Saturday, May 29, 2010

Family Photo

The neighbor colony holds still for pictures, mine does not.

FINALLY got out to the bee yard to check on the brood. All that worry for naught, no more dead babies by the door and the hive seems busy busy busy. It was hot today, and I was in the way of their gathering. They were not impressed with my attempts to take pictures. Dr. Drone tells me that bees don’t like dark colors, and my black camera, shoved close to the door, threateningly and out of place, was not well received. Also, bees move fast and do not seem to like close up portraits. I left without opening the hive.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prospect of Precipitation

And more rain.
I'm considering building an ark. They have iced tea and the internet on arks these days right?

Dr. Drone checked on the bees and discovered they have been dragging dead brood out the front door. This is worrying, because it's too rainy and cold to get inside and see why they're eliminating eggs. Could be, according to Dr. Drone, nothing serious- just a shortage of pollen and nectar resulting from the decreased foraging in the rain. Or, it could be something called chalky brood. Sounds insidious no?

So we added some bee food (simple sugar syrup) to give them a little help through this extraordinarily stormy season. Hopefully this will let them feed the brood and they'll stop culling the eggs.

I'm going to try to get into the hive as soon as it clears a bit, but it may not be for days, so fingers crossed they're alright in there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Domestic animals on the lawn

Is there anything sadder than a cat on a leash in a yard in the city?

He doesn't think so.
I did get some reading done though.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Looming responsibility

Dr. Drone contacted me today to let me know he's turning over full hive responsibilities in a few weeks. He'll be heading to Costa Rica for the summer to study some monkeys. Just like a primatologist- always jetting off to the jungle, leaving us human primates to fend for ourselves. He is making me a list of "common bee parasites"...

It had never occurred to me that I may need to protect my bees from anything other than bears. I haven't seen the list, but whatever organism that could take on a hive of busy bees is a tough foe indeed. Let us hope I never need consult the list.

I still haven't received all my equipment from the beekeeping company either. I'm getting a little concerned because I will need my own smoker to soothe those bees once Dr. Drone is away collecting fecal matter and taking notes on whose balls got scratched by whom. I suppose in a pinch, I can call upon Mr. Holt to attend with copious amounts of cigarettes. Chain smoking for the common good is something he might really get behind. We'll probably get those bees so addicted to nicotine smoke they'll get all irritable and start bumming quarters in the yard to get a pack.

Our corner of the bee yard. Isn't my hive the prettiest?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


More rain this week- the bees will not recognize me when I can finally get out to the yard again.
Does it seem like the world is a quieter place when it rains?

And greener?

Everything here is quiet and green. I like it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Jenna over at Cold Antler Farm put in her bees today, and I'm watching/reading about it closely. Her pictures are so tempting, it's like rural living porn for me.

Cold Antler is a huge role model for me and what I want our future home to look like. Jenna manages to balance full time work, a huge garden, bees, sheep, a goat, chickens, bunnies, and dogs along with music, friends and good humor. I just want the garden, bees, and chickens, but it's nice to know it can be done! Mr. Holt and I can't be rural people right now- too much school and too few cars in our lives - but when we come out the other side of grad school (that does exist right?) we will reward ourselves with a small farm and big garden. It feels like a long way off right now, but at least we've already got the friends and good humor.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Flower petal wallpaper

Today I heard an amazing story on NPR about a bee that uses flower petals to line the nest for her egg. The resulting structure is lovely- delicate, colorful, and engineered to protect the developing larvae against weather and predators.

I'm so tickled by these I had to share.

(pictures by Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History)

See the full link HERE

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dinner time: feast and hunger

It's been so grey and wet outside lately that my mind and palate were craving color and freshness. I'm ready for spring to be here for keeps. So for dinner I roasted corn in the husk and got a box of fresh picked strawberries from the farmer's market. I fried up some fish in garlic and olive oil and then we ate. and ate and ate. The strawberries were so sweet. I had already forgotten how they are supposed to taste, full of the early spring sun and fat spring raindrops. They tasted real. Not at all like the red, fibrous impostors from california I've been snubbing for the last 6 months.

Springtime is for berries.

The corn, even though I'm sure it came from some unknown warmer clime at great expense to the environment, was the perfect antidote for the rain. Roasted in their own husks, each ear had tiny, juicy kernels that tasted smoky and sweet. Like a promise of all the hot, lazy summer evenings on the way.

While I was cooking and eating I felt a little guilty. I can't be totally in the moment when I eat lately because I'm longing for a garden. With the warmer weather and the explosion of green outside, and especially surrounded by the growing fields at the bee-yard, my green thumbs are twitching to dig in the dirt and grow living, edible things to nourish myself and my family. Basil, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers... For now, my family is just myself and Mr. Holt, but when I make meals like this I'm always looking forward to a future family where I'll be wiping strawberry juice off little chins and cutting the corn off the cob for little fingers. I want to grow things, and people. I'm so full and so hungry for more.

Rain rain, go away

It's been very cool, grey and stormy here lately. I guess the bees don't like this kind of weather because all reports indicate they are not doing much of anything over at the bee-yard. I'm not doing much of anything here either. I think all of humanity and bee-ind alike get a pass for rain weeks. We'll both catch up on our work when the clouds clear up.

Monday, May 10, 2010


What I do not like about beekeeping so far is the tick I found wandering around in my clothes last night.
Although, to be fair, I didn't like ticks before beekeeping either.

So, my PSA for today is be cautious when you're near long grass! Always check yourself for ticks because lyme disease is a Very Bad Thing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Three things

Three things I love about beekeeping so far:

1. Beekeeping smells really good.
The smoke that makes the bees calm while i poke at them (no not literally) smells amazing. The field where the apiary is smells amazing. Honey and the pine boxes of the hive smell amazing. It's intoxicating.

2. Beekeeping is far less work than I expected.
It has never before happened that a new undertaking takes less effort than I originally planned. Mr. Holt is quietly thrilled that I have not had to pitch a tent and move into the apiary to fulfill any midnight beekeeping duties. Turns out bees just kind of do their thing with or without my supervision.

3. Bees are completely different from children, cats and plants.
Most of my experience with keeping things alive comes from the latter three categories. Today I watched a new drone bee chewing his way out of a cell, saw bees eat using their proboscis, and learned that they can see ultraviolet light. I think they're really more like aliens than mammals.