helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
For bee and music lovers:

Jennifer Batten does Flight of the bumblebee.

More Jennifer Batten goodness

And thus we segue into this

Man? Woman? Elf? Black? White? I don't know (or care).

I am impressed. Wow.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We spent Sunday with [personal profile] guardianjain and [personal profile] wetdryvac. In the morning we went to the farmers market and picked up food and more plants, and then off to the antique shop to browse around. While we were there, [personal profile] rialian found a book which had singularly impressed me many years ago. It was, Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. I had owned this book when I was a small kid, and then later I wasn't sure if it actually existed. Oobleck... it's green, and it sticks to everything, and now it sits on our bookshelf...

Anyway, then we went back home to work in the garden. We put in a lot more of the raised, sheet mulched keyhole beds this weekend. [personal profile] wetdryvac took some pictures of the garden and what we've been working on recently. Rialian has pictures of previous stages, but I haven't posted them yet. Will do that later. This particular set shows the beds and paths pretty well. http://picasaweb.google.com/wetdryvac/WVGardening?authkey=Gv1sRgCOuv54yzxZ7GJQ#


May. 16th, 2009 05:35 pm
helen99: Another Magic Garden (Another Magic Garden)
I spent today sheet mulching what will be garden paths for now. We plan to rotate and shift things around year by year, but at the moment, these are the paths. Rialian and his dad went out early this morning and picked up a free small trailer-full of sawdust from a local lumberyard. We're allowed to pick up that amount of sawdust once a month. The sawdust, the newspapers and boxes in Rialian's dad's basement, and the cheap strawbales available in the neighborhood will provide more than enough material to sheet mulch the entire garden area. I had thought that it would be expensive to get enough material, but so far it hasn't been. After laying down the newspapers, I transferred some of the truckload of sawdust to complete most of the paths. There's room for one or two more large raised beds with paths in the sheet mulched half of the garden. This load of sawdust may cover the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Rialian and his dad are completing the electric fencing so we can add some hives in the next few weeks.

We stopped for a break and I found four dog ticks on me (eek). Three of those were affixed to my ears and one was on my leg. That garden is full of ticks with nothing to eat except me, apparently. After a shower and load of laundry, I'm venturing out into the garden again (believe it or not). This time, I've sprayed myself with atomic tick repellent of some sort. Hopefully it works...
helen99: Nothing (Caution Nothing)
We attempted to move the beehives last night, and realized they were too heavy - it would require more people to move them intact or they'd have to be taken apart and moved in pieces, further disrupting the bees. So we decided to wait until Rialian's dad and the ranger got there today.

Wellp, you can't do that. After the bees were disrupted by the bear, there was a window of opportunity when they were totally disoriented and could be moved. However, once the bees saw the sun this morning, the window of opportunity ended. Bees remember where they are by orienting themselves with respect to the sun. Once they do that, if you move the hive to another point in the yard, they will get lost.

So now we can't move them. The two hives that were attacked will most likely not survive anyway, because workers only live for about 4 weeks, and it takes three weeks for new workers to emerge. The brood was wiped out two weeks into maturing, so there will be no more workers to replenish the existing ones.

We will still put up the e-fence next week so we can put any future hives inside the fence. We may be able to get a new hive soon.
helen99: Hand in compost (Hand)
A ranger came out today to look at the damage. He spent all morning and a cup of coffee with us. By the end of the morning and after much interesting discussion about all kinds of subjects with [personal profile] rialian and his dad, he declared total loss of all three hives and estimated the reimbursement at $650.00. Apparently all the frames had been chewed to pieces (around 80 frames between the three hives). The bees in the top bar were added to the loss since they'd swarmed away. The other two hives had their entire brood destroyed, so they were totaled as well.

Whoa. Things always cost a lot more than I would have ever imagined.


May. 9th, 2009 05:13 pm
helen99: Honeybee (Honeybee)
During our search for electrical fencing equipment, we drove approximately 70 miles and went to four hardware stores (Hunter's, Dawson's, Lowe's, and Tractor Supply). Hunters and Dawson's had a limited selection of e-fence related items, but not what we were looking for. Lowe's didn't carry any e-fence related items and most of the staff didn't even know what we were talking about. [personal profile] rialian found a knowledgeable woman who directed us to Tractor Supply (where she does all her hardware shopping, heh). At Tractor Supply, we finally found all the equipment we were looking for to construct the e-fence for the bee yard - so we made our purchases and returned home.

