Tuesday, February 24, 2009

oldie but goodie (i think)

ah....bagpipes and drums....competition day - everyone's nervous. june 2008 - first competition of the year. there's something "going on" with the east hive. is my hive queenless? are they showing signs of swarming? gotta take advantage of the nice day & check the hive before i leave.

there i am - out there with my kilt/uniform...and VEIL.

pulled the top cover. a little smoke. pull the inner cover.....top box looks great - pull a frame from the middle. what i really need to do is check the BOTTOM box...the BROOD box.

i go to pull the top box from the bottom box and although i thought i THOROUGHLY unstuck it with my hive tool on all sides....when i pull up - the top box PULLS THE BOTTOM BOX WITH IT & off the hive stand and FALLS kiddy-wampus on the ground.


and i'm thinking to myself....ok - after i get this "put all back and nice"....i don't think being nervous is an option for competition....my ADRENALINE SHOT was done for the day. (and no girls up under the kilt!)

mid-winter hive inspection

three weeks ago, we had a 50 degree day and the girls were out. i took an hour in the afternoon to do a quick check of hives. good news - all alive.

noted some interesting points and thoughts: the two first year hives - clusters are moving up the side (east side). i noted this behavior in the 2 year hives their first year. this movement up the side, maybe puts them in danger of not being able to find "emergency food stores" in the top? (i put some healthy hives' chrystallized honey in the top - i "whipped" it with a food processor into a nice thick creamy consistency and smeared it into some 1/4" wire mesh on top of the inner cover - so it wouldn't run into the hive)

backyard hives - two years old. the hive in the east is BURSTING with healthy bees. this hive is in FULL SUN (if it's unbearable - i put a big patio umbrella over them for shade mid-summer). in the book "natural beekeeping" there was some note that excessive heat (summertime temperatures) does not harm the bees (some brood may perish) - but it does harm the VARROA MITE and causes them fall off in exhaustion. West hive is showing quite a bit more die-off....DO I MOVE the west hive out of it's afternoon shade?

There's a fine line. Will the BURSTING healthy hive - run out of food?

Thinking about getting a "mechanics" camera/scope tool.....a "BEE-CAM".....stick the little eye in there to see what's going on????

i'm not alone

i met another beekeeper - bagpiper! really!? what are the chances? i should play the lottery. don had planned a "18 hour" day trip to michigan to get truck parts (he's in the autobody business)....Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to Traverse City, Michigan - Up and Around the Top of the Lake (Michigan).

Traverse City - home to HENDERSON's Bagpipe & Drum Supply....

According to this fellow piper/keeper - Michigan's had a long hard winter & his hives are dead. He'll be getting nucs in the spring from a big local honey producer. He was telling me that they have BEAR problems! he has to "encase" his hives in fencing.

Sell Sell Sell - Inspire Inspire Inspire

BOW - 87 ladies....so MANY ears to hear my mumblings of BEES BEES BEES...and all the fun things to do with BEES, oh my!

I hope i've inspired yet a couple more ladies to keep our fuzzy friends! They certainly enjoyed the PRODUCTS (picture) What lady doesn't enjoy a nice little home-made lip balm?

They asked if i could produce 100 of them for their next meeting...and asked about giving a beekeeping presentation.

Well....if you TWIST MY ARM!

BOW presentation

Friend Terri and I presented "Introduction to the Night Sky" for a BOW (Becoming an Outdoor Woman) gathering this weekend - 87 ladies. Terri did the technical side of astronomy...and i did the "Stories of the Night Sky" and constellation identification.

We were a bit concerned about causing a "brown-out" of their electrical power grid in Tomahawk, Wisconsin once we plugged in the equipment (joking of course). We treated the gals to a powerpoint show & starry night simulation of the (apparent) mechanism of the sky, introduced them to the big picture of where we are and what's going on. They got to handle equipment: dobsonian reflectors, schmidt-cassegrain, refractors, binoculars. Then they had a "refresher course" from me on basically - Greek Mythology...stories. We managed to catch about an hour and a half of clear sky for viewing outside....and YES! it was cold! The sky clouded up before we could catch a glimse of Saturn and Comet Lulin.

