Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ready for battle

Yes, I tucked my pant legs into my socks, geek that I am. I was not interested in bees flying up my pants. This was my first visit out to the bees after being stung 9 times at once, so you can understand that I was taking every precaution. Including wearing my husband's winter gloves. Yes, now I have to wash them because they're sticky. It was worth it. I think I would have been stung otherwise, judging by the number of stingers I saw ready to strike, and the bees that were crawling on the gloves.

I opened the lid, and there were about 20 bees there with their stingers in the air, just daring me to come any closer. There were others around too, but they weren't as protective. Most of them were moving very very slowly, due to the cold I imagine. There was no activity at the hive entrances when I got there. But when I left - the one hive had bees around the entrance, so I must have stirred them up enough to take a look around outside for a bit.

Here's the end frame of one of the hives. The other side is mostly filled with capped honey. The other end frame is fuller on both sides, so I was happy about that! I want them to be all filled before winter. When I looked down into the bottom brood box, it looked like one end frame didn't have anything on the outside yet. I couldn't do anything about it, though, because I couldn't lift the top brood chambers off the bottom ones! Even with trying to pry with my hive tool, I couldn't budge them. I'm considering using single brood chambers only next year, for ease of use. And because I'm a weakling....

Anyway, the other hive was chock-full, so I was happy with those girls. They turned out alright after all. I was worried initially because they were populating the colony really well, but didn't seem to be making honey. Now, it looks like it's mostly honey they've got going on, so they're taking care of themselves. Of course this is all judging by what I could see just taking off the covers. I tried and tried and tried to pull out some frames, but only succeeded in breaking a frame. And even that one wouldn't come out.

So... I'm procrastinating. I will leave them be for the winter, and deal with it in the spring, when I want to split the chambers anyway. How's that for an executive decision?
Friday, September 4, 2009

taking a break

I haven't done much with bees lately. First, I was recovering from my 9 stings. Now, I seem to be having some sort of reaction to something that touched my face. No one really knows, or has any concrete answers for me. I'm slathering (sparingly) the itchy red swollen stinging burning oozing parts of my face with a corticosteroid/antibiotic cream combo, and taking two kinds of antihistamine (sleepy and non), prescribed by my doctor. Needless to say I don't really want to come into contact with potential allergens right now, especially since I'm just over the bee stings. I'm hoping it's just (!!!) poison ivy, and not anything related to bees. But I'm staying away for now, just in case.

I hate using the cream, because it just grates against my anti-antibiotic sensibilities, but really. If you saw me you would realize why I actually want to use it regardless. No, I'm not posting pics.

So - what's with the pot of tomatoes? It's that time of year: tomatoes by the bucketful coming in from the garden, ripening on my dining room table, and being turned into sauce. Mmmmm....

The recipe?

Ingredients: lots of tomatoes

1. Wash tomatoes and remove anything inedible.
2. Cut them in half and throw them in a big pot.
3. Mash them a bit with a spoon to release liquid.
3. Cook them (simmer) until they're soup - uncovered.
4. Cook them some more, to reduce the amount of liquid.
5. Blend them. I use my immersion blender right in the pot.
6. Use a food mill to take out the seeds. Or leave them in.
7. Freeze for cold winter nights. (This step is optional.)
8. Add stuff to make a sauce you like.

1. Cooked and blended, still with seeds:

2. Using the food mill:

3. Lots of seeds:

4. Seedless sauce, ready to chill:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

counting for now

Well, the results of the poll are tied between counting until my age, or counting forever. So I guess I'll keep track for now. If I'm going to keep accurate results, though, I should mention that I actually had 9 stings last time, not 8 as previously posted. Once they all started to swell I noticed I had another one that was overlooked in the original counting.

I think I'll be wearing more protection next time I do some radical shifting - so the numbers should stay low for awhile.

Speaking of which - Ken checked the hive that I was worried about, and he thinks I'll get away with leaving them as is, and not re-organizing their home. Yay!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

guest pic

This picture comes to you courtesy of Todd, a fellow newbie to the world of beekeeping. He and I, along with a few others, met at Little City Farm when we attended a small workshop on beekeeping. Those few of us that went on to take a more in-depth course at the Townsend House, University of Guelph, keep in touch on a semi-regular basis. We thought it might reduce the collective number of painful mistakes, if we could share our newbie experiences with the group of us. Still, we've all had our own 'learning moments', and it's been good to grow together in this endeavor.

Anyway, back to the pic - this was Todd's experiment: he tried using some top bars, rather than frames with foundation, to allow bees to build their own comb. This method is used by beekeepers who want to go even more natural with the bees. Unfortunately it seems these bees were a bit confused, and started to build from the bottom frames up, instead of heading up to the top and building from the top down like they would normally do in nature. I asked Todd if I could use the pic, because I think the comb is pretty. Functional? No. I would tear it up too, as Todd did, but I like this pic because it represents the more wild and natural side of the bees. It's a good reminder that the bees are still wild creatures, after all our attempts at "domestication", and they do have minds of their own, however small.