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    Wow, what a great turn of events with your parents! Hope the transfer happens with no issues. Will you be able to keep up with them being so (how?) far away from you? I imagine with all the home landscaping there will be plenty for the bees to collect.
     
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  8. Jul 17, 2017 at 3:21 PM
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Late Starter...

    Well, we transferred some nucs Saturday morning then installed them Saturday afternoon. I was incredibly excited because after driving around, I saw massive numbers of plants with blooming flowers...

    Then disaster struck!

    Checked the nucs Sunday evening, and massive ant attack! As in millions of ants...I was so disappointed! :he I am fairly certain none of the nucs would have survived even one week and I did not bring any of our ant proof beehive stands...

    We quickly removed all nucs, placed them back on the truck, and went not-so-merrily on home...:hit

    On the brighter side of things...we keep catching more and more swarms...even now that it is summer time. So that is good news. We also keep reproducing as many hives as we can, making 5 frame nucs one after another. Some of our existing hives are strong enough that we can pull 3-4 5 frame nucs per hive.

    So that is good news.

    Still have not had time to clean up the swarm I placed in a deep box and forgot to install the upper frames. It is a mess. We hope to carefully cut the combs, one at a time, and install each comb on its own frame, held by rubber bands. The bees are suppose to then do their job of fully attaching each comb by filling in each frame fully.

    We are still in the midst of a large nectar and pollen flow...it has been going on all summer long. Honey coming in like crazy.

    Last, experimenting with "Monster teeth" foundation. Will see how that works.

    Swarm comb 2.JPG Swarm comb 1.JPG Monster teeth foundation 2.JPG Monster teeth foundation 3.JPG Herman.JPG
     

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  9. Jul 17, 2017 at 10:18 PM
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    Seeing all these pics and reading the stories (from all of you active beeks) makes me really miss my hives :( I think I'll really plan on starting back up again this coming spring. I don't think I have the energy or desire to get to the level that you or @Maggiesdad are working... Just 2-3 hives would be fine I think. I need to figure out where I can place them that won't cause an issue to me or my animals or the neighbors since we have AHBs down here big time.
     
  10. Jul 18, 2017 at 12:43 AM
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    LS,

    I hope you can raise bees again. We are really enjoying it!

    Now a lesson I learned regarding transferring wild comb from a swarm into a regular beehive box...

    1. Cut the comb off, being careful to not allow the honey part [heaviest portion of the comb] to fall off.
    2. Attach the comb to the frame.
    3. Wrap rubber bands around the frame.
    4. Place the frame back into the box!

    Done deal!

    Enjoy!

    PS. In about one week, the bees will have attached all the comb to the frames and filled in the blank spots. They will also drag out all rubber bands.

    2.JPG 1.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG
     
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