Rex Litters at Four Weeks


Enjoying bamboo and blackberry today

The babies are currently at their cutest stage where they become quite active and look like miniature versions of their parents.

Running around eating everything is their greatest joy so I keep them all well stocked with organic forage from the gardens.

These litters have developed a special fondness for arugula and Red Russian kale, which has self seeded everywhere this year and is in particular abundance right now.

There are three broken opals from Fire Opal’s litter:



And there is one little broken castor and a solid castor:


There is also a lovely blue otter with a nice, deep colored coat. This bunny is really blue!:


Then we have two solid opals and a broken black otter:


Five Spice’s litter consists of two solid castors, two broken castors and a solid opal. I don’t have individual photos of absolutely everyone but you get the idea!:



Five Spice with her kits

Hybrid Bunnies at 10 Weeks


Triple hybrid buck still silvering out

The meat cross bunnies are now a little over ten weeks old. Many have been sold, but I still have chestnut agoutis of both sexes in various stages of silvering.


A close up of his color layering

Some have turned really white, mostly the bucks, although there are a couple true agoutis with a few errant white hairs and the triple crosses also have some black guard hairs mixed in with their overall white. Many of them resemble Argente Bruns to me.

The one double hybrid Creme/Champagne doe left has developed the most amazing silvered pelt with a bright caramel undercoat and no black guard hairs.


Creme/Champagne doe


Creme/Champagne doe top view


Creme/Champagne doe caramel undercoat

As for weigh ins, we have again broken our previous record and these are now the largest meat bunnies we have ever produced here at Abernathy’s! I only weighed two does today, but they came in at 2286g (5.04lbs) and 2543g (5.6lbs).

5.6 pounds at ten weeks! That’s a new record, and I still have at least a dozen more bunnies to put on the scale. Many that appear to be of a similar size or even larger. Not bad!


Triple hybrid doe


Triple hybrid doe top view


You can just barely see some of the black guard hairs if you look closely


Cats and Bees


When I got my bees one of the things I wondered was would they get along with my cats? Would they think the kitties were small furry threats and attack them?


Well, what has happened is that the cats have decided they like the bees very much and I usually have at least one small furry supervisor for each hive inspection.





If they’re not lounging on top of empty brood boxes or trying to sharpen their claws on queen excluders, they’re posted on or beside the hives keeping watch. The bees don’t seem to mind one bit.



Latest Rex Litters


Opal’s litter

We have two new Rex litters that are about a week old now. Opal kindled ten kits, and her daughter Five Spice kindled for the first time, and produced six. All born in the nest on day 32, like mother like daughter.

Five Spice nearly tricked me with her first litter, I was checking nests every day to see if kits had arrived, and on day 32 her nest still looked undisturbed. Unusual for a first timer, usually they make quite a mess. I assumed she had not taken this time… I even put my hand in the nest and felt no warm, squirmy rabbit bodies.

When I went in and stroked her, she flattened out and stuck her hind end in the air, very evidently keen to breed. That was the clincher, I assumed no way would anyone want to breed if they were about to give birth, so I figured I would waste no time and put her back in with the buck.

While they were cavorting, I tidied up her cage and refreshed her food and water. I was removing the nestbox when I saw that there was a tiny bit of fluff in the back corner. Fur in the nest? Sure enough, six perfect little kits were all scrunched up in the far corner.

We have quite a nice color assortment this time, there are many brokens and solids to choose from. Five Spice produced two solid castors, two broken castors and a couple of opals. Five Spice is a solid castor and the sire is a broken castor, so no real surprise there.


Five Spice’s litter


Broken castor

Opal has a broken black otter, a few broken opals, a broken castor, a solid castor, some solid opals and what looks like a blue otter.


Broken black otter


Broken opal


Solid castor


Blue otter

Update on Rabbit Scammer – Desiree Michaels


Well, it looks like the lady who scammed me out of rabbit pedigrees a couple of years ago and had all her rabbits seized by the SPCA last spring has now joined the bee club. My bee club.

I attended a bee workshop this morning to observe some packages being split and of course, who shows up but Desiree Michaels.

I suppose when you keep people’s money and never give them what they paid for, you can save up some funds and use it get into a new hobby. I’m sure she has much more free time and money on her hands now as well since the taxpayers have funded the removal, medical care, euthanasia, spaying/neutering and rehoming of at least 50 of her horribly neglected rabbits. The news article and video can be found here:

It was the largest rabbit cruelty seizure that Nanaimo has ever seen. The SPCA is quoted as saying:

“Animals were living next to deceased animals… horrible conditions. Many of them were underweight. Others had overgrown nails that were curled and coiled and dental issues…”


“Photos taken by staff were so appalling that the public would not want to see them…”

This is the woman who now wants to get involved in beekeeping.

I am at least comforted by the fact that you cannot exactly abuse and neglect bees unless you expect to be abused back and your colonies to die in short order. What concerns me is that she may now try to rip off other local beekeepers who do not know how dishonest and heartless she is.

At least I was able to snap a photo of her today, so bee friends please “bee” warned.



Checking the New Hive


Truthfully I’ve been poking around the bees every day since they arrived. Mostly just to do things like check the feeder, replace an old cover, straighten a super, remove the metal strapping (got a nice sting on the nose for that!) And of course, just observe them doing their thing, bringing resources back to the hive.

