Installing Bees in a Top Bar Hive

We picked up our package of bees (read the previous post about how we got our bees here) and headed home.  For the first hour and a half going home, they buzzed quietly in the back seat.  We made sure they weren’t in direct sunlight and that they were getting fresh air, and twice I sprayed them lightly with a very light sugar syrup.  They were happy, we were happy, everything was right with the world.

Until…

…we got to the dirt and gravel road leading to our property.  Bummer.  You see, here in California it’s legal to grow marijuana if you have doctor’s orders saying that you need it.  Unfortunately, the county in which we live has been very permissive on how much you can grow, so several commercial pot growers have purchased or leased properties adjacent to us.  Why is this so unfortunate?  For several reasons – the most important of which is because of the drought we are currently having here in California.  Marijuana takes a lot of water to grow.  A whole lot.  So the commercial pot growers are draining all of the wells in the foothills, drying up streams and stealing from others.  You can’t even leave a water hose unattended anymore!  So, when the “growers” well goes dry and they run out of options to get cheap (or stolen) water, they have to pay to truck in water.  Some of those trucks haul in 2,500 gallons of water at a time – or more!  Let’s see – 2,500 gallons x 8 pounds per gallon – that’s 20,000 pounds (not even counting the weight of the truck itself) traveling across our dirt and gravel road several times per day!  Needless to say, they have torn up our road so much that it has become one rut and pothole after another.  The entire 1.6 miles of it!  Now we literally bounce and slide our way home.

Which brings me back to the bees.  With every bounce, bump, jump and jostle, they started buzzing louder and louder.  Let me tell you, they were not happy!  🙁

Once we finally got home we set the bees in the shade of their new Kenyan Top Bar Hive, I sprayed them down with a little more light sugar water, and we left them alone for about an hour.  Sure enough, by the time we came back, they had calmed down again.

Whew!

So now, the fun part was to begin.  Installation!

Kenyan top bar beehive

There it is: our version of a Kenyan Top Bar Beehive! To see how we made it, click HERE  

Have I told you how nervous I am about getting stung?  The fascination with the bees has partially overcome my fear of being stung (along with a nice bee suit and gloves), but nonetheless I decided I should be the photographer for this momentous occasion. 😉

I am blessed to have a very brave and understanding husband, and let me tell you, he looked like a pro while he was installing the bees!

Installing bees into a top bar hive

Doesn’t Ray look like a pro? Here he is getting ready to dump in the bees. You can see the queen cage, laying on top of a couple of the top bars, is covered already in bees!

The first thing we had to do was remove several of the top bars so that the bees could be dumped into the hive body.  We also placed a light sugar water solution in the feeder and a

How to get bees into a top bar hive

You can see the “bee patty” at the bottom of the hive, which is a first food supply for the bees. It has lots of protein, vitamins and minerals and gives the bees a kick-start for a healthier colony.

“bee patty” in the bottom of the hive. We do plan to raise our bees organically and naturally, and using a sugar water solution and a bee patty isn’t necessarily natural.  However, we did want to give our bees every advantage to get started, so we opted to make our own sugar water solution out of organic sugar.  The bee patty was just another bit of insurance, though we don’t really know how organic it is.  That being said, we will not be giving our bees any more bee patties, and will only give them sugar water if they need it.   Ray removed the queen cage from the box so that she could later be hung in her cage between two of the top bars.  Ray accomplished this task without any problem – just like they showed us during the demonstration at the Olivarez Bee Company Bee Day.  Once the queen cage had been removed from the bee cage and set aside, Ray set about the task of dumping the worker bees into the hive.

Just as instructed during one of the demonstrations given at the Bee Day, Ray removed the can of sugar water solution that the bees had been living on for a day, which also releases the bees.  A few bees started to fly out, already looking for and locating the queen.

Ray gently turned the box upside down, and shook it a few times.

Fwooommmph

Seriously – that’s the sound it made!   Fwooommmmph!

