Okay who wants to donate to send me to Morocco?
Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.
Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.
Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)
With Each Goodbye, You Learn
Happy Birthday Gorgeous!
Oh God, Book One
Curried Beef Short Ribs
Black Bean-Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
baby #2 (18)
baby tips (8)
brat stuff (6)
handling divorce (23)
pregnancy #2 (44)
Don't be surprised if you didn't know that I am keeping bees this year. I haven't even met the girls myself. They arrived through the postal service while we were on vacation and my friends installed them for me. I have made several plans to go see them but it keeps raining on those days. Plus our schedules seem to cancel each other out. I am supposed to go tomorrow afternoon but rain is possible again. I'd feel like such a bad beekeeper except that I know they are being well cared for. I would like to get a chance to get suited up and check out the hive and see them. I have never seen Buckfast and I am interested in their coloring. I know they won't be a beautiful light gold like my Italians were or thickly striped like my Carnolians. It is times like these I miss having a backyard. I used to just sit on the little rise in front of the hive and watch them come and go. You can see what they are working based on the color of the pollen in their baskets or if they are empty because they are pulling nectar instead. And I look around now and see what is in bloom and identify their favorites almost without thinking about it. I guess that is how I know bees are in my blood.
Last night was Selfish Mom's. Tom called me at 2pm to say he was sick and asked that I take Keegan instead of him. I had invited a new person to join our club and I felt bad that she would end up being there by herself the first time. Fortunately Nana was able to come to the rescue. So I was late but at least I got there. And I think the new person had fun. Everyone was so sweet and excited about the engagement. We had way too much food again. I brought Layered Bean Dip (see recipe section) which was very easy and good thing because Keegan wasn't in the mood to help me cook last night. I had leftovers so I brought them to his teachers today because they always ask to try my recipes. Tomorrow is the Mother's Day luncheon at his center so I am bringing a dish to that too.
I was supposed to be up in the mountains most of the day today but the CEO called and had another conflict. I decided it wasn't worth driving 4 1/2 hours for what would end up being only a half an hour meeting. So my schedule is clear but full of stuff waiting from last week.
My honeybees arrived while we were away and my friends were nice enough to install them for me. We were planning on going over on Sat afternon to check on them. But rain is in the forecast and so the girls won't fly. I will have to wait until the following weekend to introduce myself. That is the only bad thing about not having my own yard to keep them in.
I love the sudden interest in publishing about honeybees. I have started a pretty decent library myself if anyone wants to borrow.
Seen in the Boston Sunday Globe
Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey-the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World by Holley Bishop (I am on page 29 of this one and it is already great).
Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee by Hattie Ellis
Letters From the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind by Stephen Buchmann with Banning Repplier
Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation by Tammy Horn
New York Times Article:
To Bee or Not to Bee
By HOLLEY BISHOP
If we make our backyards safe, welcoming places for honeybees, they'll thank us with dinner and flowers for years to come.
Many of us can remember being stung by a bee while drinking from a sticky soda can, or stumbling onto a ferocious stinging nest while wandering in the woods. Maybe we remember wearing shorts and sitting on a bee that was trapped in the back of the station wagon, or a barbecue disrupted by a painful sting.
But think carefully: was the assailant really a bee? Many perceived bee stings are actually the work of hornets and wasps - aggressive, menacing carnivorous cousins of the gentle bee. As spring and stinging insects arrive in your backyard, try to remember that the heroic honeybee is good, and it should be admired and befriended, not feared and killed.
Channel-surfing recently, I came upon a reality show. A young couple had just discovered honeybees in their backyard and, horrified, rushed to Home Depot to purchase a can of Raid. Minutes later, the husband was shown heroically spraying the bees. They were dead in seconds.
What shocked me about this scene was the hero's apparent ignorance of the benefits and beauties that the bee brings to all of us. These gentle creatures produce delicious honey, of course, but they are also essential to the pollination of more than 100 of our most important crops, including broccoli, oranges, melons, onions, almonds and sunflowers. Dozens of other crops like asparagus, endive, tomato and coffee also benefit from bee pollination.
