Feeding Your Duck

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—Whenever feeding a duck anything, make sure they have access to water for drinking, so they do not choke.—

I put *stars* next to each item to signify which treats ducks seem to like the most, based on my own experiments thus far.  One Star* means this treat is not always a favorite of ducks, while five stars***** means most ducks really enjoy the treat.  This however is not always the same in every duck, but rather is a guide in helping you chose which treats to experiment with.  I encourage all duck owners to experiment with different treats, finding which your ducks enjoy the most.  If a treat has a question mark? next to the name, I’ll take suggestions as to what the Star* rating should be.

FEEDING DUCKLINGS!
Ducks can eat anything off this list once they are fully fledged (at around 8 weeks old, depending on the duck).  Some of these treats can be given to younger ducklings, as early as the first week of life, depending on the treat.  If the treat can be cut very small and is soft or mushy, a duckling should not have a hard time eating it.  Bigger tougher foods should be saved for when the duckling gets a little bigger so there will be less of a choking hazard.  NOTE- whenever feeding ducklings a treat or supplement, they should be supervised just in case!  Protect your ducklings by watching them whenever they eat something new or something they are not used to.  I’ve put a jumpy Symbol next to treats ducklings and how old ducklings should be before should trying.  Just remember these foods must be chopped, cut very finely, or mashed for ducklings.  Again, if anyone has more suggestions, feel free to let me know!

Also, as a side note… Many of these treats can change the way a duck’s poop looks: either in color, consistency, or odor. When you stop feeding your ducks these treats, their poop should go back to normal.
-Feeding color rich foods, (like beets, carrots, cherries, tomatoes, greens etc) will temporarily change the color of your duck’s poop.
-Feeding veggies or fruits with a high water levels, (like lettuce) will make your duck’s poop waterier than normal.  It may seem like diarrhea.
-Feeding dairy products, bananas, rice, etc could make your duck’s poop harder and dryer.  Your duck can become constipated, so these treats should be limited.  As a good rule of thumb, if it can make a person constipated, it can do so to a duck.
-Feeding high protein items, (like eggs, bugs, etc) will make a duck’s poop smell worse than normal.

Here are the treats-

Vegetables-
Vegetables can be given to ducks everyday.  Veggies with more carbs, like beans, carrots, corn etc, should be limited in order to maintain good health in your ducks.  I’ve known some ducks to become demanding when it comes to veggies and will refuse to eat their feed, so a small treat everyday is better than heaping piles.

Lettuces-**** jumpy
Romaine, Bib, Butter, Radicchio, etc.  Iceberg Lettuce should be given in small quantities, if at all, due to its low nutritional value.

Cucumber- **
Uncooked, peeled or unpeeled. Chopped up in small cubes.

Corn-****  jumpy  (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Off the cob, cooked or uncooked.  Frozen corn can be thawed, as an easy to prepare treat.  A whole corn cob can be given to ducks to peck at and play with, though some ducks have a hard time getting the corn off of the cob.

Peas- *****  jumpy (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Preferably fresh or frozen/thawed, canned peas tend to have too much salt for birds.  Peas tend to be a favorite amongst all ducks and can be used to help “train” a duck.  I used peas personally to teach my ducks how to use their ramp in the pen, and to teach them how to jump up to catch them (for fun).  A bag of frozen peas left to thaw in the fridge makes a great easy treat you can throw to your ducks anytime.

Bell peppers-***
Red, Yellow, Orange, or Green.  The flesh only.  Remove the core; seeds, and stem, then chop into small pieces.

Carrots-*
Raw or Cooked, cut into small pieces.  It seems most ducks do not like carrots very much.  However, I did have two ducks that loved carrots.

Beans- ?
Green beans, Lima Beans, black beans, Pinto beans, etc.  They MUST be cooked and soft (preferably overcooked.) Uncooked beans contain a poison called hemaglutin toxic to birds. Beans have a good amount of protein but also have a higher amount of carbs, so beans should be a limited treat.

Broccoli- **
Raw or cooked, cut into smaller pieces.  Stems and Tops are both fine for ducks to eat.

Cabbage- ***
Green, red, or Brussel sprouts.  Ripped into medium sized pieces.  Raw tends to go over well with ducks, though I have not experimented with cooked Cabbages yet.