Most of the bees fell in one large clump into the hive!  It was so cool to watch!

Once most of the bees had been shaken into the hive, I sprayed them again with the light sugar water solution.  The sugar water solution hydrates the bees as they lick it off of their furry little bodies.  Because it has a little bit of sugar in it, it also feeds the bees and a fed, hydrated bee is a happy, complacent bee, less likely to sting!

top bar hive bee installation

Ray carefully placed two straws along the top of the little queen cage so that he could hang it between two of the top bars. Look at that – no glove on one hand!

We then replaced all of the top bars except one.  Ray stuck a couple of pieces of straw (carefully!) through the top of the queen cage and these pieces of straw were placed between two of the top bars with the queen cage hanging in the space where the one bar used to be.  In this way, the queen could be accessed by the workers from all sides.  Once this was done, we replaced the lid and roof, wished the bees good luck, and stepped back from the hive.

Once the bees were mostly in the hive, we replaced the lid and roof and stepped away.  The box that the bees came in was left right below the entrance, so the stragglers could find their way to their new home.

Once the bees were mostly in the hive, we replaced the lid and roof and stepped away. The box that the bees came in was left right below the entrance, so the stragglers could find their way to their new home.

There were about two dozen or so bees still left in the cage, but we were instructed during the demonstration at the Bee Day to just leave the cage near the hive in the shade, and these bees will find their way into the hive to be with their sisters.

We had our granddaughter’s birthday party to attend later that evening, so we made sure the hive was secure, latched the gate on the enclosure surrounding the hive, and said our goodbyes to the bees.  There was nothing more we could do for them right away.

The next day when we got home from the birthday party, there they were, flying in and out of the hive! It looked like some of the bees were still doing their orientation flight, which is the first flight out of their hive.  The bee will exit the hive door, fly right, then left, then up and down.  Once the little bee has done this, it will fly away to find pollen, nectar, water or whatever it’s job is.   It was amazing to see that some of the bees flying into the hive already had their pollen sacs full!  Jeeze Louise, these bees certainly didn’t waste any time setting up their house!

top bar bee hive installation

Here is ray checking to see that the queen has been released from her cage. Yes! She was free!

Now we had to wait at least three days, then check to see if the queen had been released from her little cage.  You see, she comes inside a cage for her own safety.  If a queen bee is introduced into a hive right away, the worker bees will most likely sting her to death because they see her as a foreigner!  However, if she is left in her little cage and the workers are exposed to her pheromones for 3 or 4 days, the will most likely accept her as their queen once she is released.  How does she get released?  Her escape route is plugged with hard candy, which the workers eat to get to the queen.  This usually takes about three days – sometimes four.  Clever system, huh?

So, after four days, we opened the hive to see if the queen had been released.  At first when we saw movement inside the little cage we were disappointed that she had not been released.  Then, on closer inspection, we saw that it was a worker bee in the cage, not the queen.  She had, in fact, been released!  Then we found her.  Olivarez Bees marks all of their queens, and this year an iridescent blue was used.  This is so that it is easier to find her and make sure all is well with the hive.  Well – there she was – in all of her iridescent blue glory, on a small comb that had already been constructed for her!

Top Bar Kenyan Bee Hive installation

Our first sneak peak into the hive through the viewing window. See all those little workers clustered? They had already started to make some comb and were clustered on the comb and around their new queen!

Well I’ll be.  We actually (ahem, my husband, Ray) installed our first bees with complete success!

And guess what – No Bee Stings!  🙂

So, now, the real adventure begins.

0001

Some hops I attend: Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop;Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday;Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWhatever goes Wed; Show and Share Wed; Wined Down Wed; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs; Green Thumb Thurs;Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things;Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday;Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites;Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

We Have Bees!

Kenyan top bar beehive

There it is: our version of a Kenyan Top Bar Beehive!

