Tuesday, May 28, 2013

None Of Your Beewax...

Because this is alllll MINE.

To properly store beewax (read this online): you should wrap up in plastic and aluminum foil , then stored in a cool, constant temperature area like your fridge, but NOT the freezer. At some point, I hope I'll have enough to make some candles.
 With slight apprehension, I fired up my smoker a few days ago.  Judging by my last check (the infamous inflatable hand incident) the hive was 2/3 of the way full.  So, while I had my smoker handy, I added another super and a queen excluder on top of that. 

As far as I can tell, my bees are doing great!    Still not real happy with me.  I want so badly to stop and take pictures, do some video, but... I've lost some of my bravado. 

And then this today....

Good or bad, I'm not sure....but it seems that they are really excited today.  I've never seen so many outside and around the hive

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Wanderlust Community

Although I'm a loner at heart, lately, I've been thinking about how great it would be to live in an small interdependent community, sharing everything, working the land, cutting myself off from the soulless cookie-cutter society.    Ok, it's not like I'm in the rat race now, but I still am "on the grid" and under the thumb of the man, so to speak.  And it's not like a lot of people "get" me around here (i.e. my hippie ways).  Yeah, it would be groovy to co-habit with a bunch of like-minded cats, selling our wares, shunning the Walmart and consumerism, one with nature, the land and ourselves.

Can you dig it? 

Personally I don't know of any communes, except maybe the Golden Temple in WV, if you can count that. Although a beautiful place to visit, absolute celibacy and no caffeine do not appeal to me.  And I don't really want a commune with a religious or political agenda, because that can turn into a "hey you want to try my kool-aid, it's poison berry flavored" situation real quick. 

Golden Temple; beautiful place, no coffee :(

I would think communes, while very rainbow-tarian in theory, are probably very difficult to maintain without crossing the line of cultish.   

Still, I can't seem to get the thought out of my head.  What would make the perfect commune anyway?  Well, here's my thoughts on it...

  • Sorry to be a party pooper,man, but first and foremost, you NEED rules.   Now before you think I'm going harsh the mellow...I'm basically talking about the Golden Rule, and we can evolve from there;  not a 10lb book of rules, but basic, respectful, common sense stuff.   A community can't run if one person decides not to do their share or is harmful/disrespectful to the group.  Chores need to be divided and carried out, people need to co-exist amicably.  
  • Lots of land, midsouth or southwest, not desert and not arctic cold.    A self-sustaining commune will probably need a long growing season with mild temperatures year round (to mimize heat costs).  Plus, I'm not a big fan of winter.  I like the desert, but not much grows there obviously.  I also think we should have least 10 acres for pasture, crops, and last but not least, privacy.   I don't want to be on display like a freak show. 
  • Big ol' farm house, fixer-upper ok.  We will probably need lots of rooms, storage, and shelter for the animals.    Personally, indoor plumbing is a must for me. Other than that, I'm open minded to anything (mostly because it needs to be cheap) 
  • Everyone has a say, take turns being the leader.  Hopefully, this will nip the cult scenario in the bud.  "Absolute power.." and all that.   Leader of the week enforces rules, handles disputes, divides chores.  Then someone else gets there turn.  However, Leader of the Week isn't all powerful; they still have to bow to the majority of the group.
  • No tech...what the heck?
  • TECHNOLOGY IS FORBIDDEN.......bwahahaha! Yeah, just kidding.  I have nothing against the Amish, I'm just not a big fan of losing my internet.   In other words, I don't have a problem with a little techie stuff.  Laptops ok, cells ok, TVS...probably not ok.  Maybe TVs without cable?    TVs are mind sucking, but then again, I need my fix of "Walking Dead."  So TVs with netflix is acceptable, but not 24/7 TV.    Cars ok, but bikes are better.  Low maintenance stuff for our low maintenance life. :)  
  • Everyone is welcome, as long as they can contribute (i.e. time, money, or talents), are respectful,  and aren't a Charlie Manson.    You know, just basically good people.   This will be the hard component, I fear.   Sometimes you don't know a bad apple until it's turned the whole barrel rotten. 

And there's the rub.  Obviously, everything in a utopia hinges on that last element: People.  You can have the most fertile soil, the sturdiness house, the idyllic view, but none of it truly matters.  The souls of your community, they will make it flourish or fail.  
So anyway, my commune is a pipe dream.  