That's right; bees bring us our morning coffee, and, by pollinating the alfalfa crop that produces hay, then meat and milk, they deliver the cream we lace it with. It is estimated that a third of the food on our tables is brought to us by way of the honeybee.
Bees and other pollinators are also responsible for the flowers and vegetables growing in our backyards. Without bees, perennials would perish. Thyme, lavender and forsythia would fade, and fat ripened zucchinis, squashes and cucumbers would cease to exist. Our dinner tables and bud vases would be much duller without bees.
How could such a beneficial creature, the provider of such bounty, be the target of a can of Raid? As an amateur beekeeper, I've heard many of the reasons. "I'm afraid of bees" and "I'm allergic to bee stings and I'll die if I get stung" are the most popular.
But bees are amazingly gentle, not fearsome, creatures. I've had them on my bare arms, crawling and licking, and I can tell you it tickles more than anything else. Bees sting only under duress - when they feel that the safety and livelihood of their colony is in peril. A bee in a vegetable plot or flower bed is not a threat, but rather on a nurturing mission to collect pollen or nectar for the young bees being raised in the hive. In the process, she (I write "she" because all of the honeybees you meet are female - the males rarely leave the hive) is pollinating and fortifying the plants.
When her mission is complete, she is instinctively eager to return home to feed her forage to the next generation of bees. She is not interested in stinging you; in fact, she'd probably rather not because she dies afterwards. If you meet a bee in your garden or yard, just go about your business - the bee will soon finish hers and dart away.
When I do something stupid or clumsy in one of my beehives, the inhabitants do become defensive and punish me with a well-deserved sting or two. After six years of beekeeping and dozens of stings, I still swell up freakishly. If I'm stung on the hand, my fingers become sausages, and my arm turns into a thick salami, feverish and furious from the bee's venom. This is a typical, localized reaction to a bee sting, and it's deeply unpleasant, but not deadly.
Most people will experience some sort of similar reaction, and a few might have a more dramatic bodywide response, but only a very few will experience anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. About 50 Americans die each year as a result of venomous insect stings, and probably only half of these are delivered by bees.
So we are not in great danger around bees, but they are in danger around us.
Destruction of habitat and pesticides threaten bee colonies nationwide, and a deadly parasitic mite called the Varroa has literally halved the bee populations of many states, including New York. That means half the honey production and half the plant pollination. It's hard to imagine what our world will look and taste like if the Varroa and the Raid continue to have their way.
You can befriend bees by giving them a haven in your backyard. They will happily visit, pollinate your garden and produce luscious results, especially if you entice them with a little drinking water and flowers in their preferred colors - blue, yellow and white. Another way to promote friendly relations is to limit the use of pesticides, many of which are toxic to bees and other pollinators. If you must use chemicals, apply them in the evening, as bees forage during the day and return to the hive at night.
If we make our backyards safe, welcoming places for honeybees, and learn to be more appreciative than scared, they'll thank us with dinner and flowers for years to come.
Holley Bishop is the author of "Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World."All done!
Keegan is taking a nap so I popped out and put a second box on top of my hive. I have been waiting for a time that is best for the bees. Meaning when I can catch them in a good mood. Mid-morning to mid-day is best because most of the field bees are out working. If there has been good weather the day before they will also be in good humor from having been collecting and storing. You want to avoid days where the pressure changes are extreme due to either a storm just passing or one on the way. You can work with your hive at these times but why not wait until it is a good time for the bees?
I didn't use my smoker or even tuck in my pants when I just went out. Someday I hope to have enough confidence to go without gloves. I think I will always wear a veil because I hear face stings are the worst. They hardly moved at all as I removed the covers and placed the second box. Although when I came in I shook my pant legs a million times to make sure I wasn't carrying any hitchhikers. When bees land on you they always head up. Not the best place get stung if they end up in your pants.
Erika's entry on gardening struck a chord with me.
