The Willamette River crept up another four inches this morning, high enough for us to decide to close Rogue Farms until further notice.
We’d be closed on Christmas Day regardless, so it just made sense to play it safe and wait until the flood waters receded and Wigrich Road is safe to drive.
Wigrich Road was covered in water in several places, so we closed off the entire section.
A Rogue Honeybee enjoys a decaf blackberry flower.
Here at Rogue Farms, we want to calm any jitters that our honeybees are addicted to caffeine.
In an article in the journal Science, researchers report that some plants give honeybees a tiny shot of caffeine when they visit the flowers to collect nectar. It’s not enough for the honeybees to taste, but they are more likely to remember the caffeinated nectar and are more likely to return to those flowers. The evolutionary advantages to the flowers are obvious.
Not so widely reported is that the plants they studied are coffee flowers and citrus flowers (grapefruit, oranges, pomelo and lemons). None of which grow anywhere near the Rogue Farms Hopyard in Independence, Oregon. The Rogue Honeybees get their nectar from the wildflowers, daffodils, roses, hazelnuts, non-citrus fruit trees, pumpkin flowers, raspberries and wild blackberries that grow in abundance in the Wigrich Appellation. As far as we know, they’re all decaf.
Our bees come by their buzz naturally. You might find yourself experiencing a similar natural high if you visit the Hopyard this spring.
When honeybees want to spread the news about a good source of nectar, they communicate the location to others in the hive by dancing.
It’s called the waggle dance. And to the untrained eye the bee just appears to be vibrating intensely.
Rogue Honeybees gather between the frames to view the waggle dances.
But for honeybees, the dance moves contain a ton of information. The harder the bee vibrates, the further the source of the food. The angle is important, too. If the dancing bee points up, the food is located in the direction of the sun. If the bee points down, it’s telling the other foragers to fly away from the sun. The angle of the dance depends on the location of the food source.
Sometimes there can be dozens of returning bees in the hive, each with their own waggle dance, each with their own audience. A bee that has yet to forage for the day will choose to follow one dancing bee, but ignore the others. An unreliable dancer may be ignored by all the bees in the hive.
It’s not a perfect system. The angle a bee chooses to dance may be off by a bit. So the dance is repeated several times and the other bees learn to “average” the angles and intensity of the dance before heading out for the day.
Learn more about the Rogue Honeybees on the Bee Buzz page at Rogue.com.
We’re scratching our heads, trying to figure out why a wild turkey would leave its brood and join us here at the Rogue Farms Hopyard.
The new bird, we’re calling him Gravy, has family ties to our domestic flock of Royal Palm Turkeys. Our Royal Palm Tom is his father. (See A Scandal At The Hopyard) So Gravy is only half wild.
We think Gravy was rejected by his wild flock for a couple of reasons.
Tom’s got a secret. We know this because it strolled into the Hopyard just the other day.
Tom, for those of you who need some refreshing, is our male Royal Palm Turkey. His secret is that when our hen Juniper was out in the woods raising her brood, Tom was out in the woods having an adventure of his own.
Take a look at the incriminating evidence.
On the right, the new Hopyard turkey has a white tail end like his father. But the front half is similar to the natural camouflage of a wild breed.
Our new hybrid turkey is called a jake, which means he’s a nearly full grown male. The jake is getting along fine with his new found family and enjoys the reliable source of food he gets at the Hopyard. But don’t expect him to be as friendly as his siblings. He’s skittish around people. There’s still some wild left in that turkey that may never be tamed.
The new turkey with one of his siblings. Notice the family resemblance?
Rogue Farms knows bees and will soon be building more nucs to add more colonies to increase honey production.
Nuc is beekeeping slang for nucleus, a small group of workers, drones, a new queen and a mini-hive with enough food and brood to get them started on becoming their own colony.
Beekeepers buy nucs to add more colonies and increase honey production. Or they may build a nuc from one of their current colonies. This splits the hive and prevents swarming.
Either way, the key to a successful nuc is making sure the new queen gets along with the workers before she’s introduced. A special device, called a queen excluder, separates the queen from the rest of the hive until it’s clear that everyone is getting along.
– The workers are feeding the new queen through the excluder.
– The workers are trying to kill the new queen – also known as balling the queen.
– The workers are producing emergency queen cells, which means they’ve rejected the new queen and want to produce one of their own.
Whether a nuc is a success or a failure should be obvious in about eight days. After that it’s okay to remove the excluder. And then after about a month, the new colony can be moved out of the mini-hive and into a regular one and begin foraging and producing honey.
The GYO hops at the Rogue Farms hopyard in Independence are ready for harvest, and you know what that means: Wet Hop Ale. Freedom Hops were hand picked by Rogue Brewmaster John Maier this week. A 98 minute drive to our brewery in Newport, Oregon later, those still wet hops were added to the brew kettle to make Wet Hop Ale. Keep your eye out for it in the coming weeks!
Rogue Brewmaster John Maier inspecting the hops at the Rogue Farms Hopyard in Independence, OR.
Hand-picking the Freedom Hops.
98 minutes later: pitching the wet hops into the brew kettle at the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon
The finished product.