Or is it? 

I mean, what's to say I can't give some of my eggs away to my neighbors?  Barber some stuff.  Shove driveways.   Help out who needs help.     Just cause.  Who knows what I'll start. 

Maybe not a commune, but possibly a trend.    And I don't have to give up coffee.... Sweet.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Case of the Abandoned Little Pink House or She's a Mysterious Lady, Ain't She?

 "Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own Affairs than we." ~Michel de Montaigne

I was very disappointed and puzzled to discover that the bluebirds abandoned their nest.   Somewhat of a mystery to me. 

My biggest question is this:  why would you put forth such an investment...gather material, faithfully construct a nest, lay 3 eggs, only to leave the eggs to rot and move on?  

In these situations, I irrationally rest the blame on me, like I had some kind of control over the situation.  I ask myself, what could I have done or not done to make these birds stay?  

I suppose it's the wildlife management mindset taking over.

Wildlife management...my career choice many years ago, trying to save the world and all.   But now I realize, I was quite arrogant. 

Managing nature, like we could possibly lasso it, wrangle it to the ground, and put a brand on it.

We can't manage nature. As I see it, man either co-exists with nature, or destroys it. 

And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we have to accept that nature will be cruel.  Maybe cruel to be kind, because nature has a hidden agenda.  We don't always grasp her mysterious ways, but isn't that attracts us to her....that we don't always "get" her?   

I don't know, maybe that's just me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Beeproof is not Emily

I admit it, I got cocky. 

I thought to myself, I don't need no stinkin' smoker. 

3 days later, I was sheepishly sitting in the doctor's office with my new cartoonish hand.  Seriously, it was so freakishly large it scared my children.  I could charge people to see it.    (Maybe I should have thought of that before I paid the $25 co-pay.  "No Doc, you should be paying me...wait until you see it!") 

This your hand...

This is your hand on bee venom.

Anyway, let's go back 3 days....

The local beekeeper club hosted a backyard beekeeper workshop; not feeling fully confident with my bee wrangling skills, I was in attendance. 

20 plus people gathered around 5 very active hives.  Most were dressed to the nines, head to toe bee gear.  Inwardly, I admit, I scoffed.  Novices.  Scary cats.  Geez people, we are handling bees, not plutonium. 

My bee outfit consists of a bee veil with hard hat, tight knee boots, man's size white long sleeve shirt buttoned down. 

Oh and leather gloves that go to the wrist. 

I've seen many beekeepers with much less.  Most don't wear gloves.  A few don't even wear veils, but that's beyond my nerve.

You see, honey bees are MOSTLY docile creatures (MOSTLY...like in "Mostly Dead".  So that means they can be slightly ornery.   And can avenge and fight for the honor of their honey...truuuue loooove.)  thus it takes a lot for them to sting.  

And these bees, they were furry yellow and black lambs.  The beekeepers didn't even smoke the hives beforehand, although they recommended you should...


After 2 hours of being around bees that wouldn't hurt a fly, I leaped out of my car like Wonder Woman (in a bee veil) and marched up the hillside, not giving that pesty smoker a second glance.

Now, I can't be sure what relied up my bees that day.  The scent of foreign bees?  My misguided swagger?  

Whatever it was, the second I took the lid of the hive, I knew.

This was not a "hi-happy-to-see-you-yeah-just-go-ahead-take-part-our-hive!" greeting.  This was definitely a "she-might-be-a-BEAR-HOLY-CRAP-we-are-going-to-sting-your-butt!" kind of welcoming.

And I flinched.   They can sense flinching.  Bears flinching a lot, I suppose.

But I continued, because I was on a mission.  The only difference now was I was on a much quicker mission.  

After I checked all the frames for production (frankly this part is a big blur)  I suddenly felt a little tickle inside my glove.  Then...it didn't tickle so much anymore. 

Yes, I've been stung before.  It's never fun, but it's minor and I get over it in a few hours.    Three days after, I thought my skin was going to burst open like a hot dog in a microwave.   Long story short, I got an infection and had to be on antibiotics.

I sewed on sleeves...these are my daughter's outgrown pant legs. 

Swagger is gone.  Gloves are modified.  Smoker is my new best friend.

I still love my bees, but now I have no illusions..... it's a very one-sided relationship.