Cauliflower- **
The same as broccoli.

Beets- ***
Cooked or uncooked.  Fresh is better than canned.

Asparagus- ?
Unsalted or seasoned, cut into smaller pieces, cooked (as they seem to prefer cooked for its texture better.)

Kale- ***  jumpy
Ripped up in medium sized pieces.  Kale can be floated in their pool or water dish.  It’s also a good source of Calcium.

Squash- ***
Butternut, Yellow, etc.  Cooked or uncooked.  Cut into small pieces.

Pumpkin-?
The flesh can be cut up and given to your ducks.

Turnips-?
Cooked only, cut up in smaller pieces.

Zucchini-***
Peeled or unpeeled, raw, and cut up in small cubes.  If you shred and freeze, you can place it in a warm bowl of water to make “soup” for your ducks. This is a great way to get them greens in the winter.

Bok Choy*****  jumpy (leaves only for ducklings)
Both leaves and stems chopped

Patty Pan Squash***
The interior of young patty pans with immature seeds are a tasty treat

Beans-Fresh****  jumpy  (for ducklings over 1 week old, cut finely)
Cut in to small pieces or give them the ends and tips when you trim beans for yourself.

Flowers/plants-***
Marigolds, pansies, grasses, or clover etc (from a florist or homegrown, no pesticides!)

Alfalfa Cubes***
Soak cubes in water until it expands.  Can be left in water as a “soup” for your ducks.  Makes a good treat during the winter.

Some special treat ideas…
A special Summer time treat- (Idea by Soccer Mom)
Add chopped veggies or fruit to an inch of water in a plastic container (1 cup to 1 quart in size) and place in the freezer.  Once frozen, add another layer of chopped veggies or fruit and cover in an inch of water and freeze.  Repeat the process until you have several layers.  Place in your kiddie pool or pond.  Your ducks will have fun picky out veggies and fruits as they become exposed while the ice melts.

Grow-yer-own treats-
You can grow a variety of plants for your ducks such as Mustard, dandilion, white clover, grass, sunflower, corn, etc.  You can feed them the greens or let them eat the developing sprouts.  I also like to throw their scratch grains in a pot and grow them, the ducks love to eat the sprouting seeds.

Fruits-
Fruit is a great treat ducks will enjoy from time to time.  Fruit does have a lot of natural sugar, (The only type of sugar your ducks should EVER consume), so you should limit how much and how often they enjoy these treats to maintain good health.

Tomatoes-*****
All kinds, the flesh only, NO vines/leaves as they are toxic to birds.  Chop up tomatoes into smaller pieces.  Grape/cherry tomatoes can be easily halved.  If your ducks requires a medication in pill form, hiding the medicine in a grape/cherry tomato half tends to do the trick to getting them to consume the pill.

Eggplant-**
Fresh or cooked, chopped up into smaller pieces.

Pears-?
Chopped into smaller pieces.

Apples-***
Applesauce is easier for ducks to eat.  It can be given straight, or mixed with other fruits/veggies.  This is a messy treat.  Do not feed ducks Apple seeds, they contain some cyanide and even in small amounts are toxic.

Bananas-***  jumpy (mashed only for ducklings)
No Peel.  Cut into smaller pieces, or mashed.  If mashed, it can be mixed with other treats.

Peaches- ?  jumpy (if mashed, for ducklings over 1 week old)
Cut into smaller pieces.

Cherries-?
Seedless cherries only.  It’s better to cut them in half them for easier consumption.  Do not feed ducks maraschino cherries that are in juice.  These often have too much processed sugar.  Cherry seeds should not ever be given to ducks; they contain some cyanide and even in small amounts are toxic.

Grapes-****
Red or green, halved for easier consumption.  You can also give them raisins.

Melons-***
Cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, etc.  Cut into smaller pieces.  Some ducks will eat the rinds of some melons if chopped up (Like watermelon for example).

Pineapple- **
The yellow flesh part only, cut up. Fresh, not in cans.  Canned fruit tends to have too much processed sugar.

Mango- **
Mango can upset some ducks.  Mango can make their throats itchy, the same way it can cause some problems in humans.  If you experiment with mango, cut it up and feed a small amount first.  Watch for reactions.  If your ducks seem fine, then you can continue to let your ducks enjoy mango.

