10 07, 2015

Bee “keeping”?

By |2015-07-04T08:50:56-05:00July 10th, 2015|Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

One afternoon this spring, I got a call from Beekeeper Brian on his way home from work asking if I would make a phone call. I must confess this seemed too easy of a task. He asked me to call a local restaurant and ask if they had a swarm in a tree in their parking lot. Ok, sure.

I called and talked to the manager and sure enough there was a swarm in a tree in their parking lot. The manager did say he had already talked to one beekeeper that could not come get it immediately but would contact a fellow beekeeper. I told him the fellow beekeeper is my husband Beekeeper Brian. It is a tight knit community – this group of beekeepers.

bee boxesSo Brian came home, put on his bee suit, got his bee boxes and went to get some bees. He returned an hour later with a box of bees, including the queen, and a $30 gift card to the restaurant. He put the BOB (box of bees) on the back porch. It was a successful trip for everyone.

The next day Rachel noticed a lot of commotion in the back yard.

Apparently the new bees were not happy with their new home. They swarmed to a tree in our back yard.

Brian put out a bee trap to entice them back into a hive. In case you were wondering, bees are attracted to the scent of lemon grass. They went into the box for a while. Then they left again.

tree hiveThey were back in the tree in a different spot. We stood in the yard looking at them for a while. Then Brian decided to let them” be”. “Bees are going to do what bees are going to do” he said.

So the name “beekeeper” is really a misnomer. You can’t “keep” bees. You can only invite them to come make honey in your bee box. Sometimes they oblige.


24 01, 2014

Tales from the Dark Side (of the chicken coop) -Miller Farm Friday

By |2014-01-24T06:00:07-06:00January 24th, 2014|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A guest blog by Beekeeper Brian

Warning: The following story is a true account; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It also contains tales of death. If death of vermin upsets you, STOP reading now!

On Monday nights, Chicken Wrangler Sara teaches ladies about God’s Word. Therefore, I pull double farm duty.

Since my bees are snug in their hives, they are not a duty problem.

As you might remember, the chickens go into the coop when the sun goes down every night. However, a chicken wrangler or beekeeper has to go close the door to the coop. We haven’t been able to teach the girls to take care of that.

I went out to keep them safe and close the coop.

You would not believe that living in the city, we would have all kinds of uninvited dinner guest. Word should be out that there are no more dinner parties on the Miller Farm.

Yet, as I drew close to the coop door, I spotted the glowing eyes of an uninvited dinner guest—the chicken eating opossum! possumSnarling Virginia OpossumThis was the fourth opossum this winter that planned to have chicken as his main course!

In case you have never tangled with an opossum, once they find fresh food, they keep coming back for seconds.

Since Chicken Wrangler Sara was not at home to bring me a lead slinger (air-powered since we are in the city), I had to grab what was at hand – my flashlight.

Unfortunately, I only had the small one.

Fortunately, there is a nice rock right outside the coop, which would do the trick. Several hits later, the chicken thief was unaffected!

I needed to find something else. (Don’t be fooled. Opossums play dead, but they do have a very strong tail, which can be used to carry them some place to secure a bigger club.)

I grabbed his tail and hauled him out of the coop, heading for the woodpile. I grabbed half of a wooden bee pallet to use as a club. That was a little more effective at subduing him, but the rascal was still sniffing for chicken dinner.

I spotted a shovel blade by the shed and carried him to the other side of the yard to finish the deed with the shovel blade. It was crude but effective.

The hens were safe for another night, none the wiser that there’d been an intruder intend on eating them.

I posted on FB: opossums 0, Beekeeper Brian 4.

When Chicken Wrangler Sara arrived home, I told her of the evening adventure. All in a day’s work on an urban farm.

5 10, 2012

Miller Farm Friday – Wax Bees and Bananas

By |2012-10-05T08:17:27-05:00October 5th, 2012|Miller Farm Friday, Uncategorized|2 Comments

For an urban city farm, the Miller Farm produces a wide variety of products. I love the eggs. And, the honey Beekeeper Brian extracts is equally tasty.

Chicken Wrangler email today is about the bees on the farm.

Today has been a bit busier than a normal. I added blood donation to my already full errand list.

 When I returned to the Farm, I discovered an interesting object on my kitchen counter. 

It is a two liter bottle (which I had saved at Beekeeper Brian’s request) which is about a quarter full of clear liquid with what appears to be a banana peel in it.

 This last part was confirmed by the discovery of both ends of the banana peel in the sink. Now being married to Brian for 25 years, I know this is something he has done.

I suspect it has something to do with the bees. Just in case you need a little humor to lighten your day,  any other guesses?

I’ll let you know what this contraption is when I find out.

Then the next morning this Chicken Wrangler email arrived.

A moth trap! 

 Apparently there is a type of moth that takes up residence in bee hives and greatly hinders honey production. They are extremely attracted to the clear liquid in the two liter bottle which is actually a mixture of sugar, water and honey.

If you look closely, you can see the moth mite on the bee’s neck.

The banana peel puts off some gas thing as it ferments that is extremely unattractive to the bees so they are not tempted to join the moths in their final swim.

The banana must ferment for two days so tomorrow the  bottle will go out back near the bee hives. I’ll report back on the success of the “two liter bottle/banana peel moth trap.”


A hive destroyed by wax moths. Note the larva in the honeycombs.
Learn more about the wax moth and bees: http://eberthoney.com/honeybeeblog/blog4.php/main/?paged=12

Now I am sure we will all sleep better having solved this mystery. 

~~Sara – who never ceases to be amazed at the wonders her husband discovers

I, too, am amazed at the things Beekeeper Brian can do. Some blog we’ll talk about his fly-fishing skills or his woodcrafting bowls or his dulcimer building skills. A multi-tasking beekeeper-farmer that Brian.

YOUR TURN: Ever found something unfamiliar on your kitchen counter?

Go to Top