Saturday, August 21, 2010

Breathing a sigh of relief

    We looked into the hive again today before pulling the honey.  Found some very young brood and some eggs.  HUGE relief. This means the queen is still around.  Of course, the little white larvae with their cappings off their cells made me worry.  So, being the person I am, I took photos and had the local bee guy, John McCoy, look at them when I went to pick up the extractor I am renting for the weekend.

See the little white bee bodies?

you can see the larvae here with the nurse bees

John thought we were okay, "Just a little chalkbrood. The bees will take care of it."  It is a fungus, and usually not serious which causes some of the brood to die before they develop fully.  That was good news.

This is what the bottom deep  looked like - a very strong hive

     Took 5 frames of honey off the super.  I know to some it is not too much, but this will be the first we have taken, so I am pretty excited.  We are going to hold out on taking any other honey until after the goldenrod flow - perhaps we can get some honey from the blue hive before season's end.
     Is anyone else having trouble with zucchini this year?  I tried a different version this year.  Usually I grow "Greyzini" with seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds in ME. I never have problems- the plants are strong and the fruit prolific.  This year I thought I would try "Goldbar" instead of "Greyzini", because the bright yellow of the "Goldbar" might help me find the zucchini before it grew to the size of my thigh.  Well, we have had a sunny hot summer, I have watered the garden, it is not lacking for anything, bt I have, as of today, had nothing to harvest.  I have four squash in the garden - bright yellow but only 1 1/2 inches long and maybe as thick as two bobby pins held together.  I am not happy and will go back to my old standby next year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bee Busy Day - honey and stings and where are the eggs

    I decided that I needed to pull some of the honey from the white hive this coming weekend.  Classes start soon, and I have a couple of shows to design and I know how busy things will get.  Another major factor is that I need to get the medicine on the hive to treat the verroa mites I have seen on some of the drone larvae and I can't wait until it gets cool, as it works better when temps are warm. Again - knowing the coming fall schedule, I'd rather err on the side of being too early.
    With this in mind, I went to my local bee guru, John McCoy. (If you live in my area, please buy his honey - it is in the grocery store as well as for sale at his honey house.) I went to buy a cappings scratcher, a honey gate, a fume board and the chemicals to chase off the bees from the supers.  John talked me out of buying the scratcher, and the fume board and chemicals, offering alternative ideas to help me accomplish the same end, without investing in expensive equipment. When I asked about renting his honey extractor this weekend, he looked at  me and said, "so early?"  I know I will be missing the goldenrod flow, but I have another super with foundation that the bees can use, if they get ambitious with the goldenrod.

    My daughter and I had checked the hives together the last time, and I decided that this time I would bring my husband as my helper - he is taller and stronger.  Good thing, as the white hive has a fair amount of honey - 6 frames nearly completely capped in medium supers. This gets heavy!

    I finally got my first sting.  I have been expecting it; statistically, I was due.  I think I may have set my hand down too swiftly near the bee, and she got the palm of my hand.  I had not been stung by a bee since I was about 16, and that one stung me on my lower eyelid, so I have a memory of great pain.  This was nothing. Yes, it hurt. But for just a few seconds and then, done.

    The biggest surprise was when we got into the deep hive bodies and saw no queen - not unusual for me as I rarely can spot her. Worse, we saw no eggs - no evidence the queen had been there in the past week, give or take a day.  Some capped brood was spotty and had nearly adult bees  - but not yet fully grown - with no cappings on their cells.  I looked in all twenty frames and saw similar brood patterns.  There was a good amount of capped honey.  There was a lot of comb filled with pollen.  But no eggs.  I am nervous.
   We got back into the house just after the thunderstorm which had been looming on the horizon decided to dump on our heads and hit the books and internet trying to find an answer to the mystery in our hive. I tried calling John, but he was gone for the day. Perhaps  since this is a time of dearth, the queen has cut back on laying - taking a little vacation, so as not to have more bees than there are resources for.  Or perhaps, she has died (although I saw no new queen cells).  But that doesn't explain the pupae with the tops open on their cells...
     Anyone with ideas or knowledge, please send me a comment.
     If all goes well - Saturday we will have honey!

Monday, August 16, 2010

seeing purple

  I've been spinning quite a bit - still working on the  Lincoln Cross wool in Spring Violet.   I want to get it all spun and plied so I can get busy on the rest of the spinning I need to do to start on Christmas presents.  I am woefully behind on starting  Christmas this year - I am usually well underway with projects by July - even then I sometime run short on time. (Karen, I am still working on that quilt - it will be done before the snow flies!)
    Of course, I do not have enough bobbins to switch back and forth from one wool to the other, so I stay with the violet.  Because I am prone to boredom (hence the 15 concurrent projects) I have ordered more bobbins from Pacific Wool and Fiber in Oregon.  It took a lot of restraint to keep from ordering more fiber - they have camel down which I am dying to try - but I just ordered bobbins.  I finally gave in and got some Faroese wool to spin from 62 Degrees North and that will be next.  So, if I look a bit linty the next few times you see me, heck, throughout the autumn, you'll know the reason why! I may be linty, but I'll be happy!
    Oh - off topic, I spent the weekend earning my Reiki I certification. I was taught/attuned by Chris Rosenthal, a very nice woman who has been a Reiki Master since 1988.  It was a very interesting, calming, joyful and indescribable experience.  If anyone is interested in having me Reiki them, let me know.  I have been giving my eldest son Reiki as he sits and watches tv.  He doesn't have to know what I am doing for it to work. And maybe, just maybe, it will help him some.