Friday, May 26, 2006

Tearing down the House

CC and I went to Victoria, VA and helped a Beegroup member tear out a wall to relocate a hive of bees to his boxes. None of us had ever done this before. The beekeeper friend was new at beekeeping, and I have only read, and watched Que and Harry take a hive out of a trunk. I'll post pictures when I figure out how to download them from Gwin's camera.

We got really sticky, and harvested at least 60+ pounds of honey (In the comb it filled two five gallon buckets). We used file folder sized rubber bands to hold the brood in empty frames, and got 8 frames of brood. Unfortunately we didn't find the queen, so we can only hope we got her. We left the hive in the window for the bees to go inside, and hope that the queen is there to lure them. If not, they have plenty of eggs to raise another. They had drawn comb from the outside wall toward the inside wall in one section, and in the other section, parallel to the outside wall. They must have been there for a year, maybe more, though there were no signs of wax moths. What a mess we left for the bees to clean up.

The hive was located under a window between the framing that supported the window. They were out of room to expand, and probably swarmed this Spring. Considering the disruption we caused, they were very well behaved. Thank goodness CC went with me, because his young back could tolerate the work. I'm pooped. After this CC could do it alone, and maybe do better without so many folks interfering.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

CC's Reward

CC saw them go: a swarm from one of the hives we put a virgin queen into the yesterday. We went out and had to wait until they'd clustered. CC cut the tree so it gently toppled, so gently that I held the Nuc box up to the swarm and they fell and ran into the box. We brushed the few remaining into it, partially closed it up on the ground, and watched them fan the news to the stragglers. CC will take them home this morning as his reward. His grin says it all: a very happy guy.

This will give his Grandfather, who can't walk well, another thing to watch. Most days he drives out to the cow pasture and sits in his truck watching his cows. He used to keep bees, so this will give him great pleasure. CC loves his Grandpa hugely.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Google Maps

This link is supposed to take you to a photo of our farm. We're the little lake in the picture:,+VA&ll=37.284707,-78.289261&spn

Heaven on Earth

Our little patch of the world feels like Heaven these days. Cool air, warm sun, enough moisture and lots of growing plants. I sit in the garden, and listen to the birds and bees, watching the bees catch the sun as they go back and forth to the garden hives.

CC planted 63 watermelon yesterday. What? You say, What in the world do we need that many potential watermelon for? Beats me. Maybe we'll bomb the neighborhood with them. Now to plant the cantaloupe. Planting is fun, keeping out the weeds isn't.

I planted the pole limas, also, since they need warmer soil than the other beans. We'll se if the growing season is long enough for them. Today I plant the rest of the Sugar Dots corn, and about the middle of June the last of the Silver Queen corn. With the extended, warm fall, the corn grows well into September, and the pollen helps the bees store enough for their January brooding.

CC & I went into the garden bees, because he thought one was swarming. He had just seen a swarm leave, headed for the woods. Out of five we looked at, three were queenless, with no queen cells or eggs to make one from, but one was full of queen cells at the hatching point. We could see their antennae sticking out of the cells. So I showed CC how to gently open the cell and let her out. He was thrilled. (He doesn't say much, but grins a lot) We made up a nuc and put queens in all the empty hives and the nuc. Got to go through the hives again. No sign of EFB, though. Phew!

We think it was that swarm that just took up residence in a hollow trees down by the sheds, too high to get to. CC & Sam heard them, then saw them go in. I'm sure we're repopulating this part of the world with bees.

Wellllll : Deep Subject!

I remember my Father saying that!
CC brought his adorable girlfriend over the morning after the Prom to fish. (She has a snaggle tooth similar to my Mother's. I bet she hates it. I bet everyone will miss it when it's gone, as it probably will be when she gets the money. Perfection isn't perfect, it's boring.) Watching them together brought tears to my eyes; he: solicitous, she: passive. He exudes adoration, she pretends indifference. Oh, the pain and ecstasy of love, especially young, naive, tender, first love. It was like watching two young of any species go through a courting dance. Sam and I watched them as CC baited her hook and handed her the pole; we held hands and remembered. (I'm sure it felt different from CC's viewpoint. My ignorance will embarrass him!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Got Gwin!

