The Joys of Beekeeping: Swarm Traps

I know what you’re saying.

“You don’t even have bees yet and you’re already trying to trap a swarm? Surely, you can’t be serious.”

Why, yes. Yes we are. Call us ambitious. Call us stupid. Call us cheap. Just don’t call us Shirley.

But after reading up extensively on building your own swarm traps, we decided to give it a whirl. Spending over $100 on a package of bees that could potentially die over the winter had us figuring out ways to save and this seemed like a good idea. We really aren’t expecting much activity, so we will be pleasantly surprised if there is a good turnout. We have extra hives built and ready just in case. We wanted to have them on hand anyway in case we have to split our hives later on.

We made six traps to place out on a couple of family member’s properties. So stick around, we will post any success or failures we have in the process!

Here are some pictures of the swarm trap building process:

*Note: We will be using both lemongrass oil and bee pheromone lures in the traps. You would normally use frames with existing comb, but because we are new to beekeeping we are starting with brand, spanking new foundation.*

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Bishop’s Hollow Event: Spring Shoppers Fair

Our craft business, Bishop’s Hollow, is starting to line up shows for the 2015 season. Our first one for the year will be the 10th Annual Spring Shoppers Fair at the Colonie Central High School in Albany from 9am-3pm. If you aren’t in our area, or not able to make it, check out our Etsy shop where we have a lot of our products for sale. Hope to see you there!


Supplementing Egg Shells

When you walk down the chicken keeping aisle at your local feed store, you will notice “Oyster Shells” as an added supplement. While we do have some on hand just in case, one bag lasts us a while because we decided to supplement crushed egg shells as our source of calcium for our girls.

While commercial feed contains calcium, the girls sometimes need that extra boost for their egg production. The quality of their egg shells depend on it. Lately, because the majority of our girls are just starting to lay their first eggs, we have been noticing more and more soft shelled eggs in our nesting boxes and on the “poop tray”. So we decided to do a post about what we do about it.

imageFirst, we collect egg shells in a bowl. You can either let them dry naturally or place them in the oven to dry. I suggest the oven not only because it’s quicker, but less chance of any bacteria growing on the shells as it could take a while for them to dry naturally. Then, crush the snot out of them! Make sure they are not in any way, shape or form recognizable as an egg. You don’t want to promote egg eating! In the crushed state, they don’t know that they are eating recycled egg shells. (This is a great “job” for the kids! Our son loves to crush the eggs.)

When they are ready for consumption, you want to make sure you offer it as a freestanding food and not mixed in with their feed. Calcium is one of those supplements that the chicken should know whether or not they need. We try to give it to our girls once a week. If you notice extra calcium building up on the eggs they are laying, back off. Chickens are also known to be gluttons. 😉

Get the kids involved! They will love the "job" of crushing egg shells!

Get the kids involved! They will love the “job” of crushing egg shells!


Homesteading Tip: Egg shells are also great for compost! So make sure to save some for that too!


The Joys of Beekeeping: Part 1

One thing our family is starting this year is our very own apiary. We are starting with two packages of bees that should be arriving sometime late April. We are all very excited and nervous, but more anxious than anything else. The Bishop Household is not one for patience most of the time, and that is one key component of beekeeping. Fail.


Our Hives

Our Hives

Here’s the thing, we purchased our two hives last summer. And our bees in January. So you can see why we are getting a little antsy. Not to mention this winter seems to be taking its sweet time leaving the Northeast and we are all getting spring fever. So yesterday, on the coldest and windiest day of 2015 so far, we brought up the hives and frames and started to put in the foundations. A form of wishful thinking on our part and long with that spring fever I was talking about.


Steve adding the foundation

Steve adding the foundation

Now we didn’t get all of them done, just two of the hive bodies. That’s a lot of work inserting those suckers! Just ask my thumbs who are still sore today… But all that work was fun and just makes us pine harder for spring.

20 Frames down… 60 to go….

Finally! Our First Egg!

Those who keep chickens knows how torturous it is waiting for that first egg. They also know how rewarding it is when that first egg arrives! Being zero degrees the past few days and a couple of major snow storms blowing our way, I was not expecting any eggs from our younger chickens until at least March, even though they just turned 18 weeks this week. Heck, one of our older girls (our drama queen White Cochin, Hildegard) has completely stopped laying for the winter.

Jolie the Turken

Jolie the Turken

So when I found our Naked Neck Turken hiding out in one of the nesting boxes this morning, I pretty much played it off as her hiding from the rest of them with no where else to go since there was over a foot of snow outside and they have been “cooped up” for a couple of days now. (She seems to be the lowest in the pecking order from what I can tell) But low and behold! Thirty minutes later there was a tiny egg in that box! Still warm! So unless one of the other girls laid their first egg and she just decided to sit on it for a bit to see what it was like, I’m saying she’s first out of the ten youngins to lay their first egg. Congrats Jolie!

Lucas Holding the Turken egg

Lucas Holding the Turken egg

Side by Side with a Barred Rock egg

Side by Side with a Barred Rock egg

Correction 2/4/2015: they are actually 20 weeks old. My math was off!

Welcome! About The Gardens at Bishop’s Hollow:

We are Steve, Bambi & Lucas Bishop and welcome to our blog! We are in the midst of expanding our gardens and with it we decided to start a blog about the process. We have always enjoyed gardening but within the past year we have decided to step up our game and expand our growing areas, plant new and exciting vegetables, add chickens to our land (and expand our flock again and again and again…) and start our very own apiary. These are just some of the topics we will post about as well other homesteading ideas that pop into our head. We hope that some of the posts inspire you, answer questions you might have or even help us answer some questions! Thanks for stopping by!


The Family at Disney

The Family at Disney