We finished the Kenyan Top Bar Beehive just in time!  Ray and I built our own Kenyan Top Bar Beehive with plans given to us by Master Gardener Kim at one of her workshops we attended on beekeeping.  The plan was simple and easy to follow.  Now all we needed were some bees!

I had ordered the bees from Olivarez Honey Bees via phone a few months in advance.  While on the phone I was given the choice between the Italian or the Carnolian variety of bees, but I wasn’t sure which one to go with. I told the order taker that we were first time beekeepers and I had a fear of being stung, so I wanted the most gentle bees possible.  She said both varieties are gentle.  Then I told her they would be at 3,000 foot elevation and would have to withstand a little bit of snow now and then, but hot and dry summers.  She said both varieties were excellent for the situation I described.  I told her we would be using the Top Bar Hive system and would be beekeeping organically.  She said either one would be great for a top bar hive. So with the Italians and the Carnolians being fairly equal, I decided to go with the Italians.  It was easier to say. 🙂

The day arrived to pick up our bees.  We had about a 2 hour drive to get to the ranch holding the bee day and we wanted to get there early.

Oliverez Honey Bee Day

Free coffee and donuts – I’ll have two (of each)  🙂 They also offered free fruit smoothies – yum!

Parking was a breeze in the large cow pasture next to the event.  We were offered free coffee and donuts (yes, please!) and then set about exploring and mingling.  Ray and I sat at a table to enjoy our morning snack and met a very nice lady who was there to get her second package of bees from Olivarez, as she was very happy with the package she got last year.  Another couple we talked to were getting their first package of bees, but had been helping a neighbor with his bees for years and enjoyed it so much they decided to get some of their own.  When I asked if they had ever been stung and how many times, they answered “of course” but that it was “their own fault”.  I ask this question a lot and I get the same sort of answer a lot. I am petrified of getting stung, so I want to know every detail of why, how and what happened when I hear someone else’s story.  Usually their answer is something like “I got too close to the hive entrance” or “I was working too quickly and hit the hive with my elbow”, or stories similar to that.  Then they would tell me, “it hurts (not gonna lie to you) but only for an hour or so”.

Well, alright then. I’m probably going to get stung.

Our first order of business was to check-in at the ordering desk. We have bees!-9

Everyone was so friendly and happy to have us there as customers, and the whole process was very smooth!  They found my name, saw that I had ordered one package of Italians, and that it was already paid for with my bank card.  I was given a receipt and told that I can pick up my bees at any time, but she said most people get their package after lunch.  Cool!

Here is the Mann Lake Booth.  We got some gloves, a smoker and some bee food here.

Here is the Mann Lake Booth.

There were also several vendors at the event.  Mann Lake, ltd  had a large retail area under the huge circus-like tent. They brought just about anything a beekeeper would need.  We looked at their books and browsed through some of their equipment.  Most of their equipment was for Langstroth hives but we did buy some gloves, a smoker, and some bee food.  We had previously purchased our bee suits online.

 

Another vendor was the Chico Honey Company, and they had some very delicious honey to purchase, along with t-shirts, honey paraphernalia and such. There was also a kid’s area with face painting.  Maybe next year when we get another package of bees we can take our grandchildren.  I think they would really enjoy the day.

I also have to show you this beautiful quilt they had hanging at the venue. Isn’t it just the cutest thing?

Newbee Beekeeping

Isn’t this just the cutest quilt!

After eating our donut (s) and drinking a few cups of coffee (it was really good), it was time to watch one of the demonstrations.

Installing bees into a top bar hive

A demonstration on how to install a new package of honey bees.

One of the Olivarez Beekeepers gave a very thorough and informative demonstration on how to install your bees into your hive. He made it look just a bit too easy, but then he is a professional.  I was very glad to hear a lot of his tips, such as to spray your bees with sugar water because it makes them happy and less likely to sting or fly and also to avoid installing the bees when it is dark because they don’t fly in the dark, have to crawl, and are more prone to sting out of fear.  After the morning demonstration, we had a little more time to browse the vendors and mingle with other beekeepers, then a hot dog barbeque lunch was served!

