Observation Day 2018

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Opening the Hive Observation Day 2018

Observation Day 2018

One of my daughters friends and I are both beginning beekeepers. She is a year ahead of me and was gracious enough to let me observe and ask questions while she had a beekeeping veteran visiting her hive with her.

She had previously added space to allow for feeding at the top of her hive, but due to multiple bee stings she didn’t take it off over the summer. So when she took the outer cover off her hive she could tell the bees had built comb within the space.

It was decided that the best thing to do at this point was to leave that go for the time being. To take it apart would mean inevitably busting the comb and have honey everywhere.

The top deep brood box was removed to check on the bottom box.

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Checking Frames Observation Day 2018

We could see on the bottom frames where there had been brood. Apparently, the queen is slowing down – just as she is supposed to this time of year. Drones are being kicked out of the hive. There is lots of honey in the top box for winter. Her expert said things are looking good for her hive for the season her hive is in.

The only other concern was to check for varroa mites.

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Checking for Mites Observation Day 2018

This can be done using the powdered sugar method or the alcohol wash method.

She opted for the powdered sugar method. It is a little less accurate, but the participating bees have the possibility of surviving. The alcohol method is more accurate, however, it is death for about 300 participating bees.

For the powdered sugar mite check a 1/2 cup of bees are scooped up and put into a jar. A wire lid is placed on top. Then about a tablespoon of powdered sugar is sprinkled in to coat them. The bees are then gently shook to cover them. Next, the jar is turned upside down and shook over a white bin or other light surface. If there are mites the will be seen falling off with the powdered sugar.

Then the bees can be released back into the hive.

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Powdered Bees Released Observation Day 2018

 

Luckily, she only had evidence of a couple of mites. About 9 mites in the sample would indicate a 3% (or greater) infestation. At that point the decision has to be made whether or not to treat the hive.

At the end of my little Observation Day we made a pact to help each other more with our hives or at least be accountability partners to keep each other on track.

 


 

P.S. If you want to go down a rabbit hole I like this site as a resource to learn more about bees.

No Honey

“First year beekeepers don’t usually get honey.”

Yep. I heard them say that more than once in the talks and meetings I attended. Yet that didn’t stop me from going to the store and buying an uncapping knife, honey jars, and all the rest of what I would need to harvest some honey.

Then lo and behold, when I went back to the hive, – No honey.

There was one frame in the top brood box that was messed up. The bees were building the comb oddly – basically not how we beekeepers want to see it. I removed it. The honey in it wasn’t capped so it is a bit watery. Tastes good, but it is not the consistency of honey.

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First year honey harvest 🙂

I put the empty frame back in and left one super on. I don’t think they have time to fill it, but I’ve also been told you don’t want your bees to get bored. Hopefully they will have time to work on the now empty frame I left. There seems to be plenty of honey in the top brood box to get them through winter.

They also say “only about 20% of first year beekeepers are successful.” The bees are still in the hive working their little hearts out. Success! Instead of greedily focusing on stealing honey from them, I will concentrate on getting them through the winter.

 

 

 

Workers, Drones, and Queens

Workers, drones, and queens… this is getting interesting. This beekeeping experience truly is “learning by doing.”  Seeing the hive in action is more educational than reading about it or listening to a speaker.

I went to my first beekeeper’s association meeting this past Thursday and was overwhelmed with how much there is to know. The group was quite welcoming. They answered all my questions. Some of them even graciously gave me their contact information – without my asking- in case I had more questions arise before the next meeting. Everyone there stressed the importance of getting into the hive regularly to see what is going on. (I also bought some handmade soap made by the beekeepers at Landav Soap Company – a great gift idea for upcoming birthdays.)

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take a peek and see what my workers, drones, and queen have been up to.

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In the picture above toward the top right you can see the larvae within the cells of this frame. The bumpy, pebble like tops of these cells indicate that these are drone cells.

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In this picture you can see how the cells near the edge of the frame at the bottom and to the right have a smooth cap. This type of cell is that of a worker bee.

