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Honey harvest (w/Olivia)

Liv’s up for a long weekend so we attacked the 2nd brood frames from Ray, the under-producing hive and here’s where we are as of this moment. (Btw, Ray Davies of The Kinks has said many times that The Kinks didn’t live up to their potential – maybe I should have chosen another frontman’s name for the hive.) Remember to click the pic to see greater detail.

Liv and I both thought the visual on the honey oozing out of the strainer was pretty cool. Even though it was ~90F @ the time, the honey still wept through very slowly.

Ah, the Pot o’ Honey….

Liv’ and I are in complete agreement that keeping bees is like having your own candy factory πŸ™‚

(After harvesting, Liv’ and I picked up some lunch goodies, we ate lunch and I headed off for a nap. Upon waking, I discovered Liv and Joanne had snuck off to see the new Harry Potter… everybody’s a winner, eh? πŸ™‚

Bee doody…

Well, it’s been an interesting time around the ranch the past few weeks.

The pole beans, various yellow squashes, leafy green lettuce and tomatoes have gone crazy. (All the plums from 1 tree are now gone, the other’s about to start dropping so if you’re in the hood, stop by for plums. Please.) Turns out these things are so simple to grow that even I can do it (of course, I’m constantly supervised by the Missus, but that’s another thread.).

Here’s an update on the bees:

Last week I removed the top brood super from Ray and moved the bees to the bottom brood super, keeping the honey frames for harvesting. Today I went in and inspected the lower brood for a Queen and brood of any type – sadly, none to be found at all (though I did witness a baby bee emerging from her cell.) Since I did not locate a Queen or brood of any types and because I’d harvested and jarred the honey (a couple of gallons, it appears) from the top super, I exchanged the lower brood / honey frames and replaced them with the upper super / harvested honey frames… don’t worry, there is still a lot of honey and nectar for the remaining bees). I would like to install the remaining colony members of this hive on top of Freddie (the very strong hive), but because the honey super on Freddie is doing so well (read about it in the next paragraph), I’ll keep them in their current brood super / hive for another week.

About 10 days ago I corrected my improperly installed (don’t ask!) honey super on Freddie and let the girls have some time to settle in. Yesterday I checked in on them and they’re going great guns (!) with 9 of the frames in the honey super completely built out in fresh comb (which is very, very pretty)… and the comb is filled to ~2/3 capacity with uncapped nectar (remember: nectar is >21% moisture content and shouldn’t be combined with honey for storage because the moisture will cause it to ferment). So, I’ll give them another week or so to fill and cap that super (at which time it will be between 21-17% moisture, and therefore, honey) and based on what’s going on in Ray’s hive, I’ll either steal, er, harvest Freddie’s honey super or just place Ray’s remaining super on top of Freddie’s honey super and let nature take it’s course. During this wait time, the bees in Ray will eat and clean up the frames / cells and, I suppose, continue bringing in pollen for stores. (They’re worker bees, it’s what they do.)

Tomorrow I’ll harvest the remaining honey from Ray’s lower brood supes, filter and jar that, too. Then I’ll take those cleaned frames and install them in a “bait hive” that I’ll also dab a bit of lemongrass oil on (the inside) to attract any swarming bees looking for new digs. To sweeten the pot a bit, the cleaned frames will also include brood cells so the bees will have a nice & comfy, proven home to hang their tiny little hats.

If you ever hear anyone say that beekeeping’s easy, ask them to define “easy” for you… It’s not like digging ditches, but there are times when a long-handled shovel or the 9:21 train looks like a pretty good option.

As always, thanks for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work.

btw, from the initial harvest I also recovered a 9″ x 1/2″ round chunk of beeswax that I’ll break up, melt down and form in to a more usable block of wax (via quart milk carton).

Photographer Janie: What a great pic!

I received this pic from our friend, Janie, up in Oregon. She and hubby Kevin had been out kayaking on a local lake, noodling around and taking some pics. Lots of the typical “here we are paddling from our left side, here on our right. Oh, and this one is the back of Kevin’s head” kinda stuff – you know, record keeping (the kind of shooting I do πŸ™

And then she took this one:

Although it reminds me a bit too much of my drinking days, it’s actually weeds in shallow water.

Very nice, Janie – keep up the very cool work! (And, of course, taking pictures of the back of Kevin’s head πŸ˜‰

Hello / Goodbye

In the (nearly) 11 years we’ve lived in our home, the neighborhood’s seen a lot of changes. From where I sit, the changes have been mostly for the better.

Homes have been refreshed pretty much within the character of our historical background, although there have been a few McMansions that might fit better in another area. Neighborhood children have grown and moved off on their own, visiting during school breaks and holidays. Folks have moved out and on to new lives, while others have moved in and to begin new phases of life. (We’ve got some of those within arms reach πŸ™‚ All pretty much normal stuff that, if you’re not careful, might be missed in the daily rush of life.

In this post, I’m writing to acknowledge the return of some former neighbors whom we’re glad to see again and are looking forward to visiting with in the coming months. I’m also writing, though, to say “see ya” to another family that is moving so their child can be in (what they feel is) a more appropriate, nearby, high school district.

We’re glad to see the old timers return and sad to see the older timers go.

