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November 30, 2012

Winner: Chicken Cookie Cutter Set

A huge thanks to Hobby Hill Farm for sponsoring such a fun and delicious giveaway!  One lucky, randomly selected winner will receive a hen, rooster and chick cookie cutter just in time for the holidays.  How sweet is that?



You are the winner!

Please email to claim your prize.  
Thank you everyone for entering.  If you would like to order your very own set of cookie 
cutters, you can find them here.

Photo Credit:  Hobby Hill Farm

November 28, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 13

These past few days have been rough.  This past Sunday, our dehumidifier happened to start a chemical fire. I ended up frantically trying to unplug the darn thing amidst smoke and fumes.  The unit was incredibly hot and we ended up carrying it up to the driveway with a pair of pot holders.  My family is safe but, unfortunately, I received a chemical burn to my left eye. On Sunday, I was thrilled to discover that my upstairs bathroom tub was leaking into sub-floor and ceiling below!  My husband thought I was crazy but I was over the moon.  As things often come in three and this was the third event.

So Monday, after the kids went to school. I bundled up.  With a scarf, mittens, a hat and hood, I dragged a remaining lawn chair out to sit with the chickens.  I felt myself relax, the tension drained, my heart was uplifted and the sweet rainbow of chickens was there to brighten my day.  The gray dull skies could just not compete with my seven fluff balls of love.

It was chilly but the girls did not mind.  Oyster Cracker and Sunshine, completing their molts, sat perched upon the outside roost. All their feathers were poofed up to keep warm, including the tiniest of feathers tucked around their combs on their heads.  Tilly's beak was covered in fresh earth from scratching around.  The Silkies were indeed digging to China in the corner.  Perhaps they were attempting to set a new record for the largest dust bathing bowl.

After a few minutes, I was rejuvenated.  Some how, no matter what, life just goes on for this little flock of chickens.  With the good and the bad, life happens.  When you are a chicken, there is no choice but to roll with the punches.  I am happy to say it is now Wednesday.  I have been doing an awful lot of rolling, and I think the chickens just might have helped me to grow as a person.  Again.

Now it is your turn. This is a blog hop. Share with us your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like. Feel free to share this hop with your friends and family because all are invited and with this hop, there can never be too many wonderful places to connect.

November 27, 2012

Holiday 2012~Fabulous Finds

I love stationary. I love collecting paper and wonderful items to send in the mail that make people feel special when they open the envelope.  I am just in love with this handmade chicken return address stamp. I just think this would be the perfect addition to any chicken lover's collection.  Somehow, paying the bills just became a little more enjoyable.

Timber Press
One of the most beneficial herbs that you can grow for your chickens is lavender.  Lavender is said to reduce stress, promote relaxation and is a wonderful pest-think poultry lice and mites- repellent.  Sadly, this is one perennial that I have the most difficult time getting to return each spring.  I have added a copy of The Lavender Lover's Handbook to my Winter reading list.  Hopefully, I can learn a thing or two about selecting the proper varieties of  lavender to thrive in my yard.  Included in this book are over 100 varieties and lessons on growing, drying, crafting and cooking.


One of my favorite stores is Anthropologie. I could just spend days in their kitchen section alone.  I love these half dozen ceramic egg holders and their ceramic berry baskets.  They look so pretty on the counter displaying your lovely produce and eggs.

I adore little sweet necklaces that share my love with others.  How adorable is this little honey bee necklace with an initial pendant?   Etsy is full of wonderful chicken, bee and gardening themed jewelry.

It's true, I am a self-confessed succulent addict and I could not help but fall in love with the Succulent Perch's living roof birdhouses.  They will create one perfect for your gardening zone to share with the birds in your garden.

Timber Press
If you have a yard and keep chickens this is a fabulous book that I have recommended time and time again to anyone who keeps chickens that free-range about in some capacity or another.  Free Range Chicken Gardens covers landscape design/planting suggestions, protecting plants and gardens from the flock, growing worms for your flock, poisonous plants, composting, creating chicken tractor and coops, both urban and rural chicken gardens, predators, introducing a dog to a flock of chickens, chickens relating to other livestock, game birds, and bee and health issues.

Keeping a journal can be one of the most therapeutic things in life.  I like to keep one to jot down my ideas, inspiration and take notes. There are so many beautiful ones to chose from, all handcrafted by talented artisans all over this country.  Sometimes, this is a great gift for someone who seems to already have everything.