Pomegranate-**
Open up the pomegranate, and remove the yellowy flesh part.  Ducks can eat the fruit inside.  They can eat the seeds inside the fruit as well.  This treat should be limited, as other seed treats, to prevent impacted crops.

Strawberries- **
Cut into small pieces.  They can eat the green top, though they usually leave it.

Proteins/Dairy-
NOTE- Protein treats will make a duck’s poop smell worse.

Worms/night crawlers/mealworms-****  jumpy (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Live or thawed.  Best when your find them yourself in your backyard. (that’s when you “hire” sons, nephews, kids down the street to dig them up for you) worms from bait shops can have chemicals or toxins in them from farming them.

Crickets- ?
Live crickets can usualy be purchased at pet stores, bait shops, and feed/farm supply stores.  They can be placed in a kiddie pool or fed to ducks one at a time.

Eggs- ****  jumpy (Scrambled and diced up for ducklings over 2 weeks old)
Cooked only.  Scrambled (with no or very little oil, you can use a Pam spray) or hardboiled, chopped with shells on. The shells are a good source of calcium.  You can cook extra duck eggs and give it right back to the ducks to eat.

Feeder goldfish/minnows/guppies- ****  jumpy (for ducklings over 6 weeks old)
Live fish can be placed in their pool or water dish.  They have fun chasing them around trying to catch them.

Plain yogurt-**  jumpy
Pour into a dish.  Yogurt can also be mixed with other chopped up veggies or fruit.  A good source of calcium.

Floating Koi Food-*****  jumpy (for ducklings over a week old)
In sticks or ball form (Though my ducks prefer the sticks).  Throw into their water dish or pool.  Has 30% protein and other vitamins.  Can be purchased at Wal-Mart in a 1 1/2 pound green bag that is UV resistant (so it can be left outside).

Cat fish Food- *****
Some ducks love cat fish food from local feed stores.  It’s usually in a small brown ball form.  They can be floated in a kddie pool or pond.

Cottage cheese-**  jumpy
Same as yogurt.

Dry cat food/dog food-****
Most ducks find cat and dog bowls full of dry food irresistible often leaving their dog and cat counterparts hungry.  You can give your ducks dry cat/dog food as treats.  They usually have a good amount of protein and are tasty for the ducks.  If the kibble looks small enough for a duck tom swallow, go ahead and let them enjoy.  I often get cat food that has several different pieces that are flavored differently and i give my two ducks a small handful every other day.

Milk-**
Some ducks enjoy a little drink of milk every now and then.  Can be given in a cup (it’s better to hold the cup or place milk in a container they can’t knock over).  Fat free or low fat milk is better.  All birds are lactose intolerant to some degree, so if you give your ducks milk make sure you only do so in small quantities, as milk can cause diarrhea.

Poultry-****
I know its sounds strange, but ducks enjoy a meat treat every now and then.  They can have Chicken or Turkey if it’s cooked to a human-safe temperature, and it’s boneless/skinless.  The white meat is better for them.  I do not recommend beef or pork, as the fat content is higher and it’s harder for them to digest (though my duck Victor did steal a small piece of bacon that was accidentally dropped on the floor, lol).

Starches/seeds-
Again, carbs are a treat your ducks will happily enjoy, but they should be given in small limited amounts.  Too many carbs can make your duck fat and generally unhealthy.  These treats tend to not contain enough vitamins or nutrients.  Ducks tend to eat carbs first, filling up, and ignoring their feed.

Oatmeal- **
Plain cooked oatmeal.  No flavored or sugared oatmeal.

Rice- ****  jumpy (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Cooked, preferably with more water so it is soft.  Leftover white rice mixed with their other veggies tends to be a nice once-in-a-awhile treat.

Potatoes-***
Only cooked potatoes are acceptable for ducks.  Either smashed or cut in small pieces.  Potatoes are a dense starch that can impact the crop and block digestive processes if given to ducks in large quantities.

Spaghetti- ****  jumpy (for ducklings over 6 weeks old)
Cooked Spaghetti (plain, no sauce or oil/butter) makes a nice very limited rare treat for your ducks.  My ducks get spaghetti 2-3 times a year, usually as a special treat for birthdays and what not.  Make sure it’s coked al the way and does not have anything else on it.  Sauces and oils/butter have too much fat and salt.

