Monday, December 26, 2011

IS MY MUSE WAITING FOR ME IN 2012?

2011 was harsh...in the creative, energetic sense. I've felt completely uninspired since mid summer. I thought turning 40 this year would somehow reignite my spirit but no, all energy seems to have gone wherever my muse went.

I never make New Years resolutions. I believe a person can change at any time, they don't need to save it all up for the turn of the year. If I want to change something about myself or what I'm doing I'll do it when the moment strikes. Funny though that the moment seems to be now when we're about to venture into 2012. So...I think this blog post can officially be considered my New Years Resolution post. Having it all written down for everyone to read makes me more accountable to my goals in some way.

Here are my top 10:

1. Read two books a month and share a review of one on my new "writing" blog. Stop reading 3-4 books at the same time, never really finishing one.

2. Buy that Canon and become the awesome beetographer I'd like to be(e) :D

3. Appreciate friends more. Not that I don't already appreciate my friends but I need to show it more.

4. Focus on mastering the whole knitting thing. I've been working on mittens since winter 2010 and still haven't figured out how to finish the dang thumb (and I've been shown at least 3x's). I've set that project aside numerous times but if I don't figure it out I'm going to lose my mind. YES! I tend to obsess over such things and if I don't stop that soon I'll never get anything knitted before next Christmas, which leads me to #5

5. Stop being such a perfectionist.

6. Keep working on my domestic goddess skills. (Gardening, Canning, Cooking, Beekeeping).

7. Be a better blogger. I deleted my blog and found that I really do miss the writing and also connecting with others in the blogosphere. No more talk about deleting blogs. Which leads me to...

8. Blogging on a schedule. All my posts here at Within The Hive will be about creative ventures & family. The other blog will be for writing whatever moves me. I'll have to keep the long-winded posts separate from the creative shares. I've decided I'm going to dedicate one day a week to both blogs once the holidays are over.

9. Stop making promises I won't keep. That is a big one. I'm going to become the "maybe" or "I'll think about it" person. No more using the word YES because I really hate that word.

10. Keep working on staying healthy. More exercise and staying away from animal products. I really really love cheese though and the vegan cheese doesn't melt on hot sandwhiches the way real dairy cheese does. So we'll call that one a work in progress but I have an entire year to get it right, right? :D

That's it. Nothing too complicated. Hopefully by staying a little more focussed my muse will return and I'll feel energized enough to make 2012 my most creative year yet :) I'll be back to blog after the New Year!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DID YOU KNOW, BEES GET SICK TOO

It has been a while since I talked about my bees so I thought I'd share something new about my awesome girls.

MITES.

Honeybees get mites. The actual term is Varroa Mites.

What are they?

They are itty bitty insects that attach to and weaken honeybees by sucking hemolymph from their bodies, which serves as both blood and intestinal fluid. Once the honeybee has been weakened they become susceptible to certain viruses.

Varroa are destructive and can destroy an entire hive. If infestation is caught early the hive can be saved. Treatments vary depending on the preference of the beekeeper. Some treatments are more effective than others.

We were told in class that ALL bee hives get varroa mites and research has shown that some types of honeybee are better at protecting themselves from infestation than others. Example: Africanized bees tend to protect themselves better than Italian bees. MN Hygienic bees have been raised to defend themselves better against certain illnesses, diseases, etc... including mites.

The key to controlling the mite population is #1 testing your hives mite count and #2 checking for hygienic behavior

(there are other ways to check for mites)

If you know how many bees were in your sample, you can
estimate the number of mites per 100 bees. If there is
brood in the colony when you sample, you should double
this number to factor in the amount of mites in worker
brood. For example, if there are 5 mites / 100 bees, the
total infestation is probably 10 mites/100 bees. If your
colony has over 10-12 mites/100 bees, you should consider treatment. ~University of Minnesota


So... that is the mini scoop on varroa mite.

