Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Comb In Walter Bee

I added this super to Walter Bee a couple of weeks ago and the workers are drawing out nice white comb. Click on the pictures to get a good look at the wax they're building on the foundation. Sorry for the blurs. Needless to say, it had rained all morning and I think a raindrop must have found it's way onto my camera lense. I didn't remove all the frames, but could see down inside that the bees were working quite nicely in the center.

Pretty white comb.

I very briefly removed the yellow super and could see a tremendous amount of activity in the gray box. Lots of honey.

Ora Bee with her new super.

Basic Frame-Building

This really is very simple, but building frames is one of my most favorite aspects of beekeeping. I love the smell of the wood and the warm fragrance of the wax foundation. Below are the parts of the frame ready to be assembled. Top bar, bottom bars, side pieces. My hive tool is in the picture because I use it and sandpaper to smooth rough edges. Side bars are glued and nailed, with 6 nails, to the top bar. I use lots of glue. When loaded with bees, wax and honey, frames are heavy.
Bottom bars are in place. Also glued and nailed with 4 nails. There is a small space between the bottom bars. I'll drop wax foundation in this space and secure at the bottom with the remaining bar. I use a compressor (staples) to complete this. Makes it fast.

Ten frames completed and dated and ready to hang in the small super. The foundation is etched with a hexagonal pattern. The bees will draw out the comb on this foundation. I'm considering some frames in my next super without foundation. The bees will still draw out the comb.

Ready to go on Ora Bee.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wild Mushrooms and More Rain

I know I sound like a broken record, but it's just rain, rain, rain. Too many inches to even keep track of anymore. We had tremendous thunderstorms last night between the hours of 10 and 2. Not much sleep going on. However, storms are cool to listen to here because we live in a valley between mountains. The thunder echoes off the peaks and rumbles forever. My garden is growing well in spite of, or maybe because of, the rain. The bees are working the tulip poplar between storms. I found these mushrooms this morning. The big orange ones have been growing for a couple of days. The little brown ones literally sprang up overnight. We don't eat wild mushrooms because I don't know which are safe. I'll stick to the shitake I'm growing.

There is a slug on one of the mushrooms in the picture above and a really pretty black and orange bug in the picture below.

I considered starting building an ark this afternoon, but have decided I need to add a super to Ora Bee and need to build frames. So I'm out the door to do just that. I'll post "Basic Frame-Building 101" tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


That was the temperature at 7:00 am.

My husband suffered a serious injury to his arm last summer and had to have emergency surgery to save it. When the surgeon came out of the operating room to talk to me his words were "We stepped over a big snake. The arm is OK." Well we stepped over a snake last night. Thankfully the frost was light and, as far as I can tell this morning, everything looks fine. I did make a last minute decision to cover tomatoes, peppers and eggplant and dahlias, but the bulk of the garden was not protected and is good.

The temps tonight will probably be high 30's, but after that it looks like clear sailing. I hope no more "snakes" in the garden other than the 2 living there that I see almost everyday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring? In The Mountains

The good news is that the drought if officially over. Of course it didn't exactly take a meteorologist to figure that one out. We've had rain in epic amounts since the first of the year. Over 8 inches so far in May. The bad news is that the temperature was 35 this morning and frost is predicted for tonight. I've been trying to decide if I want to try to cover plants in the garden, but have decided against it. There is so much growing, it would be impossible to cover everything. I'm just going to let Mother Nature take her course and see what happens. Although we had the coldest winter in recent history, my perennials look better than they ever have. The hostas have doubled in size from last year. The pink flower is a campion rose that my Mother and aunt shared with me a couple of weeks ago. I had a lovely visit with them and came away with a lot of treasures in the form of flowers, seeds and items my grandfather, Walter, had made. I'll post more on that later. By the way, Jackie, all the plants are doing quite well, including the money plant. Let's hope for the best tonight.

Hostas surrounded by our native, wild sunflower.

Potatoes are looking great. I'm also growing some in wire cages. Walter and Ora Bee on the hill.

My little garden angel smiling over more hostas. Hope she's not crying over a pile of mush in the morning. There's nothing worse than frozen hostas. Calendula is sprouting in the box behind her.

Daylillies, lettuce, hostas and phlox. All my beds are filled with a combination of herbs, flowers and vegetables.

One of my reasons for this blog was to record the name of everything I plant, the date on which it was planted and the date it germinated. I've been so busy in the past couple of weeks that I've fallen behind on recording that information in the sidebar. I hope to catch up soon. It's supposed to rain again by the end of the week, so maybe then.

Both Walter and Ora Bee are doing well. I've only been able to do one inspection, because of the rain, but the bees in Walter are making honey in the super that I left on for the winter so I added an additional super this past Saturday. The Tulip Poplar is blooming. Ora is not ready for a super yet. Hope to be able to check later this week. Again, depending on weather.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ora Bee

Marshall Rice lives about 10 miles from us, and with over 200 hives, is the largest beekeeper in Jackson County, NC. I learned early last week that he had bees for sale. He has been busy splitting his colonies in an effort to keep them from swarming. I had assembled and painted my new hive a couple of weeks ago and all I needed were the bees. On Thursday evening we headed to his house to pick up a split.
Here I am opening my new hive box while Marshall opens the box containing my bees.
My brood box is open and ready for 5 frames of bees, eggs, brood and queen. We did not see her majesty, but Marshall found her earlier and marked her with a white dot. There are some of his hives up on the hill in the right of the picture.

Lovely frame of bees. Marshall is lifting the frame with a tool that I do not have, but will soon invest in. This frame lifter makes it very easy to grasp a frame filled with bees.

We waited until almost dark to get the bees so that most of them would be in the hive and not out working, but there were a few stubborn ones that just did not want to go into the new hive box. Marshall patiently smoked them and soon most all settled into their new home. We taped over the opening in the inner cover and inserted a wire screen on the front opening of the box to prevent any bees from escaping and make our drive back home uneventful.

We had rain Friday morning, but by mid-day it had stopped and the new colony was out. I watched as they made orientation flights. Small circles at first and then on each subsequent flight a larger circle until they were finding their way out into the woods and garden to forage. There was pollen coming in by afternoon. That's the wire mesh on top of the hive we used to cover the front entrance.

Ora Bee has settled in quite nicely next to Walter Bee. Ora was my grandmother.

Stream After The Rain

This is the music I garden to.