It was finally time to get our bees and go home.  All we had to do was hand our receipt to one of the bee guys, who promptly disappeared into the barn.  Seconds later he came out with our package of Italian honey bees that included one mated queen and three pounds of worker bees!  Here they are…

Italian Honey Bee Packages

Here is Ray with our bee package and the Queen Bee!

We Have Bees!  Stay tuned for the installation!

 

0001

Where the party is:  Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop;Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday;Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWhatever goes Wed; Show and Share Wed; Wined Down Wed; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs; Green Thumb Thurs;Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things;Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday;Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites;Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

Wood Warms You Again and Again!

This past spring we had several oak trees cut down that were casting too much shade upon our struggling fruit trees.  In fact, one of our peaches and both apple trees didn’t even see sunshine – at all!  I always struggle with eco-friendly practices versus self-sufficiency, and this was another one of those battles.  Do I cut down some beautiful oak trees that are in the way of a few trees in my orchard, and let the fruit trees suffer for lack of sunlight?  Or do I cut down the offending oak trees so that I will someday be able to harvest my own organic apples?  Self-sufficiency won this debate.  Those oak trees had to go.

Cutting firewood

Here is Mike, the lumberjack, at least 30 (maybe 40) feet up a very tall oak tree!

We had a local tree guy, Mike, come over to fall the trees.  I was nervous because the trees were very big and tall, and were right next to our orchard, garden and beehive.  I was afraid one of the trees would fall the wrong way and destroy the very things we were trying to save!  Luckily, Mike was a very careful and experienced lumberjack and was able to place every limb and trunk exactly where it needed to be. Not one branch fell the wrong way.  Whew!

Once Mike the Lumberjack was done, Ray and I were left with a huge mess and tangle of oak limbs and huge trunks.  For the past two months we have slowly been cutting the

Firewood cutting

This is part of the mess we were left with.

wood into about 18 inch lengths – perfect for our cute little wood stove!  The wood will keep us warm this winter and will also cook a majority of our food!  After we get a large pile of wood cut, we carry it over to the splitter, since most of the logs are too big in diameter to fit into our itty bitty wood stove.  The wood splitter was made by my brother-in-law, Danny, who passed on to heaven almost three years ago (and I still miss him). He was an excellent welder and machinist, and could make just about anything.  The splitter may not be pretty, but it sure does get the job done – and fast!

Oak firewood cutting

This is the hydraulic splitter that my brother-in-law, Danny, made.

After splitting the wood into wood stove sized chunks, we stack the wood on top of a tarp.

Firewood warms you five times!

Here is the stack we had when we were a little more than half done with our wood cutting, splitting and stacking. We will need every bit of this wood to stay warm this winter.

The tarp is there so the wood doesn’t “melt” into the dirt, and to deter ants and termites.  It won’t keep the critters away completely, but the tarp will make it a bit more uncomfortable for them to inhabit our wood pile.

What we like to do is get up early in the morning when it is still cool and cut for about an hour or so, then we do some splitting and stacking, and try to quit around lunchtime.  The past week has been fairly productive because it has been cool, but next week we are supposed to be in the mid 90’s to 100’s here in Northern California, and it’s brutal working in that kind of heat!

Cutting Firewood

Here is a pile of brush and limbs from the oak trees ready to go into the chipper/shredder.

The next morning, if we are too tired and sore from cutting, splitting and stacking, we will spend time chipping instead.  We bought our chipper eight or nine years ago and it has performed well.  Rather than have large piles of brush to burn next winter, which is a fire hazard here in the middle of the forest (especially with our terrible drought here in California), we chip most of the small limbs, brush and leaves that are left over from the trees we cut.  The chipped and shredded material makes a wonderful mulch for the garden.  We are also throwing a layer over the ground in the orchard area, in preparation for planting clover to help condition the soil. Some of the mulch also goes into the compost pile.  It’s the most efficient and safe way we have found to get rid of all that brush from the trees!