I have not treated my bees for mites and yes, I may live to regret it. My first year keeping bees I decided to see how well they'd do "naturally" over the winter. They survived and flourished. I have a new hive that I did not treat but I believe it won't do quite as well. Ya see, we were told something in class that makes me worry. Marla Spivak said "if you can see mites with the naked eye then you have a serious problem." Well, I scraped some brood from between hive bodies and this is what I found:



Now, I know not treating the bees probably isn't the best choice I've made as a beekeeper but I have two issues with treatment. #1 is I would only use a natural treatment like Thymol but the problem has been getting the thymol and the weather (beekeepers will know what I mean about the weather). #2 I've wanted to see how well my bees do (or how long they live) without treatment. Is that wrong? I've read where other beeks have had hives survive years without treatment and I'm hoping mine do the same. Although the 2nd hive being so obviously infested has me worried.

The only option now would be a treatment I'm not comfortable with so I'll wait out another winter and see how they do.

SOAP SWAP REPORT

I received the most awesome bars of soap and a bag of natural laundry soap in the latest swap. There was no theme, just a deadline. We swapped out on Sept. 1st. After years of smelling EO's and FO's I must say that this latest swap was full of the most fabulous scents EVER! Thank you ladies for your friendship and continuing to share your creativity year to year :) I can't wait to use everything!!



THANK YOU AMBER

THANK YOU NATALIE

THANK YOU CARRIE

THANK YOU HEIDI

THANK YOU DENISE

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ELY LIVING ON HOLD... INDEFINITELY

I spent my entire life dreaming about a life in the country. We finally found the ideal location for us in the north woods of Minnesota. Bears, wolves, moose, small town, friendly people, beautiful scenery. We couldn't ask for a better spot, or so it seemed.

Turns out all that driving north to house hunt and countless hours on the internet sifting through properties was in vain. Ya see, Ely has a little secret. Well, Minnesota has a secret. Home & land owners own their "surface" property but not the minerals underneath, which is all fine and dandy if you live in the twin cities like we do. There isn't a real chance in hell that miners will come through here looking for iron or taconite but drive a few hours north and you have a real problem. Why? Because Ely and the surrounding areas like Grand Marais, Isabella, etc... are prime spots for mining. Northern MN is known for its mining. In fact, Minnesota has a long mining history dating back to the 1800's and since nickel, copper and platinum have become hot commodities the mining companies want to move back in. Problem is, Ely is no longer a mining town. Ely is a tourist town. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, known for its pristine forests and abundant wildlife draw in countless tourists every year and Ely sits right at the edge of the BWCA.

So... back to the mining issue. Although the state of Minnesota owns the right to the minerals much of the land with valuable minerals beneath is privately owned and most of those land owners had no clue that the minerals didn't belong to them. This would be a non-issue if it weren't for miners sniffing in the area.

The DNR, mining supporters (whoever those crazy people are) and state law claim mineral exploration leases are going to create a boom in our slagging economy. (I'll skip the part where I'm tired of our government (local and beyond) claiming that all these political decisions like removing protections of our water, air and land are necessary to create jobs).

The law in Minnesota states: Companies that explore for minerals on private property are required to negotiate with the landowner, and put the property back to its original condition. But if they cannot agree on access, the company can legally condemn the land.

According to Rebecca Otto, our state auditor, none of the residents should worry. There is a very SLIM chance that valuable minerals would be found on their property.

Well, as far as my husband and I are concerned, and it seems the many residents up north feel the same, a slim chance is just one chance too many. Our governor has delayed the mining leases for six months to give the property owners time to appeal to our state legislature which the odds are not stacked in favor of the owners. So for now, we are holding off until something equally as awesome presents itself. *sigh.

I FEEL LIKE I AM LIVING IN CHINA. READ THIS ARTICLE TO LEARN MORE

UPDATE: I checked my deed and I own the mineral rights on my current property. People who live in the twin cities and the communities surrounding the twin cities either own their mineral rights or partially own. Seems this is solely a Northern Minnesota issue afterall. Is it time to country home hunt in Central or Southern MN?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

BEE, WASP, HORNET... IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

I was reading a blog recently where the author posted a picture of a wasp and called it a bee which is the reason for this post.

I'm not blogging to make fun of anyone who confuses a bee with a wasp. Actually, I didn't even know there was a difference until I took a class with my daughter at our local nature center back in 1998. Up until then, anything that was black and yellow with a stinger was a bee to me. We took the class because I had a major phobia of bees but the nature center taught us that not all stinging insects are created equal nor are they all bees.