"I've heard people talking about how zen gardening can be, but I had no idea. There's something about the smell of the dirt that's so calming. I'm learning patience - the idea that some things are out of my control, that things won't always be perfect right away, that there's wonder and energy in the little curls of green even before they become wildflowers I envision in my mind, and most importantly - and the hardest lesson for me to learn - that I need to step back and let things just be sometimes. I need to learn to find and embrace the beauty in that balance, in that state of simply being."
I get a therapeutic result from gardening too. I love to look around the yard and delight in the things I help grow. But her words really describe how I feel about keeping bees.
There is this moment when I am all garbed up, smoker wafting about my head and I start to take the outer cover off. Then it happens, "bee peace", this total calm. Not just calm but being lost in the moment. Movements are slow and smooth. I get the chance to peek in on their world. Each bee is busy going about their jobs trying to ignore me as much as possible. There in the frames each cell it tells the story. Eggs, baby bees, pollen or honey. Whatever perfect balance they need to thrive. But I am only in there to see how I can help. Are they running out of space? Are there signs of parasites that need to be dealt with? Is the queen alive and well and in charge?
You see you don't really keep bees, you manage their home. It's like being a really lucky landlord. That is why when people look at me like I am crazy for wanting to be with bees, I look back and think they have no idea what they are missing.
Loving the fellow beekeepers. The reply to my inquiry:
"Sounds like you are off and running...excellent! If your bottom hive body is 3/4 full with drawn out wax, brood and honey its a good time to add your second deep to expand the hive brood nest and stores. If they have not yet filled out the last two frames, don't worry they will. The girls always work from the center of the brood nest to the outside. If you want to get the outside frames filled quickly, swith them with a frame that is full (or partially) with honey, just be careful not to pull a frame with brood from near the center...you don't want to split up the brood nest!
At this point you sound like you are good to go as far as adding a second box. Remember, though not as important now as in the winter, ventilation is still important. Pull your outer cover up and set it flush on the front side of the hive. The front of the outer cover should now be sitting on the top of the inner cover and it will be sloped towards the back of the hive. This allows more air to flow, cooling the hive and removing moisture from the nectar. Make sure your reducer is off too! Let me know if you have any questions.
I checked on the bees for the first time in 3 weeks. I brought out two deeper frames hoping to replace the short ones that came with the nuc. However the bees were still using them. I think the first one they actually packed with honey again. I could see the cells filled and waiting to capped. The bees were pretty focused on working and didn't act aggressively or fly around me.
I also brought out another box to put on top in case they had run out of space. But the outer frames on the current box weren't filled. I am prettysure I should wait before giving them more space. I am a little concerned because now until and the end of August is when the honey flow runs. I was thinking they would need that second box and then I could add a honey box in a few weeks.
I think that I will call my bee buddy to consult. I didn't worry about this last year because I had no intention of collecting honey. But this year I figured having the nuc would give me a head start.
The guy who sold me the bees came by to help me check on them. I figured he would come today since it is the only day so far without rain. We wanted to go in and make sure the queen was laying eggs and that the rest of the bees had settled in okay.
A little smoke at the hive entrance and on top to make sure the girls were mellow.
As soon as you pull off the covers you can see the bees focused on the center frames. This is where the queen is laying eggs so they stick close to her and work their way out filling up cells. Then they work towards the frames on the outside.
Bees will build off of a frame just to fill in the extra space. Normally you wouldn't have a shorter frame in a deep box. But these were full of honey to make sure they had enough to eat while they got started. Later on in the year I will try to pull these out and replace them with the correct size. It just makes for a cleaner hive. Right now the queen is using them so I'll have to wait.
Here is almost an entire frame of brood. Soon tons of baby bees will pop out and start eating and growing. Then they will join in to make wax on the frames which aren't filled out yet. More room for more babies!
So now I will leave them alone for a couple more weeks. The next time I go in I will try to pull out the two shorter frames. I will also check to see if they have filled up all the frames and need more space. Then it will be time to add another box. After that I will start adding honey boxes. This year I am going to make sure I get a taste of my hive.
