Thursday, April 30, 2009

These Guys Are Amazing

You have to watch this if you haven't seen it already:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Bees, Part...Uh, Whatever....

Our mail order bride queen arrived this morning. Mom of all Trades picked up her majesty and entourage from the Post Office. So later this morning founding us excitedly tromping down to the hive anxious to "install" her in place.

TaxiMom pulled off the top of the hive and remarked, as MoaT squatted down for a look-see, "I don't hear any noise." With a flat, "Oh, crap," MoaT carefully moves the frames to peek in between. I join her. We are very quiet.

No buzzing. No movement. Our bees have died. We are crestfallen. We look into the bottom of the hive and see the majority of them in a pile. A couple dozen are attached to the combs, a few are inside the hexagonal shapes.

MoaT and I sit while we talk through possible scenarios: Did they starve? Surely there was enough pollen available for food. Did they freeze to death over the weekend? They had been through colder weather already. Did something else kill them? Perhaps someone sprayed their fruit trees, garden, weeds.

On Friday afternoon they were fine. Now, gone.

MoaT sits and contemplates. I say, "Well, let's go."

"Where," asks MoaT. *TM is awesome in a crisis, part of why I heart her*

"Back to the computer. We'll see if we can't find some bees and order them," I reply.

We fire up the MAC and google. MoaT calls a number in southern Texas. Sold out until May! I remember when we looked for a queen most of the places had sold out of bees for the spring.

Our queen won't make the return trip to Georgia, nor will she survive without a colony to care for her. Her entourage aren't numerous enough to do that.

Our MoaT. She should have been named Gem. She comes up with the idea to post a note of Freecycle for anyone who needs a queen. Off she goes to her own computer to do that.

Our MoaT. She's also sneaky. She leaves the queen with me. That way I can feel guilty if she dies while in my possession. The real reason is because MoaT feels badly for those bees that died. I, on the other hand, do not. If I were pregnant I would cry. Once when TaxiDad, J and E came home with little bitty fish from fishing and they were using a hammer to bonk them on the head and kill them. I stood there crying and saying sadly, "Their mommies are wondering what happened to them." Yeah, I was pretty pitiful. They were just fish, and strangers because I had just met them . . .

Curiouser and curiouser . . . MoaT gets a bite on the Freecycle post. A couple out of Springtown are interested. After MoaT explains the saga of the bees, this couple decide that they will place the queen with a nuc (yes, nuc - it's like a mini colony) and in a few weeks will give the queen and nuc to us! *We made a bee friend in the process, I think I love her. She is also a second mom, I'm gonna call her BeeFriend, Hi BeeFriend!*

So off the queen and her entourage go!! Can it get any crazier than this?

Maybe we'll be beekeepers yet . . . MoaT and I just laugh. It's all we can do . . . except for me. I'm going to have a bowl of chocolate fudge ice cream. That always makes the situation a bit sweeter and cheerful!

*I wasn't laughing. I was so sad to see our brave little colony die. But I think BeeFriend is gonna make it all better. She and her hubby are nice like that*

Anyhow, here's a picture of us making some goat's milk soap. Our friend who lives in a hoity toity subdivision with fancy schmancy homes has "A little Captain in her". She volunteered to goat sit for her back fence neighbor. I was mightily impressed at her tenacity in learning to milk that goat. Good for you SweetMom! You rock.


Speaking of needing to practice her focus.....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Bees, Part 3

Last night Mom of all Trades went down and shook the remainder of the bees into their new hive, and stuffed the entrance with grass to slow any exodus.

Today around 1:30pm I went down to check on them. I called MoaT as I walked down so I could give her a blow by blow of the activity. At first there were about 2 dozen bees flying around the hive. As we talked and I looked around the hive I noticed there were more bees flying around. So I planted my bottom on a stump and watched the entrance of the hive.

I saw a chain, one by one, of bees coming out of one corner of the entrance, get its bearings, and then take flight. Then I noticed that the other corner had some bees doing the same thing. Well, that's okay, nothing to worry about, right?

It was then as I was describing to MoaT what was taking place that I thought I saw the queen outside, covered by a few bees. NOT A GOOD SIGN!! I gently moved the bees to get a better look. YUP, THE QUEEN!!

MoaT and I quickly hung up. She to find some screen to make a box/ cage for the queen, and me, to find a temporary container for the queen before she decided to fly off, taking the colony with her.

I found a partially empty orange juice container, you know, the individual sized one. I poured out the contents and hurried outside to the hive. WHEW!! She was still there, and not too hard to find. I scooped her and a few workers into the container and headed back to the house to put on my "bee suit."

