Sunday, August 23, 2009


Not much happening with the bees - other than me trying to figure out what I'm going to do with them. I've been talking to Ken about how I should deal with the hives - well, the one hive in particular. My two hives have very different personalities, which I think can be attributed to genetics in a large way. The first hive does a really good job of reproducing - the queen lays eggs like no tomorrow, and the workers take care of them. Not so much honey, though. The second hive, full of honey! But not very many workers, when I compare it to the first hive.

So - the second brood chamber that I put on top of the second hive may not have been the best idea. They're so slow to fill it. AND - they haven't even filled the bottom chamber yet. So, I think I may have to rip apart the hive, yet again, to rearrange the insides and squish them into one box for the winter. It's better for them to be crammed than have empty space that can be invaded and has to be kept warm. This was the same hive that went kamikaze on me, so I'm not really looking forward to this event, scheduled for tomorrow morning.

I'm hoping for rain.
Thursday, August 20, 2009

new experience

One of my favourite things so far about the bees - showing them off! Bees are so important to our food supply, it's essential that as many people as possible learn why. I really enjoy taking people to see them, and explaining how they live together and stay alive, while keeping us alive as well.

There's much talk of the declining bee population, but I'm not sure how many people realize how this will affect our lives if allowed to get much worse. Bees (and other insects) pollinate a very large portion of our food supply. Yes, fruit, but also 'vegetables' that are technically fruit, like squash, cucumber, peppers, eggplant, etc. With no pollinators we would be in serious trouble. And that's just the vegetables that are technically fruits. Others may need pollinators to make seeds, even though the vegetable is a true vegetable.

This is part of why I'm getting into beekeeping - the more people with bees, the better chance they have and the more other people will hear about why bees are important.
Sunday, August 16, 2009


The above photo doesn't much relate to the exact topic of this post, other than to show how wonderfully peaceful the bees were before they turned into suicide bombers.

The results of the penny experiment: well, I reacted more than I usually do, and I think it's because I got so many stings at once. My forearms were swollen between my wrist and elbow joints, and my upper left arm (stung quite close to my armpit). Two of the three of those stings had pennies on them, but that didn't seem to help as much as it normally does. Other places, like my leg and back, didn't swell up that much, but still more than usual. Again, I think because I got such a high dose of venom. I'm taking some allergy meds to keep the swelling down - I don't want the swelling to move past my joints.

That's why there's no pic of my popeye arms - it wouldn't show up very well due to the medication keeping things under control. You'll all just have to imagine my pumped-up, muscular-looking forearms.

Take my poll, if you haven't yet!! .... to the right in the sidebar:
Thursday, August 13, 2009

still counting

So... had an eventful time in the beeyard today. Apparently bees don't like it when you take apart their home. 8 stings today brings my running total to 10. When do I stop counting?

Take my poll!!! the sidebar to the right.

Should I explain myself? I was on a mission to get rid of some burr comb between the frames of the upper and lower brood chambers. They had sealed together and it was hard to put them back into the hive once I took them out to inspect them. I took the upper brood chamber off, smoked the lower chamber, started doing a bit of gentle scraping, and ended up with a bunch of stings - right through my jeans, even!!!

I didn't have enough pennies to cover all the carnage, so we'll see how the stings compare.

The worst part? Putting the hive back together, dodging the indignant sisters.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Are there beekeeper fairies? Or elves? We came back from vacation today, and I found 3 beekeeping catalogues in a bag on my front door! They look interesting, I'm looking forward to giving them a proper look once the camping clutter has disappeared from my dining room. And by 'disappeared' I'm referring to the process whereby I am the one who cleans said clutter. Hopefully it won't take too long.

We should have camped out for a few more days, I think. I find it takes about a day on either end of camping to transition in and out, so the longer we go the more worthwhile it feels. Although, I'm glad to be done with the Pinery. There is Poison Ivy everywhere you look. I was getting tired of hearing myself tell the kids not to play in the bush for fear of coming into contact with it. Next year: somewhere else. Suggestions welcome! Beaches and bike trails are mandatory.

I should also mention - I didn't see a single honeybee. A few bumblebees, though. Can't wait to see my bees tomorrow!
Friday, August 7, 2009

onions and honey

While I'm on the topic of this family, I have to thank Michelle for the winter onions (sometimes called egyptian onions) she gave me the last time we were there. I cooked some up with brown rice and finely diced veg, and a smidge of honey thrown in for good measure - since I was just back from the beeyard and thinking about it. Very tasty. The rest of the onions are planted in my garden - hopefully they'll get a good start on growing before winter!