Oh how do I love this poster available in over 56 colors!  The original slogan, Keep Calm and Carry On, was developed by the British as a morale booster during World War II and has now branched out into everything including chickens.  You can find this one on Etsy.

Repurposed silver-plated forks, knives and other utensils into garden markers.  These are sure to strike up conversations, probably would distract birds with their reflective properties and would add a touch of whimsy to your garden next season.

Timber Press
I devoured The Layered Garden. The details to attention are marvelous as well as the photos and guides on how you can create a garden like his on your very own property. I loved reading how Mr.Culp began in gardening. I adored his pearls of wisdom found scattered in the sidebars. I enjoyed seeing the garden in all times of the year and I could not help but smile at his bantam chickens scavenging in the gardens! This is another book that I will be spending plenty of time with as the snow falls outside my home this winter and I begin to think about getting out into my own yard.

A holiday splurge!  Candles plus eggs plus the imagination of a talented ceramic artist and we discover the beauty of the "rocking votive". These fit a small votive candle, a house plant, or can be used as salt cellars at the table. I love the one in the center called Yolk.

Lastly, don't forget to check out all of the wonderful sponsors of this page for other fabulous items for your flock, home, decor and so much more.

Happy Holidays!

November 26, 2012

Chickens on the Tree

This past weekend, we made our annual pilgrimage to our favorite local store to select a few new ornaments for our Christmas tree.  I am always on the look out for chickens.  This year I found two roosters, a hen and a wonderful honey bee to add to my collection.  I had to just share them with you today.  How do you decorate your tree?

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

This post is linked up to Homestead Revival's Barn Hop and The Clever Chick Blog Hop.

November 24, 2012

Winners: Egg Skelter from Manna Pro


Red-Paul and Jenny
Cream- The Funny Farm Woods
Silver- Susan

Please check your email and let me know your US shipping address.

Thank you so much to Manna Pro for sponsoring 
this amazing giveaway.

November 23, 2012

Giveaway: Chicken Cookie Cutter Set

For me, as the holidays approach, baking mode kicks into high gear.  We bake for school, church, get-togethers and cookie swaps.  You name it, we are usually baking something at least once a week in our kitchen.  I was so excited when our sponsor, Hobby Hill Farm, shared that they wanted to make one of our follower's baking even more enjoyable by giving away a set of their popular chicken, rooster and chick cookie cutters.  One lucky winner will receive their very own set.  Complete with fail proof recipes for the cookies and frosting, these cookies are sure to be a real hit wherever you share them.

Sugar Cookies as found on the cookie cutters
Cream together:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted flour

Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Chill dough 3-4 hours before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out on a lightly floured counter to 1/4" thick and cut with your favorite Ann Clark cookie cutters, then transfer cookies onto cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or silicone liners. Bake about 8-10 minutes or until lightly colored. Let cookies cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing or eat just plain.

Now all you need are the cutters!

Here's How to Enter:
1.  Visit Hobby Hill Farm and tell me what you would place on your wish list. (1 entry) For those that can't wait, Hobby Hill Farm has also extended 10% off your order by entering "Tilly" at the check-out.  This offer is for a very limited time only.  
2.  Follow our blog-options on the right hand side (1 entry)
3.  Leave a comment on this post letting me know if you did number 1 or 2 or both.  Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you.

One winner will be randomly selected to win.  Giveaway ends 11/28/12 at midnight EST.  
One entry per person.  Items ship to US address only.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light, 
For rest and shelter of the night, 
For health and food, 
For love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

November 19, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 12

~Of, relating to, or reminiscent of a simple, 
wholesome, unpretentious lifestyle~

Welcome to the 12th week of the Down Home Blog Hop.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones later this week, I wanted to take a moment and give thanks to each and every one of you.  Home has so many special meanings to me and my flocks, both feathered and human.  It is incredibly symbolic for so many reasons and having you part of this Down Home Blog Hop has brought great joy, comfort, inspiration and lessons not only into my life but to many others who visit each week.  I am thankful to each and everyone of you for sharing your blogs.

This week, the blog hop will kick off a day early to give each and every one of you a chance to link up this week.  Today, I am sharing a Rustic Cornucopia that I created for HGTV Garden.  I created it from chicken wire, burlap, raffia and my faithful hot glue gun. Click here for the how to.

