Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bee Installation Success

As I mentioned Thursday, the bees had arrived.  This was clear indication to me that something exciting, and interesting was about to happen on my MooseBoots journey.  Friday, the weather was gorgeous, but I could not get to Gold Star to pick up my package.  So, they had to wait until Saturday morning.  As luck would have it, the girls didn't have dance class.  The weather was cool and rainy.  Wendy and I talked on the way up and decided that we would install the bees while it was cool ... they would be lethargic and easy to deal with.

We arrived at the same time as another beekeeper picking up a hive.  She and Christy were chatting and the comment was made that they pitied anyone who tried to "put bees in a box today."  It got the gear turning ... why?  The light bulb went off for us ... the bees need to stay warm and we would be dumping them in a loose heap on the bottom of the hive.  They being cold, would not be able to clump together and likely they would die!  So, we decided to wait until today.  On the drive home, the bees got very active in the warmth of the truck.  But, there were a lot of dead bees on the bottom of the package - this was one of the better packages left.  We had just enough time to drop them off at the house before Cinderella choreography for Big Little Sister.

This morning, the day dawned a brilliant blue.  I goofed around for a bit and then decided to prepare the hive for the installation.  I re-watched a few videos on installing the bees and noted a few "differences" between what I did last year and what the video showed.  Of course, I also benefited from the filter of experience rather than that of a new-bee.

Then, I stepped out to place the hive in its home and was hit between the eyes - it was gorgeous out!  The sun was shining brightly and it was in the mid/upper 50's at 10:00.  Perfect weather for "hiving the bees."  Wendy and I moved the hive into position and got everything prepared.  This year, as opposed to last year, we were not pressed for time.  There was nothing else to do today, except hang out at home.

So, it was time.  I took the package out with what I thought was all of the stuff.  Alas ....  I pried the cover up from the package and was surprised that the queen cage came with it ... now, there is an opening for bees to use.  I flipped the cover over and pulled the queen cage off of the staple that went through the metal tab.

It was at this point I realized I needed a hammer, a nail, and a drywall screw.  Wendy volunteered to get those things.  And, we quickly proceeded.  I punched a hole in the tab, pulled the cork and attached her to a bar.  So, the queen was in the hive.  So far, so good.

Then, everything moved very quickly.  We had a quick discussion on "bonking" the box and how we were going to dump the bees into their new home.  This is a little unnerving ... 10,000 bees flying around going, "hey, someone just threw us on the ground and then poured us into a box like so much cereal into a bowl."  I'll admit, the package sat in the hive for a few second before I extracted it.  Then, we covered over the opening with many of our new friends flying around.  A few, however, became "closer" friends.

Tonight, we all go to bed, secure in the knowledge that we have done good work - the bees and we.  I hope that this part of my MooseBoots path works out more favorably for us and the bees.  Regardless, we all win.  The bees have a new home.  We helped some new friends move into their new home.  And, no one got injured in the process - no stings means no bees died. We are all content.  Bee Well!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Bee-ing Ready

As you know, if you've been tagging along, my MooseBoots journey is not filled with triumph after triumph, success after success.  It has many, often humorous, failures.  I like to think that my awareness and intuition are growing more and more reliable, but sometimes I get put in my place.  I am a fallible human and, contrary to what I may tell my kids, I do not know everything.  But ... I am willing to try (and make a fool of myself) and to learn.

Last year, our first hive was a failure.  In the face of that failure, I present the following:
  • I am comfortable with my ability to recognize some problems with the hive (not all, but it is only my second year).
  • I am certain of the correct procedure to install the bees in the hive.
  • I have a much better idea what to expect from the bees.
  • I am more aware and am actively trying to develop this awareness further.
So, the order was placed months ago for a new package of bees.  They have arrived at Gold Star Honeybees and are ready for pick up.  We will be picking them up tomorrow or Saturday for immediate installation.  I hope to work successfully with the bees this year.

We knew they were coming and took the opportunity to finish cleaning the hive.  We also decided to give it a fresh new paint job.  I had some help.  Can you think of any better way to re-dedicate a home for bees than with the love and laughter of four lovely "flowers".  I'll admit that I may have touched up some of the paint, when they ran off to play and weren't looking.

I humbly ask the Universe to provide the guidance and wisdom I need to work with these incredible bee-ings.  And I will gladly go, stumbling down my MooseBoots path, growing, learning, loving, and laughing.  My your path be filled with joy and love, and may it be your own.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The End Of The Season ... And Yet ...The Beginning

I have observed, as I look back through the archives, that I have gone full circle.  The wheel has gone full circle and yet it turns.  My MooseBoots journey has followed suit.  The sugaring season, for instance, is done for the year.  I have every reason to be thankful.  We were able to forage nearly 4 gallons of syrup.  Our boiling technique has improved ... it took no longer to process 4 gallons than it did to process 2 last year.  We learn and grow.  We plot and scheme to improve upon our success.

I mentioned, in previous posts, that we ran out of wood in the middle of February.  The neighbors has a surplus and offered us some of theirs.  The supply is now out for both homes.  Our neighbors say they don't care because they saved over 700 gallons of oil this year.  Heating oil is currently $3.50 per gallon (for those who don't use it).  They decided to get a wood stove because they watched us and saw the benefit.  They refuse to accept compensation of any kind.  Perhaps, there is a way ...

The evening, while Wendy and the girls were at dance class, I took some time to go into the woods.  I didn't go far.  I stopped near the edge and started gathering wood.  I had thought to bring along some twine.  I strung the four pieces of twine together in two parallel sections.  Then, I gathered the fallen branches.  These I stacked on the twine segments.  I wandered and listened, enjoying my time in the quiet of the forest.  I noticed the wintergreen is alive and well.  I am anxiously awaiting more growth - I really want to expand our foraging efforts.  Before I knew it, I had a large pile of branches.  I strung the twine through itself and lifted the bundle.  It was a little too big ... I staggered through the snow and managed to get to the road.  Then, I lifted it again and started down the 0.1 miles to the house.  I am ashamed to say that I didn't make it.  I ended up coming home and getting a wagon to cart it the rest of the way back.

The branches were too long for the stove.  So, I untied the bundle and broke the sticks into pieces.  These I carried into the house.  I also gathered the little splinters to use as kindling.  I felt like I had accomplished something ... I gathered enough wood for the night (and maybe a bit extra).

The fire is blazing, now.  All that remains is to sip the wonderful Wintergreen tea.  Oh, did I forget to mention the foraging effort ... oops.  It was certainly an hour (all total) well spent.  As a matter of fact, there are few things, I would rather have been doing.

I love taking even the smallest step towards being self sufficient and free, even for a moment, of the artificially valued things culture.  I am grateful to have found my MooseBoots path.  And, I am thankful that you have chosen to join me along the way.