Monthly Archives: March 2009

Box ‘o Bees

(Click the pic to see the bees up close.)

Seeing how I’m planning on picking up 2 packages (that would be “colonies” to you, ahem, non apiarists 😉 of bees this coming Saturday, I thought it’d be a good thing to take Mr. Carrier’s “Beekeeping for Beginners” class that was being held last Saturday. (Btw, of course you remember that his website – http://www.carriersbees – is the cat’s meow for Silicon Valley Beekeepers, right?)

Anyway, I showed up at his place at the crack of 10AM and joined another 8 or so folks in his living room to talk about the lives and caretaking of the little buggers. Not long in to our discussion, it was time to watch a PBS-produced video on bees. Not too long in to the video, there appeared to be a swarm of bees forming in Mr. C’s front yard… so we put the video on hold and watched him head out front to check things out.

Sure enough, there were a bajillion bees flying in the yard… and a HUGE ball of them formed around several branches of his almond tree. So what’s Mr. C do? He places a “bee box” (cardboard box with the bottom duct-taped to prevent bees from escaping) under the huge ball of bees on the branch, then grabs a 3-pronged hoe and violently yanks the bee-branch down hard several times. This causes many of the bees to fall – WHUMP! – to the ground, in and around the box.

Bees – by the tens of thousands (!!!) – crawling and flying around so thick if you opened your mouth you’d probably swallow a handful in a second.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. C repeats the process 3 or 4 times in rapid succession… pretty soon, he’s got a pretty good box ‘o bees going.

By now, most of us brave souls have put on our bee-jammies and gone outside to watch the action up close. Now, to be clear, when honeybees swarm, they’re actually migrating to a new location. To survive such an excursion, nature has told them to gorge on honey before leaving their hive / home… so by the time they form up on the tree (which is their way of protecting their Queen and the only reason they exist), they’re just stuffed and want to rest… in other words, they’re extremely passive to humans and other living things.

Anyway, after watching the swarm begin to settle in to the box, we head back in to watch a bit more video; eventually we suit up and head out to his hives to have him walk us through basic hive / brood / colony maintenance. As we’re wrapping up that session, what should happen but yet another swarm began to form in his front yard. (Man, what’saguygottadotogetabreak aroundhere,anyway?) So we got another box while he yanked them down from the tree / branch (same tree, same branch, btw). In 10 minutes they’d all settled into the box, so Mr. C removed the (now empty) observation hive from his “showroom” and repopulated it with the new, “wild” swarm bees.

With 2 swarms in-hand and the class winding down, we called it a day and left Mr. C to populate a new hive with the 1st swarm of the day… the pics you see here are of that swarm. It’s just a guess on my part, but I’m betting there are somewhere between 80-100k bees in that box – notice how their weight is causing the side / top to collapse.

Everyone loved the class and especially enjoyed the multiple swarm activities.

CatGirl – Queen Pandora

A couple of quick snapshots I took over the weekend.

Note how adaptable Pan is to working in the office or supervising out in the yard / garden – yes indeed, she’s a multi-faceted Maine.

As I make this post, she’s asleep, er, checking for light leaks while supervising me from “her” chair in my office that she shares with Alf.

What a luv she is.

So my wife went away with a bunch of men for the weekend…

I mean, what’s up with that?

Well, it turns out that she was attending a three day “green man” carving class over in Livermore. This class photo shows the “rough” final of their project and the following pics show the work in various stages / lighting, etc. These are really worth clicking on to see the full details….

Here’s a nice close-up of the facial details.

En route to becoming the man he was destined to be…

As they say in the U.K., “Early Days”.

Here’s the green-dude very early on in the process… some basic roughing out done and the chips were about to start flying.

Lucky me…

About six weeks ago Joanne and I were in downtown Campbell on a Saturday morning… having a cup of coffee and relaxing a bit. As we were leaving Orchard Valley Roasting, who should we come across but this fine Grey African Parrot (and its caretaker).

Being something of a large-bird fan, I asked the caretaker if I might visit with her Parrot – whose name is French and means “to kiss”. (I’ve run that through Google translator and came up with enough variations that I’ll not attempt to recall its actual name.) The bird immediately came to me and crawled up / down my arms / shoulders and as they often do, began preening me just a bit – apparently I never look quite right to Parrots because they always try to clean me up a bit.

We visited for about 10 minutes – lots of feather stroking, soft-voice talking and human-preening going on – and eventually coaxed the Parrot to return to its caretaker and went our separate ways.

On a personal note, it’s always such a pleasure to visit with even somewhat rancorous Parrots / birds as they usually settle down pretty quickly with me; parting ways with them is often a down-moment for you-know-who.

