Saturday, September 8, 2012

Do as I say, NOT...

Sometime in the far distant past, like about 2 months ago, a group of robbers ganged up on my number three hive and killed it completely. By the time I figured out what was happening and after a trip, it was too late.

Jump ahead to 3 or 4 days ago and I looked out and the same thing was happening at a stronger hive.  I called "Carl" and he told me what to do. I had already almost closed off the hive but he said to lock it down completely. Hmm, much easier said than done. The bees did not like my interfering with their life even though I was trying to save their lives and the life of the hive. Ungrateful little buggers.

He also said to turn the hive 180° . Yessir, that was nearly impossible and it nearly caused me to get stung several times. OK, so the bees came out in a mad scientist swarm and stung me so many times through my jeans and up my pants leg and on my ankle and a dozen or 20 other places that I had to retreat and get far away from them. Being in pain is not my idea of fun.

Part of that was my fault because the top hive body was so heavy I could hardly carry it and it slammed down causing the bees to let me know that I should not treat their hive in such a manner. After another try I got the bottom hive body turned and the second one on top again. I abandoned shutting the hive further until they calmed down as I just said, being in pain is not my idea of fun. I didn't mention it was 105° F when all this was happening. Bees are sorta like humans as they  also get irritable in the heat.

I got them closed up and there were many bees who did not get to get inside before the confinement. They were not happy and bees do not write letters to the editor, they take direct action. It was chancy going into the back yard for a while. Of course, the lawn mower man came and he is afraid of the bees on a normal day so he was very apprehensive when I told him what they were like today. I told him to just do what he was comfortable doing and he actually did everything. Same with the man who put on weed killer and fertilizer. He was stung three times but they did not bother him when he was moving. About dark O'clock I opened the top for the other bees to get in and go to bed  --  or whatever bees do at night.

Yesterday the other hive was being attacked so I closed it off and put a help message on the bee message board. Dane sent a "call me" message so I did. Later that evening we talked for about 45 minutes and I found I had actually done some things correctly. I haven't been very close to the hives today but I must go out and check them and get the one I closed, and then reopened, closed again. Then the west hive needs closing completely. I am having a very difficult time in getting the entrance reducers to stay in place. I am beginning to think the bees all get together and push in unison so the reduced board will fall out. I will sneak up on them and nail that sucker in place if I have to.

All three hives seem to be strong and full of bees. I hope to have enough bees to start my own nuc next spring. Dane thinks I can do all three early and one of them again in May. That would be nice.

We'll see - so stay tuned.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

After months of delay, I hope to keep up with this a little better.
Today - May 27, 2012, I fixed my newly acquired nuc into a permanent place. I brought them home yesterday from Carl's who kept them whilst I was in Australia. They have already outgrown the nuc status and are now a full hive. Their 10 frames were not completely grown out but that box was full! Now they can get busy filling out the rest and adding bees so they can get through the winter. But first, in Oklahoma we have the horrid summer to get through.
I do not know when I will get time to do all that is needed to get my "beezness" up where it should be. Some problems but not time for solutions yet.
We'll see how this week goes with cleaning the garage, moving 'stuff' back into the house and still trying to keep up with bees.
I had rather work with the bees.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wellsir, there are probably several easy to read reasons why, but I lost two hives in the last two-three weeks. The lawn service promised me that the poison they used wouldn't hurt my bees but something caused an immediate collapse of one and a lingering death of the other. It appears to me to be too coincidental.
I checked with an experienced beek and she told me to close them up the day ahead of the service and not open again until the next day. That seems risky during the summer but I cannot afford to lose another so i guess I will.
One hive make swarm while I am gone. I hope it is still in one piece as I plan on making a split with it. It may decide to make its own split.
I asked about a queen some guy put on the beek message board but it will probably be tomorrow before I hear back. I have asked Greg two years in a row for a queen but he either "forgets' or really does forget. In either case, I did not get a queen.
I hope to live for 50 more years as I want to learn enough about bees to actually raise them.
Ah well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traveling Considerations