Plain Crackers- ****
Oyster crackers, saltines, etc.  Broken into smaller pieces.  Works best if thrown by or in water so it’s easier to swallow.  Because of the salt, these should be given rarely.

Cereals- **** jumpy (after a week old if soaked in water)
Cheerios, flakes, puffed rice, etc.  Only unflavored and unsugared cereals should be given in small amounts as rare treats.  Works well dry or in their pool.

Seeds- ***
Some seeds can be given to ducks, like Millet or Sunflower seeds, as a limited rare special treat.  While seeds can be used like grit, seeds do not digest well.  Too many seeds can impact the crop and fill with material that can not be digested or passed.  Then there’s less room for good foods and digestive problems can occur.  Remember that some seeds, like apple or cherry seeds, are toxic to ducks.

Supplements-
Below is a list of supplements you can give to your birds to promote good health or to help with certain health problems.  If you know of other helpful supplements, please pm me or respond here and Ill add them.

Vitamins and Electrolytes- jumpy (for any aged ducklings)
Comes in a powder that can be mixed with feed or water in a daily or weekly dose.  Though most often recommended for ducklings or young ducks, vitamin powders can be given to a duck of any age.  You can use the powder as a daily or weekly supplement, or you can reserve it for ducklings during the first 8-12 weeks, injured or sick birds, or for show birds.  Any duck of any age will benefit from having vitamins just like a human.  Dosing will depend on the brand you buy.  For my vitamin powder, I add a table spoon to either a gallon of water or approx. 5 pounds of feed.

Grit-
Grit basically is small rocks for your ducks to consume.  The grit helps a duck grind up it’s food in the gizzard. If your ducks free range often, they will most likely get all the grit they need from foraging.  If your ducks stay penned up, grit can be purchased at a feed store and given in a small dish or mixed with their feed.

Oyster Shell-
Crushed oyster shells are an important supplement for laying female ducks.  It provides them with calcium necessary for good egg shell production.  Without adequate calcium, a female duck can lay eggs with little or no shell and could become egg bound (eggs getting stuck inside the duck) and potentially die.  Oyster shell can be given in a small dish so the ducks can eat it as needed, or it can be mixed with their feed.  If you have a mixed gender flock (with boys and girls) oyster shell should be given in a separate dish, as males do not need the extra calcium.  Male ducks and non-laying females should not consume extra calcium from oyster shell because it can negatively impact their kidneys.

Brewers Yeast-  jumpy (for ducklings of any age)
Brewer’s Yeast contains an essential nutrient for ducks called Niacin.  Niacin is known to promote overall good health, and to help ducks with leg/foot injures.  Niacin also helps cure spraddle or splayed leg in baby ducks.  Any duck with a foot or leg injury of any kind can take Brewer’s yeast (either in packets or in crushed up pills) on their food or in their water.

Gro-Gel-  jumpy  (for ducklings only)
Grow-gel is a powder mixed with water to create a green jelly like substance.  Gro-gel contains vitamins and nutrients for baby ducklings.  Gro-gel is often offered by hatcheries, as a water and food source for ducklings during the shipping process.  Gro-gel can be purchased online or from hatcheries and can be given to baby ducks for the first week of life.  It’s soft and wet, making it easy to eat.  Gro-gel is not meant for adult ducks.

Calf Manna-
Calf manna is a type of feed you can purchase online or at a feed store.  It is NOT a primary feed, but rather a supplement to duck’s normal feed.  Calf manna is a pinkish-orange pellet, the same size and shape as regular layer pellets that can be mixed with regular feed.  Calf manna is flavored with Anise, making it a delicious treat for not only ducks, but a wide variety of animals including horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, etc.  Calf manna should make up no more than 1-2% of your duck’s feed.  If you have a small flock or if you do not have any other animals and can not obtain calf manna by the pound, buy a larger bag and place the excess in an air tight container in a cool dry place.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar-
You can add a tablespoon to a gallon of water for your ducks when they list puffy, listless, or won’t eat.  It helps with mineral and vitamin absorption, kills bad bacteria and promotes good gut flora.  It seems to perk ducks up.  Only use raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar.


