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

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"You Gotta Have Faith"

On Friday, December 16, 8" of snow fell in my area of the mountains. Up to 2' of snow was recorded in other areas of the mountains and some folks are still without power. Thankfully, power was not lost at my house. My biggest concern has been that I couldn't get into the garden to check on the hives. The gate has been frozen shut. Today, December 27, I finally got it open enough to squeeze through. On my initial visit to the hives, there were no bees to be seen. I rapped on both and got a reassuring hum from Ora, but nothing from Walter. This had been exactly the opposite response 2 weeks ago. I pulled the boards from underneath the screened bottoms and could see obvious signs of activity in each hive so I was not too worried. I also removed the entrance reducers and could see some dead bees in each hive but not enough to be concerned. Bees die in the cold. I walked back to the house and after a few minutes I thought I saw some bees flying and decided to take another trip to see what was going on. There were lots of bees pouring out of Walter! Hungry bees! I keep sugar syrup stored in the fridge, just in case, so I took out the Boardman feeder and back to the garden I went. The following pix show the girls hungrily lapping up the sugar syrup. The bees in Ora never did come out, but obviously things are fine inside and this hive is still heavy with stored honey. Once again, the 2 hives have behaved in complete opposite manner to the other but bottom line is that both are fine. I keep humming George Michaels - "You Gotta Have Faith".

This is the bottom board in Ora. There is debris caused by activity in the front, middle of the hive. I assume this is where the bees are clustered. There is also some varroa in each hive. Yuck.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silent Night...

Beekeeping has rewarded me with a wonderful and unexpected gift this year. I have made friends all over the world. To each of you, your families and friends - Merry Christmas! Lynn

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Tree

A perfect day in the snow to choose the perfect Christmas tree.
There's 65 acres here. How do I decide?

I think this might be the one.

Helping Grumps and Mr. Fowler take the tree to the car.

I'm exhausted. What a wonderful day baking cookies and cutting the perfect Christmas tree. We'll decorate it tomorrow after all the snow melts off the branches.

Savanna and Grumps Make Sugar Cookies

Savanna and Grumps spent the morning making sugar cookies. The pictures don't need much explanation. Just have a good time - they did! Smush the dough flat. Works better than the rolling pin.

Should we use green or red sprinkles? Maybe both would be better!
Sprinkles get in your eyes in you're not careful (:

Uh oh, look at Nana's floor.
Baby can fix it!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A walk around the yard on a snowy winter morning...

Eight inches of snow fell in Cashiers yesterday. I had a quiet walk this morning. The garden.
The front yard down by the stream.

My pink pig watering can.

The stream, east and west.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fears Relieved

Mother Nature has thrown the worst weather imaginable at us over the past few days. There has been snow, ice, rain (3" on Tuesday), cold and high wind (recorded gusts of over 100 mph in our high mountains). The bees were mostly staying inside the hives and during breaks I could rap on the side of the hives and hear them buzzing inside. During a brief break on Monday, I saw a good many bees outside Walter, the hive on the right, but no activity at all around Ora. I could hear no sound from the inside and I was worried. There had been lots of healthy bees in this hive on last inspection, but I know how quickly bees can die if faced with a problem. The temperatures warmed to the low 50's yesterday and, once again, I saw a good many bees coming and going from Walter. I decided to briefly open the inner cover on Ora and see what was going on. When I removed the inner cover I could see only a very few bees and since I was already that far in I lifted the shallow super. Much to my relief, I saw clustered in the forward right quadrant of the hive tons of bees!!!! After about 2o minutes I was back in the garden and look at all those bees flying outside Ora. Relief!, for me and the bees.

I also took a quick peek under Walter's inner cover and could see lots of bees inside. They didn't seem to be clustered like in the other hive. It's been very interesting having 2 hives this season for comparison sake. They are like having 2 children - they will never be the same but you always hope for the best out of each of them. The fun will start next season when I have Top Bar hives to compare to the Langstroth.

When the weather turned so cold last week I had put boards under the screened bottom boards to help with heat retention in the hives. When I checked those boards yesterday I could see debris from both hives. I think that's a good indication of hive activity and as the weather really gets bad, and it's going to this weekend, that will be a good way to check for live bees in the hives. I noticed a few varroa mites on each board, but I think half a dozen over a 2 week period is very acceptable.

Our temps are forecast to be single digit tonight and highs over the next 2 days only in the 20's with snow/ice on Saturday. Have I said yet "it's going to be a long winter".....

Monday, December 7, 2009


Snow fell all Saturday morning and after it stopped the temperatures dropped dramatically. We awoke to 17 on Sunday morning but it was a nice, balmy 27 today. I haven't seen a bee for more than a week now, but when I rap on the side of the hives I can hear a gentle hum from inside both. More rain is forecast for the week but with the rain comes warmer temperatures and maybe some breaks when the bees can get out for a while. If they want to do some ice skating, the fountain will be the perfect spot!