Thursday, April 30, 2009


dang it!

Was heading out to the shed to grab my bike and saw something black dotting the back of the hive. Ants!!! I looked all over the bottom boards of the Lang Stand and didn't see them anywhere. I was concerned we'd have to move the hive back to check out what was compromisng in the front, then I realized the ants weren't going up. They were coming down.

The potato bush that sits next to it had a branch just touching the side of the hive. The ants were all to happy to climb over to the hive. I saw them mostly circling the hive, looks like the supers & propolis may be preventing them from entering.

I had to run to catch the train, left the beeman to start pruning the potato bush back.

le sigh. :-/ The more we prune the potato bush, the faster it grows. We tried to dig it up once and ended up breaking the shovel. We may need to figure out a permanat removal strategey here quickly. I do think it's a pretty enough plant, anything green & purple is preferable to plain boring fence. dang, dang, dang.

Monday, April 27, 2009

We did not kill the bees when we worked on the hive.

(always good news!)

The girls were REALLY active on Sunday. I went out (cotton pants and a tank top) and stood with them, taking some videos and photos. They were sweet and calm. One landed on my arm for a bit. Some videos! (all about 10 - 20 seconds in length)

Sweeney Ridge

The Growing Challenge: garden update!

Got some photos of the plants, for the most part all is well!

The lemon geranium was dug up. We took a bunch of cuttings to replant in a pot this time. Cutting or removing a healthy plant always bums me out a bit, especially after I saw a hummingbird taking sips from it in the morning. (And come back later and dart around where the geranium *had* been!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

short and sweet.

(clicking on the photo will make it huge, and thus read-able)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sun in Taurus

I was amused to realize the Sun is moving into Taurus right about now earlier today. It seems appropriate that the weekend was spent on earthly pursuits. The bees seem delighted with the weather. They are in and out of the hive from about 8am to about 6pm. After 6, the only bees I've really seen are the guard bees. They didn't mind my working in the garden, but after watching the breakneck speeds a few of them were exiting and entering the hive with, I did make an effort to move slowly & pause. With their vision, bees would see me as an obstacle, but may interpret me moving quickly in their path as a threat. As good natured as this hive has been, I don't want to damage our relationship.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardens + Bees = <3

Urban Bee Gardens.

They have some good articles, and a list of bee friendly flowers. So how compatible are the bees and the garden?

We've got Borage, Marigold (teeny seedlings anyway!), California Poppy, Lavender, Scented Geranium, Sage, "Hot Lips" Salvia, Mint, Zucchini, Echinacea, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme.

If the birds don't eat the seeds, we should have Brush Sunflowers.

I'm surprised Marjoram isn't on the list. Many a summer afternoon I've sat and watched them work over the tiny purple flowers. Strawberries are also not on the list, but I'm pretty sure they are pollinated mostly by bees.

Awesome. :)

It's been bee-utiful weather.

In addition to checking on the vegetable patch, the rest of the garden is absolutely glowing. And that includes the gardeners best friend - our bees!

I snapped this photo sometime in the last week, forgot to date it, and with so many photos taken this month, it's a mystery! The front of the hive faces into the corner of the fence - which is great for the bees in & out, but not so great for observation - and I was wondering if there were guard bees present. After seeing this - yep!

I've also noticed the bees seem to be settling in for the night around 6pm. The sun isn't setting until closer to 8, but hey, everyone has their own bed time. ;) If I go to the hive after they are in for the night, one or two bees will quickly be out and doing lazy loops around my head. I haven't felt threatened, it's more of a "hey, whatcha doing?" feeling.

Growing Challenge: Status on all plants from seeds!

Got home in time to check out the garden. Luckily, the camera cooperated long enough to allow me to take some photos. Good news all around!

Hello there, cucumber sprout! (yes, I keep hearing this seedling saying "heeeyyyyy" in my head. Too many lolcats.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gorgeous weather, perfect timing.

Until this weekend, the bees were causing some anxiety. Were we going to lose everything? Would they stay? How many more dead bees are we going to see here? They were put into the hive on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday (besides me being at work during the day) were cool and overcast.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Il tempio di Giove e perfettamente conservato*

I slept fitfully, dreaming of bees and Stargazer Lily's growing above the house. I was up early, and went to the front window to watch the hive. Had they made it through the night? Were they liking their house? Were they eating? Was comb being drawn out? Would they fly in the overcast, foggy wet weather?

