All posts by Annette

What the season holds

My apologies, dear readers, for the unplanned hiatus. Those of you who are aware of my chronic aspiration-induced pneumonia issues will be happy to know that the latest round of grue was not pneumonia. It was, however, a gigantic sinus infection so bad that it made me want to chop my head off. I wound up in the ER last week for fluids, since I spent one day with everything coming out one end and the next with dry heaves virtually all day (that was the day of the ER visit). Why sinus? Probably coughed something up in there that didn’t come out. Thankfully, that’s over, my head is intact, and I’m back to the things I need to do. Well, almost there. The strength is coming back slowly. I also lost four pounds over the course of two days, so I’m working on that, too, although the food intake is just making me nauseated all the time – an incredibly unpleasant sensation. Pain you can usually work through or around. Nausea is just different. For me, anyhow.

On to better things!

I got my new packages of bees Friday a week ago. Unfortunately, my camera battery croaked after my sister and I were already out there, and since I was in the end throes of the crap I had, there was no way I was going to go get the other one. So, no video of the installs this year. I did take video of several days after that, though, and I’ll be editing those – time to really learn Adobe Premiere instead of screwing around, I guess – to put up on the Lazy Dogs Ranch channel on YouTube.

We had some challenges with the package installs. The shipper is no longer putting a feed can in the package, but just throwing some marshmallows in. The bees don’t seem to really care one way or the other about sugar products, so I understand this is an effective, cheap method of dealing with the feed can issues. However, when pouring the bees into the hives, the marshmallows also go in, which means reaching in and fishing them all out (ditto for pine needles, etc., that win up in them). That was annoying.

We also had big issues with drifting. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it means when bees drift from their own hive to another one that is close to it. Usually, this sort of thing happens if you’re making splits and don’t move the split hive a bit away from the original. For the package installs, since the bees weren’t really imprinted on their caged queens yet, it meant some hives wound up with a ton of bees in them, while some wound up with half or less of their package. I worked on this the Saturday after the install, moving frames and just taking handfuls of bees from one hive to another. It seems to have worked out all right.

One package obviously had a queen in it, though: the bees killed the caged queen and swarmed away before I even got into the yard on Saturday. So I had an empty box and a dead queen.

They were insured, so the shipper is going to send me a replacement. I’ve also asked for a package without a queen, to bulk up the hive that suffered the most drift.

Meanwhile in the beeyard, the monster hive #8 is still performing well. After the last split I did, it had three deeps and one super on.

I peeked in, and they were ready for another super.

I grabbed another super and popped it on to give them some room. I’m going to have to do a deep inspection at some point.

For now, though, I’m letting them do their thing.

That’s all for now, as I need to deal with the nausea here. Until next time, peeps: be well.

Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full

There are times when I go out to the beeyard just to watch the activity at the hives. The girls zipping in and out, guards on the landing boards (along with drones, hanging out, drinking honey and talking up the girls), the occasional midair collision that harms no one, the (at times) clumsy landings and then crawling over other bees….it’s all a day in the life in the yard. The bees I see foraging today will be dead by next month, having worked themselves to death, and will be replaced by newly graduated foragers, heading out into the world to find its bounty and return it to the hive for the benefit of all. Have I mentioned I’m a writer?

I captured this with the new camera (a Canon Powershot SX730 HS as my pocket camera to replace my Fuji FinePix, which is good, but very old). I stuck it on a tripod in front of the mega hive (#8) while I went and had a look at the second split from that hive (#11). It’s very relaxing – so much so that the other night I almost fell asleep watching it. I should keep that in mind the next time the insomnia is really bad. (Of course, it could also be because I was sick, on meds, and had been doing some things outside that absolutely had to be done when I should have been resting. Who knows?)

Framing for the new bees

No, I’m not framing up walls so they can move in to the house here. I’m building frames for the hives that need to go to the beeyard so they’ll be ready when the new bees arrive on Wednesday. I’ve been sick most of the week, which scuttled my plans to be building frames during that time and making sure the new setups were ready to go. Such is life, though.

I also did some cleanup of bee gear, which was rather unpleasant in some cases, as I’d let frames hang out in hive bodies on the driveway until I could get to them. And I never got to them, which is how this saga happens. Both wax moths and small hive beetles love it when you do this, because it allows them to go in, undisturbed by bees, and create messes in the unprotected frames.

You can’t really see it in this image, but when you open a hive and get hit with a sickly-sweet, rotting sugar kind of smell, you’ll know there have been wax moths and small hive beetles in the box. Then you pull out a frame.