HAZZARDOUS OR TOXIC FOODS-

These food items listed below are hazardous or toxic to your ducks.  These foods can cause severe health problems or death in ducks.  Each food has the reason/explanation as to why you should not feed it to your ducks.  If you have given your ducks any of these treats and did not have a bad reaction, YOU WERE LUCKY.  A great amount of research has gone into this list, so please do not bombard me with emails/pms saying these foods are not bad.  I DO NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP just to be a pain in the behind.  You can find research online about the hazzards of these foods using google.  If you choose to give your ducks any of the foods listed in this section, do so at your own risk.  It is also important to remember that ducks are prey animals.  Their instincts tell them to hide illness and injury to prevent being picked off by a predator.  If you feed, or continue to feed, your ducks the foods listed in this section, you may not see any problems until a duck seemingly randomly ends up dead with no apparent cause.

Bread-
I know we’ve all seen or have been guilty of giving ducks at parks bread.  Bread, other than being packed with carbs and some fat, does not contain any vitamins or minerals in any sufficient amount for a duck.  It will make your duck over weight if fed in large quantities.  Bread, though soft, can become dense in the stomachs of ducks.  It also is tasty so ducks eat it up fast, which can result in the impaction of their crops, which usually requires surgery to fix.  An impacted crop can cause death!  You can help wild ducks stay healthier by informing people at parks of the negative health effects of bread.

Spinach-
There is debate about whether or not spinach should be given to ducks.  Spinach can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed by ducks bodies, which can cause egg binding issues in females.  Even if you feed your ducks calcium, like oyster shells, eating spinach in large amounts or often, can hinder calcium absorption, and cause your ducks to have very little or no shells are their eggs.  If a duck has little or no shells on their eggs, they get stuck inside, usually resulting in death.  If you decide to give your ducks spinach, it should be limited to small amounts on rare occasions. (perhaps this would be better to do during the non-laying season).

Onions-
Onions cause diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting in birds.  It has been found that prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which is followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.

Avocados-
Just as in many other animals, all parts of avocado (Including the tree, bark, leaves, pits, skin, flesh, etc) are incredibly TOXIC to all birds, including ducks.  Avocados can cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure, leading to death.

Chocolate-
Just as with many other animals, chocolate is a fatal.  Chocolate poisoning first affects a bird’s digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea. As the condition progresses, the bird’s central nervous system is affected, first causing seizures and eventually death.

Sugary, Salty, High Fat Foods-
If it’s not healthy for a human to eat these foods, neither is it healthy for your ducks.  Even small amounts of these foods have negative impacts on your duck’s health.  Anything fried contains far too much oil/fat for your duck.  Canned veggies contain too much salt.  Canned or in-juice fruits contain too much sugar.  Ducks who consume these foods can become overweight and have health problems, and typically die at younger ages.  These are just plain NOT HEALTHY.

Nuts-
Nuts are typically too large for a duck to eat because they swallow their food whole.  Nuts can cause choking.  Nuts are also high in fat, and fat is harder to digest than other substances.  Nut can impact their crops and get stuck in a number of other places in the digestion process.  A duck that can not eat, digest its food properly, or that can not poop, will die in a matter of days.

Citrus (lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes)-
Citrus contains a lot of acid many other animals (and even other birds) can handle.  But a duck’s stomach however can not and digestive problems can occur.  While citrus may not kill your ducks, it will cause stomach pain (much like acid reflux).  If you feeding citrus to your ducks, you may not see any signs of problems because of a duck’s nature to hide illness.  This does NOT mean your duck is not in pain or suffering.

Popcorn-
Other than carbs, salt, and fat from butter, popcorn is incredibly hard for a duck to swallow. The kernels can get snagged in the esophagus causing choking and abrasions.

Carbonated Beverages-
Other than Carbonated beverages containing sugar and acids that are not good for your ducks, the carbonation can KILL a bird very quickly due to the air in the bubbles.  Birds are incapable of burping or passing gas from their behinds.  The gasses get stuck in the belly or esophagus and can not be expelled, causing an excruciating death for your duck.

Caffeine and Alcohol-
I know it seems crazy that anyone would give their ducks coffee or wine, but it’s worth mentioning.  Alcohol depresses the system and caffeine causes cardiac problems.

