Monthly Archives: June 2009

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.

Plums. Man, have we got plums…

It’s that time of year again. Our two plum trees are ripening and fruit is beginning to drop (in addition to the walnuts the squirrels throw at us… but that’s another thread.)

Anyway, Steve and I had guitar practice yesterday and between songs you could hear, “thump”, “thump”, “thump” coming from the back fence / corner area. Yep, it was the plums dropping to the ground… kinda like a towel-covered base drum being hit (almost) in perfect time. After practice I headed out and picked them up… probably about 5 lbs in the bag (with another 5 lbs on the ground that we won’t keep).

If you’re a local, in the neighborhood and want some fresh plums, shoot me a note / gimmeacall and you’re welcome to have some. (This big bag is going to my barber and her shop but there will be another bag that will hit the ground today, so no worries.)

And squash… well, the squash have exploded, too, so if you like squash (we have 4 types), stay tuned.

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

TwoBigCats Campbell Honey available


Having put on my first honey super the other day (as opposed to Super Honey, which happened years ago. ahem.), it appears our girls are in full production mode and making tons of TwoBigCats Campbell Honey (a product of Bright Orange Software, Inc. – hey, honey’s soft and some people wear it from time to time. OverSharing, are we? πŸ˜‰


I need to review / understand / follow Fed / State / Local / Natural laws on making honey available to “the public”, but since I’ve started getting inquiries about getting some TBC Campbell Honey, I thought I would outline the basics as I see ’em:

I don’t really want to be in the honey-selling business but I DO want to get rid of the honey our gals produce, so I’ve decided to make it available via two methods:

Allow people to “sponsor” 1/2 frame of a hive and when harvest time rolls around, they receive 1/2 of the honey from that frame. What’s a frame you ask? Read on and find out…

  • Each “hive” consists of boxes called “supers”. Each hive has two large “brood” supers .

  • Each “super” has 10 wooden frames with a piece of “foundation” in them. The bees use each side of the foundation to build comb for eggs / larvae / pollen / honey storage.

  • Our honey supers are “medium” supers, as opposed to “standard” or large. (the reason for using medium vs large is ease of handling… a full, large supe weighs 90 lbs πŸ™

Our “reserve program” consists of:

  • A donation of $10 to reserve one side of a frame’s honey production. My sense (Because I don’t have great experience with it just yet) is this should produce slightly > than 1qt / lb of campbell honey, though there are no guarantees. (As I understand it, honey is sold by the pound). By comparison, a qt / lb of our honey sold post-harvest will likely be $15+.
  • Participation in harvest day… much like when everyone got together to make Pomegranate Jelly over the years, but stickier and Pooh-Bear delicious.


You’re gonna pay out the kazoo for it – at least $15.99 a qt / lb and likely $18+. Times are hard, bees gotta eat. If you need it shipped, you’re gonna need another kazoo πŸ˜‰

So if you’re interested in reserving / sponsoring a frame / helping with the harvest of this year’s honey (You can choose your hive, Freddie or Ray ;), just shoot me a note and let me know and we can take it from there.

And, just in case you’ve never had any of our honey, well… it’s uh-mazing stuff.

Although in some ways I wish it did, our honey really doesn’t pour like some dreamy, backlit commercial or film you’ve watched. No, our honey is so jam-packed with pollen (great source of protein and – apparently – has helped eliminate my hay fever / seasonal allergies this year) and has such a low water content that it doesn’t pour (at all) unless the jar is heated in hot water first. Great stuff, but not for honey-sissies.

As always, thanks for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work… I’m off to research the issues surrounding selling Bright Orange Software’s, TwoBigCats Campell Honey πŸ™‚



One day, Two Beeks(!)

It’s Father’s Day here in America, so Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere πŸ™‚

Joanne and I headed out on an amble-through-Campbell bike ride this morning (picture perfect weather, btw) and as we cruised down one road through the next, we came across a woman we’d met a year ago… working in her large garden, just as she had been a year ago when we met. Her name is Joanne. In addition to having one heck of a (working) garden, I recalled her husband as being a beekeeper. (A beek)

We stopped to chat for a few minutes and I was astounded to hear that this season he’s already harvested ~400 pounds. At 1 lb. per quart, that’s a lot of honey – and we’re not even half way through the season. As I peppered her with questions, she finally said, “I’m not the beekeeper, go ’round front and I’ll have him come out and talk with you.” And so she / he did.

