I’ve been thinking of a good time to talk about this topic. I’ve gone back and forth on when to bring it up. It feels like now is as good a time as any to talk about the birds and the bees.
Hey now! This is not the kind of “birds and the bees” conversation parents have with their children. Today I am talking about literal birds and bees. Chickens and honeybees to be precise!
Since life has changed for so many people within the past year and a half, people are spending more time at home. Many are also looking for cool new hobbies they can enjoy at home.
How you ever considered having some chickens or honeybees? Let’s talk about some things that are necessary to successfully make them part of your home environment.
Several years ago, my wife and I had chickens. We live in the suburbs of Cleveland. We have an acre of land. We figured it would be fun to have chickens. By “we”, I mean my wife. She has always loved birds. Because baby chicks are so cute, I felt up for the challenge. After all, how could I say no to these cute fluffy little chicks?
We learned a lot about chickens. One of the wonderful things about having chickens is the fresh eggs. It’s hard to explain, but fresh eggs taste so much better than store-bought eggs.
However, if you’re thinking of getting chickens to save money on eggs, let me tell you that there is no return on your investment if you’re just getting chickens for the eggs. It’s more a labor of love. Eggs are more of a side benefit.
When we purchased the chicks, it was too cold for them to be outside. It was a cold spring in Cleveland. So, we kept them in our home, in a box that was heated by a heat lamp. They were adorable. In the morning, I would go and check on them. They made the most adorable peep and cheep noises as they happily bounced around in their little warm box.
NEW HOME… NEW HOME CHALLENGES
As they continued to grow and the weather warmed, we purchased a cute little chicken coop that my wife found online. It was made out of cedar. I proudly assembled it while strangely feeling like I was a new parent again.
When the chickens were old enough, and the weather was warm enough, we moved them into their new home. It was an exciting day.
They seemed happy in their new outside dwelling. We would let them roam a bit during the day, and at night we would put them back into their little home. Within a few days, I noticed that the wood was being torn away from the coop, little by little. I soon realized that chickens archenemy, raccoons, were trying to tear into their home to eat them. So, I started the reinforcement process. With every new attack, I found new areas that needed reinforcing with wire or metal. Anything that raccoons could not tear apart.
MORE CHICKENS PLEASE
Eventually, we secured the coop enough to keep the vermin out. My wife fell in love with the many varieties of chickens that are out there. She also discovered that she could purchase them online.
That’s right! The chicks were mailed to us through the USPS in a little box with holes and a little food. We just had to pick them up at the post office, as they don’t deliver them directly to homes, for the safety of the little chicks. More than once, I remember going to the post office to pick up a little box of chickens, with the little holes and little peep noises. I always got big smiles from those at the post office. It was a fun time. Before that time, the only box of chicken I ever picked up was from KFC, because “they do chicken right”, but in a different way.
Before we knew it, we went from three chickens to eighteen! By that point, we had moved them out of their little cedar home, into a 10 x 10 dog kennel that I built, with a roof and nesting boxes. It was a high-end chicken condo. Kind of a condo conversion one might say. I soon realized that there was a lot of poop to shovel! I mean a lot! The downside of a lot of chicken poop is that, well, it’s a lot of poop. The upside to a lot of chicken poop is that it makes for good fertilizer in your garden. Friends would come over with their five-gallon buckets to collect some.
For some time, this system worked well, until the raccoons figured out, they could reach into the fence and rip them apart. Repeatedly, I would add fortifications, and time and time again, the raccoons would find a way to get to them. Eventually, some other smaller creature, smaller than a raccoon, made its way into our chicken condo and killed them all. We eventually gave up on having chickens. We just couldn’t keep them safe. If you’re thinking of getting chickens, you must find a way to keep them safe, and I assure you, it’s a more difficult challenge than you might think.
IF THEY GET SICK
Another thing to be careful of is when one gets sick or injured. If chickens see blood on another chicken, they will attack the other chicken. Chickens are cannibals. So, if one of the chickens is injured, you must keep them separated until the wounded chicken is healed. If chickens see blood on another chicken, they will peck it to death.
There are some things that you can do to try and prevent this from happening. If one of the chickens is sick or injured, you can separate them until they get better, or heal up. If they are not sick but are somehow injured, you can buy red chicken glasses to put on all the chickens. It will keep them from seeing the blood since it makes everything look red. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. One of the chickens told me that with their glasses on, they feel cool, like Bono from U2 cool.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the awesome benefits of having chickens is fresh eggs. One cool thing about freshly laid eggs is that there is a film around them called a “bloom” or “cuticle”, which keeps them from needing to be refrigerated because it keeps out air and bacteria. However, once you wash off that substance from the egg, they do need to be refrigerated.
It should be noted that refrigerating eggs right away will make them last longer. Based upon my research, one day out at room temperature, with the protective coat on, is similar to one week in the refrigerator. Just some food for thought.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of shelling out some bucks for some buck-bucks!
TAKEAWAYS FOR HAVING CHICKENS
1. Start small, 2 or 3 chickens.
2. Make sure you provide them with a safe place to wander in the daytime and sleep at night.
3. Separate the wounded from the healthy.
4. Have fun with them!
If you have children, chickens offer a great learning experience! They are hard to catch when they are free-ranging. I spent many a day chasing chickens in my backyard. It’s great cardio! They are fast little things. They are fun to watch, and they all have different personalities.