This is purely an educational post. Hopefully it will help people identify these insects when they come in contact with them and help them be less fearful of bees.

I will cover the ones most commonly seen in Minnesota. Other states may have different types of wasps or bees, I'm not sure.

THE WASP GROUP

Benefits: Wasps eat all kinds of insects and are great to have in the garden because they often eat the insects that are harmful to your fruits and vegetables.

Temperament: Paper Wasps tend not to be too aggressive unless their nests are disturbed. Yellowjackets get defensive if their hives are disturbed, when they are around food, or during certain parts of the season when food is scarce. Hornets are aggressive when nests are disturbed.

Body: Have a slender body, narrow waste, appear shiny with smooth skin. Slender, cylindrical legs. Wasps are the stinging insects most commonly encountered by people.

Food: Wasps are predators. They eat other insects. They will eat fruit juices as well. Hornets will forage for nectar.

Nests: Yellowjackets, baldfaced hornets, and paper wasps make nests from a papery pulp comprised of chewed-up wood fibers mixed with saliva. Yellowjackets commonly build nests underground and paper wasps will build there nests from overhangs such as a tree limb.

Hornets Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Peregrine Audubon

Yellowjacket Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Local Pest Control

Paper Wasp Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Ace Bees

What do they look like?

The Yellow Jacket



courtesty of The Bee Hunter

The Paper Wasp



courtesy of Snails Tales

The Hornet



courtesy of FCPS

THE BEE GROUP

Benefits: POLLINATION!!

Temperament: Honeybees are docile unless hive is disturbed. When out foraging they rarely sting. Mason bees will not sting unless strongly provoked. Bumble bees are defensive of their hive but more docile when out foraging unless stepped on or squeezed.

Body: Bees have robust bodies and are very hairy. Hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen.

Food: Bees feed on pollen & nectar from flowers.

Nests: Honey bees make a series of vertical honey combs made of wax. Their colonies are mostly in manufactured hives but they do occasionally nest in cavities in large trees, voids in building walls, or other protected areas.



Courtesy of bees on the net

Bumble bees use old mice burrows, cavities in buildings, and other locations to make their nests. Like honey bees, bumble bees make cells of wax.



Courtesy of Extermatrim

Mason bees (The female) uses existing holes in wood for a nest, the whole will be slightly larger than her body (1/8 of inch) and she puts a mud plug in one of the hole.



Courtesy of Help Save the Bees

What they look like?

Honey Bee



courtesy of NC Pedia

Mason Bee



courtesy of Gig Harbor

Bumble Bee



courtesy of Organic Garden Info.

Much of the information listed above came from the University of Minnesota.

THE CANNING EXPERIMENT, PLUS!

I haven't found much time to blog lately but I hate just leaving the place to gather dust so I thought I'd post a quick one. I've been pondering the idea of deleting the blog again. The reason being, I think if I have to struggle to organize time so that I can get on here and write something then maybe it just isn't something I'm passionate about anymore. The only thing that keeps me coming back to the blogs is other people's writing. I like reading what others are up to on their blogs plus the connections I've made and honestly, right now, that is the only thing that has kept me from closing the blog. Blogging for almost 5 yrs has made for some great friendships :)

With that said... I'm just not sure, so...

I've been trying to focus on quite a few things recently. #1 Writing More. #2 Country Home Hunting. #3 Preparing for said life in the country (canning, knitting, gardening, etc...) and #4 reading more books.

#1 Writing
Well, I never talked about my writing so I won't start now.

#2 The House Hunting
Not going as well as I expected. My hubby and I are planning an "eventual" move north and thought now would be the perfect time to buy a home, with the market being what it is. Turns out, the people up north haven't noticed the down turn in the market yet. Actually, it isn't really the people up north, it is the people here in the cities that own the homes up north that we went to look up. I can't say I blame them though. If we had to sell our home right now I certainly wouldn't want to take a loss on it. The market is scary and after all the work we've done on our own home it would be heartbreaking just to sell if for pennies. So we are waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself so we can have our life in the country that we always dreamed of.