I hope that each and everyone of you are able to find a little bit of down home comfort, love and cooking as we celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

November 18, 2012

Minestrone Soup with a Twist

All of a sudden Old Man Winter seems to have arrived on our doorstep.  It is cold, chilly, damp and windy.  Only the oak trees are left with their leaves.  They are stubborn, waiting until the snow to fall until they part with their leaves.  As the final warmer days of fall fleet away, I find myself making more soups and hearty meals.  The secret to my Minestrone soup is adding tortellini.  All the food groups are covered with this soup and usually the tortellini are the first things gobbled up by my little ones.


4 cups chicken stock
1  28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can white Cannellini beans
1 cup dried cheese tortellini
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 medium zucchini cut into bite size pieces
1 cup diced carrots
2 stalk celery-cut into bite size pieces
1 medium diced onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 Parmesan cheese-the type in the can.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup green beans


In a large soup pot, over medium heat, saute the garlic, onions, celery, carrots, basil and parsley in the olive oil.  Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, zucchini and simmer  over low heat for 30 minutes.

Next add the beans, tortellini, green beans, Parmesan cheese and simmer for 20 more minutes on low.

Ladle into bowls while piping hot and serve with crusty french bread.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

This blog post is linked up to the original Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

November 16, 2012

Giveaway: Egg Skelters From Manna Pro

I have been working with my sponsor, Manna Pro, for months now helping them to launch their newest product, The Egg Skelter. It has been so much fun!  Their arrival was delayed a few weeks due to a few logistical issues and I know I was not the only one feeling like a child anxiously awaiting Santa Claus's arrival.  While I was on vacation, I received an email that the egg skelters were going to launch and Tilly's Nest would be giving away one in each color.  Away from the computer, this post had to wait a few more days until I returned, but I definitely think it is worth the wait!

So without further ado, let me introduce to you the Egg Skelter.  Prior to this week, egg skelters were only available in the U.K.  They provide a simple easy way to keep track of your eggs in the order in which they were laid.  As you take one from the bottom, the rest gently roll to fill in the vacant space.

Eggs are laid with a protective bloom that allows them to remain at room temperature. However, if you feel uncomfortable with that, the Egg Skelter fits perfectly on a refrigerator shelf right next to the milk.  The Egg Skelter works well in both places.

Easily fits in the fridge on the shelf.

The Egg Skelter can even accommodate smaller bantam sized eggs.  Sometimes, they need a bit of encouragement to "roll" but our Silkie eggs never fall through the cracks.  It holds approximately two dozen standard sized eggs, is dishwasher safe and comes in three colors-red, silver and cream.  I chose silver to match my appliances.  The Egg Skelter makes a wonderful, unique gift for your family, friends or anyone who keeps chickens during the holiday season.

Win one of 3 Egg Skelters in this giveaway! 
~Silver, Red and Cream~

Here is how to Enter:
1.  Become a follower of Tilly's Nest, options are on the right hand side. (1 entry)
2.  Leave a comment below.  Be sure to leave an email address, so that I can contact you.

A coupon, for those of you who just can't wait...

This giveaway will end on 11.22.12 at midnight EST.  Three winners will be randomly selected.  Colors will be randomly awarded.  One entry per person. Ships to US addresses only.

This post is linked up to the original Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and Sunny Simple Sunday.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Comments are now closed.  This giveaway has ended.  Thank you for participating.

November 15, 2012

Winner: Mille Lacs Impressions

I just love this one!

It's hard to believe that this fantastic giveaway from Mille Lacs Impressions has come to a close.  I wanted to extend a huge thank you to Mille Lacs Impressions for sponsoring this giveaway.  The winner of the giveaway will be allowed to select from either a cell phone cover ( iPhone 4/4s/5, Galaxy S II, SIII and Note) or a mouse pad.  You can even upload your own photo if you like and Mille Lacs Impressions will take care of the rest!  Also, be sure to take a peek at so many of their wonderful products.  They have so many just perfect for the upcoming holiday season.


Elaine@Sunny Simple Life

You are the winner!

Please email me at: melissa(at) so that I can put you in touch with the ladies over at Mille Lacs Impressions.  Stay tuned friends, another huge giveaway is launching tomorrow!

Another super cute one...

Photo Credit:  Mille Lacs Impressions

November 14, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 11

Good Morning! I have returned.  Thank you everyone for linking up last week to the party.  I enjoyed reading your posts as I traversed across the country. Today I would like to share this with you this very easy garland that I created just for HGTV Garden.  To make this easy versatile garland, click here.

For the rest of the day, I will be playing catch-up; unpacking, laundry, tidying up and of course spending some more time with the chickens until my little ones come home from school.  It is always wonderful to come home.

