Bees · Lazer Creek Apiary · Natural Food Sources · Products and Vendors · Supplemental Feeding

Buckwheat Update

There are reasons my old laptop is at the farm, and right now the main one seems to be to induce stress eating!   But after 2 hours, I have pictures downloaded from my phone and have unsuccessfully looked through today’s buckwheat photographs in search of a bee in focus.   The bees were generally camera shy in the first place, and trying to take pictures after 2 hours in the bee yard wasn’t ideal, so here’s a picture of bee-less buckwheat!

Buckwheat
Buckwheat

The bees forage on the buckwheat and wildflowers from about 8:30 a.m. to lunch.   They show some interest in sugar syrup in the afternoon, but not as much as I expected.  There must still be natural nectar sources available.   I also saw three different colors of pollen coming into the hives this morning.   I didn’t see much open brood in the hives I checked today, but the queens are still fat and each hive had at least 3 frames of capped brood, some nectar, and some bee bread.    Most hives that were queenless last inspection now have active and healthy queens, but two NUCs have failed to produce a queen despite a couple of rounds of added brood.   I added them to a some weaker hives using newspaper to divide the two colonies until they get used to each other.

We were low on 10-frame lids, so we’d temporarily double stacked some NUCs.   Three of them were jam-packed, and I moved them to 10-frame boxes and even added supers to two of them.   I didn’t see any small hive beetles yet, but I know they’re coming.   Actually, they are probably already down at the lower apiary, but I still have 8 hives to check in the new location before I head down there.  So far, the landscape fabric below the hives appears to be making a difference — or maybe it’s just the sunnier location.

English Hive - June 2018
English Hive – June 2018

It’s clearly been a good spring as areas that were clear spring break now have weeds taller than I.  I had to cut a path to my hive before I could see if they have a new queen (they do).  I’m waiting for a rain shower that will keep the girls inside to cut the weeds in front of the hive, but I may have to just suit up and sweat my way through that little patch one evening before I come inside.    While they are not mean bees, they are a little more animated than I am used to from that hive and I don’t plan to sit outside after stirring them up.   That said, they allowed me to do a full inspection this morning and any day without a sting is a good day.

Talking of stings, Bill Turnbull’s book Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper includes hilarious tales of bee stings and the incompletely thought through decisions that led to them in a way that makes me feel good about my own mistakes while imparting some basic knowledge for people interested in the sometimes crazy hobby / business of beekeeping.   It’s an easy read and perfect for my tired brain one week into summer break.    Anyone who describes a bee stinger as a hammer with a thumbtack attached (page 5) clearly knows what he’s talking about, and a sting to the face for a television host certainly has more repercussions than a sting to a face of a teacher who only has an audience of 100 or so on any given day!

I am greatly enjoying my active days at the farm.    I still can’t quite believe that I get to stay here once school starts.   The real work of getting the infrastructure in place for me to do so will start next week when Hubby arrives and we get to do fun things like install a new septic system!  I guess that’s better than having to dig up an old one, and the new mini-home will be well worth the effort.   The RV has served us well for two years, but things going scratch-scratch in the walls at 1:00 a.m. do not make for a good night’s sleep!   Scratch-scratch is better than city life — at least until I come face to face with whatever it is!

City Life

Farewells and new beginnings

A dining room full of classroom stuff!
A dining room full of classroom stuff!

After a week of sorting, discarding, and packing, we loaded my classroom things onto the 12 foot trailer and into my car and brought it all home.    The enclosed trailer is full of bee wood-ware, so we had to use the open trailer and to rush to beat the rain.   I’ve only moved enough out of the car to make room for the dog and some clothes, so I’ll be moving boxes into the shipping container as soon as I get to the farm.  When I see teachers leaving with one carboard box of things,  I think I must be insane to buy the books and other resources I do, but I’m always looking for new ideas to keep my teaching fresh and my students engaged.

Still, we’ll put most of the furniture into the new house and workshop instead of moving the heavier things to another school.   The beautiful podium Hubby made for me will, of course, go to the new school, as will some of the smaller bookcases from this house.

Why so much stuff?   Well, as I mentioned, there are so many good resources out there and every group of students is different.   If I’m not reaching them with the materials or methods that have worked in the past, I buy new books.   I’ve accumulated a lot of books in the past 10 years!   But there’s another reason: students constantly tell me how much they like my room.   I’ve tried to emulate teachers I admire and coordinate furnishings, but I always end up with an eclectic mix ranging from posters from The Royal Shakespeare Company to Big Bang Theory posters from Amazon.com!   I have Shakespeare and Teacher Care Bears and a fuzzy stuffed bee toy with huge eyes that just makes me smile on even the worst days.   I have coffee table books for Hamlet, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The History of the English Language, Harley Davidson Motorcycles and many more.   Introverted students, especially, like to hang out  at lunch, away from all the bustle and surrounded by books.   I didn’t really  realize why until I experienced how totally depressing bare walls in a classroom can be when I sat in my depersonalized space for 3 days.

It was sad to say goodbye to people I’ve worked with for the past six years, and even harder to say goodbye to those I’ve known since student teaching.   I am very excited to be moving to a rural school and to be returning to the farm at the end of every day.  There’s so much to get done between now and then, but I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to making new friends.