#3 Preparing for the Country Life
Years ago when I told my mother I wanted to be a farmer (I was a child), she would laugh. Not a rude laugh, my mother was never rude, she would giggle and remind me that farmers would wake up at 5 a.m. and I couldn't manage to crawl out of bed before noon. Ok, not quite that late but you get my point. When I got older and managed to drag myself out of bed when the birds began to sing my mother rained on my parade once again by informing me that country life was much different than city life (she grew up like Laura Ingles so she knew what she was talking about). I knew country life was different but it took my purchasing the "Countryside Magazine" to figure out just how different it was. Canning foods for long winters was the first thing that caught my attention. I would talk about canning, read about canning, think about canning, but didn't get the courage to actually CAN until last year. The reason being, because no matter how much I learned about canning I could never shake all the horror stories I heard as a kid. My grandmother passed on a story about how a pressure cooker blew up in someones face and then of course there were the stories drifting around about getting botulism from improperly preserved foods. YIKES! So last year I canned my first batch of strawberry jam and after about a month I tossed it all out because I was too afraid to try it. How is that for neurotic.Well, I decided to try again. This year I thought I'd attempt dill pickles. I planted my garden, got a great bunch of cucumbers. The dill was ready long before the cucumbers so I ended up buying the dill at the store. Found a "how to video" online (I'm a visual learner) and gave it a shot.

My harvest:



Of course, it didn't go so well.

I THOUGHT I had the right size pan for the size jars I was using. Turned out I was wrong. Ya see, there is a label on the pan that states what size jars it fits and you'd think I would read that but nooooooo, that would have been way too easy. Instead I just guessed and my guess turned out to be wrong. After canning several jars of dill pickles I had no pan to place them in. I made a mad dash to a local store but they didn't have a large enough pan either. It was already late in the evening and everywhere else was closed. The dill pickles were trashed. So I tried again.

Got the right pan this time:

And made some pickles:


I've since learned again that I didn't do them exactly right but I'm getting closer to perfection. I will open these in 6 weeks and see how they turned out.

#4 Reading More Books

Right now I'm reading two books. Alternating back and forth, which my kids think is weird but I like it. "On Writing" by Stephen King. I read it when it was first published and here I am reading it again. The other book I'm reading was a title suggested to me. I'm actually enjoying it, which is a surprise because I'm not a big fan of fiction. (which you are now probably scratching your head at considering I'm reading ANYTHING by Stephen King). The book is called Miss Peregrines Home of Peculiar Children. It isn't even adult fiction, it came from the teen section, but when two adults suggest it, why not, right?

So that is what keeps my mind busy right now. Along with the bees, which are doing well. The bunnies, one of which is really really sick and probably won't make it. The children, getting ready to return to school next week and quite a few other things in between but I won't bore you any further with the details.

Before I sign off I want to say thank you to DixieBelle over at Eat at Dixie Belles for her generous blog award. I promise to post about that one soon. I'm compiling a list of bloggers to share it with :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

LET PROPOLIS CURE YOU: TINCTURE



Last year I read the book "Bee Propolis: Natural Healing from the Hive" and although I was eager to make a propolis tincture after reading the book my bees weren't cooperating. They weren't making much propolis. This year I bought another package of bees and they are propolis crazy. I was able to go into the hive a couple days ago and scrape a generous portion off the side of a hive body.

Propolis is messy, sticky stuff that is composed of resin and wax and bees collect the resin mainly from trees, the poplar tree being a favorite source.

Contents in propolis: resin, wax, essential oils, pollen, other organics and minerals.

Here in Minnesota propolis is a yellowish brown color but the color varies in different areas of the world. Propolis is used by the bees to seal up cracks/space in the hive. Usually they stick it anywhere the drafts come in. They also use it to wrap up intruders like mice. Propolis is antibacterial so encasing a mouse in propolis would prevent the spread of disease within the hive. It is also antimicrobial and is being researched as a treatment for HIV

But I'm interested in its ability to treat winter ailments. So on to the details on how to make a tincture. A tincture is a medicine made by dissolving an herb or a plant in alcohol, glycerin or vinegar. I use 80 proof vodka. I took the following tincture recipe from the book listed above.

