Friday, July 26, 2013

Last Steps

Sarah and I performed another hive check on Sunday, and what we found wasn't good.  Actually it was what we DIDN'T find.  No Queen Catherine!  There were actually still bees left in the hive, a very small population, but enough to care for some brood, if there were any.  We went through every frame, and no queen, no eggs.  No dead carcass with a red dot on the bottom board or in front of the hive.  Did she fly away?  Was she killed, even though they appeared to accept her fine?  I hate not knowing what happened!  If I don't know what it was, how am I supposed to correct it so it doesn't happen again?  Arrrggghhhh!!!

Only a few frames of bees left

Both Sarah and I working without gloves. Granted, there was only a small population of bees.
The only good things about Sunday's hive check was that my niece Enya helped out again, and I worked it without any protective gear.  Sarah also did it without gloves.  We did put our veils on when we shook the remaining bees into one box, but I think we're getting more comfortable and less jumpy.  Due to the declining population, we took off the second deep box, and brushed or shook all the bees off of the frames into the bottom deep.  We put the best frames into the bottom box, and packed up the others. 

Enya helping with the honey extraction
 Oh, and we got a little honey.  HONEY!!!  There was one frame we pulled that had 1/2 of one side with capped honey.  Not much, just enough for a taste, right?  Wrong!  With Enya helping, we scraped the capped honey into a strainer lined with cheesecloth, sitting over a bowl.  We crushed it all up, breaking open all of the honeycomb cells, and let gravity do it's work (hence it being called the "crush and strain" method).  After letting it sit for a few hours, with periodic smooshing, we ended up with 2 small jars of golden elixir.  At least the day had a sweet ending!

Our first honey!

Monday, July 22, 2013

First Steps

7/16/13  It's a good thing I checked on the bees last night.  Queen Catherine was still in her cage!  Even poking the hole in the candy plug hadn't encouraged the bees to eat enough of it to let her out.  Then I was an idiot and placed the cage with plug-side down, completely forgetting that if/when any of her attendants died, gravity would have them falling and blocking the path out.  Which is EXACTLY what happened.  Only instead of falling, it looks like one of the workers actually died while eating.  So strange!  I pulled the screen off of the cage, and encouraged Queen Catherine to walk out into the hive.  Only she didn't want too, and nobody can MAKE a queen do anything.  So I waited.  And waited.  Finally, I pretty much had to dump her out onto a frame.  Even then, she was slow to walk down into the hive.  This gave us (myself, Mr. HPL, Dick, and Dick's neighbors) time to watch her though. 
Queen Catherine (with the red dot) walks down into the hive
She is definitely not as large as Queen Beatrice (may she rest in peace), and I will continue to worry about how well she was mated until I can see a good brood pattern.  Hive population continues to decline.  Refilled the syrup feeders, but only time will tell if these bees will make it.  This is another instance where a second hive would be helpful; I could shake a couple frames of bees into the weak hive to add workers to take care of brood, or I could just swap a frame of capped brood into it, so the newly hatching bees would take care of the queen and housekeeping.

Have I mentioned I don't have much patience? 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Quest for the Queen

We have not had good luck with our hive this summer.  Is there a queen, is there not a queen, is Beatrice dead, do we have a laying worker . . . are they all going to die?
Then, a surprise.  We did a hive check on July 3rd, and low and behold, we had bees!  Yes, there were quite a few fuzzy drones (left behind by the laying worker, no doubt), but where we'd thought to find an almost zero population, we had bees working both boxes!  Our best guess is that our laying worker died, along with some of the original bees, and we collected some foragers from hives that were burned out in the Black Forest fire.  Without a laying worker and a decent population, we could try introducing a new queen.  We added some sugar syrup to them, and I went in on an order for a new queen from Z's Bees.  