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Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar Salmon

I love grilled fish, soy sauce and brown sugar so this recipe was a recipe that I could get excited about.  I discovered that baking is an option.  Bake at 425°  for approximately 15 minutes.  But grilling is my favorite.

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets

lemon pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

salt to taste

1/2 C soy sauce

1/3 C brown Sugar

1/3 C water

1/4 C vegetable oil

  • Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.
  • Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, water and vegetable oil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Place fish in a large resealable bag and pour mixture over fish and seal, turn to coat and marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • Lightly spray fish cage with Pam to reduce sticking.
  • Place fish on grill and discard marinade.
  • Cook fish for 6 to 8 minutes per side

This recipe kicks it up a notch from your normal hum drum salmon recipe. Enjoy!

 

10 Stages of Beekeeping Addiction

Many new beekeepers fall head-over-heels for bees. I often joke that my own story is the classic tale of ‘girl meets bee’. Not only is the world of bees fascinating, the sheer volume of information on the subject can be engrossing. A person could spend hours on forums, blogs, YouTube videos, magazines and scientific papers! If you count yourself among the bee obsessed, read on to find out how far gone you are.

You have withdrawals. 

I think most beekeepers go through this during the winter, when temperatures rarely allow for foraging let alone hive inspections. I frequently hear from beekeepers who are jealous of my mild Southern California climate and consequent year-round beekeeping adventures. Despite my luck, even I experience pangs of longing for contact with my bees after just a few weeks away from them. I find myself curing mild bouts of moodiness or depression by suiting up and saying “hi” to my girls. Even if it’s just a few peaceful minutes watching them fly in and out of the hive. If this sounds like you, you’ve reached the first stage of beekeeping addiction.

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You drone on about bees.

If you find yourself explaining to the grocery store clerk how drones are made from unfertilized eggs, you’re in trouble. Once you start talking bees, there’s just so much to say! Am I right? Just know your family members are likely gesturing wildly behind your back to the unsuspecting fool who sets you on the topic!

2015-05-04 12.03.56-1You investigate all nearby flowers for “your” bees.

Bees forage up to three miles for food and once they leave the hive, there’s really no way to identify them as yours versus any other colonies that could be in the area, but I still find myself trying! Not to mention I like knowing what kind of flowers they prefer, what’s in bloom and if they are collecting pollen or nectar from it!

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You need to I.D. all buzzing UFOs.

When you hear something buzz on by and you absolutely have to find out what it was. A honey bee? A carpenter bee? A wasp? Sometimes I think I can tell what it might be just by the quality of the buzz and I find myself chasing down whatever it was to check.

Beehive entrance

You constantly think, “I could put a hive there”.

As someone who places hives in mostly urban and suburban settings, this thought goes through my head at least twice a day. I have been plotting how to ask the owner of the corner liquor store if I can put hives on his roof for months!

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You hear buzzing when there are no bees around.

Most people wouldn’t like to admit to hearing things that are not there, but here I go anyway. After long hours spent with bees, I am often left with a humming buzz in my ears. I usually have to ask someone else if they hear it, too just to be sure there aren’t any “hitchhiker” bees in my car! When this first started happening to me, I knew my obsession with bees was on a whole new level.

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When you close your eyes at night, you see bees.

Eventually I got to the point where I started seeing bees imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. I’d lay down to sleep and visions of honey bees danced in my head! When I was a kid, this used to happen to me if I played video games for too long. So, if honey bees start permeating your sensory organs, watch out, your family might be getting ready to do an intervention.

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When you feel pain, you assume you are being stung.

Once you’ve been beekeeping for awhile, you’re likely to experience what I call a “ninja bee”. This is a bee that hid in your clothes during an inspection and ends up stinging you hours later when you unwittingly crush her against yourself. The poor bee doesn’t intend to sting you, she’s usually just lost, cold or confused and ends up hanging out on you without your knowing. After this has happened to you over and over again, you cease to be surprised when you are stung in non-beekeeping environments. In fact, I am at the point where my brain’s first assumption upon feeling minor pain is that I am being stung.

Bee on a Whale Watching Trip

Bees find you everywhere. 

