Sunday, April 29

Bees are buzzing on Vita Bella Ranch

We now have our first two bee hives! We bought two Nucs from Carl Harrison who is a beekeeper with the NEOBA bee-club in Tulsa. FYI : A Nuc is a small starter hive that many keepers use to begin beekeeping, or to increase the number of hives they own. My sister and I took an eight week bee-keeping course last fall but I must say that until we actually went out and saw the live bees the bookwork was a lot of greek to me. The pick up day was yesterday and so all day Friday we were frantically trying to finish the bee yard, shelter, and hive.

We assembled 20 frames (10 for each hive) and the trickiest part was melting the supporting wire into the wax foundation on which the bees build the comb. Pictured below you can see the wax foundation (sheet) and the frame with the horizontal wires.

Once I had slipped the wax foundation into the frame David applied a short electric shock to the wire which heated it enough to allow it to melt into the wax. The idea is that the wire once hardened into the wax will give it structural support. Since neither the wax nor the wire was very staight it was tricky business to get the get the wire evenly into the wax. The technique we were most happy with in the end was rolling up a few sheets of newspaper into a fat roll and placing it under one wire at a time and only "zapping" that one wire until it was as even as we could get it.
You can see in this picture the vertical wires that came already embedded into the foundation ... So with the horizontal wire we were adding there was really quite a bit of support.

Adding another finished frame to the hives.

Dad and David built the shelter and yard for the bees. You cannot quite tell from the picture but the pond is just a few feet to the left of where I was standing so the bees had easy access to water. The hive entrance faces south east so the morning sun reaches the hives ... and the view from the bees front door is quite spectacular. And yes we did get a roof on it ... I will have to post an updated picture later.

My dad and I loaded our finished (empty) hives into the car and drove to the bee yard in Tulsa. There were about 90 nucs scattered throughout the yard and bees were buzzing all around. Several people were around helping Carl (the bee owner). It was pick-up day for many people besides myself and so others were there with their empty hives. I pulled out my bee costume (a bee-hat, a white long-sleeve shirt, and gloves) and clumsily assembled myself in the bee armour ... I certainly felt like a rookie. I then joined the small "astronaut" looking group huddled around a buzzing hive.

They group was looking for the 'queen bee' amidst the hundreds of bees crawling all over the exposed frame (in the picture above I am on the far left).

It took awhile and with several pairs of eyes looking before someone spotted the queen bee (which is double the size of the normal bee). Once found she was placed in her new hive and was ready to be taken to her new home site. My dad and I unloaded our two hives onto the grass and soon 5 of our empty frames were exchanged with 5 frames filled with honey and bood and covered in masses of bees. We very carefully closed up the hives and transported them to our car. The bees were much more quiet than I had imagined they would be during our drive home ... I actually even slept a little (my dad was driving). Once we got home we placed the hives on two cinder blocks and let the bees begin exploring their new territory.

Some links for those it may interest:

North Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association

Some beekeeping basics

Construction of the Langstroths 10 frame bee-hive

Article on beekeeping with a nice glossary

Monday, April 16

Happy 80th Birthday Papa Ben!

Today is the birthday of our awesome Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI! And what is really neat is that you can send him a birthday message through the vatican website! Send a Birthday Message
The monks of CC are giving Our Holy Father a really awesome present : 80 masses! I heard that when the Holy Father was informed of his gift he said something about how that was the best present anyone could give him. Is'nt that so special! I sent him a little birthday message which is so little in comparrison but at least I will probably be able to assist at a few of those 80 masses.
Love Papa Ben? Stay tuned with American Papist and Sister Allie's Schtick!

Saturday, April 14

New goats - new trailer - new oberhasli - new calf - and more of the same; but "new"

I have had no shortage of material for a blog posts but only a shortage of time with which to put everything into words. We purchased 103 Boer goats from ranch about 30 min north of us called WW Boer Goat Ranch. This is the first big step in turning what has been more of a hobby into a business venture! We are excited about following a special health program provided by Frank Willis (the owner of WW Boer Goats) which should keep the goats in healthy condition without the use of strong chemical wormers. So far we have already had 4 baby goats!

Teka – one of our Oberhasli dairy goats just had her baby a few days ago. I just happened to step into the scene minutes before the baby made its grand entrance. It was awesome – the whole birth was beautiful, smooth, and everything was just perfect!

Our first calf ever to be born on Vita Bella Ranch! He is really quite cute. And as David and Joey put it “Steak dinner for 2008” (they are so single focused).
Just today Dad drove home our new mammoth trailer which will be used to haul BIG things like lumber, tractors, and any other BIG thing we might need to move from one place to another. Another BIG step in our ranching endeavors.

We moved our baby chicks out onto pasture a few days ago. Here are pictures of my younger siblings and some of our friends moving the chicks from the brooder to a small hoop house which is being used to transport the small birds to their portable pasture pens.

There is so much more but it will have to wait till I have more time ...