This is web and cocoons of wax moths. They like the dark comb where brood have been, and will invade it if the hive is not strong enough to fight them off or – as in this case – the hive bodies are just sitting around outside, empty.

This is a closeup of some of the crap: some webbing and dead cocoons. The larvae will eat into the wood of the frames and the hive bodies. The moths will happily go right into the carveouts the larvae have done and lay more right in them. It’s a nasty business cleaning up damaged gear and sometimes just not worth it.

Some of the frames in the hive bodies had honey in them – good honey, not honey rendered worthless and useless by small hive beetles and THEIR larvae. The bees will find the good stuff, go to the frames, chew open the capped honey, and start transferring it back to their home hive. The bad honey that has (or had) small hive beetle infestations they will not take. We also do not take it: it goes in the trash.

All those open cells that make sort of a rainbow above the bottom middle have been painstakingly chewed open by the other bees in the yard, and their content transferred just as painstakingly back to their home hives. Here’s a closeup of how ragged it looks afterward.

The edges are jagged and you can see some of the cappings inside the cells. normally, were this just a frame of honey that for whatever reason we wanted them to take – in this case, we wanted the beeswax from this rainbow area, because it was lighter in color and that is what we want for our beeswax melting – we would wait for the girls to do their thing, then put the frame into a hive. The bees would then clean this up, taking out the debris and repairing the outer edges. This frame, though, had hive beetle-contaminated honey on the other side and was trashed. On this side, I scraped the wax off into the bucket where we hold our wax that is to be melted so it can be turned into whatever it will ultimately be (lip balm, candles, and so on).

I wound up making about 60 frames today, and between that and what I’d already done pre-sickness, we are now ready to give the newbees their spaces. I have a video of some of that process on my youtube channel, and I’ll put it here in a post tomorrow.  There are videos dating back to a few years ago, before chronic pneumonia and hospitals became my besties.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

 

Bad movie night

Some nights,  you just have to MST3K it.

My night started with Jason Bourne. I saw the first one – I’d read the book ages ago, of course, while I was in high school. And I think I saw pieces of The Bourne Ultimatum. But this. This was Tommy Lee Jones chewing through scenery, Matt Damon doing his killing machine thing, Julia Stiles dying for no good reason except as a whistleblower who for some unfathomable reason decided Bourne needed to see files, Vincent Cassel as “The Asset”, blowing away civilians left and right, and Alicia Vikander looking pretty useless and on the verge of tears most of the time. Apparently, she existed only for Tommy Lee Jones to give orders to through his clenched mouth so we know just how serious and pissed off he is, and for him to double cross her. Can’t give the protege any ideas now, can we?  For whatever reason, the director thought all the action scenes needed to be jerky, just to remind us that THIS IS AN ACTION SEQUENCE. And to give us motion sickness. Here’s a tip: if there are fires and gunfire and car chases and riots and hand to hand combat, that’s action enough. It doesn’t need any help if the action sequences are good. And mostly, they were not. Even the control room, which apparently no one left for very long, had weird camera angles and nausea-inducing transitions while they were hopping around, taking over other countries’ CCTVs, so they could find Bourne and send yet another kill team on a suicide mission to take him out. The plot, if you can call it that, was insipid, Vikander’s “remote deletion of unencrypted files on a laptop a world away from where she was” was so stupid that I actually laughed out loud, and the ending, of course, ambiguous. Where will Bourne go? Off the grid again, only to return later for revenge against the agency that took his entire life away? Let’s hope not.

The movie on after that, as it happened, was The Hunted, also a Tommy Lee Jones movie. I passed and went to The Mechanik (aka The Russian Specialist), with Dolph Lundgren as an ex-Spetnaz officer going after mobsters, revenge for the killing of his wife and child, yadda yadda. I had to look this one up, and discovered Lundgren has a degree in chemical engineering, received a Fulbright scholarship, and is in general an extremely intelligent dude. That read through of his bio was far more interesting than this dreck. It’s unfortunate his intelligence and talent were not for writing and/or directing, both of which he does here. The obligatory final standoff scene is on as I type this. Bad guys get shot but remarkably are able to stand again and fight one of the good guys, Lundgren goes off to hunt the mobster, etc. What a horrible, horrible movie this is.

It must be Dolph Lundgren night here on this channel, as the next movie up is Blood of Redemption which is about – you guessed it – a bad guy/gangster dude seeking revenge on someone who ruined his criminal empire and killed his father. Can’t wait for that one, seriously. Can’t wait. I’m sure it will be just as delightful and well-written/well-acted/well-directed as this one.

