multipurposegoddess: (bees)
Well, Vernon and his son came and got the bees. It only took them half an hour to get the hive all packed up and strapped into the truck - I am impressed and glad I didn't have to do it myself because it would not have been that smooth of an operation for me! So, my beekeeping days are over. It was a nice interlude while it lasted. 

I did actually accomplish something myself, today, too. I figured out which valves were the problem in my drip irrigation + swamp cooler water supply pipe tangle AND successfully replaced them (and the ancient copper tubing that was visibly twisted and clearly about to break). Everything works and doesn't drip near as bad. Quite pleased with myself.
multipurposegoddess: (Penguin Cookie Jar)
I didn't mean to be all silent for over a week, like that. These things happen, I guess. 

Anywa, I got myself an eight-person seder meal + tzimmes and chopped liver from Whole Foods, which turns out to be well over enough food for me for a week. I think I still have a pound of chopped liver I should get int the freezer. I performed the most abbreviated seder ever using the 30-minute haggadah and abridging it further because I felt like I just read that part of Exodus recently (it might have been a couple of months ago, but it's fresh in my mind). But I got in all the wine drinking and herb dipping and invited Elijah in, which is much more observant than most of my holidays have been recently!

I haven't actually had leavened bread, yet, which is kind of peculiar. Well, the week was pretty easy as far as that went - I was aware that I couldn't go get a sandwich or make myself pancakes, but that was never a hardship. Went out to dinner with my mom on Wednesday (before seeing Anything Goes at the Willows, which was excellent, even with the last minute understudy stepping in for a major role!) and had sushi, so I even got the annual "do I eat rice?" debate with myself.

I meant to feed my starter last night so I could make bread today, but I forgot. And then this morning I discovered that the dog had messed the kitchen floor (he was scared by the train going by on his evening constitutional (I don't know what that's about, we have trains going by all day and all night and he's never been scared before) and dashed back inside and then couldn't hold it 'til morning, I presume. He's normally a very fastidious dog so I'm trying not to make him feel guilty about it) which (a) is better than the carpet, at least but (2) meant I couldn't have coffee or breakfast until I'd cleaned up. Well, I guess I could have, but ew. So, anyway, today's getting off to a slow start.

I still haven't dealt with the bees! Argh. I need to call Vernon tomorrow, and if he isn't going to come get them soon I have a line on another apiary that says specifically that they are set up to integrate captured swarms into their honey-making process safely, so they should be able to handle my hive. Part of my problem is that I don't want strangers judging the unkemptness of my backyard, but I have to just get over that. They can judge, whatever, it's not like they'll be dropping by every morning asking if I've cut back those blackberries yet.

I think I should probably make a doctor's appointment while I know my last premium check cleared, but that is a whole other post. I'll try and get those thoughts out tomorrow, and then I'll make the appointment. Saying it in public makes it more likely to happen, right?
multipurposegoddess: (bees)
I got both the cars smogged, hooray! And I don't feel too bad about not just taking a half hour and getting it done earlier because it took all frikkin' day - I headed out right after breakfast and just got home in time for tea. But it's done and I believe they are technically legal now and I should have the stickers to prove it pretty soon. So, yay for that.

And the guy who is taking my bees called before I had to call him and ask what was up, he's going to come by on Friday and see how much of a project moving the hive is going to be. I might be nice and try clearing off the patio so he can get his truck in closer, that all needs rearranging anyway. We'll see how ambitious I feel tomorrow. Right now I'm super tired. I don't know if I even have the energy to catalog my Farm Box, which was delivered while I was out.
multipurposegoddess: (bees)
I should've done that a long time ago, it had quite a bit of wax built up on it. Oh well. The bees look healthy and they've got a nice store of what looks like lovely honey. I maybe could have harvested, but I feel good about my decision to let them keep it all for the hive's first winter. It's all mild and eucalyptus reaping time now, but who knows what January will bring. I can always harvest in the spring if there's a lot of capped honey.

I need to remember two things for next time that I am doing something more major than checking frames . First, make sure Walter is not curled up in the grass a few feet from the hive. Once I get the bees all riled up they are apt to go after him, poor puppy. He may have been stung today, it's hard to tell, but I couldn't find any swelling or tender spots. Hopefully his fur stymied them. Gave him a Benedryl just in case, and I'll give him another in a bit. Second, remember to use the smoker, that is what it's for and it really does make a difference. Dumbass.
multipurposegoddess: (bees)
I got stung, finally. On my face, which is embarassing. Got the stinger out right away and it doesn't hurt too badly so far.

