It seems that I may be easily influenced by the media.
Last night we watched "Queen of the Sun", a really good documentary about bees. This morning I woke up and the first words out of my mouth were, "Nathan, we should keep BEES!" (this is one week after "Nathan, we should get RABBITS!" and two weeks after "Nathan, let's get some SHEEP!").
Nathan was a good sport about it and we spent most of the day building a beehive - a top-bar beehive, to be exact (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top-bar_hive). I had some compelling arguments. For one thing, it would be great to have bees living right outside the greenhouse so they can come in easily and pollinate our veggies (trying to induce forced melon sex doesn't sound like a good time to me). Also, honey bees aren't doing so well in general (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130510-honeybee-bee-science-european-union-pesticides-colony-collapse-epa-science/) so keeping bees in the middle of an orchard seems like a good idea.
The almost completed hive. Wedge shaped bars sit across the top (with a roof over them) and the bees build the honey comb down from the bars.
Taking a break.
The completed hive. I'm looking into the holes we drilled for entry/exit.
We want to try and attract a swarm of "feral" honey bees to their new, beautiful home. In the spring, a new queen bee sets out with a huge group of worker bees and they all gather on a tree or a fence. Scout bees fly out to look for a new hive - that's where our contraption comes in. We put some lemongrass oil in it to try and attract the bees. If that doesn't work, we'll find some old honey comb to add to it.
We let the chicks out to explore while we worked. Abby was a little too interested in Zebra Head. She went into a trance-like stare at him and as I tried to snap her out of it, Zebra Head walked up to her, cocked his head, and pecked her right in the eye. Abby took it well, considering, and ran into the coop to find some tasty chick poop.
Ryan just lay in the grass and ignored the chicks - which brings me to the most horribly disgusting thing that happened today. We had just finished setting up the hive when we saw Ryan staring at a baby bird on the ground. Normally we wouldn't grab a baby bird, but this one had what I thought was a dog puncture on it's face. I picked it up (it was tiny - even smaller than the chicks were at a day old) and we realized that it wasn't a puncture - it was a maggot in the bird's face. Nathan pulled the maggot out...and then we saw another in the bird's head...and another...and another. We must have pulled 10 maggots out of that poor bird. We put it back on a low branch near where we found it, then walked away so the parents could come back. A few minutes later we came back, having decided that we should put the bird out of it's misery - there was no way it would survive with those nasty holes all over its body and it must have been in a lot of pain. Ironically, after thinking wrongly that the bird had a dog puncture in the first place, Ryan (chicken butt-licker, dog who turns his nose up at fresh rabbit) beat us to it. Luckily I was able to dispose of the bird before he ate any of it. I have never seen anything so disgusting before as those maggots coming out of a live animal.