Friday, April 30, 2010

BEE INSPECTION DAY HAS COME AND GONE


annnnnnnnnnd I haven't inspected anything yet :( We were suppose to inspect the hive in 4-7 days after installation. I procrastinated. I've been very nervous about the process so I thought waiting til day 7 was the best. Ok, day 7 was yesterday and it was rainy, cloudy and windy. Of course now today is rainy, cloudy and windy and tomorrow is suppose to windy and cloudy. I feel horrible. All I can hope for is that the queen is laying eggs and the bees have enough pollen (I haven't checked the pollen patty since install because that is suppose to be done on hive inspection). I notice they are bringing in copius amounts of pollen on their little legs so I'm not too worried about that. I checked the sugar syrup, half of jar has been consumed in 2 days. Just really really hoping queen mama is ok and that my delaying the inspection until her daughters are in a better mood won't do any harm.

(NOTE: not the best to inspect on cloudy, rainy days since the girls will be a bit more testy).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OH HELLLLLLL NO!



Today while out digging in the yard a wasp came and landed about a foot away from me. Bad memories of getting stung when I was child came flooding back. Wasps are my enemy. I know every insect has their place in society but I just can't find a soft spot in my heart for a wasp, hornet or yellow jacket. I love love love honey bees, bumble bees and mason bees but those other ugly stinging insects can trigger a panic attack if they get too close.

Unfortunately we have a serious mole problem in our yard. Moles leave cavities in the ground which allows wasps to move in. Last year while mowing my hubby was stung 3x's in the leg. In late fall we notice paper comb all over the yard. ICK! is all I can say.

The wasp I saw today was 2 inches long. I cut its head off and the darn thing kept walking (with only the head and front limbs). DOUBLE ICK! I know they are moving in and I'm worried about my babies. #1 my children, #2 my honey bees.

I don't know if any of my readers have ever seen this YOU TUBE video of the Japenese Hornet trying to kill European Honeybees but it is very depressing and I'm not about to let this happen to my hive.

HIVE INSPECTION DAY

Is coming and I must admit, I'm somewhat afraid. It was one thing to hive those little buggers but opening the hive after they've already established themselves is another thing altogether. So far I've had two anxiety ridden nights just thinking about it so I try not to think. I know that THEY know the hive is now theirs so I'll be trespassing on their territory........ shiver.

For those who may not know, when I posted previously about inspecting the hives to make sure they were eating I am just opening the top cover to see if they are consuming syrup from a jar but for this inspection I'll be opening the inner cover to see the bees in all their glory (lol). The purpose of this inspection is to see if the bees are drawing comb and the queen is laying eggs, if these two things aren't happening than something is wrong.

Why am I scared? When bees don't have a home, like when I hived them for the first time, they are pretty docile (not aggressive). Sure, they can sting, but it isn't very likely. For the most part they are disoriented because they have no home, no honey to protect, so they tend to just fly around, staying oriented towards the queens scent. When they are hived and drawing out the frames with comb, they've established themselves as owners of the hive. Who would want someone intruding on their home?? The bees are no exception. So pardon me while I feel sick to my stomach for the next 3-4 days.

NOTE: Those white suits don't keep you from getting stung. Basically all they do is keep the bees calmer than they would be if I wore dark colors like blue, black or brown. So yes, the bees sting through the suit.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

MY BEES HAVE BEEN HIVED

My mentor reminding me that I forgot to cut slits in the pollen patty and hubby handing me the knifen while video taping. Me pouring the bees into the hive. After the bees and queen were installed I spaced the frames equal width apart and mentor watches to make sure I do it correctly. 4/25/10 - I checked on the girls to see if they are consuming the surgar syrup and it appears like they are. A picture of the guard bees. They removed one dead bee from the hive and left it outside the door. This is a pic of our hive from our deck. Thank you to my darling daughter Maya for taking all the pictures for me!