MoaT arrived with screen, and 2 girls who, for some unknown reason, love to eat my apples!! There's nothing special about my apples, but for some reason that's what they want to eat when they come over.

Anyhoo, I found a little plastic container and cut out 2 sides, while MoaT cut screen to fit and taped it on. We were in business!! MoaT dumped the bees into the container and closed it shut, and attached some twine to secure it to one of the frames. I mentioned that they had no honey, and perhaps they were hungry. Maybe that was why the queen was out. No food and time to find another place to build a hive. So we found a container lid and poured honey into it.

We then skidaddled down to the hive and removed the top box with lid. We decided to clean out most of the comb we had gotten from the original hive and trash it, along with the brood combs. They had not been attended to, and were probably dead. We then secured the queen in the middle of the frames and placed the lid on top. MoaT slid the honey into the entrance of the hive.

WHAT A SIGHT!! They were all over themselves trying to get to the honey. It was gone in no time. While we watched them we decided it might be a good idea to feed them some more. We found ourselves headed back up to the house again in search for a couple more lids and a container to carry the honey in.

WE HAD A FEEDING FRENZY!! Not only did they climb into the lids, but into the container that held the honey. They ate so much that some could hardly fly. It was really interesting to watch. And watch we did for about 30 minutes. While there we observed 3 wasps, that we killed. The wasps would kill some of the bees and rob honey from them.

We'll check on them tonight. Maybe I'll get my container back. Certain my family would appreciate it since its the one used to serve syrup in when we have pancakes or waffles.

How fortunate we were that someone just happened to be there when the queen came out. And even more fortunate that we were able to capture her. We will probably need to mark her with some paint so she will be easily recognizable from the rest. But we'll do that when we're certain the bees are accepting the new hive as home and begin making comb.

Again, the bees were really docile. We even petted a few! Yes, petted.

Here's a picture of Her Magesty and our brilliant queen cage:


Can you tell which one she is?

Here is what we found when we brought her back down to the hive. From a few flying about to this in luck Taximom actually saw her walk out of the hive!


To be else am I going to post with regularity and consistency?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bee Update and Photo's

OK. Taximom has been so good about writing up our saga I'm just gonna let her tell it...besides, she always flatters me shamelessly so it's good for my self esteem.

Some of you have inquired about the bees, curious to know how these guys have taken their world being changed.
Mom of all Trades and I left them alone for a while to see if they would settle into their new home. The weather forecast called for cold and rain, too. They did not. Arrghh!!! So we were back to square one with moving them, and also face losing what brood combs there were.

Sunday (March 15) afternoon we donned our suits and headed back to the pasture armed with our handy dandy handmade tools. We found lots of buzzing and quite a number of bees in the air . . . a good sign . . . they were still here. Unfortunately the majority were content with the old hive and had refused to move down into the new one. Carefully we unwrapped the hives . . . we had removed the top for the new hive and set the old one on top, and wrapped it in a garbage bag because of several days of rain were forecast . . . many were crowded around the original opening to the old hive.

The decision was made to tip over the old hive and get a better look. After determining that most had migrated back to the old hive, Mom of all Trades and I discussed our options and execution for each. One suggestion in the book calls for removing the bottom to the new hive and setting it on top of the old. The bang on the old hive to get the bees to move up. We did this for several minutes, but again we were doing this in the late afternoon and were impatient. Now, you might think that banging on the hive might cause the bees to become angry and anxious to stop the perpetrator. Not in the least. They will crawl to the top of the hive. With the old hive upside down (remember the bottom had been sliced off when the tree was felled), the theory is they would just crawl out of the old and into the new.

Knowing that this could take an hour or two, and Mom of All Trades and I were anxious to get them moved, so after about 10 minutes of banging and no bees leaving, we decided to get more aggressive. We rolled a large stump over next to the new hive, picked up the old hive with the opening down, picked up the old hive and slammed it onto the stump. WHUMP!!

Perfect! Quite a number of bees fell into the new hive - exactly what we wanted! After several WHUMPS we were able to remove the majority of the hive. About a quarter of them were on the ground outside the new hive. Bugger!!

We set the old hive down cut side up and attended to the bees on the ground. Scooping them up with wings from some bird that MoaT had, (sorry MoaT I can't remember what kind of bird), brushed them off into the new hive. Funny bees. They don't mind being WHUMPED, but being scooped up and gently dropped they did not. About half would fly around. Some of which were not happy and looking for a fight. Some tried stinging the wing. After scooping most of those on the ground we turned our attention to those left in the old hive.

