City Life · Hive equipment

Delays, delays, and more delays!

Bee on lavender, June 2016

Last week we spent two days at the farm, went to workshops, and returned home for dental appointments.  We had planned to head back to the farm yesterday, but that didn’t work out.   We intended to check the bees in the out yards on Saturday, and are just getting around to doing so today.  It’s been a busy weekend and week.

The good news is that I was able to get the bones of the website coded and uploaded.  It took me a while to get back into writing HTML, but that part of my brain finally kicked back into gear and I’m happy with the design.  I have used CoffeeCup Software for web design for at least 15 years, but this was my first time using their Responsive Site Designer to create a template which I then edited through the HTML editor.   If I decide to start creating websites for other people again, I will probably buy and spend the time learning to use the site designer, but for now it was less of a learning (relearning) curve to just do things the old-fashioned way!   I’ve also really enjoyed taking and editing photographs to use on the site.    We still have to take inventory and then decide on pricing for items, but updating that won’t take me long at all.  The deciding is going to be what sucks all the time out of the days ahead!


Brushy Mountain English Hive

We used one of the website pictures for our business cards so that the site and the cards have similar themes.   We realized that we needed to get cards when we met many great people at the workshops last week.  The business card picture features the English Hive that hubby won at the Bee Institute — we set it up next to one of our Adirondack chairs  and I love sitting there watching the bees fly in and out.

Hubby also cut wood and built hive boxes, covers, and bottom boards, which I then painted.  I do have to wonder about his math sometimes as I’m sure he told me there were 10 covers to paint.  I stopped counting at 13…..   Maybe he didn’t think I’d go outside to start painting if I knew the real scope of the project.  (He’s probably right — it was HOT out there!)

Now we just have to replace the rusted-out bolts from a toilet tank, check the other toilets to see how close they are to springing leaks, vacuum seal and freeze the whiskey-honey ribs I cooked yesterday , and then maybe take a nap before deciding when to leave the big city for the peace and quiet of the country.   Not being on the farm has been frustrating, but the days in the city have been productive and satisfying.

Bees · Hive equipment

Bees in slow motion

A friend who is hosting some of our bees in an out-yard sent us a recording of some bee-acrobatics this afternoon.   He slowed the video down — it’s so interesting to see them, but even more so to hear them, in slow motion.   (The audio is so much better on my phone than on my laptop speakers.)  As much time as we’ve spent watching the critters land, take off, and collide, we are still fascinated with this clip.   In fact, it’s taken me far too long to type this small paragraph because I keep going back to watch the video again.

Other updates from today: 
We are pretty sure we have a new queen.  We saw her, and then lost her.  She was on a packed frame and the bees were animated, so we moved that frame to a Nuc along with some brood, nectar, and honey, and we will check on them again mid-week.  We didn’t see any eggs yet, so maybe we imagined a queen or maybe she hasn’t started laying yet.

The queen in our second strongest hive is laying at an incredible rate, so we filled the newly vacated slots in the queen castle with some frames from that hive — partly to try to grow another queen, but partly to discourage the lady from swarming.  

The one worrisome hive in one of the out-yards had even fewer bees yesterday, so hubby evicted them and then gave them a twig to climb up to reach their new home in an established hive.  As temperatures hovered around freezing last night with a wind chill that only made things worse, those guys probably would not have survived the night in their old hive.  We still have no idea what happened to the queen.   If we see evidence of a queen in the new Nuc, we’ll move that Nuc to the out-yard and shake some additional bees into it to get them off to a good start.

Our foster-parents are wonderful.   One offered to build fires close to the hives to keep them warm last night, but hubby assured them that the bees would be able to stay warm enough on their own.   We are so enjoying the interest that others are showing.  I know we’re new at this ourselves, but we sometimes feel like old hands.  We see both ourselves in these initiates and see how much we’ve learned in the past year.  I’m still a little jumpy when bees are determinedly bumping into my veil, but I also think some of that is due to my going cross-eyed as my bi-focals try to focus concurrently on the bee, the veil, and the frames that are all at different distances! 

Bees · Hive equipment

Bee ready


It’s official — if we are going to expand the bee business, we need to build a workshop at the farm!   We have bee boxes everywhere, and we have locations to set them up when the bees arrive at the end of the month.  It’s been a lot of work getting everything painted, but it’s been fun and stress relief, too.

As you can see, we have no room in the garage and we still have boxes in the dining room.  We have to put foundation in a bazillion frames over the next two weeks, and I’m hoping we can do that sitting in front of the TV because it sounds like tedious work.   So tedious, that grading essays might be more enjoyable, especially as my students are writing very well right now.

The existing hives are doing well and we have had to add to each of them.   I like seeing some of the new colors out there mixed in with our original blue boxes.

We realized that we will need to make multiple trips to get everything we need to move down to the farm before spring break, so we’re hauling a load of supplies down there later today.  It will be good to stand on our land and see the early signs of spring for the first time.    We’ve seen it late summer, fall, winter, and in torrential rain that was more befitting a hurricane coming in than a winter storm.    If we can fit them on the truck, we’ll take a few plants down and get them in the ground too.

It will be a very quick trip there and back because we both have a bunch of deadlines for projects for our day jobs before spring break.  It’s been too long since we sat around a camp fire with family, so a quick trip and a day dream is better than no trip at all.  Of course, I’m hoping to find that giant gold nugget in our churned up soil so that I can be a step closer to sitting in our workshop, painting hive bodies and bird houses to my heart’s content.

Bees · Hive equipment

One Bee of a Headache!

We’ve had a good weekend working in the yard and painting hives in preparation for the bees we’re getting from the South Carolina Beekeepers Association on March 19th.   We have enough hive bodies built and painted to accommodate the newcomers, and I’ll spend evenings this weekend decorating them and using the wood burning tool to permanently add our name to each piece of equipment.  We did some hive maintenance and found good supplies of nectar, pollen, and brood and no evidence of mites or wax moths.  After I cleaned up a little, I decided to take one last look at the hives before coming in to grade essays.  That’s when a bee got itself tangled up in my hair band.  I’m used to bees buzzing through my hair when I’m standing near the hives, but they have never stopped to say hello before today.   When I pulled my hairband off, the angry little critter was still saying hello to my headband with its pulsating stinger!   Now, all previous stings have been minor nuisances, but this one is giving me a headache like I haven’t had in years — despite the toothpaste rubbed into my scalp.

But, back to positives…..  we have almost everything painted that needs painting, just in time for the nucs that were on backorder to arrive on Tuesday for next weekend’s painting marathon!  I am getting closer to finding a good sized font for the name of our farm and I’m even getting better at painting the farm name free-hand.   This kind of work outside in the spring sunshine is the perfect antidote to the stress I felt by the end of last week.   It’s not that the week was much different to others, but at one point I thought I was caught up on the tedious side of teaching, such as filing paperwork and grading, and then I received a stack of essays to evaluate by Tuesday…..   I will be able to score them relatively quickly, but I did so want to feel caught up for just one afternoon!

The seeds I planted last weekend are also trying my patience, but I checked the seed packets and saw that germination time for all of them is anywhere from 7 – 14 days, so I’ve resisted the urge to dig around in the potting soil to see what they are doing.    But while painting I’ve been able to look at the first daffodils and crocus blooming.  The bees are bringing in four different colors of pollen, and lots of it.   Yes, my head still hurts, but it’s still a beautiful day and I look forward to seeing our bee business grow.   (And to spring break and a week on the farm!)  Life is good.