Not much has changed since the last update. We expect the bees this weekend and have been making final preparations for their arrival. The hives are ready to go, and we’ve chosen a location for them. Unfortunately our first choice of locations, with morning sun and afternoon shade as bees prefer, had to be ruled out because of its proximity to the corn field next door. Corn doesn’t have much value for foraging bees, and the seeds are pre-treated with pesticides. When the corn is planted, some of that pesticide residue gets in the air and would be carried to our beehives and the area around them. Besides that, we don’t know how long the pesticides are effective to know if they would still kill or harm our foraging bees if they ventured into the corn. We’re not eager to take that chance. Hopefully being on the other side of our property will protect the bees from drifting pesticide residue and encourage them to forage elsewhere. In addition to preparing the hive boxes, we’re preparing our bee equipment. When bees are agitated they release pheromones. If you’re working the bees at the time, those pheromones will cling to your beekeeping suit. Next time you wear that suit, the pheromones will still be there and cause the bees to become agitated again. So, it’s advisable to wash your beekeeping suit.
Over the last few days we’ve gotten about an inch of rain, so everything is looking nice and green. The birds are out enjoying the overcast, damp weather. Right now I can see a pair of cardinals, and yesterday we watched one of the red-tailed hawks sitting on the fence keeping an eye out for a meal.
Last week I surprised a snake as I was walking across the newly mowed field. It moved fast so it was hard to see details, but I think it might have been a coachwhip snake. It was 3 or 4 feet long, I’d guess. Happily, they’re non-venomous. Mom found a good-sized rat snake in her bathroom last week, which was also non-venomous but more than a little startling. It probably does explain why they stopped finding mice in their house, though. Between snakes and rodents, we’re hoping to adopt a couple of feral cats from the local animal shelter soon. Since feral cats are nearly impossible to adopt to traditional homes, the shelter adopts them out as barn cats. We’ll have to keep them confined for a couple of weeks or so to let them acclimate to their new environment, then provide water, shelter, and food to supplement whatever they catch. They’ll eat insects, rodents, and small snakes among other things. Between eating the smaller snakes and competing for food with the larger ones, they should help reduce the snake population in our immediate area. Although I respect the important role of snakes in our ecosystem, I’d prefer to keep them a little father away from our home and the small livestock we plan to acquire.