Oak wood mulch in the garden

We spread about 4-5 inches of mulch in all the garden beds. It’s great because I don’t have to water as often because the mulch keeps the soil cool and moist.  Another benefit is that I have had very few weeds to contend with.

So, let’s see…  We get warm when we cut the wood, warmer still when we split it, and by the time we are stacking we are almost burned out – yes, pun intended 🙂 .  That’s warming three times.  But, then we chip.  That’s four times.  Finally, the wood will warm us is when we burn it in our woodstove!

Well, actually, I guess it warms us again when we eat the food cooked on the wood stove – delicious!  And also when we spread the mulch around in the garden beds and over the orchard area.  And then again…

well, you get the picture!

blog script

Blog Parties:  Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop; Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday; Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWhatever goes Wed; Show and Share Wed; Wined Down Wed; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs; Green Thumb Thurs; Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things; Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday; Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites; Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

Organic Pest Control

I planted two varieties of strawberries to see which one would do best here at our new home.  They are both doing equally well.  The Sequoia started blooming at least a month earlier than the Quinault, but now as the Sequoia are starting to give up, the Quinault seem to be coming on strong!  I had no idea this would happen, but it’s wonderful because it will prolong our strawberry season.  However, even though the Sequoias were doing well and started putting on quite a few strawberries in early May, something was eating the fruit just before it became fully ripe!  We couldn’t even taste the strawberries to see if there was a difference between the two varieties!

Well, this can’t happen.  I’m not growing food to feed the forest critters, and we certainly can’t be very self-reliant if an uninvited guest is eating our food before we can.

The nerve!     Well, I never!     Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Judging from the little teeth marks on the half-eaten strawberries, I decided we were dealing with mice.  So, out came the mouse traps and peanut butter!  This method has worked fairly well so far.  One of our first scalloped squash was also half-eaten, I assume by mice, so we have a few traps by the squash as well.

Mouse trap for organic pest control

Good old fashioned mouse traps – they haven’t made a better one yet! Maybe these will keep the mice out of my garden so we can eat some strawberries!

Another pest I was afraid would descimate our garden was our native Banana Slugs.  I could imagine one of these slugs might take out an entire plant in one night.  Not cool!

Banana slug in Sierra Nevada Mountains

This is one of the many banana slugs we have found on our property. We saw it’s silvery trail and found this slug just chillin’. My middle finger is 3-1/4 inches long, so you can see Mr. Slugo is about 4 inches long – and fat! I’m sure he could devastate our vegetable garden overnight!

However, I read somewhere that slugs prefer not to cross copper. Apparently as their little sticky, sluggy tummies come into contact with the copper, it causes a very slight electrical current and the slugs prefer not to cross over it.  Hmmmm….

Copper…

Pennies are made of copper, right?  I had a whole bag of pennies!  So, I decided to try placing a copper ring around all of my new “tender” plants to see if it would keep the slugs away.  The verdict?  It works!  At least I think it must because I haven’t had any slug damage on the plants that have the penny rings around them, yet I have found several slugs within and around my garden!

I wanted to give these sunflower seedlings a fighting chance against our Banana Slugs.  Apparently copper really does work!

I wanted to give these sunflower seedlings a fighting chance against our Banana Slugs. Apparently copper really does work!

