Friday, April 30, 2010

BREAKING IN A NEW GRANDPA

Nolan Alley invited me to his home for grandfather-training.  Nolan's parents, Stacy and Paul are already trained and handling their parental duties in stellar fashion.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BEAR HUGS IN BEARIZONA


Lee stopped by Bearizona, Arizona to visit Bearizona's Chief Operating Officer Vanessa and her husband Patrick, and their eldest son.  Bearizona intends to open in late May (this year!).  I met Sean Casey, the owner-developer, who is a great young man.  I also met a couple newborn baby bears that Vanessa is introducing to the Park.  These cubs feel, at the same time, wild and dangerous, and dependent and vulnerable.  Whew!

HARVESTING OUR FIRST HONEY


If the bees can start with last year's beeswax honeycomb, start warehousing honey first thing in the spring, then they are more likely to produce enough honey to make a sweet-toothed person cry.  But we chose the "crush and strain" method, where in we cut out the entire beeswax honeycomb along with the honey in the comb. We then crush and stir it in a food grade white 5-gallon bucket.  We then strain the honey, pour it in to Mason jars and seal.  The strained-out beeswax is used for candles, lip balm, car-door lubricant, etc.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

THE DATING-n-MATING LIFE OF HONEYBEES

Went looking for that pesky elusive queen again today.  Found larvae, so she must be there somewhere.  In the process, found a small few of the special oversized beeswax comb-cells the ladies fabricate to induce drones.


Can you imagine that?  These ladies evict and kill redundant males each fall, then in the spring those same ladies just order up some males to date a hive queen.  


But, wait.  Their queen has already mated once, for life.   So what they're doing is creating drones to mate with a just-in-case new queen.  ("just-in-case mating males"?)   


In case the old queen needs to be "superceded", or in case they have plenty stores to support the natural colony-replication event called "swarming."   When the colony swarms (subdivides), the ladies first create a dozen or so new-queen larvae, then the first new queen to emerge and sting the other queen larvae to death (who needs competition for those nice, "pure" drones) leads half of the colony on a pilgrimage to find a new hive home.


What all this sorts down to is this.  The 75,000 worker ladies are creating a couple dozen males to compete for mating with a virgin queen, and any male that does will die immediately, while the males that don't will lay around all summer getting fat on the ladies' free honey until they boot the guys out the front door. 


Life is tough.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FIRST SPRING LEE'z B'z HIVE INSPECTION GOES WELL



Waited patiently until outside air temp reached 60degF.  Books say 50degF, but need inner hive to sustain above 60degF.   Reached it today.  Time for spring house cleaning and annual health checkups for both the overall colony and the ladies individually.




Thursday, April 1, 2010

KATE'S GARDEN COOKING CLASS

Kate shows how to cook a garden.  Compost, that is.  At 150 degreesF, her compost piles, "stirred, not shaken", have shown to be effective at killing all seeds, weed and otherwise until fully cooked down.  Then the spent garbage-cocktail turns in to a base as safe and nurturing as a momma's breast to feed and protect springtime vegie sprouts.

And this video exposes her apparent philosophy that when it comes to gardening, "size counts".