That's me tooting my own horn. Just joking. I took my practical today for beekeeping and am now a certified beekeeper. Believe me, there are no special privileges or awards. It just shows I have hands-on practical knowledge of beekeeping. I can point out certain elements of a hive and answer some "what-if" questions. It doesn't mean I'm a successful beekeeper, if harvesting honey is the benchmark. Though the hive is strong coming into spring, and I'm hopeful honey is in our future. During the practical exam, we noted several queen cells as well as evidence of a productive queen. We cut out the queen cells to prevent swarming. They have plowed through the honey I noted a few weeks ago but are in the process of capping more. I don't believe in feeding sugar water for the sake of harvesting honey. I believe eating their own honey will do more for them than substituting a substandard food. So, we will be patient for a honey harvest. Spring has sprung around here, and everything is starting to bloom so they should have good nectar sources in the coming weeks. They are doing a stellar job of collecting pollen. The hive was loaded with pollen. We didn't see anymore evidence of mites, so the powdered sugar may have done the trick. I will check them in another 10-14 days for honey production progress and queen cells.
Olivia, my English Angora, gave birth to four kits last night/this morning. I found them this morning at various places in the nest box. They were cold to the touch, except one, so I rushed them into the house and placed them on a towel over a heating pad. Three of them were really fat and healthy looking, and I could tell they had nursed because they looked like balloons about to pop. I brought in Olivia and tried to get the runt to suckle, but it just didn't have the strength. I also tried to nurse it with a dropper, but it didn't respond to that either. It died shortly after that. They are now snuggled together in the nest box covered with a layer of Olivia's wool. Here's a picture of the four. You can see how much smaller the runt is next to the other three. They are the most vulnerable the first ten days, so please wish them, Olivia and me good luck.
I opened my mouth and out popped, "Yes, I'll do it." What is it that I agreed to do you may ask? I agreed to speak this Saturday at a local health food store on the subject of Urban Homesteading. The store is hosting an all day event with different speakers on subjects such as beekeeping and emergency preparedness. What have I gotten myself into? I'm going with an arsenal of photos, stories, and hard lessons learned. Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated right now!