I’m a poster child for self isolation

First of all, self isolation is something we often do by choice. It’s not quite the same when it is necessary and lives are in danger. But … I am already well versed in bread and yogurt making. My victory garden plans are coming together and now I have bees and can call myself a beekeeper.

Since my initial setup, I generally let them bee (hehe) but had to make a grocery run for them! to make more sugar syrup while we waited for pollen to appear. I hope they appreciate it. Here’s what they have been bringing back to the hive.

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Look at those pollen packs. Yesterday, I finally did my first hive inspection, it’s been cold here and I didn’t want to chill them, and I have been a tad nervous. So I started my smoker, suited up and took the hive apart to inspect. First minor disaster was that the nuc package I bought (5 frames of bees already started) had been cemented to the bottom of the sugar water feeder so when I took that off, 4 frames came with it. Not ideal but I made do. I scraped away extra wax and inspected. And it paid off. First I could identify drone vs worker bees. I saw pollen and maybe honey in the cells. And when I got to the original nuc frames, I saw eggs!, larvae! and THE QUEEN!! Ok she was marked with a big blue dot that made it easier to find her but I was stoked nonetheless. Besides that meant I hadn’t accidentally killed her yet. So I put everything back together and will decide if I have to make another sugar run.

I have proven that it only takes six weeks to establish a habit. My daily walks are of utmost importance and now I always make time for them. I realize how lucky I am to be able to go outdoors during this time. Our son in NYC has not left his apartment since March 9!!! Our daughter in DC is an essential worker in construction and only goes to and from work in her car. So hard for them. I am able to walk for hours without seeing another person. The other day, this was one of three horses that came running up to me as if they were greeting an old friend.

We’re also lucky to be able to walk to view points like these.

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I have tried to take control of my life by organizing the house, tidying up and getting rid of things. I just learned that since I started selling items on eBay in 1999, I have sold $9,000 worth of goods, including one old car. So I sold some more. And I cleaned grout, definitely over the top, but who puts white grout in the kitchen. I bought a brush to use with the drill and it made easy work of it. Some parts came out better and now…

Adventures in cooking continue: Latvian piragis, gnocchi, doughnuts, pumpkin pie…and the waistline shows it despite those walks.

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I have sewn masks for family and friends and have tried many different types. I like the fitted with ties, elastic bothers my ears but I also made some button bands for the back of the head.

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And I knit, weave, sew and quilt. I made this darling baby quilt yesterday.

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And finished my tee shirt quilt a few weeks ago. We used it for quite a while before I tucked in all the ends.

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And then I went over the top. I made a video for the grandkids, which may have only confused them as to my sanity but I was trying to recreate a Charlie Chaplin magic trick. Don’t judge me too harshly.

Staying alive.

 

Bzzzzzzz … our population exploded

And now I am a beekeeper. I began learning casually about beekeeping, BC. My third Cornell Cooperative class was canceled due to isolation policies. So I took to the internet and books. Initially my thought was this might be nice to do sometime in the future. And then I found myself with time on my hands. We all know I don’t have enough hobbies.

So I ordered the hive parts and kept reading. I placed my order on the first day the supplier, Betterbee, began working exclusively from home so it was a memorable experience. The hive and accessories arrived and I gradually prepared them. I stained all the exterior parts. And kept reading. I ordered my supply of bees. And kept reading. There is an amazing amount to learn about the bees themselves and the beekeeping. I installed the foundation, a honeycomb like surface, in 40 frames. And kept reading.

I tried to figure out how to put on the helmet and veil. No easy task. I lit my smoker to make sure I could use it when needed, The smoke interferes with the bees’ communication and makes it “easier” to work with them.

I received notice that my bees had arrived and I could drive an hour and a half south to pick them up. Temperatures were predicted to be cold here, below freezing some nights, but I was assured the bees would do fine. They clump together to keep the queen and young brood warm. So there was no putting it off.

I made the journey south yesterday. The nuc (nucleus colony of bees including a queen and a few frames of honey and about 10,000 worker and drone bees) was packed in a bag, I put in my trunk and began the ride home. My beekeeping gear was in the car in case some disaster befell us on the way home. But none did.

Tim readied himself with the camera while I geared up. First step, get the box out of the trunk – all that buzzing – and get the bag off the box. Made me glad that a) the box was in a bag, since many had escaped out of the box; and b) the box was in the trunk!! First step not too bad. Hundreds of bees made their way out of the box while I finished getting things ready.

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I brought sugar syrup, to feed them until nectar starts flowing, out to the hive and made room in the lower box for the new frames with bees.

Then came the scary part. Once my smoker was smokin’ I lifted the lid off the nuc and gave it a puff to clear the bees off the top of the frames. Then, with buzzing around my veil, I pulled the first frame out and transferred it to the hive.

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I tried to keep my movements smooth and calm, but there was a lot of noise around me. At some point, I realized my smoker had tipped over and little flames were trying to lick the grass; I will have to improve my smoker stand for next time. Things went quickly and it was too cold to spend much time looking at each frame.

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I had to “shake” the rest of the bees that weren’t on frames into the hive and some on the grass. I put the last frame in, added the sugar feeder and tucked things in for the night.

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When I went back an hour or so later, all the bees had made it into the hive, through a tiny opening in the front. The entrance is “reduced” as you get things started to try to prevent them all from getting up and leaving (I think).

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I went to check on them first thing this am. It was 37 degrees f but the sun was already on the hive. Not a sound. One dead bee in front. I hope they haven’t flown the coop. Or perhaps that can be my next hobby.