If you decide to get some as pets, you’re in for an adventure! I think that it was good for our two boys to have experienced having them.
LET’S TALK HONEYBEES
Did you know that September is National Honey Month? That’s right! In 1989, the National Honey Board, a United States Department of Agriculture founded and overseen organization, made September National Honey Month, much to the surprise and happiness of bees everywhere! For this reason,
The purpose, according to Wikipedia, “Is to promote American beekeeping, the beekeeping industry, and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener…” “September marks the end of the honey collection season for many beekeepers in the United States”. For this reason, I thought it would be a good time to talk about this topic. Besides the topic of birds and bees goes together like peanut butter and jelly, at least in my mind.
While we are at the end of this season, it’s not too late to start planning for next year, if you’re looking for a cool hobby, with a sweet reward each year. Especially since we are all looking for more cool things to do at home now.
To get started, you’re going to need a brood chamber for the bees to build their hive. (Click here for a little video about brood chambers) You will also need a queen excluder that will keep the queen in the brew chamber but will allow the worker bees out to come in and out of the brew chamber.
Of course, you are also going to need a queen bee. Then you will need worker bees.
Bees excrete wax and then use their body heat to shape the wax into a hexagon. interestingly, a hexagon is a structurally sound shape in nature, which uses the least amount of material. Pretty amazing! Each cell they make is where honey is stored.
When taking honey for yourself, you will also want to leave enough for the bees to eat. You can also use sugar water to feed the bees.
In the fall, do not feed the bees pollen, because if bees eat pollen in the fall, they create solid waste. Since bees are incredibly clean creatures, they will not go back to their hives because they will contaminate them. So, they may end up dying, for fear of not wanting to contaminate their chambers. So, in the fall, only feed them sugar water.
The Queen bee is necessary to have a functioning hive. Interestingly, a worker bee and a Queen can come from the same egg? So, what’s the difference? What makes a Queen bee a queen? The only difference between a worker bee and a Queen bee is the food it is given when it is developing. If you need a new Queen bee, a fertilized egg can be placed into a larger queen cell. Then, the fertilized egg is given Royal Jelly and nothing else.
That special jelly makes the bee grow into a Queen. All bees receive a small amount of Royal Jelly. However, to make a Queen, the fertilized egg is given only Royal Jelly. Once she is an adult, Queen bees only feed on Royal Jelly.
Where does she get the Royal Jelly? It is produced from the glands on the heads of the worker bees.
HOW MUCH HONEY CAN YOU GET?
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “A single bee can produce 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime (about 6 weeks).” How many bees does it take to make a pound of honey? According to www.buyabeehive.com, the answer is 1,152 honey bees.
Now that we have the scoop on that, this naturally leads to another question. How many bees are in a typical hive? According to www.beekeepersmanual.com, “A beehive can typically have around 10,000 to over 60,000 bees.” The article stated that an average-sized hive has around 30,000 bees.
Is there a way to measure how many bees you have in a hive? According to that article, a half cup of bees equals three hundred bees. “Three pounds of bees equals 10,000 bees”. There ya go. I’ll let you play with the math on your own.
DANGERS TO BEES
My wife and I have never had honeybees. However, we have had several friends that have. One thing that plagues bees is diseases, parasites, and pesticides. These things can cause a bee colony to collapse. And this seems to be happening more and more. If you would like to learn more about these types of issues, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has some good tips on what to look for and how to try to avoid these issues. Another good article is Beekeeping 101: Common Bee Pests and Diseases.
I don’t have as much more to say about honeybees because we’ve never had them. Who knows? Perhaps we will one day.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed taking a break from real estate topics this week. Chickens and honeybees can add value to your home. But not market value. They can add emotional value in terms of joy, fun, and education. And you can score some fresh eggs and honey in the process.
If you decide to get chickens or bees, have a great time with them. They are a labor of love!
I leave you this week with a song that seems appropriate for the topic!
Have a great weekend!
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, check my new podcast out. I hope you enjoy it! You can find me on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Play Music, Sound Cloud, Radio.com, RadioPublic, Deezer, Breaker, Stitcher as well as other feeds.
You can also listen right here at Cleveland Appraisal Blog!
If you are interested in stats, and nothing but the stats, for neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio, check out my other podcast. In it, I provide short episodes that provide you with stats on median sales prices, marketing times, housing inventory and other related stats, on specific neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio. You can find me on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play Music, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public or you can listen right here at the Cleveland Appraisal Blog.
I am a member of the National Association of Appraisers. If you’re an appraiser, and you’re looking to join an appraisal organization, please check them out. The NAA is made up of fantastic appraisers from across the country who are working hard to keep their fellow appraisers up to date on what’s happening.
Here are some links to other articles I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…
The NYC Housing Market Tries To Win Rookie Of The Year Again – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Price reductions don’t mean the market is crashing – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
8 Interesting Things Appraisers Notice About Your Home – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Wholesale lender has AMC-free appraisals – APPRAISAL TODAY
Freddie Mac Appraisal Secret! No Sharing! – The Appraiser’s Advocate Podcast with Tim Andersen (PODCAST)
The Appraisal Gap Contract Language – Between the Lines with Brian C. Lee Podcast (PODCAST)
How Do You Take Time For Yourself When It is So Busy – The Appraiser Coach (PODCAST)
What Is Obsolescence? – The Appraisal Update (PODCAST)