Saturday, May 17, 2014

Smokin' in the Girls' Room...

A few weeks ago, my colleague Knock Knock and I started singing a Brownsville Station classic Smokin' in the Boy's Room in the Miami Room (what we call our teacher's lounge area), much to the joy of our other colleague Old Foxy. It was a fun way to start a school day, that's for sure. Anyway, the title of this post comes from that incident. I thought I would just post a few photos of one of the more important tools of the beekeeper, be he a maverick backyard hobbyist or a commercial by-the-book apiarist. I am talking, of course, about the smoker. Before opening the hive to check out how things are going with the queen and her brood, you have to blow some smoke on them. Smoke masks the pheremones that bees use to signal trouble (among other things)so when they get smoked the calm down and mind their own beeswax. Here is a link to some guy on youtube who has a collection of smokers. smoker collection  I am going to post some photos of my smoker and the material I use etc. Also a quick shot of my latest wardrobe accessory, suggested by Solar Chaucer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

1 Week in...

Well, I opened up my hive to check out what the girls have been up to since I hived them last Saturday.
They had been running through a quart of syrup (1:1 sugar and water mixture)almost every day, which is supposed to be a good sign that things are going well. Yes, and no. The good is that the bees are working their tails off making honeycomb. This is called "drawing comb" in the biz, by the way. "Yeah, my gals drew about six frames of comb last week," is probably what I would say at a Beekeeping party, if I were invited to one. Then I might say,"Is anybody buzzed yet?" Or not. Anywho... the not so good thing is that I didn't notice any eggs laid in any of the comb. Bummer. This means one of two (or about 50) things. The biggest possibility it that the queen just hasn't started laying becasue she is not completely comfy yet. The next biggest possibility is that the queen is a failure and there is a good chance my hive will decline and die. That would be a drag. Apparently I can order a new queen and maybe save the hive, but if I wait too long it will be too late. I have seen the queen and she looks happy and healthy, crawling around being a busybody. I don't really want to give up on her after a week, but this realm of maverick beekeeping is a cutthroat world. I am going out there after school today. If I dont' see any eggs, I will order a new queen, and send my present one to the guillotine.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Maverick Beekeeper

Well, here I am. Keeping bees. On Saturday I performed a successful hiving of a package of bees. Sadly, I am not very digitally capable, so all I have is one photo of me after the successful hiving. You can see the smile of a job well done on my face. You can also see, in my hand, the book The Circle by David Eggers. I used it to cover the hole of the bee package after I removed the sugar water feeding can that comes with the bees. I always knew Eggers was good for something... I decided to get some bees because my friend Solar Chaucer told me last year up on Lake Bill about how a couple beehives tripled the amount of fruit he harvested from the fruit trees on his property. Intrigued, I started doing some reading. "Self," I said, "you can do this." So I took my daughters, Bubbles and Carlos, down to Sacramento Beekeeping , bought a box, and ordered a package of bees. We built the box and painted it. I let Bubbles and Carlos choose the colors. We decided on a camoflague(ish) of brown, green, and gold (ish). I don't think I took any photos of that event, but I am going to try to better document this new undertaking henceforth... Back to the bees. Or rather, the beesuit. Even though I am a rogue beekeeper, I was very concerned about being fashion appropriate while working with my new ladyfrens. Solar suggested coveralls for all the pockets they offer. Looking for a dowel at Emigh Hardware last week, I stumbled upon apair of white coveralls made for a Shaquille Oneal-sized painter. Sweeeeet! Now, not only am I covered head to toe in white, I also sport the sagging look favored by most of the sophomers that I teach. Tomorrow will be day 3 of the the new hive. I am supposed to open the hive and check to make sure the queen has been released from her cage. I'll try to take some photos.