4/22/10

Hiving our bees did not happen without incident. Firstly, I had to create a top feeder for my new babies. Usually this is done by filling a 1 gallon bucket with sugar syrup, poking a few holes in the cover, flipping it over on the inner cover of the hive so that the bees can use their little tongues to eat. Well, it didn't work. The water kept pouring out, which would drown the bees, so #1 we panicked first! #2 Then we called another beekeeper to see what to do, then #3 we had to run around to look for a large enough mason jar to feed the bees. Finally found one with little time to spare to hive the bees. Around 6 pm my mentor came over to oversee the hiving while my next door neighbors came out with their binoculars to watch me. We suited up and he verbally walked me through the process. Of course, when it came time to remove the feeder can from the box in order to free the queen and dump the bees the darn can didn't want to come out. My mentor worked on it, I worked on it. I'm not exactly sure how long it took but it felt like ages before my mentor finally got it out. I pulled the queen out and set her aside, then picked up the box to dump the bees in the hive. Most of them went into the hive without incident but a cloud of bees quickly formed above my body. My hubby was behind me video taping and I could hear him yelling to our kids, who happen to be watching from the deck about 15 feet away, that the swarm was growing so they'd better get inside the house. I was surprised that I wasn't worried about being stung but I did feel my knees shaking beneath me. I wasn't sure if that was anxiety or the fact that my knees are worthless and I'd been leaning on them a long time. I was so focussed on following all the steps I learned in class that I didn't really worry about all the bees landing on me (hubby said there was over 2 dozen on my back). At one point I reminded myself that if I did happen to get stung that I must remain calm so the words "remain calm, remain calm, remain calm" started spinning in my head. I released the queen (BTW/she's stinkin smart. She had her little nose pressed up against where I was about to open and she was ready to get out), when I released her she THANKFULLY crawled out onto the frame. I spaced the frames, put the jar of syrup on and closed the hive. My mentor had me leave the openings to the hive accessible for the bees because there were still too many hovering outside.

We left all entrances open for about 30 minutes and then slowly, one by one, my new girls found their way into the hive. There were a few stragglers on my gloves as we were cleaning up so I watched them walk around and use their little tongues to explore. I found myself falling in love with my new babies. I no longer saw them as insects that I feared but instead I felt about them like I feel about my dogs. I want to care for them and make sure they are happy.

I can happily say that I did not experience a single sting (one day down and a million to go, right?!) but my mentor received a sting on the hand. Thankfully it didn't go through his gloves.

BTW/I learned something interesting that I was not previously aware of. I ordered Carniolans but I received Italians. My mentor explained to me that the queen is a Carniolan and her babies are most likely pure Carniolans. The Italians are best to have initially as they build up the frames quickly but the Carniolans will come after the initial batch die off.

4/23/10

I inspected the hive to make sure the girls were eating. It looks like things are going well so far. I crouched down about a foot from the hive to watch the bees. They were already busy doing what they do best, hunting for pollen. I watched them file out single file and fly in non-stop. I didn't notice any pollen stuck to their legs but hopefully that will come in the next day or two. I'm inspecting them every day just to make sure they don't run out of syrup.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

SIGNS OF SPRING & HAPPINESS

This has to be the best sign of spring. While hubby was adding fresh cedar mulch around the perimeter of our home he found a nest of little bunnies. We decided to leave that area alone until they were grown and gone. Hubby found them in a hole under our front door mat that had blown onto the ground over the winter. Their little hole is filled with mama's warm bunny fur. They are adorable. And no, Maya didn't take the baby out of its home, when they accidently happened upon the nest one of them tried to run away and we feared for its safety so Maya quickly grabbed it and returned it to its nest. Now we just watch their mother return each evening to take care of them.





Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd... the staff got together for dinner. We had a great time with one another. They are all doing such a great job with my sister. Very caring, very skilled ladies (and my good friend Bill - who is not a staff member but a member of my family). It is such a relief to finally be in a place that I can now say I have EXCELLENT caregivers for my sister and I trust each and every one of them. It was a long 3 years to find the right people but BY GOLLY I THINK I'VE DONE IT :)




Please check out my other blog, my bees came today! My Life with Bees

MY BEES ARE HERE!


