Bee my Honey, and stop eating my flowers!

(If you just want to see log home construction updates, head towards the middle of post. Otherwise, enjoy our most recent adventure!)

The Bradburys are now officially beekeepers…even though I’m deathly allergic to them.

The first time I got stung, my arm swelled from finger tips to shoulder.  You could no longer see my elbow, knuckles, or wrist.  My fingers looked like sausages.

The second time I got stung it took 5 minutes for my throat to start closing up and tongue to swell.  Benedryl promptly stopped the reaction.

Those were stings I had in the past, though.  Years ago.

The [obvious] question you might be asking me now is, “WHY did you get bees??”

See this yard?

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We have 11 acres of SOLID American Beauty Berry bushes out here.  (They taste awful off the bush, but when cooked down, strained, and sugar added, taste exactly like cherries and raspberries mixed together.)

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The berries start turning purple in July, and will look like this through October!   Our entire property looks like the picture above. They make great jelly, too!

Because of the berries, Honey bees are out here anyway, drawn to these bushes.   They don’t bother us.  They just want nectar.

However, we learned that these bees already have hives…(perhaps in trees out here somewhere?).   We can’t access the honey.

Seeing that we want honey, haven’t been attacked by bees out here, and can’t access the honey that already exists out here, we had to go to Plan B:  buying a hive filled with new bees.

So, for Steve’s birthday May 18, we went to a bee farm, took a class on beekeeping taught by Gary Rankin, and brought home our first official hive.

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Steve with Gary.   AWESOME instructor.   Extremely knowledgeable.  
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Reese was ALL over this bee keeping gig.   She was ready to suit up and get in there.

Reiley?  She stayed back with me.

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Each of the boxes above are hives.  I had to keep my distance.  The close-up pics were all taken by Steve.

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The instructor used the smoke machine to calm the bees before removing the lid.

Once the lid is off, there are panels inside.  Here’s one pulled out…

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All I can say it YIKES!!!!   Looks HORRIFYING!!!  Makes my tongue and arm swell up  just to see all those bees in one spot.

But Reese was loving it.   No stings!

Before taking them home, we needed to “mark the queen bee”.  You use a plastic tool called an extruder to gently pluck her out.  You can see her here….the biggest bee right at the tip of the extruder…

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Can you see her in the extruder, above?

Then you release the queen into a bottle with a pusher-stopper thingy at the bottom (like a push-pop popsicle). There are holes in the opposite end.  A permanent marker tip can fit through the holes, and marks the back of the queen.

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It’s important to be able to keep an eye on the queen, and recognize her right away when you open the hive.  She could be anywhere in there…busy filling holes with future babies.   We don’t want to crush her on accident when pulling out these panels, our sliding them back in.  Marking the queen helps spot her quicker for faster removal.

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We can expect around 100 pounds of honey per year in ONE boxed hive!!   My lips are smacking (and stuck together) just thinking about it.

And, you know what?   I’m willing to share it with YOU.   I plan to bottle it.   If you’d like to taste honey made from the nectar of American Beauty Berries, then permit me to hook you up!

Steve had cleared an area in the back of the property to be our bee haven.  It will (maybe?) hold many hives over the years…but we’ll start with one for now.

He and Reese loaded up the tractor, and off we went through the land to their new spot.

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Can you see all the Beauty Berry bushes on both sides of the road?  That’s the road that also leads back to our guest house.  If you come stay with us someday, this is the road you’ll drive down.

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….you’ll come to a fork in the road….
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To the right is our guest house and pond…
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To the left is the back of our property and new bee hive zone.
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Beauty Berry bushes EVERYWHERE!   I’m tellin’ ya!   When they’re full of bright purples berries, it’s truly beautiful out here.

The best part?   They produce an oil that mosquitos hate.  So, in spite of all the rain and flooding we’ve been having…we have no mosquitos out here.  You can go for walks around this property.  Walking trails all throughout.  Will have benches and swinging chairs to sit on and rest.
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The bees should be just fine way out here, acres away.
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We weren’t done, however. To be sure the bees had enough sugar water to drink right now, while getting used to a new environment, we were taught to remove a couple of the panels inside, and replace them with a different kind of panel. This panel has 2 holes in it, lined with netting that the bees can crawl on. You fill the panel with sugar water, and place it inside the hive. It only stays in there temporarily, or in times of drought.