The process:
When I scraped the propolis from the hive two days ago it was warm and sticky and I did it with my fingers which was a big mistake. I spent the entire day trying to get it off. Today was a much cooler day so it hardened enough that I could handle it again. I could have put it in the fridge to harden but that would have been too easy, right! :D

Step One:
Gather supplies
(vodka not pictured here)
You need a bottle with dropper. A little funnel (unless you want a big mess) a marble size bit of propolis and a small bottle of vodka (about 2 oz will be needed).



Step Two:
Put the propolis in the bottle. (Now the book recommends cutting the proplis into little pieces and then putting it into the bottle, I chose not to follow that step).



Step Three:
Fill the bottle with 80 proof alcohol (vodka). Cover. Shake. Keep bottle in a cool dark place. Shake once a day and leave for one week before using.



I've done things a bit differently than was suggested in the book. Our family will not be taking this as a preventative so we didn't want a large amount. The book suggests taking a few drops per day to boost the immune system or prevent colds and coughs (which goes along with their larger recipe). Small amounts are recommended at first due to the fact that nearly 1% of the population has been found to be allergic to propolis.

I won't list all the things that propolis is good for because I don't want someone reading this blog and then thinking that propolis can cure their ailment. I'm not a doctor. I just trust what I've learned about my bees and their gifts and wanted to share a bit of that information with my readers. Please do more research if you are interested in using propolis.

Here are some of the things propolis has been used to treat (not all of these can be treated with a tincture. Some require propolis creams, ointments, tablets, etc...):

Dental Problems
Coughs & Colds
Flu
Fungal Infections
Fever
Immune Support
Back Pain

Wondering where you can get propolis? Contact a local beekeeper or check at your local farmers market. I would avoid buying it at the store since commercial varieties come out of areas like China and reports warn of the possibility of contamination.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BUCKET LIST: BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA

On July 10 my family and I took a trip to the Boundary Waters in Ely, MN. This was our 2nd time visiting the area. The first time was in February this year for a dog sledding trip and this time around it was for some canoeing. I've always wanted to (#1) canoe in the Boundary Waters and (#2) swim in one of the beautiful BWCA lakes but neither my husband or I could read a topography map very well, much less use a compass so... we got lucky. In February we learned that our guide Jason at Wintergreen Dogsledding just happened to own a guide and outfitting service by the name of ELY OUTFITTING COMPANY (You can read more about the company HERE and HERE). We really like Jason so we decided to give his company a try and we are really happy that we did.

Although Jason wasn't our guide for our time in the Boundary Waters, we did have someone who was equally as amazing, her name is Ellen Root. She was an awesome (Ely Outfitting Company) guide, lots of fun to be around, and was fantastic with our kids. Unfortunately our oldest daughter was away at camp but we had our 11 year old and 4 year old canoeing with us. Kate, the manager at Ely Outfitting Company, packed up everything we needed for our 4 days and 3 nights in the BWCA, which included all the food and equipment we would need. She dropped us off on July 12 and we canoed our way into the wild. The weather was fabulous, the scenery was magnificient, and the overall experience was pure bliss. Ellen cooked up 3 yummy meals for us each day, took us swimming and hiking, and taught us about the various local wildflowers and wildlife. The trip was definitely worth our while and we will certainly be back again. Thank you Jason, Kate & Ellen for making our time in the BWCA a very enjoyable experience!!

Here is a little photo "log" of our time in the BWCA:



































Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ART TO HELP THE GRAY WOLF

My daughter Maya and her friend Kim have started a new blog called GENERATION OF THE WOLF. They plan on using the blog to share their thoughts about wolves and to sell their drawings in order to raise money for the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.