That is right folks, the girls are back in residence and the hive is buzzing. The guy I bought them from brought over his box all closed up on Tuesday night. Then we placed it on my hive stand next to my hive and removed the screen from the entrance. Yesterday morning the bees woke up in their new environment and spent the day getting oriented. Then he came over in the afternoon and installed them into my hive. My bees were completely dead by then and it was empty except for tons of ants taking advantage of the leftover honey. We then moved my hive over to where his had sat. This way the worker bees who were out in the field already would be able to find their way home.
Today they are out checking out the surroundings and getting acclimated. I will leave them alone for a week so they can get established. When I check again I should be able to see baby bees and eggs. I already feel better knowing there is life out in the yard again. I will now start shopping for the extra equipment I need including stuff for collecting honey. The guy I bought them from gave me a great price and is so nice. He wants to keep checking back with me over the summer to see how they do. I also spoke with M., my bee buddy, and he is going to come in a few weeks and show me how to identify good brood patterns. Beekeepers are so nice and all have told me they love to get new people involved. Some day it will be turn to pass the torch. Don't think I haven't already told Keegan all about the bees.
I've got music, I've got rhythm, I've got honeybees. Who could ask for anything more?
Well I don't have new bees yet but I will in three weeks. I must have called every apiary in a two state area. It was this site that did the trick, something my brother Scott found. Sure enough one of the local guys has a nuc for me!
They will be from stock over-Wintered here New Hampshire so that should help me through next Winter too. Now I have to get cracking on ordering some more equipment with the possibility of getting atleast a taste of honey this year.
My current hive is hanging on and slurping down the sugar syrup.
So no news on the search for bees. I am on the waitlist for two places. One possibly for May 15 and another to call back at the end of the month. I look out in the backyard and it seems so empty. I used to smile and think of the girls bustling away in their hive.
Bad news from the beeyard.
My bee buddy came over today to help me check them out for the Spring. It looked promising with all the activity but looks are deceiving. As soon as we pulled the top cover we saw a mass of dead bees. Not just dead but wet and mildewing. The bottom box was fine but the top was filled with dead, moldy bees. Some had died head first in the comb looking for food.
I had two problems. One was that some bees separated from the cluster to find food but then the temparatures dropped and they died. The second problem and by far the worst was the moisture. Do not make the mistake that Winter means they need to be sealed tight to stay warm.
The worst news of all was the absence of brood cells (baby bees) and the complete absence of a Queen.
Now if I have taught you anything this past year it is that a hive cannot survive without a Queen. If there was brood I could get a new Queen and she would be taken care of by the hatching bees. Without any brood, the bees I have now probably won't live long enough to help the Queen. I could take the gamble but I don't think I want to. I need to get new bees. A package would be like starting over and is impossible to find at this point anyway. Most people are sold out. The option I am going for is to get a Nuc. A Nuc is frames of already drawn out comb with eggs and brood in them and with the Queen. You get them and put them into your current hive and they hopefully get going right away.
So I spent the morning calling all over New Hampshire and Mass. looking for available Nucs. Some are sold out and a lot of people weren't home. Keep your fingers crossed for success. Meanwhile I am feeding the remaining bees 2:1 sugar syrup (2 lbs. of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of water) to maybe keep them alive until I figure this out.
The irony is that I was so worried about parasites attacking my hive. Looks like I was my own worst enemy. But this is what learning is all about. If beekeeping was easy, everyone would do it.
It 's here ! It's finally Spring!!
I just looked out and saw honeybees working my crocuses. I don't know if they were my girls but I am happy to see them anyway. Once the weather gets a bit warmer I will go out and open up my hive for the season. I am so curious to see how they did this Winter.
Winter marks the official end to a beekeeper's year. Yes I know I haven't updated about my hive lately but this pregnancy thing kind of takes over. The girls are still out there and getting ready for winter. They need 50 degrees for their wing muscles to work and therefore have not been out for a while.