                                              Being Creative About Traveling

Getting ready for a trip always has some moments of decision. Getting ready for a long trip adds to the stress of deciding about  things to take. Getting ready for a very long trip to the opposite weather conditions adds may just add a great deal of stress. Yes, we are going back to Australia and it is approaching winter down there.
      Some of you will remember that I was in Broken Hill, Australia when Oklahoma was going through its record breaking heat. I sent back messages about shivering and the cold and I never received any responses that were kind and sympathetic. The only messages I received were more of a “shut-up!” mode and some hinted at ... well, we shall not go there.
      Yes, I knew it was winter there but Broken Hill is in the desert region and should not have been bone chilling cold. It should have been just medium cold. As you have guessed, I survived and learned a valuable lesson. Never trust the internet to provide useful information about weather - or politics. After about a week the weather turned Oklahoma proud and I could sit in the sun and enjoy my cuppa whilst reading a novel. We Aussies do that a lot.
      Now that the airlines know they can gouge you for almost everything, packing has become an art form. The weight of a bag has a great deal to do with your travel. Traveling internationally will allow one to carry on heavier pieces and to ship two pieces of luggage. In economy, the weight limit is 50 pounds. Now that sounds like a great deal but if you are doing international travel you may expect to take more than one change of clothes. Add in all the “stuff” the average woman needs for her up keeping and you can see the limit can be reached in a hurry.
      Sure, you are correct that you can take two bags internationally, but how would you plan on handling 100 pounds of luggage plus your carry on plus all the papers you need. I have been in air ports, uhh, excuse me, “terminals” in several different countries and almost all of them do not give a flip about your convenience. The terminal people are much more interested in having a good shopping area for you to pay 50% more to get hospital gift shop quality junk. The international terminal in Sydney is a case in point.
      After you arrive, you must go about eleventeen kilometers to get to the processing centre. Its official name is “customs” and you need to be able to follow the herd to find it. You should pick out someone who acts/looks as though they have been there before and try to keep up with them. Aussies do not do signage very well. Then there is the problem of getting to your next flight after you finally get through customs.  Sometimes you may have time to get you bag from the luggage place and still get through customs without having heart pounding stress trying to catch your next flight.
      “Ah,” you say, “but modern luggage is easy to handle. The pieces have those wheels that turn and allow you to go about anywhere.” My answer is, fifty pounds weighs fifty pounds no matter what container it is in. If all you had to do was pull it along, then that would be great. But do not expect a genii to appear at the counter and lift you bags onto the scales nor off the carousel when you claim it.. And do not think that all airline employees are from Canada and are friendly and courteous. Somewhere you will meet up with Hilda the Hun and she will do a number on you. You will learn to smile through the tears of frustration.
      Here in the USA we have surrendered most of our personal rights to the security laws. The people dressed in those uniforms can treat you in a manner that was totally inappropriate not too long ago. I have been patted down by more men than I ever thought would happen to me when I was growing up. I left a handkerchief in my pocket once and had a 10 minute investigation. One other time I must have moved during the Xray process as i got to go through the patting again. If I were of the proper mindset I might enjoy that but having a man run his hands up and down and patting me places is not my idea of a good way to start a vacation.
      Ah, but then we get to do it all over for the trip home

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

 Sunday (today) I finally got to fill the bee feeders in my three hives. I got all dressed out as if I were going to war. That almost happened. 
The East hive hardly noticed me at all but I think there may be a problem there. There were several dead bees at the entrance and I saw bee workers carrying out other bee bodies. Hopefully, this action was normal but I haven’t seen so many at once before. There may be somebody at the bee club meeting who can give me a clue. Out of the 150+ members who come to a meeting, 149 know more than me, or it feels that way. Wh
en the sun comes out and it is a nice morning, I shall open up and inspect the entire hive structure.

