Hunny-Bunny Happenin’s For the Week of June 17, 2014
At this time of year all seems to be settling into routine. The garden is growing and already beginning to produce some immature fruit. The Grandkid’s and I have already harvested some lettuce and salad greens for Sunday dinner. The swarm I captured is doing quite well and is a very strong hive. In fact, I had to add a second super to the hive for further brood and honey stores. The second swarm, equally as strong, settled about 60 feet up in the treetops at the rear of the property and with us just going through a week long rainy period they probably took off and found a place in the hollow of a tree in the vast wood that surrounds Hunny-Bunny Farm. I regret the loss of this but despite having bait hives dotted throughout the property, nature is unpredictable in all her aspects, so I look at it as a contribution to re-building the native wild population so decimated in recent decades. I was able to thwart a further swarm by going into my hives and looking for queen cells. At this May – June period of spring queen cells are a sign of a potential swarms in the making. I took out the entire frame from which the queen cell is suspended along with all the other brood and nurse bees and placed them in another separate hive box well away from my apiary yet still on my property. I added further brood cells and nurses from my additional hives, swapping them with fresh frames of foundation. This will keep the honeybees preoccupied with building comb and take their little minds off swarming, at least ‘til swarming season is over. I also added a frame of honey comb and pollen to get them through the initial set up of the new hive. So as of this writing I now have 7 hives, not counting the one that got away. So I have actually seen an increase in the apiary. The old hive that survived from last year, and the likely origin of the swarms, was also busy filling up the honey supers, or boxes, meant for my production. It was 80% full and I added a second box in anticipation of more production. The week of rain, however, limited their foraging so in checking these supers I noticed that they had begun to use “my” stores for their needs. Well, as I said, nature is unpredictable! There is still plenty there for me, most especially, in view of this week of excellent weather.
Meantime, in the rabbitry, there was much drama. One of the does I bred last month still did not have a pregnancy but did take advantage of the additional hay and higher protein feed reserved for my pregnant does …again the foibles of nature. The second doe did give birth, in rabbit breeding circles it known as kindling, but as rabbits usually give birth in the dark and dawn of the wee morning hours, she had complications after the birth of the first kit, (baby in rabbit breeding), and the delivery ceased causing distress and death of the doe. By the time, I got to rabbitry Mom was gone to that great rabbit warren in the sky, so to speak. However, I was left with an hours-old kit, very much alive and kicking. Hmmm! What to do? I first reacted by putting the other doe that should have been pregnant into the litter box with the newborn. I knew that this would not provide the vital colostrum and mothers milk but it would at least keep the kit warm and comfortable through the day and night until I could get the needed supplies to hand feed a newborn. This action will also sometimes stimulate the reluctant doe to ovulate thus when I re-breed her in a couple days it just might do the trick of pregnancy. However, there is a downside to it … despite all the Disneyesque images of Thumper and other myths rabbits can be extremely vicious, even eating their young and those of their competitors, they are also one of the few animals that will regularly fight to the death. Although I knew this going in, in view of the situation, this was the best course of action considering such a surprising and largely unprepared turn of events. This morning, Tuesday, June 18th, I went into the litter box and found the kit still vibrant and alive. I removed the doe to her original cage and took the kit into the house where I had natural organic cow’s milk and a dropper waiting. The only problem was the milk was reduced fat, which is one of number of substances needed for a newborn, the most essential being colostrum …but at least he had something in his belly. I then went online to see about raising newborns and found that most pet shops sell a product, by various commercial names, which are essentially replacement mother’s milk. It is available in cat, dog, and goat; animal formula, if you will. It is fortified with many essential nutrients and should be just what the doctor ordered considering the circumstances. At any rate, three hours after my initial feeding of cow’s milk I had obtained the needed Cat’s Replacement Milk. I also bought a tiny bottle, very similar to the bottles that come with baby-dolls of all sorts, and mixed up a batch. The little peewee hoggishly consumed it though he preferred the dropper to the bottle for the time being. I now have him in my study in a shallow cardboard box with his momma’s hair, some donated hair form the dogs, and a sheath of alfalfa hay. He’s as snug as a bug in a rug, as the saying goes and with three to four hour feeding schedules I think he will make it. In my twenty years of rabbit raising I’ve never encountered such a situation as this. One might also wonder why I put so much effort and time into this orphaned runt and the reason is that this litter and the non-pregnant doe’s litter are key to my completing my own strain of Florida White Rabbits. Whether it is revealed to be a buck or a doe this little peewee is most important to my program so I’m taking care to keep him alive. Judging from his first twenty-four hours in this world it is likely I will be successful. It is precisely for such situations that I like to breed my animals in spring and summer. Had this been winter the outcome would have been completely different.
That just about raps up this week’s events here at Hunny-Bunny Farm.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.