Feel free to relax, link-up your blog, grab a cup of coffee and visit all of the other wonderful blogs that link up this week.  I know I can't wait to see what has kept you busy!

Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest

November 12, 2012

The Definition of Home

Right about now, when I am so close to the end of my trip away from home, I always seem to become the most homesick.  I find myself thinking of my family, my home and how it feels when we are all together.  There is no place like it in the world.

Like many of us, chicken have a strong sense of home.  At night, they get in the habit of returning to the safety of their coop after a long day of scratching and seeking out delicious morsels.  As the daylight turns to dusk, they call out for flock members who are late; distracted by a bug, a snake, a tasty frog or a hidden nest of eggs.  Every night without fail, Tilly pops out of the coop for one last head count.  Even though her and Dolly don't see eye to eye, she still checks to make sure that everyone has turned in for the night.

They have sleeping arrangement preferences.  Somehow, they have to agree with who they get to snuggle up with in the evening.  We've had some pretty strange arrangements around here.  The chickens must find them comfortable!  I've long lost the battle of Silkies sleeping in nesting boxes.  I think they must be a brood that not only tends to be broody, but prefers to sleep on the ground.  Who am I to tell a chicken breed that has been around since the days of Marco Polo and the 13th century, where they should sleep?

I can't forget the pecking order as well.  In our own families, there is always someone in control.  I like to think its the parents.  In chicken families, the pecking order helps to determine everyone's position and role.  Tilly is the head hen.  She rules the roost. Oyster Cracker is our resident love bug and greeter.  She is very social and does not fear much.  Sunshine is our guardian.  She watches the skies all day long and is quick to sound the alarm when threats are near.  Her deep voice is just perfect for the job.  The Silkies take mothering very seriously.  Their broody tendencies are amazing. They all get along and seem to have their own little pecking order within the larger order.  The pecking order, establishes their family.

In every family, there are times when we get along.  There are times when we disagree and there are times when we are apart.  There are times when we wish that we weren't in certain situations.  The best part, is that we know we always have our families, through blood or friendship, that help us to persevere, survive, believe in ourselves and most importantly fill our hearts with love.  The same goes for chickens.  They are very smart.  You can learn many life's lessons from pulling up a chair near the flock, sitting quietly and taking a glimpse into the lives of chickens.  I can't wait to return home to both of my families, human and feathered.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

November 11, 2012

Rustic Greek Flatbread

The other day, I was in the mood for something salty, tangy and warm for lunch.  This seemed to fit the bill perfectly!  As most of you know, I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.  I always have one of their rustic ciabatta flatbreads on hand.  They are so versatile.  Like a Boboli, they are seasoned to perfection and can morph into many things from pizza to a savory tart in no time.

1 rustic ciabatta flatbread
1/2 cup of olive tapenade
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup of capers
1/4 cup of kalamata olives
1/2 cup of sliced tomatoes
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the flat bread on a large baking sheet.  Just as you would make a pizza, spread the olive tapenade onto the flat bread.  Layer on the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with olives, capers and feta cheese.

Bake approximately 10-15 minutes until the flatbread crisps a bit and the feta begins to turn a golden brown.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

November 10, 2012

How To Relax at Home

This month, Tilly's Nest is one of the featured bloggers in Country Living Magazine's 
online feature "How To Relax at Home".  

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

November 8, 2012

Chickens at the White House

Michelle Obama has done a wonderful job growing a beautiful vegetable garden at the White House.  With a little plot of land, some seeds and helpers, she grew and harvested an abundance of wonderful foods that the White House chefs were able to serve the first family.  As her vision grows, now that she will be in the White House for four more years, my visions for the White House garden grow as well.  An addition of a beehive would be wonderful but something that I think Sasha and Malia would enjoy even more would be a small flock of backyard chickens.

Here is what Tilly and the girls want the Obamas to know.

We are...

Exterminators--We love bugs.

Protein producers
--There are meat breeds available.

Loving pets--We love hugs, snuggles and kisses.

Fertilizer engineers
--We love to add to your gardens.

Garbage disposors--We love scraps from the kitchen.

Weed eaters
--We don't mind helping tidy up the gardens.

Egg layers--Nothing like fresh laid eggs in the morning. Did we mention free delivery?

Cutest composters ever--Just doing our job.

Partners in sustainable living
--We are part of the local food movement and helping families become independent.

And for those nay sayers....