The biggest pest problem that I have been dealing with, however, has been the #$@%&#*&  Yellow Jackets.  Yellow Jackets are omnivores, which means they will eat meat (your hamburger, other bugs, or even you) and also sweet things like nectar, honey or your soda!  In the garden, if you are careful when they are around, Yellow Jackets can actually be a good thing!  Being meat eaters, they will eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, and various other insects.  Unfortunately, one of their prey are honey bees!  The Yellow Jacket is a more adept flier and can catch a honeybee in mid flight, and will eat the poor little honeybee’s softer abdomen as she kicks and flails her legs.  Yes, it is really quite gruesome and I have witnessed this several times within a few feet of our new hive.  I decided to go on the defensive against the Yellow Jackets, but what could I use?  To make matters worse, when autumn comes, the Yellow Jackets will begin to smell the honey in the beehive and may attack the bees to get to the honey.  I have read that Yellow Jackets can take out an entire colony of bees and steal all their honey!

I didn’t want to use an insecticide for obvious reasons – I have an organic garden and I also didn’t want to harm the honeybees!  We found some wasp traps at our local box

Redneck Organic Pest Control

This is one of those wasp traps you can buy at your local box store. They work but can be expensive if you need to control the Yellow Jackets through the entire season!

store and they work, but they cost $5.99 each and only work for about two to three weeks, then have to be replaced.  We were over-run with Yellow Jackets (mild winters cause this) and knew we would need to have a fortune’s worth of traps to keep the Yellow Jackets at bay so our honeybees would have a fighting chance.

Then, my sister Machell told me about a method some guy was using and claimed it worked so well he hadn’t seen a Yellow Jacket for weeks.

It was simple.  Fill a shallow tray with water that has a few drops of dish detergent in it to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the top. Then, get a piece of wood that can easily rest across the top of the tray.  Now, either nail a piece of meat to the piece of wood, use twine to tie the meat on, or do what I did and use rubber bands to strap a piece of meat onto the wood.  I used 1/2 a strip of bacon.  Now, turn the wood over so that the meat is on the underside of the wood.  Set out where you have seen a lot of Yellow Jacket activity.

I was nervous that the water would attract honeybees as well as the Yellow Jackets, so I watched the water carefully for the next few hours.  Luckily the Yellow Jackets were interested but the honeybees were not.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It really worked!  Within two days I had a few dozen Yellow Jackets drowned in the water.  This is so much cheaper that buying a lot of traps and I also don’t have to be concerned about having to dispose of the purchased traps with all their plastic!  I found even a small piece of bacon (about 1″ x 1″) will work, but the bigger the piece of meat, the more the trap attracted the Yellow jackets.

Meat Bee Traps

Here is my Redneck Yellow Jacket Trap. Don’t laugh – it works! I think it is actually working better than the ones I bought at the store!  It’s time to clean out again so I can catch some more!

The only disadvantage to this trap is that if it rains, your trap will probably accumulate too much water.  So, if it rains in your neck of the woods very often, it’s best to place this trap under something to keep the rain out.  Also, if you live in a hot, dry area, you will need to ADD water – probably once a day or so.

One more way I have been dealing with the Yellow Jackets is with those hand held, battery run bug zappers.  I’m sure you have seen them.  They look like a tennis racquet, but when you press a button, the metal grid becomes electrified.  It is so satisfying to catch one of those nasty little buggers and hear them fry!  They actually pop and sizzle on the electrified grid.  Obviously I am not Buddhist!  I learned that if I leave one of the fried Yellow Jackets on the metal grid, others come to cannibalize their comrade and I can zap a couple more without having to chase them down!

My forehand hasn’t been better! 🙂

0001

Where the party is:   Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog Hop; Grand Social; Mix It Up Monday;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday; Inspiration Monday; Made By You Monday;Homemaking Mondays; Mum-bo Monday   Show & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tuesday Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tuesday; Tweak It Tuesday; Inspire Me Tuesdays; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest Foodie;Lou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tuesday; Party In Your PJ’s  Make, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday;Whatever goes Wednesday; Show and Share Wednesday; Wined Down Wednesday; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wednesday; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To Shine;  Our Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday; Green Thumb Thursday; Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thursday; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thursday; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite ThingsFreedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects Party;Farmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday; Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites; Giggles GaloreSay G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Saturday;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic Saturday;  Frugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...