Even when I am nowhere near my beehives, bees seem to find me. At first I thought it might just be that I notice bees more than the average person, but then it started to seem like something more. On my last vacation, for example, one landed on me several miles offshore during a whale watching trip! I even got a photo of her with some Humpback Whale water spouts in the background. It’s at the point where if I pull up to a red light and my car windows are down, a bee will fly into my car. Upon hearing this, a former english teacher declared that my life now resembles a magical realism novel. As much as I’d like to believe it, I think it is more likely that I smell like a beehive, but hey, bees are capable of recognizing individual human faces so you never know!

Bees frequent your dreams.

People talk about how amazing flying dreams are, but personally I prefer to dream about bees. There’s something really magical about encountering bees in the dreamscape. My favorite is when I dream about catching a swarm and I find the queen bee. I had one recently where I was sitting in a parked car with the sunroof open and swarm flew into the car! It was enchanting and chaotic, but I  found the queen on the glove box and felt pure joy. I like to joke with my intern that once a person dreams about bees, they’ve reached beekeeping enlightenment.

Bonus: Once, after a long week of beekeeping, I retired to my room to relax and read a novel. I must have been borderline delusional because I found myself envisioning the character in a bee suit despite the fact that the book had nothing to with beekeeping and the character was not doing anything related to bees whatsoever! I simply had been imagining him in a bee suit because I had been wearing mine so much!

 

http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/the-10-stages-of-beekeeping-addiction/

10 Facts About Ducks

Are Ducks the New Chickens?

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Over the last few years, keeping backyard chickens has become all the rage. Whether it’s wanting to know where their food is coming from, a desire to be more self-sufficient or merely wanting to go back to the basics, chicken coops are popping up in suburban backyards of families all across the country. But might keeping ducks actually be the better choice? These facts about ducks may convince you.

I have been keeping ducks alongside our chickens for nearly five years. That has given me ample opportunity to compare chickens and ducks, and I have to admit that if I had to choose between them, I would pick the ducks.

Here are 10 facts about ducks that show keeping ducks is easier than raising chickens:

1. Ducks are healthier

Because they spend so much of their time in the water, ducks are less apt to get mites, lice and other external parasites. Ducks also have hardier immune systems, tend to stay in better general health and are less likely to contract illnesses than chickens. There are just a few common duck diseases.

2. Ducks are more cold-hardy

Ducks have an added layer of fat and a thick down ‘undercoat’ that chickens don’t have. They also have waterproofing on their feathers to protect against the elements and keep them warm and dry in the rain and snow.

3. Ducks are more heat-tolerant

Ducks handle heat quite well by floating around in their pool all day. During the hot southern summers we endure, while our chickens stand around panting, crowded in front of the fans we have set up in our run, the ducks paddle about quite contentedly in their pool.

4. Ducks are quieter

Maybe hard to believe, but our chickens actually make more noise than our ducks. Chickens cackle and carry on after they lay an egg, before they lay an egg, when there’s another hen in the nesting box they want, and for no apparent reason at all. Female ducks on the other hand, although can quack loudly when agitated or excited, normally just quietly chitter-chatter.

Roosters, contrary to popular belief, don’t just crow in the morning. They crow all day long. In contrast, drakes (male ducks) don’t quack at all. They make only a soft raspy wheezing sound. On the whole, ducks are much quieter.

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5. Duck eggs are larger and better for baking 

Duck eggs are larger and richer in flavor than chicken eggs.  They are excellent for baking due to their higher fat and lower water content. Duck eggs are also slightly more nutritious than chicken eggs. Due to their thicker shells and membranes, they also have a longer shelf life and are less likely to break than chicken eggs.

6. Ducks lay more regularly

Our ducks consistently outlay our chickens – even through the winter without any supplemental light in their house. Most domestic duck breeds are also very unlikely to go broody (broodies don’t lay eggs, so they are detrimental to your egg production).

7. Ducks adhere to a far less aggressive pecking order

Ducks welcome newcomers far more quickly than chickens do, so it’s easier when buying ducks to add to your existing flock. Whether the newcomers are chickens or ducks, our ducks seem unperturbed and seldom bother new additions to the flock. Chickens, however, take any new additions to the flock as an affront to their rigid pecking order. The result is squabbling and confrontations that can get quite serious until the new order is established and tranquility returns.

