Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Carnage Was Terrible

Bees were busy girls this afternoon, but that didn't turn me away from my task. My last post described my travails trying to melt ten tons of sugar into 8 cups of water. We did manage to pour a lot of syrup into the feeders (the top section, just under the roof, with no handles), but now, two weeks later, there's so much sugar left crystallized that the boards that are supposed to float are cemented into the bottoms. These are the feeder boxes. I thought I would move them to the curb for easier hosing, but there were so many bees I left them about 10 yards from the hives and still a safe distance from the sidewalk.
I removed the slatted boards that normally float on top of the liquid sugar. This is what was underneath. Veritable glaciers of sugar. I'm a good cook, but I sure messed this one up for these bees. I felt terrible having to hose in some water to loosen the sugar-pack. We lost a few, maybe not as many as in the sinking of the Titanic, but still.

I was by myself, which may have been foolhardy. I smoked them, I talked to them, I cajoled them. Then when I thought I had one INSIDE my veil I started to panic. Then when I realized it REALLY WAS inside my veil, I ran away. Like that helped-- it was INSIDE the veil. Anyway, a moment later the veil was off, but not before I got it on the jaw. Somehow that seemed to calm me. The worst was over. I suited up again and headed back to finish the job. Used the hive tool to scrape the sugar out, dumped it (and the carnage) to the curb, and put everything back together again. Got another girl between my shoe and sock so there's a glancing sting to my right foot, but so far no serious implications from either site. Maybe the wine is helping. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I thought I might need tequila, but the wine is working juuust fine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welfare Bees

In bee news, my hive partners and I took the hive apart down to the bottom super (of four) last weekend to see how set they are for the coming change of season. There's a LOT of bees, which is good, and we spotted the queen in tan hive, but neither blue nor tan hive had much if any brood. The brood the queen lays now will be the workers that take the hives through the winter.

Then on Sunday there was a tremendous amount of activity outside of blue hive. I've never seen them cloud in front of the hive that way. The next day there were so few hanging around the hive entrance I wondered (via email) to my hive partners if they might not have swarmed. This was alarming, as we hadn't had a confirmed sighting of a new queen or that one had been laid. Then over the next couple of days the hive looked completely normal. I guess I was just hysterical.

In any case, it is my turn to feed them. If we feed them they'll be working less outside the hive and will hopefully turn their energies toward making more bees.

I got 3 qts of water and six bags of sugar into my crab pot just fine. Then I thought it was a brilliant idea to use the giant aluminum pot that was in the garden next to the bucket in which we collect any comb we scrape when we're in the hives. I got the water and five of the six bags of sugar I had left into the pot and started cooking before I realized that the bottom wasn't sound and it was leaking all over the stove. I managed to get everything transferred to two other pots with Russ's help (and only a little spilled onto Russ's shoes). BUT, after hours of slow cooking, a lot of the sugar had not melted. I think the 2:1 might be too much octane. I cooked them more this morning and more of the sugar melted. We'll see if it's crystallized again this afternoon. And that was without that sixth bag of sugar. Lucky welfare bees! Will it hurt them if what we feed them is a bit crystallized? I doubt it. Reminds me of an elementary school experiment where we melted sugar until the water was so saturated it crystallized onto a string we left in the mixture over night.

I'm so glad it's cooler. We'll suit up and go back in this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed for more bee babies!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Uncertain Age

Anybody who knows me knows something about the journey I've taken over the last four years to lose a great deal of weight and to keep it off. I couldn't be more pleased with my results. I know, however, that I'm not 20 any more, but I don't think I'm an ancient yet. Why, you might ask, do I make this declaration? A little girl at the pool, maybe seven or eight, upon seeing me slide into the deep end of the pool, into what is supposed to be an area for adults, I might add, says to her companion, "There's an old lady getting into the pool!"

I guess that's me. Little git.