Will this stop me from impulsively doin little maintenance things aound the hive without a veil (I decided to clear a little of the tall grass from in front of the hive and one of the early rising bees got caught in my hair)? Time will tell, I suppose. 
multipurposegoddess: (Penguin Cookie Jar)
I was supposed to go grocery shopping and probably run some other errands today, but I apparently decided not to get dressed. Hey, I got dressed yesterday, I'll get dressed tomorrow, today it wasn't happening. So, no grocery shopping. I need to go soon, though, I am out of garlic and that is just crazy, me not having garlic to throw in everything.

Instead I worked on eating or cooking for storage yesterday's produce haul. It's just a lot of cooking )

I did get the queen excluder and super installed - snuck up on the hive before they were really awake, the bees were barely disturbed. Adding supers is easy, when it comes time to remove it will be another story.
multipurposegoddess: (Penguin Cookie Jar)
No eggs today, which is just as well as I still have most of last week's dozen from Soul Food. I did get
  • 1 pound apricots
  • 1 pound baby bok choy
  • a bunch of beets, including greens
  • a bunch of carrots
  • 1 cucumber (I might try refrigerator pickles. I don't like the taste of cucumber but I do like pickles)
  • a bunch of flame seedless grapes
  • a head of green leaf lettuce
  • 3 pounds of peaches (I opted out of melons, so I get extra peaches)
  • 1 pound sweet gypsy peppers
  • 6 heirloom tomatoes (beefsteak sized)
Glad my fridge was basically empty.

Went and picked up a queen excluder and a honey super. Actually harvesting honey seems much closer all of a sudden! Have applied the first coat of paint, it should dry pretty fast in this heat.

multipurposegoddess: (Aruba)
All that stuff I was gonna do yesterday? Yeah, nsm. I got as far as getting dressed and putting on shoes and got hit with a wave of overwhelming tiredness. I tried to push through, but 'overwhelming' was not just an intensifier there, I was in fact overwhelmed and went back to bed for an hour or two.

I did get outside to sit in the sun and make some vitamin D, and sit in the shade and watch the mockingbird claim his territory from atop the telephone pole in the corner of my yard, which is one of my favorite things. There was a bee trying to steal nectar from the hummingbird feeder, so I got to see how hummingbirds react to that - not as aggressively as I would have guessed! They do feed at the same flowers, though I haven't seen them buzzing around one plant at the same time.

I managed not fall behind on my daily stuff, and fed the bees - they are officially working on over half the frames in the second hive body, so I should probably get a super or two soon. And I spotted a worm in Worm Farm #2, so they aren't all dead out there. Not a lot of feedback from the worms, getting an occasional glimpse is good.

If I can get through the whole week without falling behind, that'll be a huge win, really, so I am not too bothered by not getting far with the 'extra' stuff I'm trying to take on. I don't know, the last couple of days I have wanted a lot of sleep, it almost seems like I need more dreaming time than that I need the rest. Hopefully I'll catch up on whatever it is soon.

And got to Petco today, so the cats have been appeased. Tomorrow will have to do for lawn mowing and grocery shopping, and I keep forgetting that I still need to get that long overdue smog check done. At least the late fees can't get any higher.
multipurposegoddess: (bees)
The bees now have a fancy two-story condo. Installation was no problem at all.

I also retrieved the definitely empty queen cage and inspected the frames for brood. There are about 7 frames actively being worked on. I wasn't able to absolutely confirm the presence of brood, as I was looking for the tan, cardboard-looking surface that the books describe and everything was actually coated in bright yellow pollen, but there were the tall cells that should be drone brood, all clumped together like they are supposed to be, so they were probably surrounded by worker brood. I forgot about holding the frames up to the sun to look through the wax for eggs and larva, but it was pretty overcast to be trying that anyway. I think we're probably in good shape. And I have to assume that all that pollen is a good thing.

The feeder was empty, so I refilled it - as long as they are eating the syrup, I will supply it, I guess. I tossed the gallon bag of syrup that was on top of the hive. It wasn't empty, but it had been out in the sun for longer than seems safe for anything to eat.

Tried out the smoker, so now I know I can work it with the gloves on, but I didn't need it. These bees are pretty docile. They were understandably disturbed by me moving frames around and reaching into the heart of the hive to get the queen cage, but were never really aggressive and calmed down quickly. Which is nice for me.

Wednesday was fascinated by the whole thing. I don't know if she is actually interested in the bees or suspects that any out of the ordinary thing I do might result in the appearance of tuna, but she stuck close and watched carefully. But she didn't pounce on anything or stick her nose close enough to get stung, so that's all right I guess.