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….fill the smoker with leaves, lighter fluid, and light it….
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Time to calm the bees. The smoke masks their senses, basically, and keeps them calm. He had to remove the lid, pull out 2 panels, and insert the already-filled sugar water panel.

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Reese thinks matching outfits are highly overrated.

Time to head back to the house.  Here are a few more scenic pics of our property along the way…

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In our last post, I showed you pics of our flooded front yard.  Since posting, it has only rained more.

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And we’re expecting more rain over the next 7 days.

It seems strange, then, that our canoe is inside our Ark…

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Here was the canoe sitting on the porch FOREEEEVERRR, waiting for me to FINALLY psych myself into going out there to sand the whole doggon thing, and varnish it twice. DONE
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Staying indoors, Steve and I experimented with homemade pickles, made from cucumbers from our garden…

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He has almost finished chinking the whole back porch wall.  It’s taken him 1.5 days.  Then we’ll be aaaalll done with chinking, inside and out.

While he chinked, I finished staining all the baseboards, trim boards, bird block trims in the loft, and the trims around the copper range backsplash. 3 coats of stain each. DONE!! 2 days. I LOVE accomplishing things!!

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I’ve made a few changes to the house decor.  Here’s our “trophy” table.  Black and white pictures of our family hunts.
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Maybe I”m just extremely restless and used to doing hard labor every hour of the day. If we don’t finish this house soon, I’m likely to do something crazy….like get some bees or chickens or something.

[Speaking of which]….yesterday was a rare sunny day. We decided it was a good time to let the birdie-girlies out of the coop for their first time. Keep in mind….this was their very first time in their lives to be outside of a galvanized tub or coop.  Grass, bugs, etc, were aaaallll new.

The first one hid behind the doorframe….uncertain.  Cue the theme song to Jeopardy (doo DOO Doo doo, Doo DOO Doo….).  Minutes went by.   Thinking…. looking….
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Then she braved it when another birdy-girly wasn’t scared at all.  This is when the famous quote from the first moon walk came to mind…”One small step for man…” (or chicken and other birdie-girlies, in this case)….
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Hmmm…..
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BUFFET!!!  “Heeeeeerrrre  Mr Grasshopper, let’s PLAY!….”
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They were out for hours. The cats were in the barn. At around sunset, they headed straight back to their coop and laid down. We didn’t have to call them, or anything. We just had to shut and lock the door! Amazing.

The only drawback to free-range chickens right now??

My flowers are gone. They ate every bloom.

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(Sigh….)

If you can’t beat ’em….mark their feet again so you know which ones to ground from the swing.  (Don’t all chickens like to swing? Mine do!   Sometimes 2 at a time!)

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To continue on to the next post, click here: “ANOTHER log house??”  To start at the beginning of our chronological story, click here: “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek!”   To start reading at the beginning of our log home build, click here: ‘What do Vegas and logs have in common?

7 thoughts on “Bee my Honey, and stop eating my flowers!

  1. Hi Jerry! GREAT to hear from you! You were on our minds when we got the hive. It’ll be fun to show it to you in person. Hopefully we’ll see you guys at the end of this summer, or first of Fall. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  2. Steve, this is Jerry Flummer in Anniston, Al. It’s good to see that you have finally gotten into the bee business. Here’s wishing you great success my friend and we look forward to seeing you guys again in the fall when head out to see Jon, Becky and the kids.

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  3. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!!! We are selling our 18 acres on FM334 (the little white farm house property) if you know of anyone who is interested, I will refer them to Brenna, our Real Estate agent.

    We plan on making a trip to Sutherland Springs next month, would like to drop by.

    Thank you for sharing, The Palermos 830-557-2317

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  4. This is Elva Palermo, your neighbor on FM334 (the little white farm house). Papa and I are amazed at what you have done with your property! We are planning on coming back to Sutherland Springs in June, will drop by to visit. With your permission I would love to share your beautiful home and property. The Palermos

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