Chickens are stinky and filthy animals. All animals whether you keep dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbit, reptiles, snakes, hermit crabs or parakeets require upkeep and maintenance from time to time. If neglected, those animals would and can give off unpleasant scents and attract flies. A small flock of 4-10 hens is easy to maintain. When properly cared for on a regular basis, your chickens will be free from odor. In fact, they do care about being clean. Yes, they take daily dust baths. They also roost in the evening which helps keep their feathers clean and away from poop. Sometimes, like all animals, they need a little help. You can bathe chickens when necessary if they are not doing a good enough job. How clean you keep your chickens is up to YOU.

Chickens lure predators and rodents to my yard. At night even large cities have animals that arrive under the cover of darkness. They are out looking for food. In addition to seeking a chicken dinner, predators will seek left over scraps that the chickens did not eat. They will also drink from your chickens’ water source. Rodents will do the same. At night, take a moment to clean the run of any left-over food. Take the waterers inside. Be sure that all food/scratch is locked up in metal containers. Predators and rodents are smart. Once they realize that food and water sources do not exist around your coop and run, they move on.

Chickens will make me sick. As with any animals, people should always wash their hands after coming in contact with them. If one's clothing becomes soiled while handling animals they should be changed and laundered. The greatest risk with chickens is Salmonella. The risk of salmonella decreases with hand washing. All domestic animals are capable of carrying and spreading diseases. What about Avian Flu? Here is what the CDC has to say:

We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them?
Yes. In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents.

Chickens are noisy. If you have a rooster(s), this is sometimes the case. Roosters can and will crow at any hour day and night. There are techniques to help keep roosters quiet and neighbors happy. However, without roosters in a flock, backyard chickens are virtually undetectable. Sometimes there is an occasional “Bawk-Bawk-Bawk” as a proud hen declares that she has laid her egg. You might also hear your flock call out if they are in danger. Chickens willsound the alarm and notify all in hearing distance that something is askew.

Chickens will decrease the value of homes in the neighborhood.
We are not talking about starting up a chicken farm. A small flock will live in a small coop. The coop and run are removable if the new owner decides chicken keeping is not for them. Some people will choose to take their set-ups with them. If people think that a small flock of chickens tucked into a backyard garden will bring down their property value then, what about a dog run? What about those people who allow junk to collect all over their property? What about hoarders?

By the way, thought you should know that the CDC, part of the US. government, is now considering backyard chickens as pets!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the Obama girls receive a peeping package in the mail?  I can only imagine how their lives would change for the better!

If you are reading this Mrs. Obama, a great place to start your research is here.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

November 7, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 10 & A Thanksgiving Table

Down Home Blog Hop

Welcome to another wonderful week of the Down Home Blog Hop! Thank you so much everyone for linking up to the party. It has been incredible and I just enjoy learning and spending time with you all on your blogs.

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Soon enough, we will all take the time to gather with our loved ones around the table and give thanks.

Here are some of my favorite easy affordable ideas to help make your home lovely for the holiday.  With a piece of reclaimed wood laid down the center of your table, some Indian corn, hydrangea blossoms, gourds, garden art and candles help set the mood of the harvest and bring the table to life.

Inverting Indian corn in a favorite container instantly adds drama and height.
Fresh hydrangea blossoms and candles set the mood
Stone garden art comes inside to add a touch of whimsy to the table.
Inspired by nature, hydrangea blossoms, Indian corn and gourds take center stage.

Now it's your turn.  It's your blog and your adventure and I can't wait to join you.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

November 6, 2012

Giveaway: Mille Lacs Impressions

We are so proud and excited to announce that Louise's Country Closet is growing!  Mille Lacs Impressions is their sister company. Due to their overwhelming success, they are now branching out to carry cell phone cases, check book covers, mugs, mouse pads, coasters, cutting boards, pillow shams and much more. I love you can even send them one of your own photos to add to their products or chose items made with their original artwork. Here are my favorite items!


Today's giveaway is your choice!  Choose from either a cell phone cover ( iPhone 4/4s/5, Galaxy S II, SIII and Note) or a mouse pad.  You can also choose to send in your own photo or pick from one of their custom options!  How fun is this!?

Here is how to enter:
1.  Subscribe or follow our blog. (1 entry)
2.  Visit Mille Lacs Impression's store & tell me what you would put on your wishlist.(1 entry)
3.  Leave a comment on this post and let me know if you have done 1, 2, or both.

One winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on this post.  There are two possible entries per person.   Comments are moderated so your comment may take a bit to show up on this post. Contest ends 11/14/12 at noon.