PicturesBehind the cut )

Bee Update

May. 11th, 2011 04:48 pm
multipurposegoddess: (Aruba)
I have picked up the second hive body. I need to paint it, which may take a couple of days, mostly drying time, then the bees will have double the living space. Nice.

I think they are ignoring the sugar syrup, which they are supposed to do when there is sufficient nectar for their needs (nectar being tastier, I suppose). So that's good. I'll probably leave the feeder on for a while just in case, I don't think there's any harm in that. I still need to retrieve the queen cage and check for brood - tomorrow should be a good day for that. Just observing them coming and going, there's a lot of traffic and definitely some bees coming home carrying gobs of pollen.

Worms are doing well, so far as I can tell. There continue to be live worms, which is really all I am checking at this point.

Mom and I visited the Western Railway Museum (before heading up to Bee Supply) for her belated Mother's Day gift of a ride on the Scenic Limited. Very pleasant! Nice scenery, lemonade and cookies, and I just like trains. They have a HUGE inventory of train related books including many on small lines and city transportation systems (and not just nearby cities, I noticed Chicago and Arkansas in my browsing). A good resource if any of that information should be needed, I bet. And I didn't even look at the library, that was just the gift shop.

I could have sworn I had another thought to mention, but it seems to have fled. Oh well.

Catching Up

May. 8th, 2011 10:13 am
multipurposegoddess: (Aruba)
 As more or less expected, re-entry into normal routing after Vegas is taking some adjustment. It's kind of silly - 3 days and two nights vacation shouldn't take more than 3 days to come back to normal from, but my routine, such as it is, is more week-based than day-based, so it was easier to just kind of take the rest of the week off than shift everything. And actual daily stuff like feeding the critters and getting the mail and like that did happen on schedule.

Anyway, the point is, Vegas was a whole lot of fun. [personal profile] perkins is totally awesome to travel with. We ended up with a nice suite at THEhotel (or is it theHOTEL? one of those), my award-miles flight on JetBlue was longish but fine and essentially free, so most of my vacation budget was available for fabulous dining and a fantastic spa day.

Somewhat blurry on the details account within... )

Vegas is always so surreal - the lights everywhere and the endless interiors and small details like the patterns of the carpets and the lack of clocks somehow all conspire to make the whole experience outside of normal life. Makes for an intensely vacationy vacation, even when it's short. Maybe especially when it's short.

I haven't done much since I got home - baked bread, made chopped liver, made a bit of a dent on the freezer. The bees look good but I still need to get the queen cage out of the hive, I hope it is not entirely encased in wax already. Picking up the second hive body on Wednesday, I am so excited to expand!
multipurposegoddess: (Simpsons)
Clearly, I will need a bee icon of some sort. And maybe plant some carrots so I can say my bees like carrots in a literal fashion.

Package removed from hive, frames replaced. I did NOT retrieve the queen's cage, it was absolutely covered in layers of bees and I was afraid of squishing them. I suspect that means she's still in there, anyway. I'll check in the morning. Wax is being built up in hearty fashion, like it is supposed to, everything looks good.

Didn't fire up the smoker, which might have helped if I was determined to get the cage, I suppose. Also didn't actually get dressed, just dashed out in veil, gloves, bathrobe and crocs. I must have been quite a sight. No stings.

My floating solar fountain came, so that's in the pond now. It works great! I've got the head with the largest holes on it, so it bubbles more than sprays. I don't know if that is enough agitation to keep the mosquitos away, but too much spray and the water will all end up outside the pond. Easy to adjust, in any case. It only works in direct sunlight, but I had that when I put it in this morning, so it will probably bubble at least some of the time on most days.

Wednesday was very interested in both the bees and the fountain. She'd try stalking the fountain, but as she got close to it her shadow would fall across the solar panel and it would stop bubbling, so she'd back off and it would suddenly start again with a higher than usual burst of water and she'd jump on surprise. Too funny. I hope to discourage her interest in the bees, but they are small moving things. Hopefully the novelty will wear off without her getting stung or too many bees getting smushed or eaten.
multipurposegoddess: (Simpsons)
It's a sequel, in case anyone doesn't know, because I had that wild colony last year that died off or got absorbed by another hive or whatever, which is why I have the hivebody to put these bees in. Anyway.

Picked up the bees on Saturday. Got lost on the way because the GPS aspect of my phone is for shit and tanked out right when I needed it to tell me whether to stay on the 80 or take 80-business and I guessed wrong. Oh well, my bees were still there when I finally found my way.

Watched a three-minute video on how to install the package into the hive. Bought some seeds for bee-friendly plants because, really, I can't pass up seed packets. Was told that the bees had just been packaged that morning, which is not usual, and that I should wait until at least Sunday evening, maybe Monday to do anything at all, just put them in the garage until then. And just so you know there's really a queen in there, here are your marshmallows.

