A day of chickens and bees

This morning I strolled down to the allotment to see if the ground had dried out. It hadn’t. I give up – the weather either bakes the soil to a crisp or it’s 6 inches under water!

I went to the greenhouse and watched the chicks. When I arrived they were roosting in the nest box together. As I opened the doors they came out ready for breakfast. I topped up their bowl with growers pellets and threw a handful of sunflower seeds and porridge oats for them to enjoy. Whilst refilling their water bowls, I remembered I had meant to clean out their old bedding before introducing the new chick.

I swept out the greenhouse floor and the nest box. The cream legbar wasn’t particularly impressed with my hard work and hid behind Leia. Neither of them appear to have worked out how to use the perch either. Cliff swung by and has offered to find a piece of suitable wood for a perch. Next I walked down to the main coop to retrieve the sawdust for the chicks.

All the old girls were there, enjoying the morning sunshine which contained a fair amount of heat. No eggs but then it was early. I left them scratching for treats in order to finish sorting out the greenhouse. I filled the nest box deeply and put a later of sawdust across the floor. They both seemed to enjoy making a mess in it within seconds of me finishing!

Steve swung by and announced the kettle was on. Using this as a timely excuse, I went to join everyone at the clubhouse. The usual banter over tea was followed by Steve asking for my help in checking the bees. We haven’t checked the hives for a while due to the weather being too windy and/or wet. We suited up and Steve got the smoker going.

We started on the first of the nuc boxes. There was the Queen but almost no eggs and a sealed Queen cell. This means the old Queen is going to be superceded with the colony hatching a new one. The future of this colony rests on whether the Queen cell successfully hatches, she gets mated, and begins to lay. Nuc box number two, had an unmarked Queen who seemed to be laying eggs. If the colony grows and the new Queen is productive, it might survive the winter. The third hive was significantly bigger with a much stronger colony. Quickly, we spotted lots of eggs which shows the Queen is doing a good job and Steve spotted her on the side of one of the brood frames.

The last hive on the community garden is the biggest. We searched carefully but quickly as the wind was beginning to rise. I found some eggs on a frame in the top brood box and we didn’t bother checking anything else. This hive can be a bit temperamental, especially in windy conditions.

Unfortunately, the hive on Phil’s far plot is Queenless, eggless and being attacked by wasps. It is likely that this colony won’t survive.

The final hive, the biggest by far, has been split four times this summer. It continues to thrive and we are hopeful that this colony will winter well. Steve is hoping that three hives will survive with the potential of both nuc boxes. The colonies in the nuc boxes will winter in there before being transferred into a wooden hive in the spring.

We put all the bee equipment away and adjourned to the clubhouse to catch up with everyone. Before I left, I changed the water in the main coop, chatted to the girls and collected three eggs. I had a quick check of the cockerels and their girls, topping up their water and giving them their treats. I had a slight disagreement with one of the cockerels, he tried to attack my shoes. I fended him off by with my foot and giving him a dressing down. There can only be one top chicken. Today it is me.

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