Spring is turning into summer: most of the garden is planted, the bees are saying "Don't bother us, we're busy".

Gwin has returned, reconnected with her baggage, and is off to her 'Boot camp' to prepare for the MLE step 1 test in July, then Brooklyn in September, for a year. She'll be in Brooklyn Heights, the only area I know in Brooklyn. I really liked the areas I saw, close to the Verrazano Bridge and Ft. Hamilton.

Sam's last IVIg treatment had to be curtailed to 2, instead of 3, treatments. However he got some benefit: he's a bit steadier on his legs, and the numbness has receded to mid thigh, rather than the upper thighs. He has been walking more, which is difficult, but necessary. He is also writing; setting aside 3-4 hours a day to work on the writing that he's been swearing to do for years. I'm encouraged.

I went into the Driveway bees last week, just before getting Gwin. They looked as if they might swarm again! I can only assume it's because they're Russians. Several were not crowded, and had unmarked, new queens who are laying well. Some of those queen cells were huge. I set up nucs from all of the hives that looked to swarm, which I may rejoin to the original hive after swarming season is over. Or I could run them as two queen hives, with an excluder between the hivebodies. Now I need to put the swarms, that are in nucs, 5 frame small hives, into 10 frame regular boxes, so they can have more comb to expand their populations and store honey for the rest of the year. Once dry weather comes the nectar will dry up and they'll need the stores from spring nectar flow to continue to raise babies so the population will be strong enough to get through the winter.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bee Buzz

Worked the garden bees yesterday. The sun came out, after a cloudy morning and the air literally vibrated with the number of bees streaming out of the hives! I hustled into my gear and loaded up, convinced that all of those hives were swarming! LOL! They were going to get food. All were stuffed full of bees, brood, and stores. I added room and helped along the two that were queenless with cells from other hives. I also made a nuc (5 frame hive) from a spare queen cell and 4 frames. I also removed the feeders since there's a nectar flow. Made my day to see how well they are doing.

Today I'll do the Driveway bees and tonight I'll move the nucs we made from swarms to the garden apiary, or maybe to a friend's house several miles away for a week and then back to the garden apiary. If I do the latter they will not lose their small foraging forces since the area will be completely new to them. In familiar territory the foragers will return to the place the hive used to be. Since it has moved they will be forced to go into another hive, where they will be welcomed and allowed to join the foraging force for that hive. The weak nuc will be weakened more by the loss of its food gatherers. In strange territory the foragers will reorient and then return to the new place, since all the landmarks have changed.

The Garden! It's HUGE!

What we'll do with the produce I can't imagine. The Food Pantry may want some. I'm already planning next summer's garden; it's MUCH smaller! My co-gardener is ecstatic; she thinks having 100+ tomato plants is great.

Since I last posted we've been blessed with a sweet, felicitous arrival: Felix. He's already growing well, thanks to his sweet Mommies.

I spent a long weekend with the wonderful nieces in DC, dallied in Charlottesville while Sam got his Immunoglobulin infusions, worked the plants sale for Heart of Virginia Festival, and worked in the garden and greenhouse. The boys, CC & BC, have been invaluable, since I can give them a list of tasks and trust them to do them expeditiously. They worked while I was away. BC caught about 4 swarms, and CC & I caught three, one twice. We had to let one go, since it was too high in the tree for us. If I were younger, and a normal weight, I'd have been up the tree. The boys used the front-end loader, the ladders and the saws to catch the swarms. I need a telescoping pole with a bucket attached to get those high ones.

I pick GT up in DC on Mother's Day. What a wonderful gift!