So they went into the garage. I moved them a couple of times because I do keep a car in there and I was nervous about CO, but otherwise left them alone. Went to Jepson Prairie yesterday with my folks, which was actually kind of Easterish - walked around looking at the ground hunting wildflowers instead of Easter eggs, but one of those is called Butter and Eggs (and there was a lot of that one). And on the way home spotted three rabbits. And many lambs, but that's what happens when you drive past sheep ranches in the Spring, the rabbits were a surprise. Also got a nice little lecture with exhibits on the endangered fauna of the vernal pools (one of them is actually an ephemeral lake, it's big enough to have fairly serious waves now and in a few months it will be entirely gone!): fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp (freaky looking), cricket frogs, etc. Also learned that the native bees are mostly single-species pollinators, even more than that, slightly different strains of, say, Goldfields will have different species of bees that pollinate them. Craziness. But it was too windy for the bees to be out, so we didn't see any.

So that was neat.

After all that I decided I was too tired to bee wrangle and they'd have to wait until today.

And then today was rainy and I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, but it cleared up by evening. I donned my full beekeeping costume - veiled hat, long gloves, windbreaker, jeans tucked into rainboots. I thought I had seen the full video, but I must have missed the beginning (it was on a loop) because I didn't really know how to get the feeder can out of the package, and the design was different than my books described, so that took a little ingenuity. And everything is harder in gloves. But I managed, and got the  the queen cage safely out, so now I've seen a queen and she does clearly have a longer torso and is painted with a white dot, as promised. With some trepidation, I took the cage away from the colony so I could take my gloves off and poked the marshmallow into the corked end of the cage (pushing the hard candy cork into the cage so there is just marshmallow blocking the hole, which should be easier for the worker bees to chew through) successfully. The mass of bees stayed over by the feeding can, hive, and packaging. Regloved and put the cage on the floor of the hive between two frames as instructed by the video. Then put the whole package of bees into the space left by removing 5 frames, as instructed by one of the books, which seemed much easier than pouring the bees into the hive as instructed by the video (I've seen that done, but haven't tried it myself, so I took the easy way). Sugar syrup into the feeder outside the colony, lid on top, Bob's your uncle. No stings.

Tomorrow I will remove the packaging and probably feed them some more. Good thing I have a couple of gallons of syrup made up. I may need to wield the smoker, exciting!

The orange trees and mystery citrus have started blooming, also the sticky monkey flower and azalea, so hopefully they will get well established with nectar soon. I've relocated the hive so it isn't immediately visible from my backdoor, which will probably reduce the cloud of bees filling the backyard effect somewhat (I enjoyed that, but I don't know how comfortable I would be having guests on the patio with that going on), but I also put in a pathway of stepping stones over to where they are so it's easy enough to go check them out.
multipurposegoddess: (Default)
That "incentive pay" check? Can't deposit it because it's made out to "The Estate of...". My bank tells me I need to go to court and be declared the executor of the estate and open a separate account just for that. I can't even think about going to court, it's too absurd. There's no estate, he didn't have any property that we didn't hold in common.

Then they tell me I have to close my account to take H off of it. I've had that account for ~40 years, I don't want to close it! I can't learn a new account number. Not to mention that I'm not really eligible to open an account with this credit union anymore, so I don't know how that would work. I just can't even deal with it right now, my brain totally shuts down whenever I try to think about it.

In nicer, but also surprising news - I got one of those Dog Breed DNA tests done on Walter. We've always figured him to be mostly Border Collie and Australian Shepherd. The trainer we went to for obedience training thought we could get him some sort of waiver to be able to compete in AKC agility tests, because he looks so clearly Border Collie. And yet, according to the DNA lab, he's over 75% German Short-haired Pointer with no other breeds listed. And looking at Googled images of the breed and reading the description, I can see it. Show GSPs are disqualified for having any black (they are supposed to be liver and white) and he's all black and white, so maybe some breeder dumped his parents for being the wrong colors. When we first got him we speculated that he had some kind of pointer in him, because he would go into the classic pose (one paw raised and lined up under his nose) whenever he saw something interesting (like a horse or a bird or a rustling bush). And he would probably like everything about hunting except the guns - he really doesn't like loud noises, but swimming, running over rough terrain, and flushing game are all good times and he would love it if I was stricter with his training. So maybe instead of yearning for a flock of sheep all this time he has been wishing I would take up bow hunting.