Please check it out when you have time. They are still in the development stage but they will hopefully have art available very soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I AM AT A GARDENING CROSSROADS

and I'm not sure what to do. I know herbs. I spent years reading about herbs and perennials, planting and experimenting, but veggies and fruits... not so much. My first attempt at gardening a little over 5 years ago turned horrible. My carrots didn't grow, my tomatos were consumed by some unknown creature, and my gourds were planted incorrectly so they turned to mush. After moving to our current home 3 years ago I planted strawberries and it went well (no pests, no stealing, great production, easy to harvest). Year two I graduated to lettuce, broccoli, onions, raspberries, corn and cucumbers. That is when it hit me. I had no idea when to harvest anything. I asked and read what I could but I still didn't know how to recognize when something was actually "seeding" or "flowering." What one would call a flower, I didn't. Sorta like beekeeping... I don't know what is normal and what isn't. Our corn was destroyed by earwigs, the cucumbers turned yellow because their vines had nothing to attach themselves to, the brocolli ended up flowering, the lettuce was great but I didn't know you could cut it down and keep using it so instead I pulled it all out *sigh. The onions never grew very well and the raspberries were fantastic!

Year three. I decided to plant more raspberries and strawberries (easy to grow, don't have pests (not yet anyway), can recognize harvest time). We now have 4 raspaberry bushes and 16 strawberry plants. We also planted cucumbers (we have a wire for the vines this time), pumpkins, watermelons, dill, basil, gords and luffahs.

As of July 9, 2011The cucumbers are doing great.

The watermelon... not so much. It just isn't growing very well.

The pumpkins flourished.

The raspberries and strawberries are fantastic.

The gords and luffahs are amazing.

Dill and basil look healthy and big.

STOP!

I checked on things today after being gone for a week and what did I find?

The pumpkins have been taken over by something. I think it is a squash bug. The plants are still alive but I imagine not for long.

The rasberries and strawberries... well... the plant looks great but there are no berries to speak of. In fact, the birds are so bold they come down to eat them right in front of me.

The luffahs, gourds, cucumbers... all look fine and hopefully stay that way.

The dill and basil looks ready to be harvested but again... I'm not sure.

Here is where I'm confuzzled. (yes, that is confused + puzzled). I never know when to harvest things, how to preserve them, or how to prevent pests. I'm not giving up on gardening. I think I can get this but I need some help.

1. Is there a way to prevent squash bugs?
2. Is there a way to keep the birds from eating the berries?
3. How about harvesting... I want dill for pickles (yup, that's what those cucumbers are for) but I'm not sure when to harvest the seeds or how to save them for use when I can the pickles.
4. I want the basil a homemade sauce but do I harvest it now and freeze it for when I make the sauce? Can it be frozen?

The crossroads I'm at is deciding whether or not I just give up on the veggies. I find the berries much easier and of course, I can tell when they are ready for harvest and I know of numerous ways to use them but the veggies I'm not so sure about. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated because I will tell ya, having an entire family chearing on the pumpkin growth just to find out we failed just doesn't feel very good. The kids were not happy when I said they'd be getting their pumpkins for Halloween from someone elses garden patch again this year :(

Some pictures:

Vine base of pumpkins



Raspberries


Basil


Cucumbers


Dill

Thursday, July 7, 2011

SOAP!

I've been so obsessed with my bees lately I haven't said much about soap. So, here is a picture of one batch. I have many more to come. Trying to use up all the supplies over the summer and then take a soaping break for a while.




After corresponding with a few chemists at the University of Minnesota and based on what I've learned from my professors at ACHS I'm finally more comfortable with the use of Titanium Dioxide in my soaps. I gave TD a try a couple times in the past several years but waited til I had some reliable info on it's safety. Of course, now I'm addicted to it. I love that it is so easy to use and gives such great color variation.

I'll be taking a little blog break now to do other things but will be back with more bee and soap pictures soon. HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

MORE NEWS ON MY BEE SWARM

They did it! They swarmed a 3rd time and they attached themselves to the same tree as the other two times but moved on quickly about 5 feet further into the neighbors yard. Thankfully, after talking with the neighbors, they have been great sports about it. The bees are in a ball again about 30 feet up on a tree limb, not reachable by anyone. but that isn't my news.

Attention all beekeepers because I have a strange one for you.

We witnessed our bees swarm and then come right back shortly after. When they returned they went into the hive they orginally came out of hive #1 (the 2 yr hive). Next day they swarmed again but when we came home their clump in the tree was gone. We noticed hive #2 had an unusual number of bees. We added a third hive body Sunday and already the three boxes were overflowing with bees to the point that hubby and I started to wonder if the swarm went into the wrong hive. We debated it a while and decided that was crazy and we started brainstorming on what we should do with the new overflowing hive since the queen wasn't laying as fast as the bees were appearing (weird right) and in the 2nd hive body only 4-5 frames are drawn and in the 3rd hive body it looks like 0 are drawn. Hmmm...