This is all background noise to maintenance I’m doing for work, along with troubleshooting peoples’ issues with apps that they can’t even give me the right username for so I can log in and see what the issue happens to be.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Prepare yourself

Squash is coming.

I’m not kidding.

A few years ago, when chronic pneumonia was not a mainstay in my life, and before a swallow test showed why, I grew squash of both the green (zucchini) and yellow (yellow) kind. The problem with squashes, as anyone with a garden knows, is that they are sneaky little bastards. You’ll go through a picking session, ooh and aah and marvel over how one seed – one seed! – can produce such abundance.

Squash and zucchini April 29, 2015

This can lull you into a state of mind where you are not as alert as you could be.

As you should be.

Because – again, as anyone who gardens and plants squashes know – you will miss some.

“Wait, Captain, what do you mean ‘miss them’? How could you possibly miss any?”

Sneaky little bastards is how: they play Jedi mind tricks and your gaze slides right over them in search of the next fruit to pick. This is not just for squash, mind you: the same thing happens with okra, among other things. But squashes are in a category unto themselves and are by far the tops at this game.

So, you overlook some. Some, you think, might need another day or two to get to the proper length, but then you get busy, perhaps with the bees, and before  you know it, it’s been four days, and you have to steel yourself to go back out to the plants, wondering if any have attained sentience and are awaiting your arrival to ambush you. What you find is a collection of squash that varies in size from “decent, normal eating” to “small child”.

Zucchini and squash May 22, 2015

It may be difficult to put this into context, given that there is no true frame of reference for the upper part of this scale. Allow me to assist.

Giant zucchini, small child, May 2015

The harvest size is so large, it can in fact comfortably seat two small children, and probably three.

Giant squash and two small children gnawing on raw okra pods, May 2015

Why do I sound the alarm bell? The zucchini plants – two of which made it out of four seeds sown – are putting out the beginning of their flowers. The yellow squash, however, always earlier, and very prolific, are coming on. Fast.

Squash, May 2018

This was yesterday. Tomorrow, they will all be another inch longer, at least. It isn’t quite visible from this angle, but this plant has SIX in bloom squash forming. There are five yellow squash plants. While I know everyone thinks math is a waste of time in school, in gardening and farming there is very real math, and you should know it.

Especially if you grow squash.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

 

 

Attack of the scum

So yesterday I had to give in and go to the doc. Pneumonia, ruled out. Ear infection(s), ruled out. Sinus….bingo. The stuff that can come out of your face is remarkable in the collection of colors it takes on when you’re ill.  Probably should have gone sooner, but I hate waiting around in medical offices, even though they’re like a second home to me now. And I also hate antibiotics because of their – how to put this delicately? – rather deleterious effects on the gastro system. But that’s where we are.

The interesting thing about this is the weird drug interaction effects I’m having. I took all my meds with a feed – everything goes down the tube – and about five minutes later I felt stranger than I’ve ever felt on meds. In my mind, I imagine this may be what those folks back in the 60s felt when experimenting with various narcotics. In the here and now, it made me a bit of a zombie. On the plus side, I am catching naps here and there, thanks to it all, which is good since I’m an insomniac and every little bit helps.

Today’s goal: a shower. Simple. It will probably sap all my energy, but that’s what feeds are for. I’m a little pissed because my plans had been to transplant the rest of the seedlings from their flats, as it is WAY past time for that, but I just don’t have it together enough at the moment. So, maybe another day of not doing much of anything will prove to be what I need.

I know this one was supposed to be done yesterday, but eh, life called and wouldn’t stop yammering. You know the type.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Moonshot

No, I am not building rockets in my back yard to take me into space for a quick trip to the moon (although I would, in a heartbeat, climb aboard a capsule on top of a rocket to get to the ISS).

I finally got a new camera to replace my old Fuji, my “pocket” camera. Its age is showing. I picked up a Canon PowerShot SX730 and it is fantastic.

Here’s a longer shot. Jupiter is to the right and up from the moon.

I’m quite pleased with it: the zoom is excellent, as is the micro function, and those are the two things I use most often aside from standard mode when I am doing some photography.

Just a quick one tonight. I’ve been working out in the sun all day, getting  some rows ready for the rest of the transplants from the barn. My goal this week: get them all out into their homes for the season. I’m hoping to be able to get that done in just a couple of days. Naturally, I will be back to tell you all about it.

Until then, peeps: look to the skies. Be well.