Sunday, November 29, 2009

Digging out the old bowed psaltery

I felt some holiday spirit this week and dusted off the bowed psaltery that I had bought twelve years ago and never gotten the hang of.This is the first real tune I have played on it, and I decided to try adding a harmony by double bowing it. Not easy! I obviously need a lot more practice, but the bowed psaltery has such a lovely haunting voice, it is very forgiving.
Crummy camera angle and some rough bowing yet, but here it is- my second day's work on the beautiful old carol "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming". One of my favorite winter tunes...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mother/daughter bee time...

We were very lucky to have beautiful 55F degree sunny weather on Thanksgiving Day, right when my older daughter was visiting us! Unusually warm nice weather for late November here! She has a degree in entomology and has done honeybee research at Cornell U., so I felt very fortunate to have her take a peek inside my hive. I also felt she would bring 'good bee karma' to my hive. This day I planned to remove the last syrup feeding and put in some dry sugar as a little extra insurance against my bees running out of their stored honey supplies during the coming winter. Soon it will be too cold to open the hive at all until Spring.

My daughter is the younger one in the red skirt, working the smoker.... ;)

I was so happy to have this pleasant little time to be a mother and daughter 'beekeeping team' together. I was so proud to show her my bees! She said they appeared to be healthy bees and they looked to have some good honey stored up for the cold winter ahead.
Here I've already removed the old syrup baggie feeder from inside the hive, and we have gotten the bees to retreat a bit so we could lay a sheet of newspaper on top of the frames and pour some dry sugar on. I chose to give them this extra sugar food supply for this winter because the hive has recently been consolidated and moved to my house, which must have caused some amount of stress for them. In future winters I anticipate that they will have full larders of honey stored and will hopefully not really need such sugar feedings. But I wanted to give them every chance to survive their first winter here in their new location.

After pouring in ten pounds of sugar, I trimmed the newspaper that was sticking up at the edges. Notice I left gaps in the front and back of hive so the bees could maneuver in and around the frames, sugar, and top entrance.
Then I sprayed the sugar surface down with some water to which I had added a small amount of lemongrass and spearmint oil, so they would view it as food rather than as debris to be carted away grain by grain. Bees are very fond of lemongrass oil.

Here we have successfully finished our little hive chore and the bees are basically set for the winter.
The only thing left for me to do is to wrap some tarpaper around the hive to protect from cold wind drafts. I'll do that when it gets a little colder and we no longer have any 50 degree days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Suki wants to make sure all work is carefully monitored and checked for Quality Control.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inside the hive...

Today the weather was unusually warm for mid November- 62F and sunny. I went into the hive to do a couple of things. First, I moved the boxes off so I could face the bottom board vent opening towrds the sunny front side of the hive, thus avoiding cold winds passing through the hive diagonally through the bees' winter cluster. Now the bottom open vent and the top vent/entrance are both in the front, on the warm side. Air will now hopefully vent straight up that front side and out without chilling the central cluster.
While I was in there I checked on their consumption of the sugar syrup feeder I had inside the hive...about halfway consumed, which is good.
I took some closeup photos of my lovely bees, who were extremely good natured about all my annoying in-your-face interference. If you click on each photo, it will get much larger and you can see the bees up real close. It's so nice and honey-cozy in there, and I just love the smell of beeswax.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

bizzy bizzy.....

Today was 58F and sunny- the warmest nicest day since we moved the hive to my place.
My bees were a'hummin' bigtime, and out in full force all day. :clap: I think today's weather really got them energized and busy. Me too!...

I cleaned out the small side garden and hoed the weeds out of it in preparation for a Spring planting of raspberry bushes there. It was previously my veggie garden but we outgrew that and installed the big vegetable garden this summer, and plan to make the old garden into a raspberry patch instead. It's about 6' x 15'.
After every 20 minutes or so of pulling out old tomato stakes, weeds, and hoeing, I need to stretch and rest... so I'd sit in my little burlap alcove and watch my relaxing and pleasant! You could smell the beeswax in the air and hear the nice humm...

I watched as they'd run off a yellow jacket every few minutes. Sometimes they'd get into a rolling ball fight, and bee & yellowjacket would tumble off the ledge together in their struggle, and continue grappling on the ground. Each time they'd eventually break up and both would fly away.
Bees were coming in and going out like crazy, checking each other out thoroughly too, touching and communicating to each other in mysterious ways.
Several seemed to be working on the seam where the two deeps meet, trying to seal it back up from when we moved the hive, I imagine. There must be a lot more of that going on inside the hive.
I noticed there was a small chunk of old propolis lying on the landing ledge near the entrance holes. It was almost the size of a grain of rice. I thought to myself "hmm....I'm surprised they don't get rid of that piece of debris..." and just as I was thinking that thought, a bee walked up to it and just sort of punted it right over the edge...ka-POWIE! It was so cute!

Monday, November 2, 2009

First warm sunny day at the hive....

I went into the hive all by myself yesterday, after the bees had settled for a couple of days here in their new home. It was a nice warm day and I had to reverse the bottom board, so all boxes got moved around briefly! I had my smoker going and my veil and gloves, etc. I was nervous but the bees didn't seem to be attacking me, they were just flying about confused while I was moving the stack of boxes and doing stuff. I also nailed on the metal entrance reducer/mouse guard, and put a gallon baggie of 2:1 sugar syrup inside the top of the hive, with an added 2" shim to allow clearance for the bag. That was yesterday.

Today, it was 55F and calm and sunny, and as you can see the 'girls' were all out and about today, busier than ever since their arrival. They seem to have no problem getting in and out of the smaller entrance holes now. That metal entrance guard will keep mice from trying to nest in the hive over the winter- they would make a big mess inside, and we do have lots of field mice here in the yard. Plus, there are yellow jackets nearby nesting, and the reduced entrance will make it much easier for the honeybees to defend their hive if the wasps try to raid it for food.

See how cute that you can see some sweet little bee faces peeking out the holes just before they come out? ;D (The pix will enlarge if you click on them.)