Category Archives: Beekeeping

Meddling with the Bees and other Summer Pursuits

So I tried to meddle. But I can explain.

I tried to split my hive into two hives to prevent swarming. Sounds clever right? Even straightforward?

Maybe I’m just out of practise. I haven’t split a hive in a while. So I had 4 boxes in the beehive. And I checked them and made sure the boxes had eggs in it so that they could raise their own queen. Then I literally took the top two boxes and moved them over to their own bottom board. And left the bottom two boxes where they sat. I covered the top boxes’ entrance with grass so the bees would re-orientate themselves and voila! Two hives!

But it was not so. No. The top boxes actually housed the queen. The bottom boxes, queenless, didn’t raise a new queen. Thus after waiting the 28 days to see eggs from a new Queen, I piled all the boxes back together, with newspaper in between. The newspaper in between the separated hives allows the bees time to chew through the newspaper and become reacquainted with each other’s smells again so there is not a big bee war.

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All that to say, now I have one massive hive. Which is doing really well, by the way. And it is sure to produce lots of honey. But again, I am outsmarted by the bees!

 

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After keeping bees now for 7 years, my confidence levels has grown in some aspects, but still, I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps farming of any kind is a humbling experience, because we can’t control the weather, the conditions or the creatures we are trying to manage. And what a blessing that is! If I had to find flowers for 70,000 bees, we would be in great peril!

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Marc took this fantastic picture of Ramona. We joked and said the next time she goes missing again, this can be on her “lost” poster. Oh Ramona.

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We’ve also been outside, gardening, bubbling, doning hippy wear, and doing what people do when living on the gulf islands. Ya know, the usual…

Happy June Everyone!

Lulling in the Sunshine

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Business has been booming. But in between all this, I have found a ray of sunshine to bathe myself in. Figuratively and literally.

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I have been utterly enjoying my daughter. I don’t know if it is her age and how delightful she is, or her smell that I find so intoxicating. Or if it’s the funny things she says. I feel like I can’t get enough of her.

Like today, we went to the grocery store. When we arrived she realized we had forgotten to bring her little shopping cart she likes to push around the store. I promised her that we could get her a little treat from the store as compensation. So we are in the frozen food aisle. To the right, there are buckets of ice cream. To her left are boxes of cookies. And the store manager is stocking shelves.

Gabrielle’s face lights up and she says to me, “Mommy! I know what I want for my treat!”

–I’m thinking, oh no! Cookies or Ice Cream?–

She says, “I want a stick of celery of my very own!”

“You sure are a Pender kid, Gabrielle.” I say to her smiling. The store manager is trying to muffle his laughter.

We get her a stick of celery and she gnaws it all the way to the till. Yum!

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We have salad greens sprouting and the peas are finally uncurling and popping through the soil. But tomorrow is April and it feels like we should be more ahead in the garden than we are. Maybe last year the weather was already warmer. Today was the first day the deck was warm enough for a t-shirt. Gosh, it’s only March. What am I complaining about? And I’m really not.

The bees aren’t either.

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I’ve been getting up early to run as the sun rises. It is so refreshing and starts off my day quietly, which I love. And it allows Marc to have the afternoons after work to build his cedar strip canoe.

When I was a kid, my brother was really into dinosaurs. He learned all about the different kinds, and what they ate, and what time period they lived. And through osmosis, I learned a lot about dinosaurs too.

We learn by the people around us and I am very fortunate to have a husband that is always learning something new. Right now, he’s learning how to build a canoe. Through osmosis, Gabrielle and I get to learn some of the steps too. As Marc drafts his canoe station molds, Gabrielle “drafts” her molds too, trying to imitate the lines he draws with careful precision. One moment, she is drawing plans for her canoe, the next she is hollering that hippo is having a baby!

This is a real conversation that recently happened in our house:

“Mommy! Come quickly, Hippo is having a baby!”

“Mommy! I can’t find the basket for Hippo’s placenta! Where is it? It’s coming and I don’t have a basket!!”

**Me looking at Marc with my hands raised like, Where does she come up with this stuff.**

He misinterpreted my gaze and retorts, “I don’t know where the Placenta Basket is!”

Happy April friends.

Baby plants, Baby Bees and just Babies

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Obviously we start with the best first. Babies!

I would say casually that they are popping out. But I must give credit to these beautiful women and how hard they work to birth their babies. However it happens, however long it takes, I am always amazed at the strength it takes to have a baby.

