Monday, November 26, 2012

Hive Disaster

The last time I opened up my hive I noticed the honey stores would not get them through the winter. So this past weekend I decided to open the hive and put some supplemental feed in for the winter. I had not checked my hive for a while other than watching bees come and go. 

I did not realize the bees coming and going recently, were not mine. They were robbing the abandoned hive. I guess I should have fed them earlier, maybe they would have had a better shot at surviving the first year. I hope I have better luck next year. 

The abandoned hive was not my only surprise.  As I started pulling top bars I noticed what I thought was a lot of spider webs. Boy was I wrong.

These are the larva of Achroia grisella or the Lesser Wax Moth. These are very plump from eating my hives wax and pollen stores. Waxmoths are bred and sold at pet shops as feeder worms. 

This is the damage they can do to a hive. This was my brood comb.

The wax gets completely destroyed. Almost all of my comb looks like this.

Almost all of the honey stores are gone. I am not sure if this is because the bees left with it, it got robbed or the wax moth larvae ate it. 

Here is a pic of some cross combing on the end of the hive. I wish this was my only problem.

Here is a pic of the little bastards. I plan on building new top bars for the hives. Hopefully next year I can get both hives healthy and able to fight this kind of infestation off. 

Here is the only honey I found in the hive. It tastes amazing. Hopefully I will have a better harvest next time. All I can do now is learn from my experience and do better next time. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eat local when you can

We found a local producer of chickens, eggs, turkeys and pigs. This is a small family operation that started this past year. It is important to us to eat locally when we can and support small family farms in the process. The following pics are from Full of Graze Farm. Here are the links to their web presence. If you are local to my area you should consider contacting them.

These are the "meat" birds. They have access to clean water, NON-GMO feed and all the grass and bugs they can find. The chickens are put in this enclosure at night and sealed in to protect them from predators. We have been receiving two birds a month since July.

These are the laying hens. There is one roster and at least 40 hens, probably more, I can't remember. The hens have the same feed and clean water as the other birds. They also have access to pasture and bugs. I can't remember all the breeds but I believe there are some Rhode Island Reds in this picture.

Here are the nest boxes in the chicken tractor. Typically you can expect one egg a day from most of the hens. This number drops off a bit in the winter. Sean, the owner of the farm, has put golf balls in the nest boxes to encourage them to lay. 

Here are both of the chicken tractors. They are surrounded by electric fences powered by batteries. This keeps the chickens contained to an area for a week or so then they can be moved to new pasture. More importantly the fences keep predators out. The main predator problem on the farm this year has been birds of prey taking chickens. 

Here is one of the pigs, early in the season, out in the pasture. They also are enclosed by an electric fence. Sean feeds them NON-GMO feed. They can also forage on pasture which can be moved by changing the position of the electric fence. The plan for next year is to let them have access to the some of the forest, woodlot pork. 

The water come from a well that is pumped up hill and then gravity fed to the animals. I believe the hog chilling in the mud is the heritage breed Sean plans to have bred in the future. Your always going to have a farm smell when you have animals, but I found the pig enclosure to have a mild smell. Something you get use to in a couple minutes.

The hogs enjoying a line of feed. Sean and his family put on a pig roast for customers in September. It was a great time and we got to meet like minded people in our area. We really need more businesses who care about the most important part of a business model, the customer. More people starting small farms around the country will ensure our children will have food security in their life. We can't rely on pork being shipped in from China or tomatoes in January from South America. Food security is simple, start a garden, get some laying hens, breed some meat rabbits or support local people who can supply you with healthy local food. Quality, local, well managed food is on the top of our list of necessary ingredients to having a healthy, happy life. Thanks again Sean and family for taking on such an important endeavor.

And here is the final product. Delicious, healthy, sustainable raised food. The pork is fantastic, the chickens and eggs taste great and I can't wait until we get our two turkeys around Thanksgiving. 

If you are not in my area please do some research and find a local farmer that raises healthy sustainable food. Remember you are what you eat, seriously. Another great place in my area to find pastured food is Red Sun Farm in Loveland, OH.

If you want some great Texas Longhorn grass-fed beef in my area please give Merrell's Texas Longhorns a try. You can find his information as well as a country wide network of farms doing it right at

I hope you will think about where your food comes from and what you are really feeding your family when you consider buying that factory raised beef or chicken on sale. Please do your own research and make informed decisions. 

P.S. ........mmmmmmm, bacon.