We picked up the old hive and set it on its side on top of the stump. Using the wings we brushed the remaining bees out. Stubborn bees! About half of those took to the air as well. MoaT and I did pretty well with not getting freaked out over bees climbing over us. Pretty much because we couldn't see the ones on ourselves, and felt sorry for the other who had bees on them. Ignorance is bliss!!

We then took the old hive and using the log splitter split it into four pieces. This would ensure that the bees would not migrate to their old home, hopefully making their new digs look a little more attractive.

Monday, late morning (March 16) . . . I ambled down to look at the bees. A number were flying around and a few were going in and out of the hive. RATS!! A large number were all together in section of cinderblock that the hive sits on. Most likely the queen is in that mass and did not make it into the hive when MoaT and I moved the bees yesterday.

Looks like Part III entails moving the stragglers into the hive, and more research for MoaT and Taximom, as we try to figure out how to get them to accept their new home.

Photo's courtesy of K...who loving took 432 of them. All of my butt. I edited, and I am not ashamed.


Beekeeping is not a particularly fashionable thing, but I'll take looking ugly over looking like lunch to the bees.

Taximom, however, is cute as a button in her get up...


K needs to work on her focusing abilities..oh yeah, that would mean I'd have to let her practice...never mind.


Our hive is called an 8 frame medium. We chose these because we were pretty sure Taxidad and Hubster wouldn't be caught dead near the bees. And we don't like lifting heavy boxes full of honey, so we'll lift only sorta heavy boxes of honey ourselves.


There's our girls! Amazing isn't it? Totally freaked us out to reach in there and start pulling stuff out.



To be's that for a cliff hanger? I promise, I'm writing it up now, but I'll use Blogger's super-duper auto-poster majic to bring it to you in bite sized bits. :O)

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Than Just Out of Order

Yes, this post will be out of order, but after you read it, you may suspect I'm not just out of order, I might possibly be just a little bit out of my mind.

I promise I'll write an update post on the bees and set it to auto post too...with pictures....but first...

I picked up another hobby.

Please don't die from the shock. I need all three of my readers to justify my once a month writing fits.

Also, please don't die from the cuteness.

It started with an e-mail. Hubster was perusing Cr@ig$1i$t looking for a wood lathe and a drill press. He got...shall we say...distracted? Yes, distracted, that's what we'll call it. So he started last week e-mailing this person. The person said his listing was still available, that several people had called and said they were going to come get it, but no one had followed through. Then there was another e-mail when Hubster had the day off. The listing was still available. Hubster sent it to me...several times...and finally, I told him if he was looking for me to talk him out of it, he was barking up the wrong tree. He made me call Taximom and ask for her blessing...since it may potentially end up living at her house. Taximom, being the good sport and wonderful friend that she is, agreed...even after Taxidad gave her a look that I can only imagine was nothing short of "You have got to be kidding me." But he's a Kansas farm boy so we'll forgive him...he knows that of which he speaks. I've already talked her into the bees...and now this.

Finally, Friday afternoon I got a text while I was at the store picking up my free cake mix. (Thank you Duncan Hines. My hiney told me to tell you that.) Hubster said the listing was still there. I told him to call the guy back that we'd be there in an hour and a half.

When I got there, I was smitten, and I think you can imagine why:


She is a Jersey. And if you know anything about cows, Jersey's are sort of hard to come by. We've wanted one for years, but the current dairy market is severely depressed and this little girl was sent up the river instead of being fed to grow up and take her momma's place in the milking stanchion.

Now, for those who know me in real life, you might ask yourself how in the world we got her home, since we have to borrow Taxidad's truck all the time since we no longer own one of our own. I'll have you know that I rode home from the sale barn in grandpa's truck with a calf between my legs on more than one occasion. So I figured I'd pass the torch on to my own offspring. Yep, we loaded her in the back of my minivan:


Yes, that is poop on her hiney. If you don't know how bad calf poopies smell, let me assure you that they stink to high heaven. So we loaded her in the van, opened all the windows and drove an hour and a half to get her home. Brought back memories of my senior year, when I loaded my 4-H weiner pigs into the back of my 1972 Ford Pinto and took them home to the ranch. Good times.

She was a doll the whole way home and entertained the children with burping and farting games...B only beat her one round. She is also very smart...she pooped out the window at one point. Anyhow, we got her home and much to my surprise and delight, there was very little aftermath in my sweet little minivan and the good news is, we will not be having a cremation later this week.

Pretty sure my crappy neighbors will complain pretty soon, given that we are keeping her in the backyard with the chickens and all...but it's totally worth it:




If you haven't ever experienced the sheer joy and contentment of a bottle-fed calf chowing down her breakfast...well, you just haven't lived.