My bees will make honey and your garden will bloom.
I’m in the honey
My first harvest is in! The process is pretty straight forward but too sticky to photograph.
First, I selected frames that were completely full of honey and capped by the bees with wax. The bees know when the moisture content is just right. I only took six frames from one of my three hives. I “encouraged” the bees to leave the frames with a stiff shake and a gentle brush.
The honey house was ready with a honey extractor, wax uncapping knife, 5 gallon food grade bucket and lots of jars. The wax is sliced off the honeycomb, then two frames are centrifuged and the honey is flung to the sides of the extractor drum where it slowly drips downward. Turn the frames over and repeat, and repeat.
Next the honey, which still had bits of wax in it, is poured and filtered into the 5 gallon bucket and from there is poured into individual jars. The label design came later.
There were about 8 quarts of honey, after the 1/2 cup I licked off my fingers, and it’s worth its weight in gold. Given my investment, that comes to about $275 a quart. Now I know why it is called liquid gold!
Everyone needs a road trip now and then
And this jeep does it with style, with a crocheted wheel cover.
We went to a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and had some time to explore the Park, take the waters, and swim in a beautiful pool.
Last weekend, we visited Gloucester, MA for a dear couple’s 50th anniversary party. A fabulous thunderstorm rolled through our first night and hung directly overhead for quite a while. Very dramatic. We don’t get thunderstorms like that in the Adirondacks. The mountains catch them before they can reach our “Pleasant Valley”. The grey weather persisted through the weekend.
Next time we’ll be more careful about reading the fine print in an Airbnb listing. The first night, while it stormed, we both rolled into the middle of the little pull out couch‘s mattress. Tim took matters into his own hands and moved it to the floor for the second night. One of us slept beautifully.
There’s a good chance a group of my bees are enjoying their own road trip. One hive may have swarmed. They were gathering and talking about it for a couple of days.
I’ll inspect their hive this weekend to see if there is still a queen present, or in the making. In the meantime, I sampled some of their honey. It was light colored and delicious. I can hardly wait until they share it with me.
and the living is easy
Summertime in the Adirondacks is stunning but brief. The growing season is only four months but is packed with beauty.
Tim is already swimming in the ponds. I hesitate, to his dismay: too cold, too windy, too many weeds reaching for my legs and arms. And now I have heard snapping turtles ply these waters. I’ll wade in soon when the deeper lakes warm up.
My local beekeepers’ group met at my hives last week and declared they are doing fine. All three have queens, are laying eggs and gathering honey. That means one hive raised a queen all by itself.
They selected an egg, plumped it up with royal jelly, she hatched, took her maiden flight, mated with a few drones, and made it back to the hive without getting picked off by a bird or dragonfly. And there she will remain for the rest of her days.
Perhaps I will get at least one jar of honey in July. This nectar bloom is short and sweet.
We moved to the Adirondacks in the winter of 2009 after only coming up in the snow. How lucky to find summer is even better.
and then there were three, maybe
More bee stories, my latest passion. My hive survived the winter and it looked so strong, I decided to split it into two. In the meantime, I had also purchased a package (roughly 3 pounds) of bees with a queen.
I bought lumber to build a couple of hive stands and a new step for my she-shed-bee-shed.
Grandkids were here and we literally spent hours watching the bees bring back pollen. And they made me wear a tiara all weekend (doesn’t everyone have one in their bag of tricks) because I was the princess bee and they were the brother worker bees. I decided not to delve too deeply into the drones’ (male bees) role and demise.
All looked honky dory until I did a hive inspection today. I knew I would have to wait a month before the split hive showed evidence of a new queen laying eggs.
First, the worker bees have to “create” a queen by selecting and feeding a young larva royal jelly. Then it takes 16 days to hatch a new queen and about a week for her to fly off into the sunset with as many drones as she can find. And she has to make it back to the hive without getting snatched up by a bird as a tasty snack.
Well the original hive and the new package have no new eggs or larvae. But the one I thought was forming a queen, had fresh eggs. I must have mistakenly put her in the new hive. The original hive is trying to make a queen. And the package has some young brood I put in from my original hive so maybe they will make a queen. If not, I’ll put it atop one of the other two. Yikes!
They and the hummingbirds loved our rhododendron, which I could watch from the comfort of my living room chair.
This is quite a learning curve. Tim demonstrated his true love by driving an hour north to pick up my new package of bees when I was out of state visiting my daughter. Then he drove home with them in the car! My hero.
I’ll give them a week and see what happens.
I’m not grounded
There have been a few possible bear events on our little road. I set up the electric fence again to protect the bees and their honey. But I wasn’t convinced it was working and our multimeter died last fall.
I tried to test it with a screwdriver but nothing happened. I sucked it up and grasped hold of the net. I could feel the little piezo spark but nothing more. Last year, I got the full voltage shock and this was not it.
I called the guy I bought the solar energizer from. He suggested I test the energize itself. I ordered the tester.
Tim was concerned we would lose the bees so he was in the process of moving the deer fence over to the bees. I tested first the controller and then the fence and they both were getting 19,000 volts. I called my guy again. I confirmed I still didn’t feel anything.
Then he asked me the most important question, “What shoes are you wearing?” To which I replied, my Muck boots, of course. I always wear those boots with the bees.