Dude, we were totally shredding…

Yah, like the other day we were thinkin’, yah, man… dude, let’s shred. So, like, we totally went in to the garage and like, uh, climbed a ladder and took down some stuff. Man, it was wicked-dusty up there with spider-sticky stuff and dirt and.

Uh, whatever.

So then, like, uh… we brought some stuff down – ya know, boxes of stuff – old trophies Joanne won for her dogs “placing” (like what’s that mean, anyway? – they went places? Like I know. Dude.) and we got some other boxes of stuff… like papers and stuff… Some bank stuff from someplace called “Barclays Bank” and another one called “Bank of America” (like they’d use an UnAmerican Bank… shuh!) and a company called I.R.S. (I think they wanted to use the name Google but it was already, like, taken by some math geeks or something).

Anyway, so then we, uh, like, brought all these boxes down and then brought ’em in the house and man, like it was totally like… uh, where was I? Oh, whutever.

So then we put our special clothes on and shredded… like for hours. Or was it four hours… I forget. Uh, whatever. So our gear was getting hot and had to cool down, so we like, uh, kicked back and stuff and then went back and like, uh, totally shredded.

Man, at the end of the day we were like totally bagged. No, dude, I’m serious, I mean we were righteously ripped. Here we are, like, stacked against the wall waiting to go outside for some fresh air.

Translation: We needed to move the wonderful (donated) carvings from the dining room and so decided to put them up in the garage storage area. Since that area was full, we had to decide what to eliminate and what to keep to make room.

“I know – let’s shred papers we no longer need from the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s. Let’s get rid of the stuff we haven’t used in 10 years and maybe we’ll have room for the carvings to be stored.”

So we did and ended up with 12 full bags of shredded materials. Also made some $$’s because while I was up there, I discovered the original saddle & windshield to my ’93 Honda ST1100 “red rocket” that I sold back in ’99 ish. Listed those on craigslist and sold them in 2 days for asking price. (Pricing was modest and the buyer was kind 🙂

Dood, shred on!

A different kind of senior moment…

Longtime / childhood friend, Rocket Scientist Alan (you know, I’ve never heard anybody call him “Al”!) sent this photo today and thought it was worth posting. Reminds me a bit of the slogan from “back in the day”: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
(CLICK THE PIC TO SEE THE FULL DETAILS, just in case you’ve got Senior Eyes)

Rock(et) on, Alan 🙂

Busy as a, well, bee…

These are not my bees, but are local bumble bees cruising through our wisteria off the back deck. I discovered them yesterday when I ambled out back to water the quince tree, lettuce and potatoes plants in the garden, then freshen up the lavender and roses out by the pond… it’s been warming up the past few days so things are drying out a bit quicker.

Anyway, as I exited the sunroom I heard a fair amount of rumbling sound coming from the other end of the deck. When I went to check it out, I found the wisteria was, um, buzzing with activity. Here are a few shots I snapped while Pan supervised from her chair in the shade, just outside the sunroom. (Remember to click the pic for the large, full detail image.)

A little bit of flying going on here…

Hey, get a hive you two!

Boomshakala – this stuff is good!

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to write when you get work 🙂

Dee’s favorite: First days of Spring…

This morning as Pan and I were reading the paper on the front room couch @ 5:30, the smell of the bouquet of fresh flowers drifted in from the foyer. Every time I smell fresh flowers in the house, I think of Delilah.

Dee was the kind of cat who absolutely had to brush up against, crawl over or through any fresh bouquet of flowers that came in the house. Naturally, this led to more than a couple of vase-spills over the years, but it’s just how things were: I brought the flowers in, Joanne put them in a vase and they went to the dining room table, the sideboard in the foyer, on our dresser or on my desk… no matter where they went, that’s where Dee was within minutes.

So these past few days as I walk through the citrus grove, seeing and smelling the just-blooming Lilacs, or look out my office window to see the just-blooming Jasmine, or out of our bedroom to see the Wisteria coming to life again, I can’t help but think of Dee and her love of fresh flowers. (And when I look out our bedroom window, I see the Cherry tree in full bloom and beautiful Daphne beside it. sigh.)

Spring is here and we still miss Dee – in all of her catitude – as if she’d just left us yesterday.

But I do have some good news to share: I am beginning to near the production release of my professionally-focused book / materials / software and when that’s out the door, I can begin turning my attention to The Legend of The Two Big Cats on Walnut Drive. (And if you pay attention to the video’s for my products, I bet you’ll recognize some characters you’ve heard me talk about over the years.)

Wherever you are, be safe.