While we were out, the bees that we had placed in the top bar hive swarmed away again. This was one of the hives that had swarmed after the bear attack and [personal profile] rialian had caught it and returned it to the top bar. Apparently it was determined to find a new location (smart bees - I wouldn't stay after a bear attacked me either). We couldn't find them anywhere. These were the same bees that had chased us when we first got them. I suspect they were a feral swarm that the beekeeper had captured. They acted far more territorial than most hive-bred bees I've encountered. I'm sorry to see them go, but I have a feeling they're the best hive to have gone wild in the area - they seemed to be survivors and will do well with repopulating the area with bees.

Anyway, as I said before, we bought e-fence equipment to enclose the two remaining hives. However, there was a small problem. We remembered that moving beehives more than about 5 feet at a time is a bad idea. The bees will become disoriented and won't be able to find their way home with respect to the sun. Oddly, you can move them long distances, but not 20 feet within the same yard.

The two remaining hives are not currently situated together. When [personal profile] rialian recaptured the swarms, he was understandably much more concerned with actually catching the bees without being stung to bits, than he was with precise hive placement. Thus, one hive is on the septic field, and the other is closer to the house. There is a good chance that there are pipes under each of them.

This is a problem, because an e-fence must be grounded by attaching it to one or more six-foot grounding rods, which are driven into the ground with a post hole digger. Driving stakes into ground where there might be pipes is not a recommended activity. So... we will have to move both hives to install the fence around them.

But wait, there's more.

The battery we bought for the e-fence is a solar powered battery. It's very strong, delivers a good zap, and recharges itself. What's not to like? Well, the part we didn't think through is, this particular battery needs to be charged for three days in the sun prior to use. So even if we installed the fence around both beehives now, we couldn't electrify the fence until Tuesday. If we put up the fence now and the bear attacks the hives and doesn't get shocked, he will learn that the fence is harmless, and will test it every time from then on. To be the most effective, the fence should deliver the shock on the first try.

[personal profile] rialian's dad is of the opinion that we should go ahead and put the e-fence where we want the bee yard to be, electrify it with a battery that he just happens to have in his useful-object-spawning basement, and move the hives into it after it's electrified. He said that the bees have already swarmed and are already upset, and it wouldn't do any more harm to move them. I'm not so sure about that, but I'd much rather do as he says than leave the bees to be torn apart by bears.

What we've done so far is to put up the fence posts where the e-fence will be situated -- outside of the garden area. We have not yet put the wires up or driven the grounding rods into the ground. We'll do that tomorrow with the help of [personal profile] rialian's dad when he brings the battery. Once the e-fence is activated, we will put the two remaining hives inside the protective fence. If it's successful and there are no more attacks, we will put some new hives inside the bee yard e-fence.

Meanwhile, animal control just called back. They said they'd be here tomorrow around noon and bring us some paperwork to fill out so we can get reimbursement for the attack. While I appreciate reimbursement (this stuff isn't cheap), I also want them to catch and deport the bear, which didn't seem to be part of their plan. The guy from natural resources who supposedly had barrel traps never called back at all.

This is turning out to be way more educational than anyone would have guessed. Who would have thought that we would learn how to catch bee swarms and set up an e-fence all in one weekend.

Bee update

May. 9th, 2009 11:03 am
helen99: babbage+lovelace (babbage+lovelace)
Rialian called animal control this morning, who have started the chain of communication to field staff who will be calling back today. Rialian's dad called a guy from Department of Natural Resources who places barrel traps for bears and transports them to less populated areas. Two of the hives swarmed, which is actually a good thing - this caused them to regroup around the queen rather than any particular hive. The bad news was, Rialian had to catch the swarms, which he did, and put them back into hives (not necessarily the same hive they were in before, so they'd be able to identify with new surroundings and start over. From scratch. Two weeks worth of brood wiped out... At least two of the queens are there - if she wasn't, they wouldn't have swarmed. We think the third one is there too, since the hive seems vigorous, but the third one didn't attempt to swarm.