Commentary was very positive from the ladies. Many felt "re-inspired" to star gaze.


Walking past the sliding glass door - deep in my mind...."WHAT WAS THAT?" The boss is back....all you could see of his big tunneling project was the snow moving on top of him....bobbing along - then he'd POP up to see where he was. He REALLY wanted to get this thing all the way to the buffet - he was seemingly taking a "run" at it - going back and forth.

The boss has been with us all winter - tunneling in the snow drifts....i have a sneaking suspicion that i'm going to find PILES OF BIRDSEED and whatnot - in my herb garden, behind the air conditioner, along the foundation of the house, under the deck....i sure hope the stuff doesn't sprout!

Boss of the Bird Buffet

Note that there are NO BIRDS at the bird buffet in this photo!? This little bugger has been bossing everyone around out back....i think he/she lives under our deck...there are some tunnelings close to the foundation....and he's eating us out of house and home! We live far enough out of "civilization" - yet far enough out of the woods - that we RARELY see squirrels out back. What a cute little "naughty" creature!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VICE-PRESIDENT of the newly formed Beekeepers Association

Guess who?! you guessed wrong...DON! i had to have a little "what are you thinking man?" talk with him after. i just about killed his chin under the table when he nominates me for the Secretary position! i'll have enough responsibility with HIS vice-presidency! oy!

ok - so anyway - there's a newly forming beekeeping association starting in the area....meetings are 6 times a year at the Ripon Library. The guy that started it, posted an ad in the FDL Reporter just asking interested persons to contact him. He was expecting 5 people for the first meeting - 30 showed! I didn't make the first meeting - but the second meeting there was about 40 people!

Experience ranges from people "just interested" to "beekeeper with 700 hives".

i have two presentations scheduled (for $) this year. UWFDL PrairieFest, July 27 and EarthDay at a local school. I have an OBSERVATION hive being built! my bees are going for a RIDE!

and i hope i've inspired yet another beekeeper wanna-bee (ha ha)!

you can't see me

this is a weekend ritual here. limie loves to be buried in the wash pile! she likes them fresh out of the dryer - still warm and fluffy. then of course it's play time "tormenting" her inside the pile....

wish you were here

mmm...bigger and better in REAL LIFE! olive pesto focaccia bread...wish you were here helping me out with this one.

forget about asking for the recipe...i don't follow directions well - i always have to TWEEK.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

please don't drag these home....

'tis the season for these (painfully addictive) candies. i'm a CRUNCHER...you other gals can have your soft, meltaway chocolates and caramels...

The crunchier the better! CRUNCHY CHIPS (mmmm salt), CRUNCHY CANDY, CRUNCH CORN NUTS, CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH. don't you just hate standing next to someone crunching? sounds like they're going to bust all the teeth in their mouth?

my dad used to get these for me as a youngin....but it was a single serve little box. my husband goes for the better deal at fleet farm and brings them by the 1 lb bag! and when they go on sale after feb. 14... 2 or 3 bags at a time. you'll find me these days with a pink tongue.

i love my husband dearly and he (apparently) loves me by bringing these love tokens to me.....but - please honey - don't drag them home. CRUNCHY CARROTS would have been a better choice....and just as much fun for a cruncher.

ds bees hive update

the bees are sick of winter now - they TOLD me. i promised them that SPRING REALLY IS COMING! a visit to the hives this weekend indicated that everyone was still home - shivering....i can see them crawling around inside...and there's a pleasant "HUM" coming from the boxes. they're longing for summer days, sweet nectar and pollen (shown right)

ok - so maybe they're just scape-bees for how mommy is feeling....

i'm looking forward to maintenance this spring on the hives. i'm going to paint them BEE-YELLOW! and decorate them with stickers. why not have a little fun with the boxes? i read that desert southwest/mexico hives are painted beautiful pastels - hardly a (sterile) white box to be found.