Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bee Hives and Chicken Coops

Here is my bee hive which arrived earlier this week. I really wanted the "English Garden" top, which looks like a small shed roof, but the company I originally ordered with was backordered until June. My bees are coming Monday, so that wasn't an option. I went with Friendly folks, and cheaper shipping than the other I tried, plus all their stuff was in stock. If I enjoy and am successful at this bee thing then I'll order more hives for next year, and also get my fancy garden top.

So I have the traditional 'telescoping' hive top, which I guess means you can put it on top no matter how tall the hive gets. I've no idea, really, why they call it that. It is simply a flat top with a metal top. Nothing fancy, just protective.

The two bottom boxes are the places the bees will store their honey for the winter. The two top boxes, or supers, are for honey for us. They will fill up the top after they store for themselves. The hat also has a veil that goes with it to keep the bees out of my face. The smoker is the silver thing--you put a specific fuel in it (cotton rags, hemp twine, etc.) and it creates a nice, thick smoke to calm the bees. The white wellies, or boots are actually dairyman boots. The bees seem to not see white, so that's why bee keepers wear white suits.

I have to treat the hives to protect them from the weather. I am going to use raw linseed oil because I want to keep it as natural as possible.

I am very excited about the prospect of keeping bees. I think it is more important than ever that we all be stewards of the land, and pollination is absolutely essential if we want to eat and have anything grow on this earth. Honeybees are our major pollinator and need help right now. There are many diseases that have decimated honey bee populations around the world, and the introduction of other predatory pests is also bad news. Soapbox aside, I really want my own honey. More and more I need to know where my food is coming from. "Eat Local" is fine if you know the farmers and their practices, but how much better if local is our own backyard? I realize not everyone can keep bees, goats, chickens or have a three acre garden, but eating with more of a mind to where food has traveled from to get to your plate and the practices used to raise that food, are something everyone can think about. The Victory Garden concept is also something anyone can do, yard or not. A tomato plant can be grown almost anywhere, and an herb box takes up very little space and both can give the grower a lot of enjoyment.

Barry's Chicken Coop

With the new chickens and turkeys arriving this week, Barry has been driven to build new houses for them. First up is the coop for the chickens.

The front of the coop has windows covered in hardware cloth for ventilation. The little ramp leads into the chicken's entrance. He has now covered the ramp in rolled roofing so the chicken's feet have some purchase as they trundle in and out.

Barry has stained it with a dark brown stain to protect it from the rain until he can paint it. I think I've talked him into some pretty flower and chicken murals in a folk art theme. We'll see what he actually ends up doing.

Here is the inside of the chicken house. The whole front door opens for easy cleaning. The nesting boxes are in the back and open from the outside so the egg gatherer doesn't have to crawl inside. This was my idea because I don't like crawling inside of dirty, poopy chicken houses. I'm also 5'9" tall and don't fold up nearly as easily as Barry. I've talked him into making these for people who want their own urban chicken flocks. He can make them to any size (this one is for 27 hens) and paint it any color. Once he gets the artwork done on this one I'll post new photos
I'm not sure yet what the new turkey house will look like. I am pushing for the portable 'tractor' model that can be moved around the field, but Barry thinks that is too much work. I point out that farmers have been doing it for centuries in one way or another, and it is better for the soil. I've no idea what we'll end up with. I never know until I come home and see something new sitting in the driveway.

1 comment:

  1. Never knew why beekeepers wore white! Thanks for enlightening me. I am fascinated by bee-keeping outfits ever since Seattle Opera put on "Parsifal" and mysteriously dressed the King in a Victorian era bee-keeper's outfit, WITH hat!