We have bees! Our horizontal top bar hive on the north farm is now home to a feral hive of bees. Our hive is unique in that the bees themselves have the ability to create the space and shape of the comb. Traditionally, this is planned out by the beekeeper but our bees are free to build it as they see fit. Since it’s mighty hot out right now the farm team put a screen bottom board in the hive to allow for aeration and more efficient temperature control. The temperature of the cluster of bees in the hive must be kept between 90 and 97 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year. In addition to helping with temperature and air flow, the screen bottom board will also help control varroa mites. These mites are an external parasite that attacks honey bees and has the potential to kill an entire colony if left unchecked. As the bees pick these mites off each other, they will fall through the screen to the ground below. Once on the ground, the varroa mites can only move about 3 inches before dying. Another predator safeguard for the hive is the containers of water located under each leg of the hive. This keeps ants from crawling up into the hive and causing any damage.
One way we strive for sustainability on the farm is to eliminate as much waste as possible. This past week the farm team was able to make homemade chicken feed out of leftover produce from the farmers market. Since the nutrients in cooked food are more bioavailable than what is found in traditional feed, our chickens will be even healthier and happier. Two different batches were made and canned for future use: a melon batch with mint and another with eggplant, peppers, and oregano seed. Both batches contained bee pollen for a great source of protein and. In addition to getting healthy homemade food, the chickens have a new enrichment tool in their run. A rope swing was installed that will allow for plenty of play time, entertainment, and stimulation.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the newest enrichment toy for the goats is their flatbed truck! It was outfitted in the past week to be more “kid friendly” for both our furry kids and human kids. Plywood was installed on the bed of the truck in addition to the interior of the truck. All of the glass was removed from the truck windows to allow for plenty of crawling and exploring opportunities. Though the farm team loves to play with the goats, the truck will provide a source of entertainment and stimulation when the team is tending to maintenance elsewhere on the farm.