Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Prep (and a quick bee update)


These are place cards.  I riffed them off a template idea of Martha's, but instead I made logs out of this fabulous tree paper in brown and gold, then drew a squirrel with a gold sharpie and inserted it into the log.  They will sit on the plates and each will be filled with delicious nuts and candies.  I kept the names looking like fur lines.  
I have a giant list of things to prep today for tomorrow's Thanksgiving.  I am very excited to have all my children (My son just moved his family 3000 miles to live here--YEAH!!!)  and grandchildren coming as well as another young family.  That is three young families, each with two children under the age of 4, myself and my husband, and the Dr. Vet daughter--15 for dinner.  Should be crazy and fun.  So today, I am doing an Instagram feed of my preparations.  It sounds fun to me to document the little details that happen before anyone arrives.  All the cooking, baking, crafting, maybe even cleaning.  Whatever.  If you are interested take a look at the instagram feed on this blog and you can add me to your follows there, if you like.  I will be using my iPhone, nothing fancy. 


It is hard to post a blog every day.  Seems I missed yesterday.  My evening was spent with a couple fellow beekeepers here in town.  I had hoped that more of our townies could show up at the library and discuss how our bees are faring and what kinds of honey they-not me-harvested.  We learn from each other.  

I am impressed with one young dad, beekeeper.  He bought bees once about 5 years ago and has been able to keep hives going that long without another package purchase.  He collects swarms, some his, some from others to augment his bees.  He also has one hive that is away from his hives here in town, which is very aggressive, as mine have become.  (I got stung last Saturday making a quick hive adjustment.)  Some hives are just that way.  

He strives for a very natural approach to his keeping, and a real hands off approach.  My guess is, that if he also incorporated some mite treatments and a more proactive approach to controlling his own swarms, that he would have a very good harvest next year and more colonies.  His brought some honey to taste.  Good stuff. No one else experienced any queen losses like I did.  But I did read in Bee Culture that queen losses are a problem all around.  The queens that are replaced are poorly mated.  They might be not be finding enough drones or enough drone diversity to make their egg production the best.  Promiscuity in a queen is a very good thing.  She only has a few flights to mate with as many drones as possible.  After that, she is kept in the hive laying eggs.

It is nice to take a break from the bees.  I still have one chore in the apiary yet..  I want to put some fondant for them to eat through the hard part of the winter.  I tried making some Saturday, but it turned to crystals-twice.  I am a lousy candy maker.  Candy making is not like baking or cooking; it is chemistry.  I will buy some pre-made (Better Bee? Dadant?) before I waste another 5 pound bag of sugar here.  This, so far, is a very costly hobby to get into, without much honey reward. 

Beekeeping goals:

  • do what I can to keep this colony alive through the winter
  • order an additional package for spring
  • end next season with three thriving hives
  • harvest honey 

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