An ex-bear

May. 9th, 2009 01:29 am
helen99: Cat, Red Eyes (Cat with Red Eyes)
Being greeted by three beehives scattered all over the meadow by a bear when I came home tonight did not make me happy. There were frames everywhere, brood had been eaten (that's how we knew it wasn't vandals) and one of the supers had been dragged to the driveway. All the comb in the top bar had been dislodged.

1. Get e-fence for bee yard (baited for ample nose and mouth zapping), RV battery to power it, and solar recharger. Should have done that weeks ago.

2. Repair hunting rifle, get heavy duty ear protection, and do target practice.

This will be an ex-bear.


Apr. 25th, 2009 11:51 am
helen99: Magic garden (Magic Garden)
Today is another day outdoors. Hauling more rocks from the garden to the road, placing watering cones with inverted glass bottles where the strawberries are, slightly watering the greens outdoors, watering the raspberries.

Edit at around 2 pm: Thinking of sheet mulching an area for the tomatoes to keep the weeds down, but still not sure if I'll do that. Suddenly it's around 90 degrees out. What happened to spring? I worked on the road a little and the sun wiped me out. Taking a short break...

Edit at around 6 pm: Went back out around 5 and laid out the newspapers on a small part of the garden to prepare for sheet mulching. Came in for another break. 97 degrees today... Headed back out to add water to the newspapers, then sawdust, then more water, then compost mix, then straw then more water. Temperature should be cooling down now...

Edit at around 7:40 pm: Added the water, then added sawdust on top of the newspapers, then some compost mix on top of the sawdust. As I was in the process of spreading compost mix, however, [personal profile] rialian came out with a new box of bees which he was about to introduce to the top bar. So (as some may remember from a beekeeping workshop last year) part of the introduction involves shaking thousands of bees into the hive out of the little package box that they come in. In a regular Langstroth beehive, you can just put the whole box into the hive and let them exit into the frames at their own pace. However, the package dimensions are not designed for a top bar. Hence, shaking the bees.

Now, the first time he did this with our hive last year, the bees were very gentle. Nothing happened - they just went on about life as usual, as if they'd always been there. Well.. these didn't act like that. Maybe the heat had riled them up or something, but they were one hive full of angry bees. They went into attack mode and started flying around menacingly. So... taking a short break while they calm down. I should have the rest of the compost mix and straw on the garden patch by sunset. Hopefully. If the bees let me...

Due to our lightfooted evasive action, nobody got stung. I had two chasing me for a while. I ran down the driveway, then doubled back to evade them, then doubled back again when they followed. Rialian headed them off while I escaped to the house. He told them to "go back to the hive". I'm not sure if they did....

Edit: So ... went back out to the garden. The bees hadn't calmed down quite yet. One of them flew at me - didn't sting, but kept buzzing me and tickling my arm, so to speak. I decided to leave and let them calm down some more, but this one decided to follow. I began walking quickly down the driveway toward the house, and it hitched a ride... somewhere in my hair. So no matter which way I went, the bee was right there with me. Rialian came over and said everything was fine, there were no bees following me. Right. That was because it was in my hair. Just then the bee noticed Rialian and left my hair and chased him for a while. Still didn't sting. Interesting bees. So anyway, I went back into the house for a few, then came out. I changed out of my black teeshirt and put on a white one with some light colored pants. I wore a white teeshirt on my head. The bees stopped bothering me at that point. I don't know if it was because of the change of wardrobe, or if it was because it was about sunset and they retired to their hive, or if it was because they just calmed down naturally, but they left me alone for the rest of the evening. I did get the compost mix spread out on top of the sawdust but left the straw until tomorrow. I did get a good start on making a rock border around the raised bed.

In other news, three mysterious babies are sprouting in a pot out front. I know I planted some seeds in that pot on a whim a few months ago. I just don't know what I planted. Maybe that's where I put the lemon seeds, or maybe apples, I don't know. I don't think they're apples, though, because the cotyledon is larger than an apple seed. The leaves look fleshy and dark and shiny, like teeny little ficus trees. So cute. Citrus. How the heck am I going to grow Citrus in Zone 6?? I guess these will be keeping us company indoors during the winter, and hogging the glass doors. Heh.