What happens next? The swarm of bees emerge from the new hive (the 3 month old hive) and go right back up into the tree they swarmed to the last two times. What the heck? I'm still in shock. Is it even possible for a swarm to go back to the wrong hive?? I figure two things, that both hives have swarmed, which seems odd considering there is sooooooooo much space in the new hive for the queen to lay and she is NOT laying enough to compare with the number of bees that were inside or the bees from the first hive returned to the wrong hive.

We were fortunate to see all of this swarming. Two times from the 2 year old hive and now once from the hive we acquired in May this year.

Here is the video from the 2nd swarming:



Here is a video from when the swarm returned the first time and was scattered all over our yard:

Monday, July 4, 2011

GIVING UP ON BEEKEEPING...

At least I feel that way right at this moment. I love the bees, love watching them, learning from them, having them in the backyard but... there is a reason more men than women are beekeepers. Now I'm not trying to offend all the feminists out there but seriously, beekeeping takes some strength and it takes strength that I don't have.

Initially when I decided to take up this hobby my hubby was adamant he would not be involved. He isn't afraid of bees but he wasn't that intrigued by them the way I am. He respects all things "natural" and he also thinks they should be left alone. I on the other hand like learning about everything and this was one of those moments but sometimes I think I want to learn about things too much and I dive right in.

As of right now I am unable to move hive bodies around without my husbands assistance and it doesn't help matters that he has a bad lower back. While my hubby graciously helps me out even though this was never his "thing" I find that I'm also struggling to get those darn frames out. Me + propolis = disaster. I even purchased a frame gripper thinking that would make it easier and that didn't work. I pull, pry, scrape, dig and those suckers won't come loose.

Aside from the weight of the hive I have two other problems.

#1 I hate killing things. The other day I opened the new hive and went to pull a frame out and it was stuck in place so I wiggled, pulled, wiggled, pulled some more and finally the darn thing came loose. While it came loose it also pulled up a mess of beeswax. I noticed a large chunk was at the bottom on top of the other hive body so I decided to pull the hive bodies apart to clean things up. What I found was a disaster. The bees in the new hive don't want to draw out the 4 outer frames for some reason, they only drew out the 4 inner frames and the queen laid a mass of brood between the hive bodies. This was a new experience for me. The first hive went according to plan (for the most part) but this hive is acting weird. Not only does the queen not want to utilize the frame space for laying there are a massive amount of bees. Makes me wonder where the heck she laid the brood for the new bees to emerge??? So, as you can imagine, when I cleaned things up I had to kill a mess of bees. This is what one chunk looked like. (see below). 24 hours later the bees with their heads poking out were still alive. I felt terrible.



#2 I have no sense of what is normal and not normal with my hives. My bees swarmed again today but I left shortly after so I don't know if they returned a 2nd time. I was curious to see how many bees were left behind or if they had returned so when I got home I opened the hive. The top box seemed pretty empty so I slid it off and what do I do??? Kill the new queen. She wasn't even born yet. Her cell was attached between two frames and I know for certain it was a queen cell and her body was exposed. Of course my little bees rushed to protect her but I don't think they will repair her queen cell in time. I suck at this, I seriously do! On top of that I still can't tell if the swarm returned or not. It looks like the same amount of bees I had last time I checked. To add insult to injury I discovered that hive #2 has a horrendous mite problem. How do I know? The mites were in the mass of brood + wax I scraped off (pictures later). We were told in class if we could "see" mites then we had a serious problem. I see them.

So, maybe I'm overreacting to this beekeeping thing. Maybe everyone feels all this anxiety when they have their first hives. I'm not sure. All I know is right now I think I could write the "how to be a crappy beekeeper" book because I have all the steps down perfectly. If I could only keep bees without managing them, just let them do their thing, but... I have to worry about Nosema, Tracheal Mites, AFB, Hive Beetle, Mites, etc... I don't even want to think about the swarming issue right now.