We have about 70 laying hens at the apiary. This past week we marked all the younger birds, those born in 2022, with leg bands so you can tell at a glance how old they are.
There’s an international coding system for marking queen bees that keeps track of their age and makes them easier to spot during hive inspections. Our chickens are marked using the same color system as the honeybees to keep things simple.
There are a good number of commercially available marking bands on the market. At Big Branch Apiary we use small zip ties. We apply them once the birds are fully grown so the legs don’t outgrow the bands, and we check them periodically to make sure they’re not irritating the leg. You can cut the excess off but if you leave it attached you can see them easier and it doesn’t seem to bother the birds.
Things have been busy as we race with Nature to get gardens planted, berries fertilized, and the farm ready for the u-pick season. Our chore list looks something like this:
1. Feed bees. Lots of food will be left out for the bees so they have something to preoccupy them tomorrow when we dig into the hives to look for signs they are ready to split. We will look for queen cells and drones and hopefully, if we find what we are looking for, split some hives before they swarm and split on their own.
2. We’ve been working on the kitchenette in the barn for what seems forever. Today we’ll paint a wall and maybe hang the cabinets.
3. We have a new WWOOFer arrive, Emma from Wisconsin. Sadly we’ll bid farewell to our Finnish WWOOFer, Maria, this week. I can’t say enough good about the help we get from these folks.
4. And we round that out with the usual: weeding, feeding hens, and collecting eggs to fill the week’s orders.