Archive for the ‘Apiary’ Category
Random Sunday with beekeeping, baking, real food school lunch making, and a family field trip to Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center.
Posted in Breads, Family Fun, Conscious Eating, Muriel, Apiary, Beekeeping, Honey Bees, Real Food, Big Ag Can Suck It, tagged 6th annual, apprentice, beekeeping, eat local resource fair, family, field, food, freezie pop, hives, ideas, inspecting, kids, lunch box, lunch boxes, milwaukee, molds, muffins, nuc, real food, resource fair, school lunch, silicone, silicone liners, smoothies, trip, urban ecology center on August 27, 2012 | 8 Comments »
I finally had the magical combination of cooperating weather + enough time = able to really get under the hood with both of my hives on Saturday. Photos are all courtesy of Richard, using a long lens on a digital Canon Rebel SLR.
I told a friend at work today that I worked the hives over the weekend. I said a few bees had gotten squished during the inspection, and they always had to clean up my messes after I’d closed the hive back up. I said it was a good thing they were such tidy housekeepers. My friend asked, really, bees keep a clean house? That led to more questions, and mind you, this is my friend who is very, very afraid of bees. I’d say it’s almost a bee phobia. I like that she’s still open-minded and asking questions, though, even though they terrify her. It got me thinking about how I got interested in bees. I certainly wasn’t a fan of stinging insects when I was younger. How many people are (whose parents aren’t beekeepers), after all?
My fascination with honey bees began in 2004, when I read the first fictional book I’d read in a very long time, Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Secret Life of Bees”. At the beginning of each chapter is a snippet about bees from a non-fiction source. Those snippets captivated me. Secret life indeed! After reading through that book, I bought a non-fiction book on bees. And another, and another. I devoured them all, eager to learn about this society, this sophisticated culture of individuals that works together toward a common goal, with not a single spare thought for self. It awes me, and stills the constant chatter within me, when I sit out by the hives in the evening. Now, onto the beekeeping.
On Saturday afternoon, I opened up my new hive first, and inspected. I found the queen quite easily. She’s doing a wonderful job, with a full even laying pattern and honey around the edges. I named her Queen Hazel. Hazel was the name of the strong, kind, and resourceful Chief Rabbit of the Watership Down warren, in Richard Adams’ classic novel “Watership Down”. Watership Down became my everlasting favorite book when I read it for the first time at nine years old. It has remained so. Although the rabbit Hazel was male (bunny drone?), it can obviously be used for both sexes, and it’s such a lovely, old-fashioned name.
When I got the nuc for this hive, two of the brood frames Queen Hazel was laying on were from a deep super, and my garden hive has shallow supers. So we put the empty box on the bottom so the two large frames had room to hang down, as a temporary situation. On Saturday I moved those two large frames to the sides so they could hatch out. Queen Hazel will find her way back to the middle, and I’ll switch out the two large frames with shallows and put the whole top box on the bottom, where a proper brood box belongs. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that within the next 3 weeks or so. By fall it should be a full, strong hive. I will have to get at least one more shallow super on there so they have room to store honey for winter.
After I’d done a thorough inspection of my garden hive, I moved on to inspecting the original hive. The top shallow honey super is almost bare; however, the middle super is FULL of honey. They are very well-positioned for winter as far as food goes. However, the IPM drone comb frame is all drawn out. Chris put that in there a few months ago. I read the other night that you’re supposed to take that out when it’s drawn out and freeze it, then scrape it clean, because it attracts the resident varroa mite population and that’s one way of controlling it. I don’t know if he’s ever done that. If you don’t, it becomes a lovely habitat for varroa mites to gather strength and numbers. Must remember to chat with Chris about that next time. And I STILL haven’t met the queen of that hive!!
So, fellow much-more-experienced beekeeping bloggers, do you see any glaring problems?
I don’t really have a theme for this post except Holy Cow I Haven’t Posted Since July 3rd. Lots has happened but nothing that stands on its own.
I did get the new garden hive painted and established. The nuc moved in about 10 days (?) ago. I haven’t gotten any good pictures of it yet though so bear with me. I’ve been letting them settle in so they can get their bearings before I open the hive back up.
The hive in its final resting spot on a hot summer evening.
Our original special ladies, bearding up on a sultry summer night.
Other than that, we’ve been plugging away at trying not to melt. We only have A/C in our bedroom. On nights like tonight when it’s 10:14 pm and still 90 degrees outside, we’re all bunking in our bedroom. The girls are on an air mattress snoozing away as I type.
Oh, and I got our Facebook page up, finally! http://facebook.com/FarmersTaft.
Well, that’s about it for tonight. If it’s not already apparent, I am also suffering from severe Blogger Block. Any ideas on how to crack it, fellow bloggers???