Meanwhile, in another pot, the almond tree is growing well, sprouting lots of leaves. At least we think it's an almond tree. It sprouted from the compost out of something that looked exactly like an almond. We're hoping. There are about 5 other unknown plants sprouting in that same pot. I have absolutely no idea what they are. Apple seeds? Maybe. Those cotyledons were small enough to be apple seeds.

Markers are my friends. Why didn't I use markers? This is one of those unanswered questions. Oh well. They're surprises. It will be fun to see what they become.


Mar. 20th, 2009 11:28 am
helen99: Honeybee (Honeybee)
From http://community.livejournal.com/beekeeping/54949.html:

The Obamas are going to have two beehives at the White House:

"A White House carpenter, Charlie Brandts, who is a beekeeper, will tend two hives for honey."

Edit: Here's the original article that sentence came from. They're setting up an organic garden that will be supplying the White House kitchen. The beehives are only mentioned in that one sentence:



Nov. 28th, 2008 07:23 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Our bees had clustered and were doing fine .. until this week. Rialian found them all dead yesterday evening, many in mid-activity, most in the cluster. It's possible they swarmed a couple of times (there were several empty queen cells visible, although those could have been killed off by the reigning queen). There were also new bees just emerging from the cells. If the cold had waited another week or so, they may have had the numbers necessary to generate enough heat. This was disappointing - I'd kind of hoped that this particular hive would overwinter. Rialian collected the wax and honey and spent most of the night boiling down the wax and extracting the honey. The bees hadn't even touched the syrup he'd given them - there was still plenty of honey for them. We got a large chunk of wax and several large combs full of honey. Not what we were hoping for this year, though. We'd planned to let them keep that for the winter. We'll start over next year, probably at the new place, maybe look into better sheltering. When we looked at the hive, we saw that they had patched up all possible rain entrances with wax, and some of the bars were patched together. There was a lot of burr comb on the edges, but the interior combs were straight and separate - very easy to lift out. They had done a wonderful job. Unfortunately the cold snap came about a week too soon.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We went to check our beehive this afternoon - the bees have all clustered together into a large ball, as is their habit over the winter - they vibrate their wings to raise the temperature so they can survive the cold. Rialian put some food right above the cluster, since we'd learned in our beekeeping class that the bees will not move, not even 5 inches away, when they're clustering like that, and they can starve if the food isn't right there. While he had the hive open, he noticed that a corner of one of the honey combs had broken off. It was full of honey and it was a triangle with sides about three inches long. So, even though we hadn't planned to harvest this year, we were able to get a taste of the honey from that hive. It is very good - probably a lot of wild rose and honeysuckle in it, maybe some flowers from the surrounding trees.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Yanno, even I'm not this weird. (ROFL)

"Bear convicted for theft of honey
By Paddy Clark
BBC News

The taste of honey was just too tempting for a bear in Macedonia, which repeatedly raided a beekeeper's hives. Now it has a criminal record after a court found it guilty of theft and criminal damage. But there was an empty dock in the court in the city of Bitola and no handcuffed bear, which was convicted in its absence.

The case was brought by the exasperated beekeeper after a year of trying vainly to protect his beehives. For a while, he kept the animal away by buying a generator, lighting up the area, and playing thumping Serbian turbo-folk music. But when the generator ran out of power and the music fell silent, the bear was back and the honey was gone once more. "It attacked the beehives again," said beekeeper Zoran Kiseloski. Because the animal had no owner and belonged to a protected species, the court ordered the state to pay for the damage to the hives - around $3,500 (£1,750; 2,238 euros). The bear, meanwhile, remains at large - somewhere in Macedonia.

Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/7295559.stm
Published: 2008/03/14 02:28:27 GMT, © BBC MMVIII"


Mar. 7th, 2008 12:47 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Long ago I posted about some research we'd been doing on Rhea and the Korybantes. Just now I was answering an "interview" that [livejournal.com profile] siabha_maellyn had posted on her journal. One of the questions she asked was something along the lines of, "To which historical period are you the most attracted?" To answer that question, I linked to This Page about the cult of Artemis (which also mentions Rhea and the korybantes and could be thought of as a later version.) What attracted me to this particular description was the fact that the Beekeepers were the guardians the Temple of Artemis.