This time I got a Carniolan queen, instead of an Italian.  While not being as big honey producers, they're even less aggressive than Italians and suited to cold climates and high elevations.  They're smaller, darker, and just as lovely.  The new queen (Queen Catherine?) arrived last Tuesday.  I picked her up, carried her around in my pocket until I could make it out to the bee yard and install her.  
Keeping Queen Catherine nice and warm
I left the cork in the cage, and placed her crossways between two frames on the bottom box.  I wanted as much access to her as possible for the worker bees.  Then I closed it all up and left them to do their thing.  I'm slightly concerned because her abdomen isn't as large or fat as most of the queens I've seen.  I'm not sure if this is because she's a Carniolan, or if she was poorly mated.  I guess we'll find out in a few weeks.
Queen Catherine and her attendants
I returned on Friday and removed the cork.  I poked a hole in the fondant, so the bees could work on releasing the queen from both sides.  There were a lot fewer bees, but hopefully enough will survive until the queen can produce a new bunch of brood.  Keep your fingers crossed!
Hardly any bees left

Monday, July 8, 2013

Short Corn

The Farmer's Almanac axiom is that corn should be "knee-high by the Fourth of July."  Well, mine isn't.  This is what getting a late start leads to.  Short corn!  It's only about calf-high, and some are even shorter than that.  It just means instead of late July, it will be August before my sweet corn is ready to grill.  

Not quite there yet
My lettuce is going well, and I'll be starting to pick it this week.  The peas are going gangbusters, and I've begun to train them up the trellis.  The cucumbers are also ready to be trained up the trellis, they just need to reach a liiiittttle farther.  
Peas starting to climb the trellis along the back fence
Since none of the bush beans came up (yes, I did soak them overnight), we had an open space in the garden.  Mr. HPL decided he wanted to try tomatoes this year, so we could make salsa and marinara sauce, so we picked up a few and are going to give it a shot.  We also bought a watermelon plant, so that makes watermelons AND cantaloupes.  I'm going to try and trellis the melons too, so that they don't take over the entire garden.
Slanted trellis for cukes, setup to shade the lettuce beneath 
Oh yeah, I'm growing hops too.

Centennial.  There's Cascade and Hallertauer too.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Did I Finish in Time?

NO!  Camp Loopy Project One was not completed by June 30.  FAILURE!  I'm continuing on with camp though.  

Camp Loopy Project Two runs from July 1st to the 31st, and consists of the following challenge:
"Has there been a popular pattern that passed you by? This challenge is to knit a pattern that has been popular with other knitters, that you haven’t knit before. The project needs to have at least 1000 projects listed (or 1000 queued up) on Ravelry, and it needs to use at least 500 yards, single stranded."

Well, Wingspan has 7698 projects, and is in 7814 queues. I think that qualifies. I've had this pattern in my Favorites, but have been putting it off.  I tend to not like knitting the patterns EVERYONE's done, such as Clapotis, or the Hitchhiker.  But I really do love the look of the Wingspan, and well, if Camp Loopy is making me knit it . . . 
© bonewoman
After spending HOURS looking through The Loopy Ewe’s yarn options, I went with the Wollmeise Pure, a 100% superwash merino, in the "No Whale Watching in CO" colorway. I inadvertantly started it, and decided to continue going with the yarn colorway names having a Colorado reference. It kind of makes it more personal that way. This is also my first time using Wollmeise, so I get to see what all the fuss is about.  There are entire fan groups dedicated to Wollmeise yarns.  I hope it lives up to the hype.

For Project One all 'campers' were assigned mountains (Go Mt Fiberopolis!), and for Project Two we were supposed to be assigned to Tree Houses.  But I didn't get one!  I guess I can pick any of them to join, but it's just not the same (if I sound whiny here, it's because I am)! 

Off to wind my yarn so I can cast-on!

No Whale Watching in CO

Monday, July 1, 2013

20 Years Come and Gone

I went to my 20th High School Reunion last weekend.  It was . . . nice.  I wasn't sure about going, but I'm so glad I did.  Everyone who showed up was great.  Twenty years can definitely break down cliques and soften memories.  Once we figured out who was who (especially the guys, sorry, but without the hair you just don't look the same) we had a great time catching up.  I discovered that a lot of my class is living in Colorado now, not too far from me. 

I reverted a bit to my younger self (yes, I HAVE developed a better filter over the years), but I was just so excited about seeing some of my best friends from high school.  Why did we lose touch in the first place?  Yes, college kept me busy, but NEVER too busy for coffee.  The Air Force kept moving me around, but that's what email is for, right?  I'm hoping to keep in touch this time and continue catching up with my friends' lives. 

What I thought would be weird, wasn't.  It was great.