8. Ducks are easier on your lawn

While it’s true that ducks can, and will, eat anything green within their reach, as long as you plant bushes and trees that are tall enough so they can’t reach the tops, you can successfully landscape your run or backyard, even with ducks inhabiting it. Chickens, on the other hand, within days of being introduced to a new lawn will have it scratched down to bare dirt. Chickens will continue to not only eat every bit of green that tries to grow, but also dig deep depressions in the earth in which to take their dust baths or cool off in the summer. Ducks may trample your lawn a bit, but they won’t create a barren wasteland of your backyard like chickens will.

9. Ducks are wonderful for pest control

Ducks will eat every slug, worm, spider, grasshopper, cricket, fly, beetle and grub they can find. They are wonderful for natural pest control. Given the opportunity, they will also eat small snakes, toads and even mice. Chickens are more picky about the fare of bugs. Some of our hens won’t even look twice at a worm.

10. Ducklings are adorable!

Okay, this is my personal preference, but baby ducklings are irresistible. I have loved learning how to raise ducklings through the years.

On the whole, I’ve found through keeping ducks that my ducks are far more easy-going and less likely to get their feathers ruffled than chickens. They are generally calm, smart, alert and downright funny at times. Keeping ducks wins out as my top choice for a backyard flock and they will always be an important part of ours.

http://countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/poultry-poultry/are-ducks-the-new-chickens-10-facts-about-ducks/

Balsamic Mustard Chicken w/ Cherry Tomatoes

I love anything that has balsamic vinegar in it.  This recipe below caught my eye.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3-4 breasts depending on the size)
  2. 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  9. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  10. 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  11. 1 tablespoon honey
  12. 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  13. Chopped fresh herbs, about 1/3 cup ( I used chives, parsley, & basil)
Instructions
  1. 1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry. In a small bowl whisk together the salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Sprinkle mixture evenly over chicken on both sides.
  2. 2) Heat a large pan over medium/high heat. Add olive oil and cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Add the rice wine vinegar to the pan. This will help to deglaze the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the vinegar has cooked down. Then turn off heat.
  3. 3) Stir together the balsamic, dijon, and honey. Pour over chicken and make sure chicken is well coated with this mixture. Cover pan and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove pan and add the tomatoes. Cover and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes, until tomatoes are heated through and start to burst! Remove, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve!

Let’s Bee clear!

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Let’s Bee clear, I have no idea what I am doing.  This past weekend proved to BEE very exciting for our new arrivals and their new owners.  Yep they swarmed and to be honest, I don’t think I could have done anything to stop them.

IF you will remember from my earlier post, I knew that I had queen cells in my newly installed Nuc.  I had been given tons of advice about what I should do.  But after much hee hawing, I decided to take the easy way out and do nothing and let nature run its course. So they swarmed Saturday and again Sunday.  Now Saturday after they swarmed (see above picture) they came back to the hive (see below picture).

 

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What a sight for someone who has never seen a swarm.  That evening I posted the event on SC Beekeeper forum on FB.  Everyone said they would swarm again the next day and sure enough they did.  But this swarm was quite a bit smaller and appeared to return to the hive as well.

I can’t say whether or not they swarmed again Monday.  I will go into the hive Saturday to see what is going on in the hive.  I am calling the swarm hive, hive # 2.

Hive #1 had not been checked since I installed the nuc on April 1st. So it had been 15 days since they were added to the hive and I was anxious to see how they were doing.

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Welp, there they are, they are smoked down a little in this shot.  But they are there. DSC_0211

Looks good, we got honey, honey!

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What have we here?  Drone cells? But a nice brood pattern on the other side.

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Everything look good, as an inexperienced beekeeper, I rolled my queen, said a little prayer that she will be ok.  Its easy to do when you have so many bees.  Rookie mistake.

Discovered I got some more work to do.

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I’m not sure if I like these frames are not.  I will have to scrape this off and let them try again.  Maybe apply a little wax on the frame to help them out.

All in all this nuc seems to be doing really well.  I can get rid of the burr comb.  I need to find out why the queen is laying drone cells?  I sure hope we don’t have anymore swarms.  I am hoping to keep my new found friends around for a while.