Anybody want the recipe? No? Too bad, I'm posting it anyway. There's the small version and the big version, go with whatever suits.

Confetti Rice

1 cup dry brown rice

Step 1: Cook the rice. I put it in a casserole dish with 2 c water and put a lid on, then put the whole thing in the oven at 375 for an hour. Done. No fussing. Of course a rice cooker would probably work too, but I have too many appliances already, with more on the way. Generally I like to do this step in the morning when I have lots of energy, and put the rice in the fridge. Then at suppertime it goes faster, putting it all together.

1/2 -1 medium zucchinis
1-2 medium carrots
1/2 -1 red pepper
a bit of onion, to your taste
about a tsp-tbsp of honey or so - again, to your taste
salt and pepper

1/2 or all of the rice

Step 2: Get out a pan and put it on a burner on med-high. Watch it during the next step, and add some olive oil when it gets warm.
Step 3: Dice the veggies very finely. If you have or know kids, you know what I'm talking about here.
Step 4: When the olive oil is warm in the pan, thrown in the veg with about a tsp of honey. Give them a few shakes and stirs. Add salt and pepper if you like them.
Step 5: If the rice is in the fridge, throw it in now. If it's still warm from cooking, you can wait until the veg are cooked a bit more, then add it.
Step 6: Stir often, eat it when it's done.

We ate ours with meatballs that I made awhile back, defrosted and reheated in the microwave. Yum!

Thanks again Michelle!
Thursday, August 6, 2009

grass killer

Thanks to my wonderful sister for carpet!

It's a good way to keep the thigh-high grass from crowding the hives. Yet another trick I learned from Ken. There's so much value in learning from someone who has many years of experience! I'm very grateful to have accidentally stumbled upon this family during my research days. I've learned something from each member. Even Jill, who gives good (usually) directions.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

screening visitors

Here is a pic of my screen bottom board. Normally it's under the brood chamber and I only see the front entrance part of it, but it's on display here because we were cleaning the bottom board. (And by 'we' I mean Ken.) The screen bottom board is there to enhance the health of the hive. Mainly as protection against varroa mite, which can be incredibly damaging to a colony of bees. The screen mesh is wide enough to allow the varroa mite to fall through, but narrow enough to keep the bees away from them. Varroa mites will wait there on the bottom board for a bee to come along and grab onto it, but it won't try to climb back up the sides through the holes.

I don't think I have any problem with varroa yet. I didn't see any on the bottom board. Keep your fingers crossed....
Monday, August 3, 2009

new supplies

Here's my little beekeeper smoking the bees, in her new hat and veil! I finally went and got the kids hats and veils of their own, and they enjoyed having them the last time we visited the beeyard. Especially this one. She wanted to do everything and see everything. So, she used the smoker until someone mentioned that she should stop, and she was right in there underneath me so she could see all the action. The smoker had to go, though - smoke rises, right? Yep. And she was right under me... I couldn't see or breathe for a few minutes, until someone set it somewhere else.

I love watching my kids with the bees. I thought they wouldn't want anything to do with them, but they've been right in there with me, enjoying themselves and learning along with me.
Sunday, August 2, 2009

ouchie 2

The penny comes in handy again. Kid #2 ended up with a bee sting this time.

This eases my mind, having both of them stung now. I've heard that beekeepers' children and spouses tend to develop allergies to bee stings, due to being in contact with low levels of venom that would come off clothing worn by beekeepers. Being stung is the best way to ensure that they're getting higher levels of venom and allowing their bodies to develop resistance without developing an allergy.

So: two down, one to go. Hubby still needs to come see the bees and get himself stung.
Saturday, August 1, 2009

reno 2

The bees were ready for a second brood chamber when we checked on Thursday, so here they are! Should make my next inspection more interesting, since I haven't done an inspection on a double yet. I originally thought I would use only one brood chamber, because it sounded like it would be easier for me. However, after talking with Ken and other beekeepers, I've come to realize that double is probably better for the bees. If they have more room to raise brood, they'll be a stronger colony. If they have more room to store honey for themselves, they'll last the winter without me having to feed them (hopefully). It's my intention to keep the bees as naturally as possible. No harsh chemicals or antibiotics or sugar feeding. However, if it looks like they won't have enough honey to last the winter, even without me harvesting any, I may have to feed them. If it's between feeding them sugar and them dying.... well, it's not a hard decision.