Friday, March 31, 2006

Mann Lake Ltd. and Spring

The last of the bees supplies have arrived in the mail from Mann Lake, Ltd. They included a couple of mite boards, a pollen trap, some pins for the frames, and a bee suit for the kids to share. Mann Lake, Ltd and Betterbee they both have great products and excellent service. I was especially impressed by the woman who helped me at Mann Lake, Ltd. She answered my questions even with a couple of unhappy kids in the background. In addition, when I called back to order some hive staples the next day, another staff member found my order and placed the staples in the new mail package saving me a bunch of money and time. Mann Lake is clearly a class outfit and I’ll be ordering a lot of my supplies from them in the future.

The weather is absolutely beautiful here. The buds on the leaves are still small and this is clearly just a taste of what is to come. With the garden plans coming along nicely and the bulbs breaking through the soil, you can sense the change in the land and the beginnings of spring. I can hardly wait for the bees to arrive.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ok, Ok, I'll post.

Greetings, both of you.

After an amazing Enchilada meal cooked by our boy Robert, I was gently encouraged to make another post in light of the recent upswing of blog activity. I'm pleased to say that we've been getting a nice little surge of traffic from the lovely people over at the beemaster.com message boards (the biggest and best internet beekeeping forum on the net, if I may say so myself!), as well as from friends and family, and a few others. We've also recently joined several very cool webrings, so welcome all if this is your first time dropping by.

It's not long now before the girls arrive. Rob and I built a low-sitting temporary hive table and placed it beneath the bay window behind the guesthouse, which we are also planning to plant some new ground cover and hopefully establish some sort of garden. We've got some really cool plans for redoing the backyard, putting in new flowers and herbs, and constructing some new raised beds on which we can hopefully get some veggies and edibles. In addition to this, we're also composting the corner of the yard behind the fish pond - near the giant dead tree that I'm guessing will one day splinter, fall, and smash us all to tiny little pieces. Its a very cool tree. I hope it never dies.

So, the low hive table comfortably fits two hives...we'll get some pics up tomorrow hopefully to show position and construction. Rob recently ordered a few more supplies (pollen collector, varroa screen, another set of gloves, staples), which should be arriving sometime this week. Yowza.

The backyard looks incredible. The crappy decaying leaves I failed to move prior to the first snowfall last year have been dragged away, the grass looks nice, and the likelihood of randomly stepping in dog poop during a leisurely stroll around the property is at an all-time low. Furthermore, tax returns are right around the corner - which means I can pay for my share of the parts and labor. Things are looking up!

Anyway, we'll be checking back in at regular intervals to make sure this blog is kept up to date and stuff.

Ya'll come back now, y'hear?
wombat

City Bees

This morning I found an incredible blog called City Bees. It is written by an woman who is keeping an illicit set of hives on the roof of her building. Never would I have suspected that beekeeping could be a subversive activity designed overthrow the new world order. Toni has a lot of pictures on her site and is a lucid writer. More importantly, she has a naturalist feel to her narrative and constantly makes references to various post-structuralist paradigms. Her article about bee colonization in Mexico touched upon the subaltern and the interstitial nature of knowledge and hegemonic imposition of immigration on place and identity.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lawnwork and Google Earth

This weekend was beautiful. The temperature was somewhere between 40 and 45 and the came out for about half of the day. With the change in the weather and the arrival of the bees in a couple of weeks Leah, Michael and I worked in the backyard raking leaves and figuring out where we are going to put the vegetable gardens and flowers. This past week I have ordered the last of the parts for the hives, Michael got the parts to the hive stands and we both finished prepping the location so that it would be reading for the deer fencing that we will be constructing to protect the bees from the dogs and the kids.

Using Google Earth, I’ve started to create a little survey of some of the local nectar resources that the bees will have access to. I am a little hesitant to publish an GIS overlay of the resources because of privacy concerns but I’ll think about it. Near my house is a huge apple orchard that is also near organic or uses very little pesticides. This area will clearly be the main source of nectar for the hives. In addition, there are tons of open fields. The hive also benefits from a source of water just ten yards away from the little zerglings. It is just a matter of years before we will be able to outfit bees with very small GPS receivers and will then plot their movements over the landscape. The range of a foraging bee is about 3 miles according to Winston in his book The Biology of Bees p.179. (Winston gets his information from Seeley in Honeybee Ecology, 1985.) The area that I live, while in suburbia, has avoided some of the worst of land development and ecological denigration. So there are plenty of resources for the bees to use.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The hives are done.

Anjay, Austin and I finished building and painting the hives this weekend. The parts from Betterbee were excellent. The frames easily fit together and the wax foundation was more durable that I had hoped. As for the supers, hive stands and bottom board they were also in good shape and the directions to assemble them were easy to understand. The location of the hives behind the cabin look good and the project only waits for Michael to build the hive stand and for some simple deer fencing to be placed around the parameter of the hives. Then we wait for the bees to arrive. Spring is just around the corner, so I’m reading all I can about the biology of bees and checking to see what needs to be done about mites, pollen supplements and the impact that these critters are going to have on the general health of the garden.

This project interests me because of the need to connect with something outside the realm of my job, cyberspace and the markets. With the world in such sad shape right now, getting some bees and watching them work to keep the cycle of life going is a good concrete step in getting the world working again. I have a feeling that this hobby is going to catch on in the next couple of years because of its economic and ecological benefits. Rediscovering the ways of past and adapting them to the present is a good way to begin.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Few Pictures from Saturday



Dirty Supers...

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Rob painting a bottom board...
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Michael scraping out a shallow...

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saturday Afternoon

On Saturday, Michael and I started cleaning the supers and assembling the frames for the spring. While carrying my youngest son around in the baby bijorn, I glued the frames together and added the foundation. Michael got the supers together and we painted them white. It was an exciting afternoon in the basement. We still have a couple more sessions of work, but the equipment that we ordered was really easy to assemble and well made. I used some old latex white paint to protect the supers from the weather. Michael snagged some sweet used deeps and a couple shallows so we are all set. The costs are pretty reasonable, especially for two colonies. Now we wait for the arrival of spring.

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