Nice fella. Like most beeks I’ve met (not many, btw) he wasn’t exactly a fashion plate kinda dresser. In fact, I swear he had on the same sweats as the beek I met a few weeks back over in Saratoga.

Anyway, he came out and introduced himself: “Name’s Jim but everybody calls me Fuzzy”. Turns out (no surprise) he knows Mr. C. We spent about 15 minutes with me asking questions, him answering… probably the longest 15 minutes of his life πŸ˜‰ He looked like he was starting to wilt a bit so we bid him adieu and pedaled to the next street over where, rumor had it, another beek lived.

One down, one to go.

I think I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, but I’ve come to the conclusion that beeks have a different perspective on flora and fauna and the relationship it plays in our lives. In days gone by, I thought it was important to remove / kill any / all weeds on our property. Ugly. Ruined our lawns. Made the property look crummy.

After becoming a beek, I began to look at weeds as food sources for our bees. Nectar and pollen are what our bees need and, don’tchaknow, weeds have some of both. And when they are converted in to honey that I eat, my allergies get reduced to non-issues – no drugs. no shots. no surgery. The just go away. (or should I say, after 38 years of terrible suffering from hayfever / allergies, I no longer have any symptoms. Could be our local honey. Could be the allergy gremlins just moved on to pimp somebody else – it’s your call as to which you believe.)

Where was I… oh yes, returning to our amble, as I turned the corner on the street where I thought the other beek lived, I looked for the front yard area that appeared unattended… dry grass (if any), weeds… you know, raggedy. And I went up, knocked on the door and asked if this was the house of the beek.

Lucky guess on my part, eh? πŸ™‚

Turned out to be true. It was before noon and it was a Sunday, so she wasn’t exactly ready for unexpected company / drop-in visitors, so we chatted for a few moments (we have a friend in common) and said our good-byes.

Two beeks, nice bike ride and Father’s Day… doesn’t really get any better does it?

Sure it does: I cooked one of the Abalone I caught on Thursday for mid-day Supper. Herbed rice, brocoli and Ab… just like “back in the day”.

Two beeks, nice bike ride, Father’s Day and a wonderful Ab dinner… doesn’t really get any better does it?

Sometimes it does: Owen and Scott called today and we had good discussions about life and the challenges / rewards of being a good parent.

Just doesn’t get any better, does it?

No, I’m not sure it does.

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!”

So, about those jam / jelly jars…

Recently we’ve received cases of jam / jelly jars from multiple people who like our goodies but are out of the area. (Although you’d think it would happen as a matter of routine, “local” recipients don’t often return the jars and receive their refills.)

Anyway, we know this may sound just a little strange to some but if you’ve got to buy & ship cases of jars to us, we’d much prefer that you contribute that amount to a charity / cause of your choice! Seriously, we appreciate the thought but are pleased to provide you with the goodies and have the organization of your choice benefit from your generosity instead of us.

Ok, enough on that. Overnout.

Meeting new (fruit tree) neighbors…

Yesterday I was returning from Nob Hill and took an alternative to San Tomas Aquino / Winchester… I took the route I often do when I’m on my bike and I want to cruise a neighborhood and “smell their flowers” a bit. (ok, these days I’m really looking for other beekeepers πŸ™‚

Anyway, I was driving Joanne’s car and not long after I turned on to the new street with lots of old, old houses, what appeared to be a Chihuahua puppy darted out in the street, across my path. Cute little guy with a plastic flea collar on his neck and hanging down by the ground. I slowed and, speaking to him, asked if he’d come visit. Not a chance, but he did run in to the yard of the house immediately to my right. So I pulled in to the property and was immediately aurally assaulted by a wiry small-dog-on-a-rope (very different than soap on a rope, btw) who was making it clear I wasn’t welcome. Not a very attractive dog, kinda like a bottle brush with mange.

Anyway, I called “hello” a few times while bottle-brush kept up the barking attack and after about 5 minutes the proverbial little ol’ guy came out to greet me. I told him about the puppy in the street and he apologized (no need!) and said he’d gotten out a few times lately… the puppy was only 4 months old. Cute puppy, very friendly until bottle-brush started in on me again.