I suited up today to do the last prep for a long winter. My veil string now only barely fits my middle, just enough to make a bow. But the maternity pants make it easy to tuck everything in. I was fully protected and had my smoker going but it wasn't necessary. They were quite happy to remain inside.
I sprinkled the top with poison mixed with powdered sugar to keep the nasty diseases out. Then I put the entrance reducer in so they have less to protect from intruders. There were a couple other housekeeping duties and then I left them alone. I just need to wrap the outside to give them extra insulation. Working together they can keep the inner temperature at 93 degrees to protect the queen. I have some housing construction grade foam insulation to give them an extra boost. We'll probably do it on Thanksgiving since I need Tom's help to cut it to size and help fasten it on.
This is my first winter as a beekeeper so I'm not sure how they will do. I really hope they have enough food to get through. The arrival of snow will actually be a blessing because it insulates too. Keep your fingers crossed that in the spring I am greeted by happy buzzing.
You gotta love it when you get spam in your comments, especially when English is not their first language. This was an entry were I was talking about wearing gloves as the "lunch lady" this summer:
While visiting your nice website I noted that you are an experienced seller of Beekeeping Gloves & accessories in your country. We therefore, proudly to introduce ourselves to you as a Manufacturer and Exporter of Beekeeing Gloves having a vast experience in the line of production.
We intend to develop good business relations with your nice company by supplying our quality products. We can supply you better quality products in very discounted prices. We hope once you have checked our quality, workmanship and prices you will must decide to work with us. We expect that you will create an opportunity to do business with us.
Please let us have your current inquiries so that we may provide you our best offer.
Awaiting your reply with interest in our offer.
Best & respectful regards.
FRANKLIN FLORA INTERNATIONAL
Tee hee. This is funny. Okay maybe only to me but I'm entitled. It is a real label from the product they sell online. Remember, all honey started in a bee's tummy.
I had a beekeeping crisis this morning. Last night I was out around 9:30 and some of the girls were still hanging around outside. I thought that it was weird but didn't worry because I had planned on checking on them today.
When I went to put the dogs out this morning I couldn't believe my eyes. There were hundreds of bees flying above the hive and literally thousands clinging to the outside.
I'm thinking. Crap, crap, crap. They are going to swarm and leave. So I freak out and do the only thing I can think of. Make more room. I put together ten frames with wax foundation in record time. Then I light the smoker and put on my gear. It's ninety degrees and I am covered from head to toe.
I race out to the hive and am momentarily stunned by the sheer amount of bees. Crap, crap, crap. After pulling the bee covered outside lid and inner cover I put the new box on top. Then I stand back try to catch some shade and watch. I was out there a good half hour as the bees slowly walked back into the hive or flew off to work.
The only thing I can figure is that in the last week the new worker bees matured (it takes 21 days) and that coupled with the heat made them not want to be in that hive. So now I am hoping they are more comfortable and happy.
Whew! That was a close one. Could I be a more typical newbie beekeeper?
Their was a brief respite in the rain today. We even got a little sunshine. So I quickly suited up and went out to check my hive. It seems as though a lot of my girls are drowning in my bee bath. I had put flat rocks in to give them more surface area. But all this ran has kept me from being as vigilant about the water level as I should be.
I also opened the cover to see if they had worked honeycomb in all the frames. They still haven't proceeded over to the left side and the majority of the bees were still hanging in the same spot. I didn't pull frames because the sky was getting darker and a lot of the workers seemed to be miffed that I was poking around. I replaced the cover and then watched the entrance for a few minutes. I could see the field bees coming in with their pollen cups fully loaded. They were carrying relatively large loads. Other beekeepers had told me about sitting and watching field bees bringing home pollen but I didn't realize it would be so easy to see.
I started back towards the house and it started to sprinkle. Two of the girls were riding on my sleeve so I brushed them off to get home ahead of the rain. I took off my gear in the garage instead of going right into the house. I am hoping to avoid hitchikers like the last time.