I hear there’s a neighborhood gathering in the works to let everyone say (as did the Beatles), Hello / Goodbye πŸ™‚

He drives just like you or me or…?

Just saw this video posted @ a forum I frequent and thought you might enjoy it – even if you’re not a hot-footed, hair-on-fire wannabe driver. This driver is uh-mazing and the video presentation is wonderful… it’s 7 minutes long but (I think) it may be the most interesting 7 minutes of anything I’ve watched in years:



Welcome back, Steve Jobs


I thought it was as great day when he returned to Apple years ago and am very pleased that he’s recovered from his health issues enough to return to work on a limited basis. I’m sure his family and friends are very relieved, but still concerned for his long term health.

With Steve Jobs back on the job today, the world seems a better place.

And in case you’re wondering, no, we don’t own aapl stock, but Joanne was part of the Mac launch activities in ’84 and we’ve been Apple – and Steve Jobs – fans since then.

As always, thx for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work.

Hold your honey…

Yep, it seems in all my excitement of seeing jam-packed honey frames in the 2nd brood supe of Freddie (hive #1, ~75,000 bees in residence) and putting on the 1st honey supe, I may have over anticipated how much honey would be coming our way. I’ll explain.

Yesterday when I went out to check on Freddie’s honey super, it was like a GM factory with a night watchman walking around with a flashlight in there… maybe 3 bees, tops… and not a lick of fresh comb. (Remember that I’d put on a queen excluder – kind of ironic to be using that on a hive named Freddie (Mercury, of Queen), isn’t it? Anyway, I wasn’t feeling the love so I put the cover back on and let them be. (Hive #2 – Ray (Davies) of The Kinks – is filling up nicely with honey and larvae so maybe another week before putting on Ray’s honey super.)

Anyway, I came back in, called Mr. C and explained the “no bee left behind” situation. He ever-so-gently explained to me that the honey flow (nectar collection from flowers used as basis for honey) was just about over and I may have missed it this year.

Fine, I’ll just throw myself in front of the local train.

“Well, how about if I harvest a few frames of honey for our use and let nature take its course?” Well, you could do that but you need to leave enough for them to winter. Ah. The bees have to “winter” and I have to use brown sugar in my coffee instead of TBC Honey. (Man, what’saguygottadotogetabreakaroundhere, anyway?) We hang up and I head to Mr. C’s to rent an electric capping knife (don’t ask.)

This morning Joanne and I headed to Santa Cruz to see the Woodies on the Wharf (no, it’s not an all-nude Chippendale show!) and were back home by 11. We swung by Fuzzies (local beek I mentioned last week) and told him of my situation.

Fuzzy: Are you using an excluder? Yup.
Pull the excluder and they’ll work up, no problem.

Me: What about the honey flow being over?
Locally, we’re running a few weeks behind so it’ll be good for 3+ weeks – the sprites are just now blossoming and they’re a great source… be patient and by the end of August you’ll have two full honey supers on each hive.

So I returned the knife to Mr C, told him of my plans and returned home to an air conditioned house (it was ~100F here today). Ahhhh.

Until about an hour ago when I went out back to remove the excluder. No smoke, just suit / gloves, etc. Popped open Ray to see how they were doing and, boy howdy, they sure move fast when they think they’re being invaded, don’t they? (Note to self: Always use smoke) Popped open Freddie (with Ray’s bees crawling allllllllll around my suit / net, trying to get in my ears, nose, eyes – you name it, they were out for revenge!) and found another roiling mass of 50,000+ bees coming up from inside the hive.

Removed the honey super, queen extractor, put the lid back on, then the cover and I was outtathere… my suit and netting crawling with verrrry angry bees. Eventually I walked over to the sprinkler that was running to water the lawn and stood in the spray until the bees left me alone.

All except the one that stung me in the neck… well, more appropriately, in one of my chins πŸ˜‰ I seemed to have scraped the stinger out before I got out of my suit but went over it again with a knife and have had ice on it for the last 40 minutes or so.

So far so good but the hive is down at least 1 bee as a result of tonight’s work πŸ™ Hate to lose a good worker.

Back to the honey: we’ll see how things progress over the next week or two and if it looks like things “ain’t happenin'” in the honey supe, cover me, I’m going in!

As always, thanks for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work.

I can’t stop myself from posting this… (Not Safe For Children)

(a joke that’s been posted to another forum I belong to.)

A guy out on the golf course takes a high speed ball right in the crotch. Writhing in agony, he falls to the ground, when he finally gets himself to the doctor.

He says, “How bad is it doc? I’m going on my honeymoon next week and my fiancΓ©e is still a virgin in every way.”

The doc said , “I’ll have to put your penis in a splint to let it heal and keep it straight. It should be okay next week.”

So he took four tongue depressors and formed a neat little 4-sided bandage, and wired it all together; an impressive work of art.

The guy mentions none of this to his girl, marries, and on his honeymoon night in the motel room, she rips open her blouse to reveal a gorgeous set of breasts. This was the first time he saw them.

She says, “You are my FIRST, no one has ever touched these breasts.”

He whips down his pants and says… ” Look at this, it’s still in the CRATE!”