In OTHER other news, I can pick up my bees on Saturday! Yay!
multipurposegoddess: (Penguin Cookie Jar)
Ran up to Sacramento with Mom to order my bees. Chatted with one of the owners about the state of my curent hive body - she thinks it'll be fine and I might even attract another wild swarm before the packaged bees are available, in which case I can cancel the order or get two hives going. They expect the bee packages to be ready for pick-up the second week in April. IIRC I'll probably want a second hive body 6 weeks after that, end of May. I'll probably go for a little earlier or later than that, come to think of it.

Picked up some beeswax Hannukah candles, since I had such trouble finding candles this last year and they were there, and a Hibernation Diet book, because I am all for hibernation in general. Also, honey chocolate mints because yum.

Then we had lunch at a Vietnamese-Chinese Restaurant that the GPS found for us. Roast Duck Pho (not the real name, but that's how I think of it) = nom. And leftovers, so future nom.

Tomorrow is Tu B'Shvat, I think I will observe by planting my sprouted avocado pit and assorted other gardening. I don't think I'm up for putting another tree in he ground just yet, but in a pot I can do.
multipurposegoddess: (Default)
Mom has a wicked sore throat (even sounded bad through the phone) and she really wants to go to the Bee Supply store with me, just because it is a fun place to visit, so we'll try again when she's feeling better. - maybe tomorrow, probably next week. Also it is raining and I am lazy and have a kitten sleeping on my arm, so not getting a lot done so far today.
multipurposegoddess: (Fire)
 My sister and her family came out, and I took them to the new Aquatics Complex that I've been meaning to get to since it opened in February, and it was really cool. I swam a length and half, we all collectively remembered/figured out how to swim the side stroke and breast stroke, some of us (not me) dove and tried the water slides (nephew's verdict, not enough time sliding to be worth the waiting in line). My sister and I got in trouble for walking against the current in the "lazy river", but now I know that I can go do that in the mornings when it's allowed (and cheaper than the "recreational swim" time that we were there today), so that's good. Then we got the Mexican food that we couldn't get yesterday because the restaurant was closed and got to go browse around my local comic shop, which is always a good time. Came home and there were bees visibly flying around in the backyard and going in and out of the hive, but when I lifted the lid I still could only see one or two. Possibly they are deeper in the hive and harder to see? I don't know. It occurred to me that if the swarm was an older queen who left a previous hive, it might be time for a new queen already and that would make for changes that I'm not all that clear on. I'll keep feeding them and hope for the best, I guess.
multipurposegoddess: (Default)
 I went to feed the bees this morning and peeked in to see how many frames they were on today as they have been going through sugar water fast the past week or so.

No bees. None. 

Having the bees seems to have been a load-bearing card in this house I've been building. It doesn't look like today will be a day in which I get dressed and do things.
multipurposegoddess: (Rat)
The bees are in the hive, in the backyard, and have a feeder jar full of sugar water.  My neighbors across the street are all into it and ready to be given honey - the dad came and watched the bees being moved and asked a bunch of questions. Of course, they are not within that 50 ft, but still. My neighbors either side of me I can talk to, and my neighbor behind me might actually be 50 feet away from the hive. Haven't decided how to proceed yet.
multipurposegoddess: (Tattoo)
So, while I was still just worried that Henry wasn't answering his phone, I found a swarm of bees in the tree in my front yard. From what I've learned since then, it must have been there for a few days at least - I found it because an empty honeycomb had fallen onto my lawn.

I decided to try to keep it. Partially just the synchronicity of it all, when I found them. Partially just, you know, yay bees. They're disappearing all over the place and here some show up in my yard, I'd like to try to take care of them as best I can.  And partially because Henry had a real fascination for emergent phenomena and bees have that in spades - individuals with a limited number of instinctive actions that as a collective can carry out crazy complex things. Also, honey is good.

Of course, I couldn't do much about that right away. My mom and sister went up to Sacramento and found a beekeeping supply house that set me up with a beginning beekeeping kit including a hive and frames and whatnot. We got it all set up with a feeder full of sugar water hoping the swarm would just move in, but that didn't happen. I finally called a swarm removing volunteer from a local list and told him I didn't want them removed but I did want help getting them into the hive and he is on his way.

Sweet.

Drat, someone just called from the city and said that looking at my property it doesn't seem as if I can place a hive so it will comply with the ordinance (50 ft from everyone else, basically). I had assumed that putting it in the middle of my backyard would work. Oh well, still going to try and capture it and then we'll see what we shall see. Kinda wish I hadn't bothered to ask for a permit, but I do like to be legal. If I can't comply, maybe I can apply for a variance, or maybe I will have outlaw bees.

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