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Lastly, I have this frame that I found. You can see the four places at the bottom that have been built out further from the frame. I am not completely sure… but I think these are queen cells. Either my hive is thinking about swarming or these are simply being built in case the current queen is unable to keep up with the demands of the hive.

When we first started I knew bees had different roles of workers, drones, and queens. I just didn’t realize just how it would look inside the hive.

We still have a wooden entrance reducer in place. We are continuing with two quarts of nectar infused with Honey B Healthy. The bees are still munching on the protein patty that is on the frames of the top deep box within an empty honey super.

Follow this blog to find out what these amazing workers, drones, and queens do next!

A Succulent Cement Block Garden

My daughter is a buckeye transplant living in Florida. She loves all things Disney and recently visited Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival. She sent me lots of pictures from the Honey Bee-stro display.

I loved the succulent cement block wall that was part of the display and have decided to create a much smaller version in the small area near my hive. Given my recent history with succulents (most of them died) I am using only seven blocks.

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Building Succulent Cement Block Garden

While I’m in town for church today I think I will make my first visit of the year to my favorite off-the-beaten-track greenhouse and see what I can find to put in the ground around my succulent cement block garden. I have quite a few packs of seeds that I had planned on planting there (before the wall idea).  I’m not planning to keep this area manicured so it may end up looking a little wild and crazy.

I might also browse around the greenhouse for Mother’s Day ideas to see if I can find a gift for my lovely mother.

 

 

Checking the Brood Box

Today was the first day it has been warm and dry enough to get back into the hive and see what is going on in our brood box. Our frames came with a plastic inserts which we have learned may be a little harder for the bees to build on.

For our second brood box we have replaced the plastic with wax inserts. From my novice perspective it looks like the bees have made good progress. They have build on 6 of the 10 frames. Some of their work looks like what might be considered spotty, but since I’ve never examined a bee hive before I’m not sure.

From this visit into the hive I learned that it is important to keep your frames together and not leave spacing. There is a place that was open and the bees build right on into it. I’m not sure how that is going to work out in the long run. I didn’t remove it. I just put the two frames together as best I could there.

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I went ahead and added a second brood box with the wax inserts. We have two feeder quarts of nectar on the front of the hive and we are keeping the entrance reducer in place. I added an empty honey super and left what remained of the protein patty in it for the bees to keep munching on.

I didn’t see the Queen Bee. Judging from the content hum of the hive, she is in the brood box laying eggs as expected. It take 21 days for the eggs to hatch. I’m expecting to see the hive begin growing exponentially around the 15th of this month.

Queen Bee

We have learned what to expect when you buy a pack of bees. Inside the package of bees will be a can of nectar and a small ventilated cage with a queen bee in side. The queen bee is trapped inside the cage by some hardened sugar substance.

When placing the bees in the hive the queen bee is still in her cage when she is placed among the frames in the brood box. Once she is placed, the rest of the bees can be released in the hive.

I went back to the hive today to ensure the queen bee was out of her cage. The sugar blocking the escape hole was gone leaving the hole open. I did not spend time looking through the bees to spot the queen. All the bees seemed busy and happy so I assume the queen bee is alive among them.

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I removed the cage and I put a protein patty on top of the frames and made sure they had plenty of nectar.

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Next warm sunny day I will get in the hive and check the bees’ progress and try to spot the queen bee in action.

Beginning With Bees

Today we started our official beginning with bees!

Well… I guess that’s not quite true.

The real beginning with bees started early last year when I went to Maysville, Kentucky to attend the 8th Annual Farm & Family Night  at Maysville Community and Technical College.  (That was right around the time I started my deep dive into nutrition so not only did I sit in on a lecture about monarchs, but I also sat in on a lecture about honey bee keeping.)

The reason I say today is our beginning with bees is because today is the day we brought a package of bees home and put them in our first hive. I’m not sure exactly where we are heading with this, but I’m thinking at the very least it will lead to having some “bee gifts” available in our shop 🙂 .

