You know it’s spring when the hummingbirds return. For several years now I try to get at least one hummingbird feeder on the porch by April 15th. I was a few days late this year and didn’t get mine put out until Sunday the 20th and boy was I ever glad. Our first arrival was yesterday afternoon when we were sitting on the front porch enjoying the warm afternoon.
First I sterilize my feeders. Then I make their feed which is four parts water to 1 part sugar. I mix this together and boil for six minutes. Let cool and fill the feeders. This mixture will fill two of my feeders.
After preparing the feeders, hang them where you want to get a good view of these little angels in action. We usually have 4-6 feeders on our front porch out of the sun so the syrup doesn’t spoil as quickly. If your syrup seems to have strings of film in it after several days it’s time to change the syrup. I usually start out with two feeders to begin with and as the population grows I add more feeders.
One of the first arrivals.
Last year in June, I believe, we had about thirty at one time. I had four feeders on both sides of the porch and we were refilling them almost daily. We love watching them. Here’s a view of last years group:
Feeding time at the Caldwells!
I try to grow as many of their favorite flowers as possible every year and add perennials to my garden that they love as well. Most of these flowers also attract the graceful hummingbird moth as well.
Hubby is checking the supers for production and they’re just not quite capped over but he pulled the ones that were full and replaced them with fresh frames.
Smoking the hive a little to calm the bees so he can check this hive. It’s never been real productive but swarmed a lot. This year he added a brood box and an extra super and they working their little hearts out. They swarmed one this year about three weeks ago and instead of leaving the farm they went into one of the hives that died last winter. I guess when they were robbing the old honey out of it they figured it’s a nice new place to bring a new queen.
He loads the supplies on the ATV and moves closer to the hives to work. It works well and has room to work without bringing the bees back to the garage.
This is the smoker he uses. It’s old but still does the job. I save all the worn out jeans and he tears them into strips, uses his lighter to set it on fire and stuffs it in the smoker and pumps the bellows to get it going good.
This fine, soft bristled brush is used to gently sweep the bees off the frames after removing from the hive. Sometimes the bees are persistent about hanging on but soon leave for the hive.
Last years honey!
Now you’ll see how he prepares the frames for replacing in the supers. The bees could make their own starter comb but this way it’s set in straight and they work from that foundation to make the smooth honey he cuts from the frame.
Tapping in the small strip that holds the comb straight.
Gently placing new comb in the frames.
Bee super frames
He took honey out of the supers a couple weeks ago and then took some more this week. Most of the flowering they use this time of year makes darker honey. We like the lighter, sweeter honey so he takes off what we want to use and sale now before they add the dark nectar to the frames. We have mostly quarts right now of honey with comb and a few pints of strained honey. I’m still cleaning up wax all over the kitchen. We sell the quart with comb for $9.00 and the quart strained for $14.00. The pints with comb are $7.00 and the pint strained is $9.50. We lost five hives last winter and honey is in short supply and we had to raise the price this year to restock the frames and comb. The supplies are so expensive but the end result is awesome!!
Heavenly honey w/comb
11 quarts of honey w/comb, seven quarts strained honey and four pints of stained honey.
Golden nectar fall 2013
We have a new visitor to the farm. Not only do we have about 30 hummingbirds this year but we have a hummingbird moth. I love these little creatures as much as the hummingbirds.
Working the bloom just like the hummingbirds
Camouflaged in the bloom
Smaller than a hummingbird
Sucking up the nectar
We started out with six hummingbirds in mid-April and then it got cold and up until two weeks ago we only had one. I kept the fresh nectar out for him and finally we have five which I hope will multiply soon.
Normally I have five to seven feeders on the front porch by now but they’re only using the two and I’m refilling the feeders about twice a week.
I love these little guys and could watch them for hours. I make sure they have plenty of their favorite flowers in the yard as well.
They’ve been very busy this weekend and I’ve heard their courting rituals several times today. The dipping dance they do is quite something.
They’re quite territorial at the moment and they whizzed right in front of my face and caused Sassy to change positions on the porch for fear of getting “hummed”!!