Meghan feeding the bees sugar syrup

Happy news on our little farm: the bees have moved in!

Jay carrying a package of bees

On Saturday the 2nd, we picked up our package of bees from Barker’s Beehives & Supplies in Oxford.  A package of bees is a queen bee, plus about 10,000 worker bees, in a screened box with some sugar syrup — the start to our bee colony!

Picking up our package in these unusual times of social distancing was very strange, but worked efficiently.  We had a specific time to come by, and stood among a carefully spaced out line of dozens of other beekeepers, both new and expanding.  It was a great day to do the install (sunny and 65 degrees), and though we were disappointed not to be able to invite people over to watch the installation as planned, we did live stream it on Facebook and Instagram; thank you to everyone who joined us! A link to a video of our package installation is below.

Bee Package Install Video

Meghan in a beekeeping outfit hold a jar with a few honeybees on topSince the installation, we’ve been keeping up on feeding our bees.  Until new hives of bees have built up enough honeycomb to start storing nectar to feed themselves, you provide a sugar syrup for them to eat.  Per the recommendation of our bee school (more praise for bee school coming later in this post!), we also add the supplement Honey B Healthy for our bees — a natural supplement that includes lemongrass oil and spearmint, to make the syrup extra appealing to the bees. They are very active and hungry bees, so we are giving them more food every several days so far!

Jay in a bee veil, inspecting the bee hiveWe also did our first inspection, and though we couldn’t find the queen, we found the bees making great progress on building out comb.  The weather has been a little up and down here, so our next big inspection is on Thursday, and I hope we’ll be able to find her then! If we can’t find her, we’ll make sure to find some baby bees growing so that we’ll know she is settled in well and healthy.  Even though our queen is marked with a big blue dot, it can be harder to find the queen than you might think, since there are thousands of other bees crawling all around!

It’s common for first-year beekeepers not to be able to extract any honey, because the bees have to spend a lot of time originally building out the honeycomb that they will then use year after year.  But we are making sure we set up the best possible conditions to make this happen: We planted a bunch of native pollinator flowers around, including late-season goldenrod, and are going to be regularly checking in to make sure our bees are strong and healthy and don’t need anything from us.

I know that I already sung the praises of bee school in my last post, but now that I have my bees, I wanted to just talk again about how great my bee school experience was.  None of us were expecting that suddenly COVID-19 would hit and that our bee school would no longer be able to meet, but the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association very easily pivoted to teaching fully remote through Zoom.  We also had an extra Q&A class at the end, and were offered mentorship. I got our diplomas printed out for fun as well, at Walpole Printworks.

As a winter project, Jay and I have been attending the annual beginners’ beekeeping school run by the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association.  In Massachusetts, every county has a beekeepers association and, I believe, every beekeepers’ association has a bee school! 

We’re not 100% sure if we will have bees in this upcoming spring or wait until the next one, but bee school is a crucial first step in learning to raise healthy bees, especially in today’s post-colony collapse, varroa mite affected era.  We’re using Beekeeping for Dummies as an informal textbook, and being taught by one of the club’s senior members.

Our bee school meets every Tuesday night, and we’re learning about bee anatomy, equipment, health and diseases, honey collection, and basically every topic to do with bees and beekeeping. Once we’re set up with our hives, this will also give us access to a mentor who will come by and help as needed for our first season.

Signing up for bee school also made us club members, which means we can attend the monthly club meetings that have various topics; the first one we went to was about mead making!

The club also gets together to learn other crafts, like soap making and honey lager brewing.

For anyone considering keeping bees now or in the future, I definitely recommend checking out your local beekeepers’ association.

Duck eggs, varying in color from white to blue

Duck eggs are a lot like chicken eggs, and can be used in all the same applications.  Cooking and storing duck eggs is also exactly like cooking and storing chicken eggs.

So, what’s so special about duck eggs?

  1. Duck eggs are bigger
    Our ducks are Indian Runner Ducks, a small breed of duck, so their eggs are about the size of an Extra Large chicken egg. 
  2. Duck eggs stay fresher longer
    Due to the thicker shell, duck eggs are able to stay fresh longer in the fridge. 
  3. People with allergies to chicken eggs aren’t typically allergic to duck eggs
    Always be careful with food allergies, but egg allergies are normally species-specific. 
  4. Duck eggs contain more protein
    A chicken egg has 6 grams of protein, and a duck egg has 9. 
  5. Professional bakers swear by duck eggs
    Due to the higher protein content and richer yolk, duck eggs make rich, moist, airy baked goods.  Duck eggs are very commonly used by wedding cake bakers! 
  6. Duck eggs have more healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and extra vitamin D
    This can vary based on diet, but our ducks forage in our garden every day and are fed high quality organic food.
The field covered in snow, with the raised rows still visible

The field covered in snow, with the raised rows still visibleToday we had the first day of snow on the little farmstead.  It’s cool that you can still see the raised rows even with the snow! Our cover crop winter rye and vetch is still green and well underneath the blanket of snow, and the garlic is tucked in beneath a heavy bed of straw.  Gonna be a little tough to get to the compost pile for the next few days!

The three ducklings in an ex-pen in the snow

We brought the ducklings outside for their first taste of snow as well.  They were only out for a few minutes, since it’s pretty chilly and they don’t have their full set of adult feathers yet to keep them warm. 

We sat out on the deck with an expen set up to prevent them from accidentally slipping through the railing of the deck.

Aurora and Cinder were pretty underwhelmed, but Buttercup gave it a good try! Seems like a good representation for how we all feel about snow and the beginning of winter.

Our Australian Shepherds Surge and Jenny playing in the snow.  Surge has a snowball in his mouth.

The dogs also got in on the action, with an impromptu lunchtime snowball fight!

Though the farm is quiet right now, the days of seed starting and soil amendments are right around the corner.

baby ducklings in a small pile, napping

Here on our little farm we have our first three farm animals: Indian Runner ducklings.

baby ducklings in a small pile, napping

The ducklings came home on October 30 at 1 day old, and have grown a ton already!

We picked ducks to start with over chickens as they are quite quiet (we are in a suburb with neighbors nearby), and they are excellent at foraging, which will make them a great add to our organic methods of gardening.  They will spend their days out picking bugs off of our plants and splashing around in a small pond that we made them!

Ducks also lay excellent eggs.  They lay about as many as chickens, and the eggs are larger and notoriously good for baking.

We picked Indian Runner Ducks because I wanted an heirloom breed known for high egg production and good foraging ability.  As a side bonus, runner ducks have a really fun very upright posture, and they’re very fast moving!

Since they’re just babies, they’re set up inside our kitchen in a brooder right now.  We are working on their coop and run, which we should have completely ready by the end of January.



Cinder is a blue runner duck, and she will be a dark slate silver when her adult feathers grow in. Her eggs will be a mix of blue and white.
buttercup, a fawn and white runner duckling, in a bowl
Buttercup is a fawn and white runner duck.  Though she is mostly yellow now, when she grows up she will have a mixed pattern of brown and white feathers.  Her eggs will be white
Aurora, a black runner duckling, in a bowl of water
Aurora is a black runner duck, and she will be close to jet black when she grows her adult feathers. Most of her eggs will be blue.


Welcome and thank you for stopping by! I’m just now creating the website, so please excuse the look of construction.  

The plan for this blog is to update a few times a week with farm happenings, produce updates, recipes, and other potentially interesting info from the farm!

In the next few weeks, all the produce we’re planning to grow will be listed, and our newsletter will be available for signup.  For now, things will be slowly appearing.