Category Archives: Bees and beekeeping

Bee wrangling

This morning before heading to the NOC to rack a new server for someone, I moved a couple of blocks into place back in the orchard to act as the stand for the front hive. That one is being moved to the rear after I discovered that the hive was completely shaded all day long in the original position – and that’s no good. It’s an invitation for hive beetles and for the bees to spend far too much time keeping the brood warm (no good now that we’re heading into whatever kind of winter we’ll have around here). This evening, mom and I suited up and transported the hive to the orchard. The bees were not terribly happy about any of it. I got stung twice, both times on the same foot I got stung previously: one directly on the achilles and one just slightly above the ankle, on the interior side of my foot. This even though I was suited up as the ankle cuff rode up a bit and the bees that had landed/fallen on my boot just crawled right up and let me know what they thought of it all. Hopefully they’ll be stronger now that they’ll have a lot more sunshine to work with, as this hive is definitely a laggard compared to the other two. The other two are destined to be moved out into the open orchard as well, so we’ll have a nice line of beehives back there when all is said and done.

Morning on the ranch

Everyone was up and moving around earlier than usual this morning. Mom is off for a week for vacation in the Blue Ridge area, so we packed her up and saw her off (we meaning the dogs and me, along with assorted other critters). It was quite foggy this morning, but started burning off immediately, and it should be a gorgeous day at the ranch. No rain in the forecast, and it hasn’t rained the past couple of days. This is a good thing, as we are absolutely saturated here, and still have some good sized mini lakes scattered around the property. What we really need, and which I hope to be able to do today, is a good mowing, since the grass has taken full advantage of the daily rains we had over the past week and a half. This morning, though, was just for looking around and marveling at the sheer number of spider webs. ‘Tis the season for this sort of thing.

They were everywhere. From the branches of a pear tree in a bucket in the herb garden…

…to the fence around the rear garden…

…to a supremely ambitious, human-sized web by the barn…

…to those seeming to float from their anchors in other places.

The girls were also up and working hard. Eventually, they’ll earn their own keep instead of requiring us to feed them every day to keep them alive. Until there is a good sustained bloom, though, I change out their feeders every day (or every other day, depending on the weather and how much syrup they’re taking).


This day done

Almost done. After starting off the day with the dispatching and burying of a chicken before morning coffee, I did some company work and watched Olympic coverage, managing to find quite a bit of fencing on, with some archery – including the men’s team event matches, way to go USA for the silver!) – and some handball and beach volleyball. I managed to find in the DVRd early morning hours the women’s 10m air rifle final, which mom judged to be quite boring. The primetime stuff on NBC tonight is tape delayed and already decided, so unless there is nothing else on, I won’t be watching much of it, as I’ve been following the #Olympics twitter feed and already know the results. I also managed to get out and refill all the gas cans around noon when all the soccer and basketball started, none of which interests me. The tricky part will be finding a time period in the coming days to do some mowing before we’re knee deep in grass again.

More jaw stretching shortly. Counting down to the point where it makes more sense to pull the rest of my teeth than to keep working on them, and there will be no dentures for me if I can’t open my mouth. I’ve given up enough foods over this crap, and I’d prefer not to have to be restricted to a completely liquid diet.

What are you looking at?


The bees in both hives in the rear were bearding when I went out to change the feeders – the bee kind, not the closeted dude kind. The feeders are full of simple syrup, to answer a question I received: equal parts water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves and there are no crystals left, then cooled and jarred. The bees need to be fed right now because we’re in a dearth period (nothing in particular is blooming for them to gather the amount of nectar they need) and because they’re new (so no stores for them to live on until the next bloom). We will undoubtedly not have any honey to harvest this year and likely not in the spring, either. Our target is next fall, assuming all goes well.

Insanity: Holding Pattern

Another day without a workout. One good thing: a visit with the ENT today, who gave an all clear: everything looks good, feels good (no lumps or anything in my tongue, mouth, or neck that he could feel). I have two CT scans on the 2nd, and I’m hopeful those will come back clear as well. We’re still on a 6-month rotation for visits to the various doctors and for scans, and maybe next year we can get back to yearly.

Today, though, more pain from the dental work and a couple of teeth that will be the next two to be pulled. The jarring from the jumping is a killer. So, new plan: restart on Sunday to give it a couple more days to calm down.

In the meantime, we’re still watching the floodwaters recede, slowly but surely, from the two feet or so that dropped in when Debby did Jacksonville. The bees survived high and dry, thanks to good placement of the hive. The chickens…well, chickens are not that bright, so they looked like drowned rats for a few days since they were not always smart enough to get in the coop and out of the rain.

The garden: the garlic has had it. After the fast, high heat, then a lot of rain at the beginning of the month, and now this rain, a lot of it is rotted. There may be some that can be salvaged, but for the most part, I’m counting it as a loss. Next season, I won’t be planting nearly as much, and only ordered a total of 20 pounds from Big John’s. This will give us a lot more room for tomatoes, once the frames are reworked. The remaining tomatoes out front are likely dead now, and the cukes were pulled two weeks ago after the first rounds of rain killed them off.

Looking forward to a reboot of the garden!

Thousands of girls

This is not a post about the drunken activities of spring breakers. Sorry. Rather, it is about the newest residents on the ranch.


She’s one of thousands in the three packages of bees we received on Thursday. I arrived home from my latest round of hyperbaric treatments (two more teeth yanked out of my head!) and the bees had already arrived, via a UPS driver who is allergic to bees. Apparently, as my family told me when I got home, he didn’t stick around longer than necessary to drop off the package and speed away.

People seem to think that honeybees are the same as wasps and yellowjackets and such, and generally are prone to freak out about tens of thousands of bees (in cages, mind you), but they are much more docile than their flying cousins. Since they can only sting once, and die immediately after doing so, it is in their best interests to reserve their rage for when it is well-founded, rather than stinging without regard. Or stinging multiple times, like the others can (and often) do. This is not to say that honeybees are thoughtful in the sense that we are, of course, or that they are particularly philosophical about their lot in life. They’re insects, after all. But they do have instincts, just like everything else on the planet.

My sister, nephew, and I had set up the hives on blocks, ready to be filled with bees. From there, it was a simple matter of shaking the bees out into their respective new homes. With some help, of course.

Installing the bees with Mason (06:39)

All in all, a very successful day with the bees. I went back afterward to put the feeders in place with some simple syrup for them to work with until they got their bearings and found real food. When they stop taking the syrup, I’ll remove the feeders.