Voila, that was the answer. I wasn’t grounded! He told me I could confirm this by holding the fence in one hand and sticking my other hand in the dirt. Or even better, get Tim to touch it in his non-rubberized boots.
I declined. Maybe I am grounded after all.
How can this bee?
It’s cold in the northern Adirondacks, -15 degrees F this morning with about a foot of dry snow on the ground. My bee hive was prepped for this before I abandoned it and went to Maine for most of the winter.
The tilted cover shielding the entrance prevented the snow from blocking it off. Miraculously, I listened with my stethoscope and they are buzzing and humming inside there. How can it be? They are maintaining a temperature of 90 degrees in a small cluster. What a wonder!
Speaking of stethoscopes, I received my second Moderna vaccine and I know I mounted an immune response. I slept for 16 hours the following day. Well worth it. The one time, other than childbirth, I was happy to feel crook.
I wonder which one produced this albino calf? I thought it was a sheep at first glance.
I am starting to see things again. Not woowoo visions but interpreting reality a little differently. It is mostly centered around bees at the moment. On Deal Island, in the past, the rock formations spoke to me.
When I had to make the decision of which way to hang the door on the bee-shed, this knot made the decision for me.
You have to admit you see a bee flying at you. So the door went up and the shed is finished. My “weekend” project took three months and ran behind schedule and over budget. But it provided hours of learning and much welcomed activity as we moved in and out of PAUSE. I may have a little post construction depression (PCD).
It’s easy to see why because it is the cutest shed I ever built. Tim gave me some bee decor for our 14th wedding anniversary and it is the perfect finishing touch.
Now the bees are sending me their own message. Something about a dog.
My daughter lacked the vision but here it is.
Get out of town
After five months at home, I finally took two trips to see my kids. Luckily they are both sort of drivable. I tried to remain dehydrated for the long drives to reduce pit stops. I brought all my food from home so I would not need to shop. Both are located in low infection rate regions. When I returned from my visit with the grandkids I holed up (down) in the basement for two weeks to social distance from Tim.
For some reason, it was still acceptable for me to cook for us on the grill or my outdoor Coleman stove. I couldn’t have done this in winter.
I still had plenty to keep me busy at home. My sheshed is coming along. The trim tidied it up and the roof is shingled – on the hottest day of the year.
My bees weren’t happy with the heat. They are doing well, best I can tell, and defending the hive. Look at this invader they killed. I still don’t know what it is. Maybe a carpenter bee? Definitely not a murder hornet.
I’ve had two stings, both times because a bee got caught in my clothing. Made me wonder if naked beekeeping is a thing.
Chipmunks seem to be all over the place and I’m usually greeted by a few critters on my drive to work.
It looks to me like a seahorse made its way up to cabin and left its mark in the dew.
These seagulls were keeping their distance at the beach. So nice to be near the ocean with the sea breeze and waves. Kids are playing in the sand as if all is well with the world. Let’s hope so.
We are getting used to the new reality, sort of. Zoom meetings and gatherings are torture because our internet is so slow. There have been various initiatives to bring good internet to rural communities but they keep missing us. We continue to write to those in charge.
With everything else – pandemic, racial inequality, poverty to remain active and vigilant about – it is a minor problem. Like so many others, I am reading, introspecting, and supporting what I believe in. And trying to have discussions.
I returned to Facebook after a long hiatus. I especially enjoy it for weaving and knitting groups. I dropped groups where discussions were not respectful. Then a former colleague reposted a pic of the confederate flag with a statement that she was proud of her heritage and this symbol. I was flabbergasted. I composed a well thought out response as to why this symbol is so offensive and posted it. The next day she responded, “I’ve been hacked. How could you think I support this?” Just why I left Facebook before: propaganda. I’m gone again. I will have to work harder to keep up with the groups I enjoy but it’s worth it.
And I have been busy. I cope by being busy. I am working but when home, I flit from project to project. The latest is a shed for my bee and boat stuff. The process is not unlike quilting, just with heavier material.
My bees are another story. They were doing well, then they swarmed, and as a newbee I may have responded too slowly to the signs. One day, while I was working on the shed, I heard a noise like an approaching train. There was a cloud of bees the size of a small car that hovered, as if to say goodbye, then lifted as one and headed up over the hills.
And their new queen was a failure – either she did not develop or got taken out in her maiden flight – so I had to buy a new queen or all would be lost. I brought her home in a little cage in my pocket (to keep her at 90 degrees). All that buzzing so close to me was unsettling but she is now safely installed in the hive. She gets gradually introduced and I needed to buy mini marshmallows – a whole bag, although I only needed one (s’mores!) – to accomplish this. There was a cork n the cage’s entrance. I replaced it with a marshmallow and the bees will eat it to allow her to get out and do her thing. I’ll check tomorrow to make sure she is free.
I will need to leave all the honey for them for the winter but managed to harvest extra wax. So far I’ve made beeswax wraps.
Textile work continues. I have made 3 quilts: 2 baby and 1 king; wove 3 baby blankets; knit a baby sweater, crocheted a baby blanket and who knows what else.
Our bridge is nearly finished and I baked a cake for the workers who worked through rain, snow, subzero and blazing hot temps. It depicts the bridge and the omnipresent crane.
Just doing what I need to do to get through each day.