I do think that I will call me bee mentor to touch base and compare progress on where my hive should be at this point. I am nervous that they are not working their way into another box of frames by now. Although I am sure the non-stop week of rain has been a factor.
I realized that it has been a while since I updated on my bees. I did check them this past Sunday while Angie watched from the porch. They were very calm as I lifted each frame to see their progress. There was drawn out honeycomb and I could see the pollen they stuffed in. It ranged in color from red to yellow. Matching the sources available at this time. I couldn't really identify any eggs. Basically because I am not entirely sure what to look for.
I think I figured out my smoker problem too. I used a combination of dryer lint and grass clippings. Both fuels I seem to have an endless supply of. It smoked nicely without being too hot and then kept smoking even after I was done bugging the bees. I will post more pics when I can coax my mom back over here to be my offical photographer.
Fun honeybee facts:
1. Honey has been used for years as a topical dressing for wounds since microbes cannot live in it.
2. The brain of a worker honeybee is about a cubic millimeter but has the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.
3. Fermented honey, known as Mead, is the most ancient fermented beverage. The term "honeymoon" originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of Mead during the first month of a marriage. (That one is for Christine my homebrewing pal.)
It finally stopped raining for the first time in days. Still cold and cloudy. Not a good week to be a bee. I got all suited up to check on them and see if the queen was free. She wasn't, not that I could see her because her box was covered in bees. A sure sign she is still inside. I also needed to flip my bottom board and add an entrance reducer. Two things I was reminded of at our last class. These are the things I learned today.
1. Painted hive bodies stick together after days in the rain.
2. Remember to bring tools for unsticking.
3. It is extremely difficult to keep my smoker lit enough to smoke but no so hot it cooks my bees.
4. My entrance reducer does not fit with my feeder on.
5. I really can make my own.
6. I should wear safety goggles while operating power tools.
7. The dogs have figured out it is me in my veil and have stopped barking.
Tonight was the last night of bee school. I really enjoyed the classes and always left with my brain overflowing with information. I will also miss the comraderie of the other beginning beekeepers. There is something to be said for going through this together. Everyone told stories about their package installments this past weekend. I was glad to know that I wasn't the only one who had questions. Some people even accidentally released their queens too soon. Yikes, I would have freaked out. We had a raffle at the end and I won twice! I won a poster that depicts a beekeeper's year calendar. It will be a great reference for the tasks associated with each season. I also won "The Best Of Bee Talk" by Richard Taylor. A collection of columns he wrote for "Gleanings In Bee Culture" a magazine published since 1873. The excerpts look really interesting and lately I have been soaking up all things written on the art of keeping bees.
Okay I had this dream during my nap.
I go downstairs to take one of our dogs out. When I open the door there is a whole mass of bees. My bees. In one collective buzzy voice they speak to me. And say, "You suck as a beekeeper, we want to go back to Georgia."
Anxious much? I have gone to sleep each night so far thinking of them. I am worried I have forgotten to do something and things in my hive are not well. But during each day I see the girls flying around the yard. One of them was resting on my porch door the other day. She was the most beautiful gold color. Of course my opinion might be a little biased.
After getting all suited up it was time to let the girls loose....
All hail the queen....
Time for the big shakedown....
The girls get comfy in their new digs....
Well that is it for now folks. I will need to check the queen in three days to make sure they got her out okay. All in all I think it went okay.
I am all done with my cleaning and figured I put the rest of my time to good use. So I finished painting my hive bodies. That nice sage was $5.00/gallon from the "Oops" section at Home Depot. The next step is putting the wax foundation in the frames and then putting them in the brood box. Now I am waiting for the call that my bees are in!
Egg & cheese on a croissant, maple gazed donut = $2.59
(2) pressure treated 4X6X8's, (1) pressure treated 2X4X8, (24) 5/16 3-inch lag screws, (24) galvanized washers = $21.57
Spending the morning making my first hivestand with my father = Priceless
PS Yes that is snow still in my yard.