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And to think that the journey doesn’t end when the baby comes out, it is just the beginning. My daughter seems to know this well. Pip, her doll, got left outside overnight by the woodshed. Gabrielle is nursing Pip back to health after her cold and lonely night.

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The sun is returning to Pender Island. Glorious Spring Sun! The seeds are bursting and uncurling tiny leaves. And we have sewn seeds and while we wait for them to sprout, we run off to the beach to find rocks to paint.

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And my bees! Well they are doing really well, thanks for asking. They still have honey in the hive after minimal feeding. That means that their location is exactly right for them. If they have enough food to sustain them through the Winter, then they will burst this Summer. As soon as there are drones in the hive, I will look at splitting them.

Spring! Spring is by far better than Winter!

We Winter Bees

 

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I set to winterizing the bees today. Sugar syrup and some meds. I only have one hive with mites which is surprising as mites are one of those things that you just assume your bees have. Think of it like, if you went to Africa and lived there for six months, you’d expect to come home with a parasite of some kind. The honeybees are European. This land is not their land. Thus they do not always get along with their neighbours, and sometimes attract parasites. Such a shame really.

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The bees have more honey in their hives than I was expecting as it has been a bit rainy here. But it’s good news as we go into Winter, not knowing how harsh it may be or when they will get a chance to fly again. Did you know that bees born in the next few weeks will live for a few months? But bees born in Summer only live for 6 weeks. The bees in the Summer are worked ragged and from all the working and storing up, they wear themselves out sooner. The whole point of being a Winter Bee is to sit around and try not to eat all the stores before Spring finds you. Often I think of myself as a Winter Bee. I like sitting around and eating.

 

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Gabrielle is more of a Summer Bee. She likes running, picking flowers and pretending to slurp nectar from them. She likes flying back to her hive and dropping off the goods then buzzing off again. As a Winter Bee, watching a Summer Bee, I am going to live a shorter life from sheer second-hand exhaustion.

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So I made these pumpkin cookies. Because I’m a Winter Bee and I like eating. And they were amazing. The recipe is online HERE. They are not healthy for you. I am getting it right out there in the open. Seriously, the only thing remotely “healthy” is the pumpkin. Oh but they are yummy and almost like cake. The icing tops it all off perfectly.

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So I got a bag full of apples and I only had to give Krista, my friend, a few pumpkin cookies. Good trade!

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Gabrielle took a ton of pictures of me raking up leaves. But they were mostly pictures of my knees. So you get to see this one instead. The garden has a blanket of leaves on half the beds, and it is cozy and ready for a little rest. Yes, rest little Garden, because we are going to work you this summer!

And to the little long-lived Winter Bees, stay warm and cozy, eating your honey and drinking your tea. Play rummy or scrabble and be well. I’ll miss you! Adieu.

Not about that….

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So, when Marc found out he had a hernia, I said, “Oh, so you want to be quite private about this?”

My question is valid. He is a very private person.

He responded by saying, “Well, you can tell people. but don’t do a blog post about it or anything.”

ahem.

So I’m not doing a blog post about it.

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Anyway, he had his hernia surgery on Monday and since then he has been on the couch recuperating. In the time since he found out and was suffering with his hernia, I attended two births. We’ve been just a touch busy around here lately.

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But we’ve found our way. The babies have still been taken care of. As you can see from the picture above, they are getting ready for dinner. I have been doing the “blue” and “pink” jobs around here including mowing the lawn. Twice.

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The first attempt was a little skewed as I was figuring out how the mower worked and uh… apparently I can’t mow in a straight line. So, the lawn looked kinda like a bad haircut. But the second time it is much better. I’m actually proud to say I did it instead of hoping someone else takes the blame for the choppy grass with stray ends.

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In between all this birthing and hernia-ing and gardening and summer-ing that has befallen us, we have been enjoying the sun. (Yeah, I actually have a tan! In Canada! Who ever heard of such a ridiculous thing?!) We have peas popping out of every corner of the pea row and Gabrielle has taken it upon herself to search out and chomp every.single.one. The chard is being nibbled in stir fries, fried rice, and even burgers. Chard omelette? Yes please!

And the tomatoes are turning yellow. Oooo yum!

There is a hum over the garden now as the garden is wreathed in blackberry bushes. The bees are all over it. Every kind of bee. Mason bees, bumble bees and honey bees all slurping up that sweet nectar. The hive smells like honey and the frames are hiding purple nectar in every corner! Go bees!

We are happy and busy. And healing. Thanks for stopping in.

(See Marc, I didn’t blog about your hernia! Well, not the whole post!)