What a weekend!
Rhubarb pre- and post-hacking.
This basket is much fuller than it appears. Trick photography. Then, the final gallon-size bag of rhubarb for future goodies.
Abby and Jess ran through the sprinkler on Saturday during our unseasonably warm, pre-rain 90 degree day. Afterwards, Abby wanted to watch her “bee friends”, so she curled up by the hive entrance to watch them all working.
How much do you love those little toes peeking out from under the towel? I didn’t think it was going to get this warm this soon, so I hadn’t bought her a running-through-the-sprinkler suit yet. She’s wearing one of those suits with the floaties built into it, which is why she looks like she has a belt of bricks around her middle.
We have a very thick row of strawberry plants that we moved last fall to be out from under the eaves. They are loaded with little green berries. Their production may actually outpace the kids and the birds this year!
We had a campfire in the backyard Saturday night, complete with s’mores. No, I did not make the graham crackers or marshmallows. We DID use a Green & Black Organic milk chocolate bar though. I’d have to say that I do not have the same taste for s’mores that I used to. Next time I think I will make the grahams because Nabisco isn’t doing it for me anymore. Anybody got any ideas for marshmallow substitutes, or a decent recipe? I don’t know how you’d make marshmallows without processed ingredients, considering I’ve never seen a marshmallow tree nor do I expect to in my lifetime. Well, I guess one shouldn’t underestimate Monsanto’s gene technology, though. So really, there might be a jet-puffed marshmallow tree at some point. But I wouldn’t eat them anyways because they’d be GMO marshmallows. So, moot point.
Richard with his two girls, and his new compost bins he made last week. He got the pallets for the compost bins for $2 apiece on, you guessed it, Craigslist. He has alerts set up with keywords so as soon as any postings are put up he gets an email alert.
On Sunday we called on a craigslist listing for retaining wall blocks. The guy wanted $50 for 75 of them, then $.50/block after that. We ended up with 200+ blocks for $110. We had to disassemble the guy’s retaining wall and load them up on our 8-foot trailer, and it took us 3 trips altogether. We only live about 5 minutes away from where they were so it wasn’t that big of a deal, except it was 90 degrees out and starting to rain, so we managed to get it all done in a little under two hours. It’s such a good feeling to be able to be in such a win-win situation, with reusing materials and getting a great deal on it at the same time.
And…. you’re not going to believe what we else we got on Sunday. We are going to disassemble it on June 2nd with the help of some family and friends. Want to see?
Yes! We found it on Craigslist. It’s a 50′ x 20′ galvanized steel frame greenhouse. The two endcaps are polycarbonate, and it comes with the blower motor for the double-paned plastic walls, and the ventilation fan, and all the wiring. It’s gorgeous. Right now it’s over a pool, but the new owner of the house it’s at wants to fill the pool in and get rid of the greenhouse so we were able to make a great deal for both of us. We are going to grow so much stuff in this thing!
Bonus points if you recognized the post title as the title of a Calvin and Hobbes book.
I got Richard to take pictures. He will take many more on Thursday, probably of me running around getting stung because I forgot to tuck my gloves into my sleeves. Doh!
Your head gets itchy in this thing.
Here, I am pretending to look like I am about to take the top off. It would be more convincing if I had taken the giant rock off it first.
Me, still pretending. Still with a giant rock on top.
Isn’t she pretty?
Also, look what Richard scored for me for $7 at the Goodwill today!
A Ronco dehydrator! I’m so excited! Of course I want to eventually get an Excalibur, but I want to play with a cheap dehydrator first to see what features I find useful. This one’s never been used and still has the instruction booklet in it.
It’s amazing what you can get for $7 at Goodwill.
I know this was supposed to be the other 5 questions but it has been slightly delayed due to AWESOMENESS!!! The ladies have arrived!
Chris and his special lady friend dropped off the hive tonight and I can just barely breathe I’m so excited! Chris started beekeeping when he was 15. He has happy little hives sprinkled all over our community. I’m so honored and happy that he’s trusting his girls with us.
Inside pics of the hive were courtesy of Richard because I was so excited to see it I completely forgot to even think about pictures once Chris took the top off. (Those are his arms in the pictures.)
Abby is looking like the Ragamuffin Princess here, but they were both excited to set up the water dish for the bees. The corks are there for the bees to land on and to pull themselves up out of the water if they fall in. The water dish itself is the top of a birdbath; the bottom piece of it broke this winter, so we used a plant stand we had in the shade garden to hold it.
I’ve been reading about bees and beekeeping for over six years. My beekeeping dream has finally come true. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Chris. This is the beginning of a beautiful thing.