The West hive did their thing and let me know how unwelcome I was but once I go the feeder installed they pretty much left me alone. This, I think, is my weakest hive so they may have other issues on their mind. This hive has improved dramatically over the past few weeks as the weather has improved. 
Then I went back to the Corner hive and that hive appeared to be so over full they may be getting ready to swarm. I hope not, at least unless I am here and they stay in my yard. The boxes were so stuck together I had to use a crowbar to get them unstuck. This was not conducive to good relations with the denizens of said hive. They decided I was the enemy and acted accordingly. 

Now I must warn you, the scene I am about to describe is unusual and caused by mistakes on my part. Bees are only aggressive when they feel threatened. IF I could speak bee, after this was all over I certainly would have threatened them aggressively. But not this time.

The day was cloudy and overcast and had dark clouds moving in. I couldn't wait any longer as I was sure they have been without food for a few days. I also wanted to add a super so they would start making me some honey. That took way too long and I could not get the outer lid to fit. 
There were bees attacking from all directions, in my boots, inside my gloves and where ever else they could find or make a place to punish me. Swarms came flogging up and tried to get my face first, then the other areas. I could not find my real gloves nor the smoker before I began which is always a mistake. However, I didn’t think I could wait any longer so I decided to go for it. Things in the garage are so messed up I may not find my stuff for a long while. I shall never attempt anything with these girls without a smoker and proper gloves as I may have learned my lesson.
I was swatting and jumping and yelping and swatting and whacking my hands where the bees got inside my gloves and one even got way down in my boot. I had my pants inside my boots and had the pants legs tied with a long 'string.' That sure worked as only one bee got inside my pants. NO, I do not know how that was possible as I also had on a belt around my tee shirt UNDER my bee jacket which has a tight waist.
The bees followed me off so I went over to the East hive so they would know they were in enemy territory. Neither hive paid attention to the other hive. Finally they all gave up and went home. I made the mistake of going back to the Corner hive and trying to collect all my equipment. They said, "Are you serious? We got rid of you once and we can do it again." And here they came, only about twice as many this time and probably twice as aggressive.

I finally sat on the patio and swatted bee after bee. When the number got down to two I was ready to jump into the house and slam the door. Evidently they have better communications than people realize as the number of attackers increased to about seventy-five or so. 
Now I was just sitting there, I had left their hive in better shape than it was, I was no longer bothering them so why the aggression? I have it figured out. 

They are all females and they thought I had scorned them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today is Saturday, April 7 and it has been cool and rainy today. I did make a gallon and half of 1x1 sugar water to promote brood.  At least that is what I have been told.
Since it was raining and I had to get more done about moving back in from the garage, I did not attempt to refill their feeders.
Last week when I tried to put in a feeder I was attacked by a swarm of angry bees. The weather was cloudy and a storm front was moving in, I found out later. This hive is usually the nicest disposition hive so I never expected to be swarmed. Also, there was some doubt as to their survival.
Man, if that feeding episode is any indication, they are going to survive. But now i am just waiting on the sun to shine for a while so I can feed all three hives.
I truly hope the 1x1 feed really does promote brood growth.
Also, I need to get into the north hive as I think they may need a super and i do not have any supers ready.
Yep, this moving furniture to get new carpet has caused major delays in the bee business.
However, I have managed to read several books so that hasn't been a loss.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I have -0- idea how the "and furthermore" got on bees and books. It was not supposed to, but since it is here, and I have yet to be able to remove it, I hope someone enjoys it.
I have lost a hive of bees. A hive I thought was doing well. They had plenty of food, etc stored and they just crashed. There was a yard service that sprayed but assured me that the spray would not hurt the bees. They were using 2-4-D which, as I understand it, is a poison. Think about it. If it will kill weeds and grass, why would it not kill bees. A company man came out to do a follow up and I wouldn't let him until I talked to some bee people. Some people who know about things like that.
I did talk to an experienced bee person and she told me how to handle it. I had to sit through and take a grilling about killing weeds and letting dandelions grow and "stuff" like that. Finally I made her listen and after about 1900 times of telling her I was going to kill weeds, she told me what to do.
She could not or would not understand that I live in neighborhood with rules. She told me that was why she didn't live in town. Dumbass broad! I do live in town so, since you butted in to the conversation, what do I do?
She finally got through telling me about all her stuff and told me to close up the bees for the day of spraying and all that night. Let the bees go in the morning and they should be O K.  So far Pinkstons has not called back nor made an effort of communicating. The lawn looks good so I may just leave it that way.
I do believe that the spray guy got too close to this hive and that put them over the top. Up until that point they were my most active and largest hive. So, now I may take two hives to the cabin and have two here as I have ordered another nuc.
We'll see when I return from Oz.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

1. National Bunny Cake Day
2. Do not groan
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Maybe someone will go sailing and report back to us.