I like to think that they are getting to know me. I don’t want to disturb them overly, and I know that bees are inevitably crushed each time I pick through the hive, so I forced myself to wait as long as I could. The weather has been gorgeous and sunny, but oh so windy. Too windy? Bees can fly up to 15mph, so anything greater than that is probably a bad idea. So yeah, I opened them up anyway.


Hello new hive!

I haven’t used my veil or gloves since the day I installed the nuc. I like the freedom of no gear but I also don’t know my bees all that well yet. If I plan to learn from my hives this year, it means figuring out exactly what makes bees mad. Therefore I have ordered a full bee suit and plan to use it. Except maybe the gloves.

The sting on the nose was a nice tension-breaker, and it truly made tears well up in my eyes! But I had no reaction other than a lingering pain for maybe 30 minutes and a tiny zit right on that spot the next day. I realize now I was stung because I was causing a lot of vibrations with the metal strap against the hive, at dusk, on a recently transplanted colony, with no gear on. Lesson learned.


Looking good ladies!

Some people say bee venom helps prevent cancer. According to some guy who stung himself all over the body for science – the nose is the most painful spot, so take it from me, the worst pain possible is not really that bad. Kind of like an extra fierce onion fume shoved right up your sinus. Bee venom is acidic, so a paste of baking soda and water should give instant relief when you do get stung.


Squashed bees… Do I spot the queen?

So yeah, I’ve opened up both hives briefly and there are a few things I know I need to do.

First I need to get my bee suit in the mail. Then the hives need to come off the pallets, as they are currently too high off the ground to work comfortably once they grow. I’d like to build a narrower custom stand for them to make them easier to work around. I also need to do a thorough check of each hive to identify queens and brood and the overall state of affairs.

The new hive hasn’t touched their sugar water, and I’m hoping that’s because natural resources are plentiful. My inspection today showed capped brood, honey and lots of pollen, but I chickened out before checking all the frames. My recent check of the top box of the more established hive showed pretty much the same thing.


The established hive shortly before the metal strapping came off

Projects include fixing the old hive cover, making some ventilated top quilts, building nuc boxes, painting and assembling supers and frames, building screened bottom boards and attending a bee workshop next weekend. Yay bees!

Hybrid Bunnies Silvering Up


This boy was all brown a week ago

Well lo and behold, the addition of a Champagne d’Argent stud has led to some pretty serious silvering in the offspring!

We got some very cute silvered black hybrids who had their ticking from day one resembling Silver Martens, and have recently begun to lighten up even more. Most of the blacks have sold due to their impossible cuteness but a couple of bucks remain. The real surprise is all the chestnut agouti buns that are starting to look a little snow-covered. How sweet!


Ears have already turned white on this little buck

Oddly, only Caraway’s kits are showing silvering, she is my Creme/Rex hybrid so her kits are a mix of three breeds. Her mother’s kits which are half Creme and half Champagne do not show any silvering yet and may not at all.


I have to say that I find the coloration to be quite lovely, and I expect these agouti buns to end up quite frosty-looking with a brown head and undertones. A bit like an Arctic hare changing from their summer to winter coats.

Installing My First Nuc


Well today turned out nicer than expected, albeit a bit windy, so I decided to install my nuc. I didn’t want them to get too crowded in there as I know they work fast!


I got my brand new smoker lit for the first time with some pieces of burlap, and pried off the nuc lid. Since there are only four frames in the nuc box, but room for five, the bees have already started drawing out comb in the empty space. These combs were just tiny nubbins when I picked up the nuc two days ago, so you can see just how quickly they are constructed. Aren’t they elegant looking?




The next thing to do was to remove the little nails that were holding the frames in place so they wouldn’t shift during travel. Easily done with a pair of pliers. Then it was just a matter of carefully removing the four frames and installing them in the center of the new hive, in the same order that they were removed from the nuc.



All frames transferred

While removing the frames, I did a quick inspection of each one. It was tough to see well because of all the bees, but I was able to identify some capped brood and some drone comb, as well as some drones. I couldn’t locate the queen, and I’m not going to worry about that too much right off the bat. I didn’t see her in the box after the frames were gone so I assume she made it in on a frame.


These stragglers all eventually found their way inside

After installing the frames, I mixed up a 50/50 sugar water solution and installed a feeder inside another deep box on top of the inside cover. This will help the bees draw out all the comb on the new frames which so far only have foundation.


So that’s it! The first nuc is installed and the bees now have lots of room to build. I did wear my veil for the installation but I didn’t wear my gloves. I don’t think the veil was even really necessary and I don’t really like how it obscures my view of the bees. I may try without it next time. I wasn’t stung at all today and the only damage was a very minor burn on a baby finger from the smoker. It’s hot!


All done!


Even More Bees


Today I went on a little excursion to pick up my second colony of bees, a complete three box mature hive with drawn comb and a brand new queen. They were purchased from an 85 year old German beekeeper who after 60 years of keeping bees has decided to retire. I went a bit early to observe the banding of the hives in order to get them ready to transport, and I was able to get some photos of the process.



I feel really privileged to be able to take over this hive of bees from such a seasoned keeper, and even more lucky that he has offered to mentor me on an ongoing basis if needed. He is quite close by and has many years of bee knowledge under his belt.


My hive is the third one from the left in the above photo, with the brick on top.


So it looks like I officially have all my starter bees! As it was cloudy today, I decided not to hive my nuc yet and will wait until the next sunny day which should be Thursday. I learned a lot today and can’t wait to dig into my new hive and check it all out! Thank you so much to the other volunteer beekeepers who helped me get it home!