The good news is that I can keep my beehives right here in my yard. A guy from the club teaching bee school came by. He was nice enought to drive an hour round trip to help me. We walked the yard, examined our compasses and picked our spot. It should be far enough away from the house & pool to make everyone happy. It will be dead on Southeast facing which should get my field bees out foraging first thing in the morning. I am so happy that I can have them here close by. The site is also where I plan on putting my garden as soon as this snow melts. Yay, one happy bee lady here!
This story is so sad. He was probably the beekeeper and now all of his bees are lost too. In my non-expert opinion it looks like he was either selling the hives or transporting them to do pollination. Tom sent me this link from a guy at work. He was afraid they were my bees. But mine should be safely tucked away in their hives in Georgia.
This morning I went down to Peabody to get my beekeeping supplies. I want to really have the total experience but I don't have much time until my bees arrive. So I got most of the stuff pre-assembled, but will actually be constructing my hive bodies from a kit. I didn't go top of the line with equipment and let me tell you it still costs a pretty penny. My new plan is to get my family to pre-pay their honey orders. I tried it on my mom and she laughed. I think she thought I was kidding. Oh well. Maybe there is something around the house I can pawn.
I haven't exactly found a place for my apiary yet either. This past Sunday I went to a local apple orchard but the people were away for the week. My parents know them so I thought it would be a good place to start. I have several backup plans too. I really wish I could keep them at home but I can't find a spot that would make both the bees and Tom happy. I don't want my friends spending the summer swatting my bees out of their food being grilled on my deck. I have a few weeks to figure it out. My Southern bees are due to arrive around Easter. I can't exactly store them until I figure this out. But I have faith that something will come through soon. I have already mentally harvested my honey, designed labels and started marketing my bee beauty products. Talk about way ahead of myself.
Well I've been quiet in case you hadn't noticed. Part of it was being away, part of it was from feeling crappy and the other part was from getting my books from Amazon.
The weekend was nice and relaxing. My mom & I read side by side on the couch in front of the woodstove, teacups balanced next to us. Dad read almost my entire beekeeping texbook and asked me questions about specifics. I was surprised by how much I have learned already. Tom kept himself amused with his laptop and his new book about hacking the web. Good quality time in the company of my family.
I felt crappy yesterday and today because of my period. Which came right on schedule. That's the good thing about infertility, everything is tracked. Hardly any surprises. It will be great to go nine months without those cramps. Not that I have any illusions about labor.
I finished "A Book of Bees and How To Keep Them" rather quickly. It was a short book and read easily. I loved it. It furthered my appreciation for bees and beekeeping. I am now almost done with "A Recipe For Bees." Which is less about beekeeping and more about how it changed one woman's sense of herself. How it gave her independence and for the first time something that was truly her's.
Tom asked, "Aren't you over this bee thing?" I laughed and said no. I definitely am not.
Last night we had the suppliers come to talk about ordering bee packages. Then we had a lesson on how to ready the equipment and introduce the hive to their new home. I called today to submit my order for Italian honeybees direct from south Georgia. They will be driven up to Peabody, MA by my supplier. I also have an appointment to meet him next week and order all my basic supplies. Is it weird that I got off the phone with him and did a little dance of joy? My bees yippee!
Now I need to finish scouting the area for the perfect site for my bee yard. I have a couple of ideas but it involves talking to the landowners. Apparently once the word is out people will be flocking to me and begging me to keep a hive at their farms. They also call to have swarms removed. Which would be really cool too.
Last night I bought all four bee related books off my Amazon wishlist. I talked to this guy after class and he recommended one. He said it was like a beekeeping handbook crossed with the "Bridges of Madison County." I thought it was super gutsy for a man to admit he likes romance books. He told me the title and author, and when I got home it was already on my list. So I bought them all. Hey when I get into something, I really go for broke. Literally $$.