Today was bee pick-up day. We woke early, around 6 am and headed over to Nature's Nectar to pick up our girls. I had an ok nights sleep, wasn't worrying too much about today but about 3 miles away from our pick-up location I felt like I was about to vomit. All that self-doubt started to creep in. What had I gotten myself into? Was I fooling myself about becoming a beekeeper? Could I really do this? Was I just foraging ahead with another hobby that I'll tire of in a week? Grrr! I hate my brain sometimes. I took a few deep breaths and reminding myself that I was about to begin an important journey into the wonderful world of beekeeping. Learning about beautiful honebees, an insect I once feared beyond comprehension.

When we arrived there were a few people standing outside with their bee jackets on. Huh????? I thought maybe I had forgotten something. I quickly ran over to the lady in charge and asked if I was suppose have my bee suit on. She laughed, reassuring me that it wasn't necessary, she was only wearing hers because it kept her warm in the cool morning temps. My hubby made a "bee" line (lol) over to the coffee and donuts. They loaded my carniolans into the car and my 10 year old immediately shut the sliding door on the mini van enclosing herself inside with the new addition to our family. She jumped out a few moments later claiming the bees were boring because they weren't doing anything. I asked if they were humming and she said "um, yeah, I guess so." Weird, I thought.

Once hubby was finished socializing and eating (he's a Leo) we piled into the mini van and drove off. I leaned over and looked into the backseat to check out the bees and they were quiet, I couldn't hear a thing, so... it was a smooth ride home and all is now well. Thanks to my friend Natalie I now know that bees are quiet when they are cold. I should have knitted them 7,000 sweaters before picking them up. LOL!

BTW/the bees are much louder now. They've warmed and they want out! LOL!

Middy is checking the bees out in the car and Maya is checking them out after we got home.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

DANDELIONS, DANDELIONS, DANDELIONS



What should I do with all the dandelions?

It use to be that I knew three things about dandelions. (1) They kill grass (2) they are medicinal and (3) they are edible. As for the edible part, I'm ok with eating dandelion greens, my grandmother used them in salads, BUT.... who wants to eat a dandelion that has possibly been peed on by my dog while on her potty break or worse yet, contains pesticide blow over from the neighbors lawn. < That's the best rationalization strategy that I've got.

Now, to make me feel even more guilty for digging my dandelions is the new knowledge that honeybees LOVE them. In our class at the University we were encouraged NOT do dig our dandelions so that our little girls could visit them and bring nourishment back to their brood. Ah, the thought just breaks my heart. A bunch of woman out on a days work looking for food for their babies and all they find is empty black holes because Michelle was vain about her lawn and dug them out. Not the best way to go about building great relations with the soon to be new residents at my house.

I'm sure when our European ancestors brought dandelions to the new world they never imagined that we'd be trampling them, cursing them and spraying them to death years later. To be honest, I'm not even sure why I do it anymore. A nasty habit maybe? I guess I'll have to ponder this one for a while and possibly I'll have a change of heart when the 2nd round of yellow lions rear their heads this summer. For now they are all gone, into a heap in my compost bin.

Dandelion Recipes

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Salad

Dandelion Salad II

Dandelion Fritters

Why honeybees need dandelions

Dandelion pollen is moderately nutritious and the nectar is abundant. It doesn’t normally produce what we call a ‘surplus’, i.e. enough nectar to produce honey above and beyond what the bees will use for themselves, so you won’t generally see dandelion honey for sale, but it gives the bees a huge boost and adds to the health and wellbeing of the hive


HOW TO HELP THE HONEYBEE

Sunday, April 11, 2010

10 DAYS TIL MY GIRLS ARRIVE




I can't believe I have a little more than a week until my bees arrive. I'm trying not to think about it too much because I don't want to have any preconceived ideas about my experience before it happens.

I was advised by another beekeeper to find a recording of bees and listen to it everyday until the bees arrive so that the hum of my colony won't be too unnerving... I'm still trying to find such a recording.

Beekeeping meeting is Tuesday, can't wait to attend and hopefully find myself a mentor. Wish me luck, I need it!