I was just simmering with the idea of beekeeping until at Christmas, my husband/family gave me a starter hive.

So in February I signed us all up for the 9th Annual Northeastern Kentucky Beekeeping School. We learned more about beekeeping 101, biter bees, mite sampling, honey harvesting, bee nutrition, and all things bee related.

We bought some protective gear and ordered a pack of bees.

In the next several weeks we painted our hive and selected a location for it.  We put it out a few weeks ago because we were supposed to pick up our bees last week, but because of the crazy weather Ohio has been having this spring the delivery had to be postponed.

Finally, the bees arrived today and we drove down to Morehead, KY to pick them up.

We had a few snags that didn’t go by the book.  First off, the hanger for the queens cage broke off so we had to take some fishing line and create a new hanger.  Secondly, there was not a cap on the candy so just to be sure she could get out we cut a section of the cage where we thought the cap should be to make sure she could get free.  Unfortunately, not all the bees made the trip successfully.  I can see I’m going to have to get used to losing bees.  The life cycle of bees is short so I knew going in that I would have to be ready for that, but actually seeing it was sadder than I expected.

My daughter helped me make up some nectar for them to get them through until spring has completely sprung (it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow! – so to have so much spring snow this year in OH).

After we put in some Honey B Healthy I thought the nectar smelled good enough to drink! Let the stickiness begin!

We have the feeder on the hive and the bees seem to be buzzing happily.

I’m going to patiently wait until weather warms back up on Tuesday before I take a peek inside to see if our queen is out.

In the meantime, we are going to have to perfect our protein patty recipe because our first attempt is not setting up.

So far beginning with bees has been a bit of work, but this project looks like it will be the bee’s knees!

Ben’s Happy Trails

Made some New friends – Willow, Holiday, Doc, and Ladybug (aka Old Diablo) at Ben’s Happy Trails Riding Stable and Campground in Otway, Ohio.

We had perfect weather to take a ride through the forest on horseback.

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Flash

Enjoyed some porch sittin’ with Flash before we went out riding on the trails.

It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a horse… I forgot how much fun it is! 😊

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This place is definitely off the beaten track, but if you are passing through you might want to check out Ben’s Happy Trails .

 

 

10 Gift Ideas For Happy Glampers

Fall is here at last!

Summer has been fun, fun, fun, but we are ready for fall.  Among other activities, the cooler weather is a great time here in Ohio to do a little glamping.

We used to be campers, but now we have learned the fine art of glamping 🙂 .

Roughing It In Style!

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Let me show you what our little roadtrip to Brookville, Indiana glamping at Whitewater Memorial Park Campground looked like while I give you 10 Gift Ideas For Happy Glampers.

The first three things every glamper should have are a cast iron skillet, warm pajamas, and a pocket knife.

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The need for the cast iron skillet is obvious.  It goes on the handy dandy grate so glampers can cook themselves up some chow.  One of the secrets to a Happy Glamper is a full stomach. A cast iron skillet is made for the job – fry up some bacon, sausage, coffee cake – whatever their little hearts desire (except Pop-Tarts, you can just eat those right out of the box). – Realizing all that is chock full of fat, salt, and sugar.  What can I say? Sometimes I fall off the wagon.

Wait! Did someone just say coffee? Thought so.

Every true American Glamper likes a swig of coffee to wake them up in the morning, right?  A coffee cup is another super gift idea for a Happy Glamper.

Anyways, back to the picture.

A pocket knife is handy for obvious reasons – like whittling the tip of a stick to put a hot dog or marshmallow on.  It also comes it handy to open things or maybe even … cut things :D?

Soft, Warm pajamas provide comfort on cool nights snuggled by the campfire or in the tent.  Cold toes make sad glampers – And nobody wants that!

Another idea for a Happy Glamper is a folding camp chair.  No matter how great a camp chair is, eventually they wear out.  I think any Happy Glamper would appreciate receiving a camp chair.