You gotta love it when the class syllabus says bring a hammer and a pair of needle-nose pliers. We built stuff all evening. More accurately we built a frame which is what the bees will build the honeycomb on. I was terrible at it. Frame not square, nails poking through because my angles were off. So bad in fact the President of the club stood over my shoulder most of the time. When it was finally too painful for him to watch, he'd take over. Gee, and only 29 more frames to go. The ten year old assisting me (not exaggerating here) assured me that I could buy mine pre-assembled. But there is an attraction to making all of my own stuff. We'll see how far I get before that wears off. And I didn't think about my weird mood the whole time. Just focused on the details of hive construction.
Fun bee fact:
Six days after emerging from her cell the queen takes her mating flight. This will be the only time she ever leaves the hive. During her flight she mates with ten or more drones. She fills up with their sperm and then uses it to lay eggs over the rest of her lifespan. A good queen can lay over 200,000 eggs per year.
Wow, I only want one baby. Can you imagine only have sex for one day with a bunch of guys and then you're done? What a lonely life. Not that the queen isn't fauned over and attended to by every other bee every day of her life. That part wouldn't be too bad. Then she is eventually replaced by a new younger queen. Typical. (Perhaps I am personalizing this too much. Ya think?)
Second session of beekeeping school tonight and I still really enjoy it. Although I do keep attracting weird people to sit by me. Tonight's candidate was prone to muttering to herself and asking questions directed at noone in particular. Fun.
I am now obessesed with finding the perfect place for my apiary. Somewhere that the bees and people can live in harmony. I might explore finding a place to keep them offsite.
Because you know you love them, here is the latest installment of bee facts:
1. Worker bees only live about 6 weeks they literally die because their wings wear out.
2. Honey is flower nectar that is carried in a bee's second stomach where it mixes with an enzyme. The nectar is then regurgitated and fanned by their wings until the water content is reduced to 17-20%.
3. It takes 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey. That's a lot of flight time.
4. A fully loaded bee can fly 6-9 mph. Empty they go up to 15 mph.
5. Bee pollen contains 50% more protein than an equal amount of beef.
And finally my favorite.
6. The queen controls the population with her "essence", a hormone, that keeps the bees calm and doing what she wants.
God I wish I could bottle and sell that. It probably doesn't work on husbands, co-workers and children anyway.
"Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT now
Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees,"
Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell 1970
Been reading my homework for beekeeping class tonight but I have to finish later. It is so interesting. I also read a little from the handbook my great-grandfather used that was published in 1943. I swear it looks like very little about the practice has changed. That is one of the reasons I find it so fascinating. I am excited about learning a craft that has been relatively the same for generations. It is already giving me an appreciation for the work that goes into filling my squeezy bear-shaped bottle of honey.
But I've go to leave now to drive to Miss Erika's web design class. Should I get an apple for the teacher? Or perhaps a Fresh Samantha's?
I went to my first beekeeping class tonight and I loved it. I was nervous getting there because I have only been to the fairgrounds twice and both times it was during the day. Fortunately they had "Bee School" signs up everywhere. I walked in the room and there had to be 45 people there. By the time class started it was closer to 60. I was amazed that there were so many others interested. I wondered if their friends thought they were crazy too.
The speakers were fascinating and I learned so much. I am already hoping to keep my first hive this year. After class I talked to one of the club members. He offered to have me come over and he'd open his hive for me. Do you think that is the way beekeepers flirt? Seriously, he was really nice and excited to have me pick up the hobby. He told me not to worry about getting stung. I honestly am not worried about it. Who wants to go through life not truly experiencing things because they are afraid to get hurt? Not me.
Cool bee facts:
1. Only females sting.
2. There are only 4 species of honeybees in the whole world.
3. There weren't any bees in the Americas before white settlers came, they were brought from Europe to pollinate crops.
4. Bees will only leave space between honeycombs if the space is between 1/4 & 3/8 inches.
5. Bees smell their way home and roam an approximately 2 1/2 mile radius.
PS I have bee homework. Gotta read some chapters in my "Beekeeper's Handbook."