Then, scrolling down on that page, I noticed the following reference:

"I) ADRASTEIA Town in the Troad
Strabo, Geography 13. 1. 13 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.): "The city [of Adrasteia in the Troad] is situated between Priapos and Parion; and it has below it a plain that is named after it, in which there was an oracle of Apollon Aktaios (of the Shore) and Artemis."

Intrigued, I did a search on "Adrasteia" and came up with this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrasteia. Adrasteia was a demi-goddess whose name meant "Inescapable". She was the daughter of "Melliseus" (a bee deity) and was charged by Rhea (along with the Korybantes) to raise and protect baby Zeus who was scheduled to be killed by his father.

We're getting our first package of bees very soon (we have a hive ready to go active and they've already been ordered) - so finding this was somehow appropriate.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
http://www.ou.edu/finearts/art/ahi4913/aegeanhtml/minoanjewelry.html (I want an inexpensive replica of the pendant in the second photo from the top).

Edit: Found on eBay for 20 bucks,

So the Ephesians (and Minoans) used bee imagery. Ephesian goddess was Artemis the Huntress (Roman counterpart was Diana) who had bee priestesses attending her.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Tonight is a meeting of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association of Maryland. We can't give rides unless you meet us at the house by 6:45 (no time to collect anyone after work) but if anyone's interested, here's the information:

"Our meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month, 7:30 PM at the Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallan Rd. Wheaton (right next to Brookside Gardens). In addition to socializing, we discuss the latest beekeeping and management appropriate to the season. We always welcome guests. Bring a friend." .

Here's the best part: [livejournal.com profile] rialian will be teaching a meadmaking workshop there tonight at 7:30 pm. Anyone can show up.

As an added attraction, they have an indoor observation beehive on the premises, which is most wonderful to watch - they've dotted the queen with a white spot so you can see where she is in the buzzing tummult. It's interesting to see different bees doing different things like building the wax compartments, feeding the babies, polishing the eggs, polishing the queen, dancing, laying eggs (queen only), and flying too and from the hive through an exit in the wall.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Some may be interested in this:

Check out the pictures of the people at the end of the course description. (Those ears on Mr.

Also, the bee-fey connection kind of surfaces here without actually being said:
http://sacredtrust.org/way_of_the_melissae.html .

Currently reading Buxton's book:
The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters

The book tries to cram a decades-long apprenticeship into one book, but it still works. Bees are one of nature's communication systems. These communcation systems (for example, bees, fungi, viruses, algae, etc.,) may be instrumental in the planetary quantum leap process. Working with them may expedite matters and make it more gentle - all this rampant domination/greed-oriented discord is making me crazy.

The fact that people have tampered with bees and other lifeforms scares the hell out of me. People are trying to put their mark on way too many things and diminishing everything thereby, because the monad cannot accomplish much of anything good when severed from the Monad.

However, this may work to our advantage. I think it's now time for the bee gods to tamper with the people gods (we gave them tacit permission by tampering with them). The fact that we have now given them undeniable Permission to Tamper (TM), may mean that the Process is ready to begin...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Saving Bees: Fungus Found To Attack Varroa Mites

A while ago you may have heard that honeybees were dying because of a mite infection. They tried several poisons, but the poisons were harmful to bees, the mite became resistant to the poisons, and one of the chemicals is on the EPA hit list for removal from the market. On a whim, I did a search on beekeeping and found the above link which says they've found a naturally occurring fungus called metarhizium anisopliae, which kills the varroa mite (and, incidentally, termites). It has been tested and shown to be harmless to bees and over time does not affect hive population. I'm not entirely sure what its Big Picture effect will be. Better than a chemical poison, no doubt. I'm hopeful for the bees, at any rate.

helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I really love bee propolis. Why, you might ask. I don't really know. Just do.

The virtues of Bee Propolis
Propolis Products
1-800-233-4273 (Draper Apiaries toll free order #)

Bee baby food. Ambrosia of the godlets...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I wonder what the effect of dividing the world up into little squares has been on overall human consciousness.

What if we'd chosen a different shape - a hexagon or septagon, say, for the unit of land instead of the rectangle/square. I wonder if our minds and thoughts would have taken on different shapes as well...
Triangles would be too constricting. Bees seem to like hexagons for some reason.

April 2010



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