Bees, so many, many bees

The hives owner (Son 2) purchased screen bottoms with slide out boards for the hives. He thought that is what he had purchased initially, but the hives came with a solid bottom base piece. Yesterday, my spinning friend/bee mentor came over to help me examine the hives and install the new screen bottoms with out the slide out boards for the warmer weather. We had the smoker but never lit it. The spring bees are so mellow, but busy. Lots of pollen pants on the girls as they flew into the hives. They are making honey in brooder frames so excluders and honey supers will soon be added. All the hives were active, we found 3 of the queens and evidence that all 4 have active queens. Every hive has a Queen cup or two that require watching. The hives look healthy, a few hive beetles that we smushed, no mites (knock on wood). She again gave me so many suggestions to make life easier for the bees and for maintenance. The bottom slide out boards need a rim to pull them from the slots as they will get stuck in otherwise so that will be done before they are installed late fall. She suggested a small vent slot in back end of the spacer to aid with ventilation. When the supers are added and the spacers are removed to place them, those slots will be cut. It would be nice if I had a battery powered jig saw, but mine has to be plugged in. Also she discussed a syrup feeder style that slips into the brood box like a frame that holds a gallon of syrup so it doesn’t have to be made quite as often. I don’t know what you do when it isn’t needed, I guess replace it with another frame. I am still using quart jars that sit outside the front of the hive.

Just before she came over, one of their hives swarmed, high up into the trees. While she was here, a second swarmed and her husband said it settled on their electric box so he set up to capture and move them as soon as she arrived home.

Before she arrived, one of the overstuffed 2 gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from last year was dumped in a sink of warm water, the skins slipped off and dropped in a big pot to simmer with herbs and seasonings while we worked. Two and a half hours later, there was a nice pot of pasta sauce awaiting. We had spaghetti and salad, a pint was frozen and 4 more pints were canned after dinner and put on the shelf to begin resupplying our canned goods. I have plenty of lids this year and need to begin to gather jars as the honey is going to need jars as well, and my supply is just about what I use to can sauces, salsas, and jams in each year.

The hens are producing about 8 or 9 eggs a day. One of the Marans thinks she is an ostrich and lays super jumbos that don’t fit in a carton and one of the Easter eggers often produces “oopsies” a tiny egg that is only an egg white.

And it is definitely asparagus season, cutting many spears each day to enjoy and share.

This week has brought news of the loss of two of our acquaintances, one was a neighbor who has been in very poor health for a number of years. He was my age. The other from my childhood. He was a son of the director at Shrine Mont when I was a child visiting there in the summer, about 11 years my senior, he was a teen and young adult then, later he became the director that replacing his Dad, and the father of the current director. I was told that he also had been in poor health for a while.

And the news this week included the deaths of two young college athletes, both good students, who took their own lives. Suicide is a topic that demands more discussion. As a retired school counselor, experiencing the suicide of a few students over the years, it is difficult to discuss, but it must to save the lives of people in distress.

The Pin Cushion

With the onset of Covid and advancing age, there have been many vaccines administered in the past months for protection. With 4 Covid vaccines and boosters, a pneumonia vaccine, and the two vaccine series of shingles shots, I feel like a pin cushion. Most of them didn’t bother me except for a sore arm, but the second Covid shot and the second booster, both made me feel yucky. Today I got the second shingles vaccine and first off, that injection burns and often causes the recipient to feel poorly. We will see. Another reaction I get with every vaccine, also the three times I have had imaging dye is a metallic taste that lingers for several hours. But hopefully, protection levels are higher at this point.

We have been experiencing very warm weather and the lilac has blossomed with it’s delightful scent in the front of the house. Behind the house, the first Bearded Iris have bloomed and they are the grape iris that are not only light purple, but smell like grapes. Soon the other iris colors will bloom, then later the Dutch Iris and then the day lilies. Some of the deck pots and the small annual garden have been seeded with Cosmos and Coreopsis, a half barrel awaits the herbs that were removed from the hydroponic garden, but more potting soil needs to be obtained first.

It amazes me that those two iris that couldn’t be dug out have come up between the stones being set for the patio. Most of them are not bound in by stones.

Tomorrow will be about 20 degrees cooler than today and will remain in the 60’s during the day for the next 10 days or so. Fortunately, there are no freezing nights in the forecast, hopefully no more for the spring season. Mother’s day is the target date for planting out the tomato and pepper transplants and seeding out the rest of the garden.

Water has been set up for the bees so they can drink without drowning. With the boggy bottom of the sink hole, they may discover that as well.

A Bee-utiful day

The weather is glorious and we took a walk, followed by a visit with my local bee keeping friend and her husband as they did their post winter box inspections. That was delightful and a bit overwhelming as we asked questions and got answers, they offered other information, showed us around. I am glad we live where we do as their property doesn’t have a flat spot on it that they haven’t created themselves. To the point that many areas are being made into gardens so it doesn’t have to be mowed. They also don’t have a lot of open space for sunshine and they are only a few miles from us, less as the crow flies. One of my issues was how quickly the bees are emptying the feeders, and they suggested switching to quart jars instead of pints.

Once home, new batches of syrup were started and the son that got us going and is the official owner of our hives called for an update and he answered more questions. I hope my feeble brain can hold all this information. As we were talking, he walked back to check on his two hives and his feeders were empty too, so I passed on the suggestion of quarts.

Because we haven’t had rain in a few days, the hoses were moved around and the back garden was watered. And the little garden built last year over the septic clean out received a bird bath half filled with rocks so the bees can find water and not drown. To keep the chickens out of that bed as seedlings of flowers are beginning to germinate there, a section of old fencing was cut as a cover with a hole in the middle to allow the birdbath base to fit through.

After dinner, it was still bright sunny and hot, but the bee garb was donned, the quart jars of syrup loaded into a large bucket and the bees were fed. They were pretty agitated that the empty feeders were removed, but calmed back down when the larger feeders of syrup were placed in the hive openings.

The very novice bee lady.

What couldn’t be captured with gloves through the veil net was a picture of the cloud of bees circling the hives and me. This turned into a bee filled day and is quite an adventure. I had read that the hives could/should be different colors or decorated, so some of the remaining boxes are going to get painted and decorated before they are installed on the existing boxes. I need to get some acrylic paints and get creative.