Photo Credits:  Mille Lacs Impressions

November 5, 2012

2nd Annual Hug A Chicken Day™

Did you remember to hug one of your chickens today?  Last year, after a great deal of thought, I felt it was important to honor our backyard chickens.  After all, how different would our lives be without them?  I am grateful for their eggs, their companionship, entertainment, lessons in life, the responsibilities they have taught my children, their little noises and their lust for life!

Tilly was up first.  I just love how they nuzzle into that little space of my neck.  Their warm little wattles and combs touch my skin. I can hear them breathing into my ear and cooing happy content little chicken words.  I just love when they decide to close their eye with pure contentment.

Please be sure to share a photo of you hugging your chickens today on our Facebook page or the Hug A Chicken Day™ event page.   For exclusive Tilly's Nest merchandise that ships worldwide commemorating the event, click here.  

Special  Celebration Offers from our Friends:
10% off your order today only from Louise's Country Closet- code "HUGACHICKEN"

10% off your order today from Mille Lacs Impressions-code "HUGACHICKEN"

10% of your purchase price today only is credited to you on your next order from Treats for Chickens.You must create an account to activate this deal. DO NOT check out as a guest for this one! Don't you just love it ??!!

Coincidence?  The Egg Skelters from Manna Pro Poultry are made available today!  Click here to purchase in silver, red or cream. We will be giving away one in each color as soon as they arrive on our doorstep later this month!

November 4, 2012

The Drones

Yesterday, As I was tidying up around the apiary removing leaves, I discovered these two poor little drone that had been removed from the hive.  Drones are male bees that serve to mate with queens other than their own.  As the cold sets in, they are seen by this female dominated society as literally "extra mouths to feed".  Still soft, fuzzy and completely intact these were some of the last to be evicted from their hive. I find them beautiful. The queen will automatically lay new drones in the spring.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

November 2, 2012

Preparing the Hives for Winter

Hives with mouse guards perched on top ready to be inserted.

This week I took the honey supers (honey collectors) off of the last hive. Three weeks ago these two supers were half-full of uncapped honey. As I removed the supers, they were barren of honey. The bees must have moved it or consumed it during the last few colder days. Click here for parts of the hive.

I've enjoyed watching the hives as the cooler temperatures arrived. The summer bees began to die off. Tiny piles of bees were collecting outside the hive. The queen has switched gears and begun to lay winter bees-hardier bees that have a longer lifespan designed especially for surviving the winter.

The drones, the male bees, were also evicted from the hive. With mouths too small to eat for themselves, they are dependent on the female worker bees for feeding. In the winter, they are not necessary for survival. Male drones never mate with their own queen and mating with outside queens will not resume until spring. One by one the worker bees carry the drones away from the hive, abandoning them in the wood chips. Other drones buzz by my head, frantic to enter the hive. Yet they are turned away by the female guard bees. They are desperate and confused. My heart goes out to them. The drones are defenseless. With no stingers, they are at the will of the female colony. The drones will all be eliminated from the colony before the first frost. Come spring, the queen will begin to lay drones again. For now, the colony will only consist of females.

In both hives, the deeps are chock full of honey and pollen. The bees have been busy storing. They will need 60 to 80 pounds of honey to survive winter on Cape Cod. I did decide to feed them a 2:1 sugar syrup to help bolster their food supply. Once the weather reaches 57 degrees, they will begin to go into their tightly formed ball of bees called a cluster.

Breaking from the cluster will only occur at 40 degrees or higher. During this time the bees will slowly move to more food sources within the hive and also take a moment to go on cleansing flights. Bees will not evacuate their digestive tract in the hive. When in cluster, the queen stays in the warm and toasty 95 degree center as the other bees take turns on the outside of the cluster.

I will be making a candy board for the bees to place on the top of the hive as back-up feeding in case they exhaust their stored resources for the rest of the winter. I also inserted hardware cloth mouse guards into the bottom entrances. So for now, they are essentially tucked in with not much more for me to do but wish them well as we head into the colder weather and season of winter.

I consider my first year with the bees a huge success. In both hives, their numbers are plenty. They have built out their hives and filled them with what they need to survive the winter. They also managed to build out 30 wax foundations in the honey supers.  This will be a great head start when the nectar begins to flow in the spring.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

This post is linked up to DeborahJean'sFarmGirl Friday, The Homestead Barn Hop and The Clever Chick's Bloghop.