Thursday, June 30, 2011

TIME FOR ANOTHER SOAP SWAP


I am very happy to have some of the best soaping friends. Over the years we have managed to stay connected thanks to blogging, facebook and email, plus come together for the occasional soap swap. Some of us have met in person and some have yet to do so but I feel fortunate to be linked to such a great group of women. This time around we are swapping a soap of any color, fragrance, packaging, etc... so I am busy making soap, trying to decide which scent & design of soap I will settle on. Cannot wait to see what my creative friends come up with and then of course to post pictures of all the goodies here :)
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Monday, June 13, 2011

BEEKEEPING, NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS

Ok, one thing I promised myself is that when blogging about beekeeping I would be totally honest. I wouldn't make it look easy when it was hard, fun if it was boring, enlightening if it was just plain stupid. So here it goes...

The 2nd year of beekeeping SUCKS!!

I've taken 2 classes on beekeeping in 1.5 years. I talk to beekeepers whenever I get the chance. I take advice. I'm learning.

BUT

When I opened last years hive for the first time this year what I saw gave me this sinking feeling in my stomach and I allowed myself to think that beekeeping just isn't for me. I quickly brushed that sensation and thought aside since I've learned this is how I feel about everything when it starts/appears difficult but I must say, the books never told me this.

Hives look like shit in the 2nd year. No more pretty clean frames, no more easy to find queen, no more docile bees. Oh no... what you have is a propolis disaster, so many bees that the queen is impossible to locate and some seriously bitchy bees.

Now I'm sure our bees are much nicer than say an AFRICANIZED BEE but still, I barely scratched the hive today and a couple guard bees just wouldn't lay off. They followed me 25 feet to house and wouldn't go away. It scared my hubby to a point that he started to wonder if we'd ever be able to work outside again. He is wrong, we will be fine, but... I don't want him second guessing my decision on this.

The first year, bees are angels. I almost feel like they love me the way I love them but the 2nd year is a different story. With frames full of honey, an established colony, the girls aren't as loving as before but that isn't really what upsets me. What makes me mad is my own stupidity. I used 10 frames instead of 9 so now it is nearly impossible to move things around. Once a frame is pulled out I can barely get it back in. The propolis is such that my fingers stick together so I nearly drop frames, there is brood being stored everywhere so each time I move anything I kill tons of babies :( I want to do the checkerboard thingy to prevent the bees from swarming yet I can manage to get frames unstuck (it took me 10 minutes last opening to get one back in place). I screwed up my spring divide because I had no idea what I was doing. Now I have to worry the bees will sworm to my "bee hating" neighbors house and the city will be knocking on my door.

On top of it, my bees are not moving up into the honey super. They seem to have something against the queen excluder because they wouldn't pass through it last year either. So my idea of using honey supers to create more space and hopefully avoid swarming isn't going that well. BTW/there are no queen cells from what I could find for those who asked.

So there ya go... my confession. I own practically every beekeeping book written and I don't remember any of the above being mentioned. Beekeeping IS NOT EASY! I didn't think it was but I didn't think it wasn't either. As with most things a difficult point arises and I vent until I figure a way through it. I promise, I'm silently venting over here and only purging on my blog, I carry a happy face about all this through out the day :)

It is difficult to see from these pix but it gives a little visual idea of how things change:

2 month old hive



2 year old hive

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

KNOW YOUR BEE STINGS

My husband endured several bee stings recently and I documented his experience so that I could share it with others. I found it fascinating that every person we came in contact with who saw the results of the bee stings asked two questions (1) If we were going to seek medical attention and (2) If we were going to stop keeping bees. It turns out that most people think severe swelling means you are allergic to bees. If it wasn't for my beekeeping course a year ago I would think the same thing. One myth I was told growing up is that the more you are stung the more allergic you become. When I was stung in the back once and it swelled about the size of a golf ball and itched for 4 days my mother told me I was allergic and should carry an epipen.

So I thought, since there are so many misconceptions about bee stings, I thought I'd clarify a few things I've learned. I have followed up my list of things to know about stings with a few pictures I took of my husbands hands as he recovered from his bee stings.

#1 Less than 1% of the population has a systematic allergy to honeybee stings.

#2 If you are allergic you will experience some or all of the following symptoms: rash or hives, swelling that is not in the area of the sting, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after being stung seek medical attention immediately.

#3 An allergy is NOT: pain, swelling, redness, and/or itching.

#4 When stung by a honeybee you want to remove the stinger immediately by scraping and not pinching or pulling on it. Pinching or pulling the stinger forces more venom into your body and your reaction can be worse.

#5 The venom from a honeybee is different than that of a wasp, hornet, or other type bee such as a bumble bee. If you are allergic to one it doesn't mean you are allergic to the other.

#6 Honeybees, because their stingers are barbed, can sting only once and die shortly afterwards. Wasps & Hornets have smooth stingers, therefore, can sting several times.

#7 Honeybees generally do not sting when away from their hive. Unlike wasps and hornets that will sting unprovoked.

#8 Most physicians know very little about bee stings and have a tendency to diagnose allergies when none exist.

#9 The more often you are stung by a honeybee the less symptomatic you become.

#10 Honeybee stings are being used in place of some types of medical treatment for MS and arthritis. (Bee Venom Therapy)

DAY ONE OF BEE STINGS (This is the result of 2 stings previously thought to be 3). Hour after being stung. The two stings happened on the knuckle of the hand.



DAY TWO AFTER BEING STUNG (The pain from stings is the worst on day two. The skin is stretched to its max so there is lots of ache and itching).



DAY THREE. Not as painful but just as swollen. Still itchy. Swelling has stopped at the elbow.



ONE WEEK AFTER STING (A new youthful hand. How weird is that?!) The hand on the right is the one that was stung.


We figured a few things about the stings. One: the swelling may not have been so bad if my husband had removed the stingers faster. He spent a lot of time looking for something to scrape them off with, I'd say about 2 minutes too long.

Two: Although he ran to the store to buy benadryl and used ice packs for 3 days it only helped in the way of pain (the ice more than the benadryl). The swelling seemed to hang around until we figured out that elevating the hand worked quite a bit.

Now all he has to do is get stung in the other hand so both can be wrinkless :)