     National Bunny Cake Day, which started about 20 years ago, was celebrated this year at Sandbur Acres.  At that time we had a German exchange student living with us and she was not as attuned to the Easter Bunny as American kids. She showed me a picture of a round cake decorated as a bunny face and wanted to know about it. So, “Judy,” plus the world’s first cutest grandkid and I built that first Bunny Cake following the directions from the magazine. It turned out so well that Granddaughter One and Two built one the next year. This went on for a number of years, adding people as people came along and it became a tradition. 
      It seemed a natural progression to have the Bunny Cake Day celebration at the cabin this year as there is lots of outdoors where kids can run, yell, whoop and holler and acres of room to hide eggs. I had gathered up four kites, one pair of stilts and a croquet set for games to play/use after the cake building. Now, keep all these things in mind as this unfolds.
      The first major “decision” revolved around whether the bunny should be a boy or girl. One year grandkid      2 decided enough was enough. The cake had always been boy so...  She even showed us how to “just do this and change that” and -voila-we went from Peter Rabbit to Patsy Rabbit.  This year, since the boys outnumbered the girls, after a discussion “we” decided we would have a girl rabbit. Imagine that.
      You may guess that my culinary forte is not cake baking. Even with, at times, 10 or 12 helpful hands it took a while to get the cake mixed up. Yes, you are giggling that taking a mix from a box to a bowl is child’s play. That was one of the problems; the children wanted to play. There were the little fingers that kept attempting to sample the mix after the beaters were turned off. 
      The mixed batter was carefully placed in the pre-heated oven and because of my past life as a band director, I was able to get it in the oven with no injuries to any helpful participant. Band director (?), you may ask. During marching season I had to give instructions at times further than half a football field distance away, That skill came in handy last Sunday.
      When the cake was in the oven the kids disappeared to do kid things, none of which had anything to do with my planned activities. I wanted them outside but, this being the 21st Century, they were inside playing electronic games. So I started cleaning the kitchen. As I turned around to place some items in the sink, I discovered a container of eggs on the counter. Nice, fat, clean and very fresh eggs for the cake which was merrily baking away in the oven. Yes, the words “UH OH” did go through my mind. But sometimes silence is golden so I decided I would be gold. However, it is hard to hide a wire egg basket.
      OK, the cake finished baking and the decoration started. The term Chinese Fire Drill comes to mind. I do not know who all those alien children were who invaded my cabin but they definitely could not have been mine. They all had ideas of their own and their suggestions were couched in a manner expecting immediate results.  First off, the licorice rope candy used to make various parts, was being consumed by copious amounts none of which were going toward the bunny.
      The cake was a sodden mess and it was almost impossible to cut the pieces. One tall boy person kept wanting to eat the frosting rather than spreading. The littlest one got to place the nose. Others all got to do some major thing and finally, we had a Bunny Cake. Probably the worst looking one I have ever done. We did get to take pictures before it disappeared into mouths. They even got to decide which part of the cake they wanted to have as their piece. 
      Then we had egg hunts, confetti eggs, and general hilarity and good feelings because we are young, the sun is out, we can holler and run and we got to eat lots of sugar. The cake didn’t work as I wanted, my schedule was backwards and I was dead tired, the wind prevented kites from being flown, no other game got played and yes, it sounds like a really bad day. 
     We loved it. I can hardly wait until next year.

2. Do Not Groan
Q. What do Easter Bunny (cake) helpers get for making a basket?

A. Two points, just like anyone else on the team.

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