Bee Keeper vs Bee Haver

My intent has been to be a bee keeper, not just someone with a hive or two sitting down the hill in an electric fence enclosure. These bees came to me via local purchase in the spring and were diligently set up with the idea of being successful this year. Then bursitis in my left shoulder, followed by a ruptured bicep also the left (my dominant side), then the heat. The bees have basically had to fend for themselves, though I did do one hive inspection, finding old larvae and low population in one hive and no evidence of the marked queen, and new and old larvae and much higher population in the other hive, but again, unable to find the marked queen. I closed them up and hoped that the first hive had made a new queen before the marked one took off with her helpers.

Yesterday, my bee keeping, spinning friend offered to come over today and help me do an inspection. Walking up to the hives, we weren’t hopeful with the first hive, but found eggs (which I can’t ever see), young and older larvae, capped brood, some honey, and some stored pollen, but not enough. The amount of brood is hopeful that the new queen is doing her duty to build up the population before it gets cold. The second hive is thriving. We pulled a lot of drone larvae off for the chickens, it is about time for the workers to kick the drones out anyway. We pulled the queen excluders, and decided that since there isn’t enough honey stored for winter, that I should begin feeding them 2:1 syrup that they can cap and store for winter. Next week, it is supposed to be cooler, so we are going to treat both hives with Formic acid pads to kill off any mites before it gets cold.

Not a single photo was taken today, but the hives are set up with an empty box on top to hold two quart jars of syrup per hive. A need to purchase a 20 lb bag of sugar on the list as I used all that was in the house. Four quarts of syrup are cooling on the counter and I’m waiting the the thunderstorm that came up to pass so they can be taken down and put on the hives.

After we were done, both hot and sweaty, we visited over a cold lunch of Quinoa salad that I had made this morning, then picked her a few gallons of apples to take home. Though it wasn’t as hot as the past week, it was still plenty warm in long sleeves, long pants, boots, hood, and gloves.

My appreciation of her help can’t be explained enough. With the difficulty of lifting the heavy boxes and the inability to see the eggs in the cells, it is great to have her younger eyes and greater strength.


After a very cool, wet June, we have had two hot sticky days with no rain. More rain and cooler days ahead, but it has allowed walks without umbrellas or raincoats and being able to inspect my hives for the first time since I installed them. This is a very different experience than last year. The two medium boxes for brood on each hive are bursting with honey, eggs, and brood. So many bees. I added a queen excluder to each hive and a honey super on each in hopes of some fall honey. The sourwood is just beginning to bloom so they will be busy, the fields are full of daisies and since we haven’t had a mower in over two weeks, the lawn is full of white and red clover.

The shelf unit I put on the front porch with houseplants has a Wren nest tucked between pots. I think is was a practice nest as it hasn’t been occupied. I will leave it for a few more days before I remove it.

Walks have had some wildlife to see, yesterday a box turtle who didn’t seem to like the attention it was getting and today a caterpillar that has been parasitized with several eggs on it’s back.

The garlic pulled was brought in to the garage and hung in bundles to cure for storage. The garage smells very garlicy now and will until the leaves dry and the skins dry.

Since we live in a log home, we have had annual problems with Carpenter Bees. They drill holes in the facia boards and lay their eggs. That is less of a problem than once they hatch, the woodpeckers peck at the wood to get the larvae. This year the woodpeckers have been relentless, so we purchased 4 owls with a bell and mylar strip and hung them in strategic places hoping that they will discourage any more early morning pecking and stop the damage they are doing.

The month is fading away, July and August bring harvest and processing, a busy time.

SeeSaw days

Typical spring here, hot and humid one day and chilly and gray the next, but the garden grows. Except for the corn. Out of 4 rows in a 12 X 4 foot bed, only two seeds sent up blades. We were due for thunderstorms a couple of days ago, so the bed was reseeded. This may be the last time I try corn. Year before last, there was nothing, last year some came up, but the harvest was pretty paltry for the space it consumed. The only year that corn has ever been “successful” though marginally was the year of the popcorn.

The seed starts for squash, tomatillos, pumpkins, tomatoes, and peppers were all successful and are doing well planted in the beds. The cucumbers failed on first start, but there are several strong seedlings putting out secondary leaves that are currently being hardened off and soon they will be planted in the last bed.

The motivation for the garden has been hard to come by this year, and since I am currently unable to be out in the sun due to a chemo cream use on my face, I have to heavily cover with mineral sunscreen, wear a huge hat and limit my exposure. Sunburns as a kid camping with family, as a young adult working as a lifeguard, have come back to haunt me. Usually, anything found by the dermatologist is zapped with liquid nitrogen, but this time is wasn’t in a place they want to spray. At any rate, early or late, very protected sessions are being done. As an adult, I wear long sleeves nearly year round and always wear a hat with a brim when we are out walking. Sun damage from years ago revisits as we age.

Peas are heavy with blooms and though they are supposed to be a free standing variety, they have toppled all over each other. Soon, peas will be harvested. One of the varieties of spinach is bolting as is the lettuce. The beans are up. The tomatoes, peppers, basil, squash, and tomatillos have been mulched with clean straw, thanks to a friend that was able to get me a couple of bales yesterday. Part of a bale was used to clean the hens coop, a few flakes as mulch and the rest set back in the dry garage for further coop cleaning and garden mulching.

Now if I can just get the paths under control, figure out how to kill off the smartweed and creeping charlie, I will be happy. As it is upper 70’s today and tomorrow with bright sun, the paths were all sprayed with white vinegar and dish soap. If that shows any level of success, it will be repeated until I win, vinegar is cheap and safe. A truck load of wood chips would be great to have, to put about 4 inches between all the beds. The other frustrating area is the tall grass that grows up the welded wire fence. The line trimmer can’t get under the fence and if it hits the wire, it breaks off the trimming line. I don’t want to use chemicals like Liquid Fence, nor do I want to take down the fence and reset it an inch or two off the ground so I can weed under it. I envy neat gardens with no weeds, no grass in-between beds, no fence needed to thwart the deer, groundhogs (saw one today in the yard), and free ranging chickens. Perhaps the electric mesh type moveable fencing that can be moved away, allow mowing, then re-set would do the trick. I already have the 6V charger. Maybe if the vinegar trick works and I can get woodchips, cardboard can be slipped under the fence wire, heavily mulched on both sides out maybe far enough to keep an edge would work.

The bees are again protected from the resident bear. A new battery for the 12V charger was ordered and installed. Tested on the deck, it showed a strong charge, so it was taken back to the bee yard, rehung, and attached to the electric fence wire. When it was turned on, it showed only marginal charge on the fence. Because it was a new solar charged battery, it was left alone to charge for a couple days and still only marginal. This morning, the piece of line that connects the wire to the charger was replaced and the fence is again hot. Hopefully, 12 V will deter the furry beasts.