So far we’ve covered cast iron skillet, coffee cup, pocket knife, warm pajamas, and a camp chair.  We are halfway through our 10 Gift Ideas for Happy Glampers. If any of those sound like a good fit – what are you waiting for? Go get that shopping done!

If you still need more, think about these.

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What are you going to put the soft, warm pajamas in?

A duffel bag! Personalization is always nice touch.  Happy Glampers like to keep their things neat (pretty) and organized. Enough said.

One thing about being out in the wilderness.  It gets dark at night.

That means sitting around the fire telling – Ghost Stories!  A book of short ghost stories is sure to be a hit gift for the Happy Glamper on your list.

I wish I had a picture of us roasting marshmallows on roaster sticks and reading ghost stories, but I didn’t have a flashlight, camping string lights, or a camp light with a nice sturdy shepherd’s hook to hang it on.

You’ll just have to use your imagination – or Google 😀 !

That’s 10 Gift Ideas for Happy Glampers (plus a few bonus ideas if you were paying attention):

10. Nice, Sturdy Shepherd’s Hook

9. Camp Light

8. Campfire Roasting Sticks

7. Book of Short Ghost Stories

6. Duffel Bag

5. Folding Camp Chair

4. Pocket Knife

3. Soft, Warm, Pajamas

2. Coffee Cup

1.Cast Iron Skillet


Are you a glamper? We’d love to hear from you.

What item makes you a Happy Glamper?

A Family Rhyme Lasts For All Time

 

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My Family Rhyme

I’ve been reading lots of good books recently such as Being a Rockefeller Becoming Myself a Memoir, by Eileen Rockefeller.  This book helps to illustrate a family rhyme lasts for all time.

What I liked best about Being a Rockefeller Becoming Myself a Memoir is how the author honestly reveals herself by sharing stories of her family. It is apparent that just because a person is born into an affluent family they aren’t exempt from having to learn to grow themselves and their relationships.

I loved her stories of adventures on Buckle Island including building rafts and adding a magical door to a forest path.  It seems every family has to deal with competition for attention and keeping egos in check.

My favorite lesson from the book is that it is never too late to become closer to someone.

Coming from a big family myself, I understand how family life can be like a rhyme. Sometimes families repeat themselves singing back familiar sounds.  Other times family members whisper quietly between each other.  In the end everyone connects like they were meant to be for all time.

A perfect example is the Addam’s family.  I’m sure you’ve heard, “They are creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky…”

Years ago my mom and I collaborated on a poem about the dining room table that kind of represents life growing up in our house.

The Dining Room Table

The dining room table – a gathering place,

Where memories begin from face to face,

Prayers of thanks offered, the family sits down to feast,

Thanksgiving dinners, Easter breakfasts, birthday treats.

 

At graduation, anniversary, Valentine’s Day,

China and crystal are set in finest array,

Or set with mug and spoon for a weekday guest,

This simplicity is sometimes the best.

 

On it fabric is laid out to be cut for new clothes.

Siblings hover over it with homework woes.

It holds puzzles or games sometimes for hours.

Displayed in the center are fresh garden flowers.

 

There are times the table takes on a romantic air,

Lovers share in candlelight a quiet affair,

In a space in time only the table can hear,

Sensual whispers of one into the other one’s ear.

 

Late at night tucked in bed – if you are able,

Listen to adult voices rise from the table.

Laughing, reminiscing, talking of places they’ve been,

The dining room table is where memories begin.

 

I’m grateful to have been born into this big bunch.  Naturally, I’ve repeated the rhyme and have a family of my own which I am also grateful for.

Growing up in my family led me to a love of reading that has stayed with me.  You might like some of the other books I’ve read recently.  They could make a great gift for someone on your list to buy for.

I’ve reread Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – you can’t go wrong with pirates – Argh!

Also, I’ve enjoyed reading The Right Words at The Right Time by Marlo Thomas and friends, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert.

What book are you reading?


via Daily Prompt: Rhyme