Anyway, while I was standing there, I was struck by the number of fruit trees and beautiful flowers on the property. To tell you the truth, the house and the property could have used some sprucing up but the fruit trees and rose bushes were gorgeous. Clearly, the little ol’ guy had his priorities straight.

Turns out he’s from Austria and as we discussed fruit trees / rose bushes, I made sure to let him know I was a beekeeper… it always leads to interesting conversations. As soon as I mentioned it, his eyes lit up and he told me when he was a boy in Austria in WWII, his father had 30 hives. With sugar at a premium / unobtanium, they used to eat and sell all the honey they could get from the bees. We talked a little bit about his childhood experiences with bees / honey and his current experience with his fruit trees – he consumes all that he grows! (looks like about 10 trees, but I didn’t go in to the back yard area.)

Anyway, if you’re at one of our neighborhood gatherings and you see a “new” little ol’ guy with white hair, twinkling eyes and an Austrian accent, you’ll know it’s him.

I’ve taken some pics lately but don’t have time at the moment to post them… hope to over the next few days.

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


Doves, doves, doves…

You may remember last week when I posted some random pics that included our new baby doves? (

As they say, they grow up and leave so quickly… the following pics were taken of them in the time since that last post. (Click the pic to see full details)

Here they are in the birch over the patio on their first morning as fledglings – who knew they would fly in their first day?! I call this picture, “I’ve got your back” as they are sitting tight, next to each other, facing in opposite directions… likely to keep an eye open for predators (Coop, the vegetarian Cooper’s Hawk that lives in our neighborhood.)

Here they are on the ground, apparently warming themselves on the rocks. Over the next few days I would find them foraging in the bushes / plants for seeds, bugs, etc. No doubt they were trying to retain cover from Coop, too.

Don’t know where this one’s sibling was, but this one was keeping itself pretty warm and snuggly on the patio umbrella. As I went out to shoot the pics, I said in a low-key voice, “Keep your eyes open for Hawk – it’s always looking for food and you’re on the menu.” (No acknowledgment from the dove, btw.)

I took this picture on Wed morning, through the screen in my office window. Here they are sitting on the fence, spending time together again… keeping one another company. As I stood up to take their picture, I said to them, “You be careful of the hawk” and I called Joanne in to see them. She left after a few moments and no more than 5 minutes later, damned if a Cooper’s Hawk didn’t drop out of the sky – wings flapping, legs / talons extended, trying to grab them – and darned near got one of them.

BAM! The one on the left managed to make it to the fir tree not 5 feet to the left, the one on the right flew through the citrus trees to the right. Hawk tried flapping it’s way in to the fir tree but got caught up in the jasmine, so turned around and stood its ground on the fence. I tried to shoo it away but it wasn’t about to leave two oh-so-close meals without a fight.

So I headed out of my office, around the house and (trying to get a picture of it for you), it spooked and flew off. I was sweating bullets about the babies until I saw them later in the day but reached the conclusion that it was Darwin / nature at work and they’d all have to figure it out for themselves. Right?

Yup. So, know what’s really funny? As I’m typing this on Thurs night, the two babies have just landed on the fence outside my office again and are watching me as I sit behind the display.

I’ve got more carving show pics to post and will do that over the weekend.

As always, thx for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work.
btw, It occurred to me after I posted this (so I’ve come back to edit) that some might wonder why in the world I would care about a couple of baby doves, or the baby black squirrel who seems to have taken up residence here… or the hummingbirds, finches, etc.

Good question.

I care because their presence is good for the health and well being of our property and neighborhood. Birds eat lots of insects and seeds and “redistribute” them throughout the gardens / neighborhood where they improve the condition of the soil (also spreading weeds, no doubt, but I’ve already told you how I feel about weeds now that I’m a beekeeper πŸ™‚ I also feel like their songs – the hummingbirds are unique (besides, they’re such characters) and the finches sound great, the cooing of the doves is relaxing and if you listen carefully enough, you can begin to hear different meanings in the sounds squirrels make as they chatter throughout the day.

So that’s why I care. (in case you care why I care πŸ˜‰