Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bees Dancing on the Front Porch

For almost a week the bees of hive 6 have been washboarding. Washboarding is the term used for bees rhythmically rocking back and forth in a large group. While it sort of looks like they could be scrubbing the hive, nobody really knows why they do it. Studies have shown that it is going on inside the hive as well as outside at the entrance. Here is a closer view.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Ecumenical Sunday Sunflower Service for Bees

This past Sunday I was out taking pictures of the sunflowers and noticed four different species of bee on this particular blossom. All bees seemed to be getting along fine. Several of them are species I hadn't noticed before.

In the upper left was a Long Horned bee, Melissodes  Subgenus Eumelissodes. It was a fat bee about the size of a honeybee, with legs covered in yellow pollen.

In the upper right, there was a little green sweat bee. I've seen them before.

 In the lower right was a little bee that is new to me, Pseudopanurgus.

 And closer to the center was the familiar honeybee.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Do 15 Year Old Hens Look Like?

Photo by Gen Netter
They look pretty good! These 2 hens were purchased from a local feed store back in 1997 to go along with some other chickens we got in 1996. We had a total of 21 back then and they have slowly dropped off, but these two are still around looking rather fat and happy. The original 21 included Japanese silkies and bantam cochins like these two.
They have 2/3 of a pony barn to themselves, which consists of the tack room and the stall. The tack room has two heat lamps in it and Styrofoam insulation to keep them warm in the winter. The stall is open on the east side with a wire gate for a door to keep the predators out and still allow good ventilation.

The partidge cochin enjoys some freshly picked clover. They love fresh greens and all sorts of vegetables, but their favorite food is scratch, which is a mixture of corn and seeds.

The buff cochin struts her stuff around the stall.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Anythink Library Bee Cam

Greg, the Beekeeper, just sent me a link to the Anythink Library Bee Cam. He has two hives at the Commerce City, Colorado location and the library put a video camera on these hives.
Not only can you view the hives in real time, you can control the camera by zooming in, tilting it up and down as well as panning right to left. You can watch the bees as they enter and leave the hives. Very bee geeky.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rabbit Proofing the Garden

Rabbit in front of the garden
This year we have an abundance of bunnies. Actually, we always have an abundance of rabbits here in Jefferson Country, Colorado, but this year is worse than ever. I've heard complaints all over the metro Denver area about so many rabbits eating folk's gardens. Yet our veggie garden is safe.
Wire fencing  can keep rabbits out of the garden until they get determined enough to dig under the fence to get inside. One way to insure they don't dig under is to electrify the fence. In our case, we electrified the chicken wire we already had around the garden using a charger meant to keep horses in an area.  It supplies a pretty good shock, but not enough to kill rabbits or cats or anything as far as I can tell. Mice and toads still get in the garden. The rabbits are often seen munching the grass outside of the garden.
Rabbit and Garden
 It may seem like overkill to electrify the fence surrounded our vegetables to protect against rabbits, but in truth, rabbits were just an afterthought. The real varmint problem was raccoons, which would not be kept out with a regular fence. Raccoons can do incredible damage, particularly to corn. Once they found our garden, they would come back every year just as the corn was ripening and wreak total devastation on it. The electric fence has completely kept them out.
The electric fence doesn't use much electricity either. As long as it doesn't touch anything, it doesn't discharge its charge.