No photos were taken in the morning, but our findings were detailed here. Before heading to the train we loaded the truck with the second bee package, hive tools, sugar syrup, smoker, etc! I bagged up my gloves & jacket so a friend could observe the install of Terpsichore, and off Beeman went.

As far as I know, "beginners luck" does not refer to beehives.


While I was at work, the amazing bee man assembled the hive and separated the two-fer of bees. One for Urania, one for Terpsichore. He mentioned that the bees seemed louder and ready to fly. Hm.

Urania hive +14 hours.

Based on the advice of one of the Beekeeping Guild members, we placed a Queen Excluder between the bottom board and the brood super to prevent the Queen from swarming before the workers had a chance to lay down comb and set up a house. The Guild members starting a new hive with drawn comb - but if you are a new beekeeper - where do you get your drawn comb from? So we're starting with new comb, which is the bee equivalent of a fixer-upper.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Long live the Queen! Hail Urania!

About to sit down to dinner. The hiving process took about one hour in all. It was way more intense than I imagined! All the books, websites, videos, demos, etc - nothing really prepares you like the experience itself!

This is one of my favorite pictures from the event - me pouring the bees in. The hive is closed, the Queen is still in her cage in the hive, and the bees are settling down for the night.

Hail Urania!

hiving in one hour!

We'll be hiving the bees between six and seven tonight if all goes well. I'm told during the day they got really loud! I'm keeping my bike on the deck tonight - didn't want to risk going next to angry bees in my black & yellows to hang the bike up in the shed.

The hive is facing the corner of the fence in the least occupied part of my yard. On the other side of the fence is my front yard neighbor's back yard, which he used to collect weeds. My side neighbor has a small walkway on the other side behind a large storage shed and a dog run, so it's not well peopled either. *crossing fingers for safety*

Our Queen Excluders arrived from Mann Lake today, hooray! We're putting them *under* the brood box until some comb is laid out. Once we see that there are cells, we'll take it off to allow the Queen on her Nuptial Flight. The goal here is to keep them in the hive, rather then have the bees do the equivalent of "we're not interested in a fixer-upper, off we fly."

eeee! very excited!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The bees are here! The bees are here!

This picture amuses me on several levels. It's in my storage shed, and unbeknownst to me at the time, it contains my very own basement cat resting on top of the wine buckets. Beneath her is our "wine cellar" (ha ha!) But yeah, there's our bees!!! The shed is fairly protected, so they should be dry and warmer than if out on the deck.

And yeah, bottom right corner is one of the big wheels. That may or may not have an Easter ride. Anyway! Enough about my messy shed!

Nine Muses to rule them!

(sung to the tune of Oscar Meyer)

My hive has a sister, it's Terp-si-chore!

If you feed them, they will come!

With the warmer days, we're throwing seed back into the feeder. Birdseed, we've discovered, is great for organic pest management. It's overly simple, and it's my summary, but it appears it works something like this -
-feed birds
-birds get used to eating here
-birds will find food. They eat the slugs & snails.

I had tons of slugs and snails when I moved in, and after one summer of bird feeding, no more slugs or snails. Awesome!

The bad news - they dug up our sunflower seeds for food. :-/

Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting ready for 30,000 new pets!

Time to get ready for the bees! Most of this happened last week, over my work's Spring Break. It's good to be an adult and still get Spring Break. ;) Anyway - a quick summary (in photos!) of the work thus far. More photos and maybe video to come, the bees arrive tomorrow!

My truck at Mann Lake in Woodland, California. Two hives, frames, a smoker, some hive tools, some jackets with hoods, some gloves, etc etc ... A great road trip!
This tiny bee landed on telescoping cover while painting. Tiny bee approval: Check!

The local Beekeeping Guild did an installation demo. Huge advantage that his frames are all drawn out with brood. We even saw a few new workers emerge - amazing!

Bee cat approves of Bee boxes!
The hive, Urania, painted. In Celestial Blue. (oh, the name was too perfect. Turns out the color was pretty awesome too.) The hive is named for the Muse of Astronomy and Astrology -

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Growing Challenge: First weekend of April, cucumber seeds!

Urania Hive is painted and ready to go. To use the Queen Excluder or to not use the Queen Excluder? On one hand, it sounds good - the workers have a lot of work to do, and there's nowhere for the Queen to start laying. What's to stop them from collectively saying, this blows. Let's go find a better place. On the other hand - all the books & websites & other Guild members thus far haven't mentioned this - just one guy. Hm.