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I lieu of working my own hive this weekend Chuck invited me out to "the Fort", his place in Ft. Valley, where he manages four hives, 2 of Italians, 1 of Carniolans, and a "split" that he created from a few frames of brood from each. He's been at this a few more years than have I and can do fun things like that with entire colonies. I hope to split my hive next spring, but first I have to see them through the coming winter, so that's a post for another day. He makes no claims to being a mentor but the truth is I wouldn't have gotten this far without his help, insight, and guidance.

Because I'm obstinate I don't regularly wear gloves when working my own hive, and because I'm dumb I left my wedding band on while working Chuck's hives. And bees, being bees, generally are all about the bling in the worst possible way - as in "Oh, Shiny! Let's attack that!" So while Chuck was going through the frames on hive#2 and I was taking pictures I was stung on the back of the hand, and then again on my left ring finger which is now swollen to the point that I can't get the ring off. So far, it's not so bad as to cut off the circulation but it certainly hampers my already meager typing skills. I'll attempt to get a point across with as much cutting, pasting and pictures. . .

Hmmmmm. . . accessing these files lends a whole new dimension to "buggy" software. Chuck uses an 8 frame version of the standard 10 frame Langstroth hive and I probably would, too, had I met him earlier. They make lifting a super full of honey much lighter and easier. Notice also the tool he's holding in his right hand. He's gotten me in the habit of using a painter's 5-in-1 rather than the classic hive tool or even the "improved" modern version (the one with the yellow paint) We've just found that the 5-in-1 allows us to apply a lot more torque when prying loose sticky, propolis-bound frames.


Happy birthday, Beautiful! From a group of capped brood cells a brand new bee chews her way into the world! She'll begin life as a nurse bee staying within the confines of the hive until gradually transitioning to foraging duties as she gets older. Within the span of a few weeks she will have worked herself to death for the greater good of her sisters. Don't we all wish we had family that dedicated!


As fun as it might sound, the point of regular hive inspections is not getting stung repeatedly but rather checking the health of a colony. The best way to determine how well the hive's doing is to locate the queen, and in a burgeoning colony this becomes an increasingly difficult task. Sometimes the mere evidence that she's been there recently has to suffice, such as the presence of brood and, especially, eggs. The maggotty-looking things toward the center are larval bees. In the upper left-hand quadrant you might be able to make out eggs resembling tiny grains of rice anchored to the bottoms of the cells. (click through for full-size) This is good news! It means the queen has been there sometime earlier that day.


Of course, nothing beats meeting Her Majesty in person! She's the one with the enlongated abdomen. Within a few days after hatching from her special over-sized cell she'll take to the wing for her mating flight where she copulates with dozens of drones, or male bees. Bee breeders attempt to control the lineage of their bees by restricting her access to certain drones usually those of the same species, and specifically those with desirable traits of productivity, gentle temperament, and disease and pest resistance. After returning to the hive her sex life is pretty well over. Although it's a common practice for beekeepers to replace a queen every to every other season, she can live a (re)productive life for as long as three. At this point she's basically an egg laying machine.


Can you spot the queen?


Here, take a closer look. . .


Still no luck? Now imagine trying to find her in a box of eight to ten frames as she moves from one to the next among hundreds of other bees milling throughout and you stand in the hot sun, sweating head to toe in your full length bee overalls and veil while the rest of the colony flies ass-first into your face in an attempt to kill you by stinging your eyes and mouth shut! Still photographs on the internet leave a lot to be desired. . . I consider it an exercise in patience and presence. Lapses in mindfulness during a hive inspection are punished with swift certainty!


Ha ha! Bees. . . so called the "angels of agriculture". The real point of all this masochistic craziness is the honey harvest (granted, bee folk love their bees for their own sake) It's an age old arrangement of housing-for-honey, like taxes we attempt to get Nature to do what we want, and we're "The Man". We estimated that there's probably at least 7 lbs. of un-extracted honey within this single shallow frame. If you can visualize ten or more of these per hive twice a season you'll get a sense of why we bother.
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Guard the entrance to the outside, with your life if need be. Fill even the tiniest cracks with propolis and don't let anyone in no matter how closely they might resemble you. Go out and gather raw materials on the nice days, and make your own. Don't sweat the bullshit, worry instead about surviving winter.

#10

Jun. 28th, 2009 12:25 am
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Did not go gentle into this good night.
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A lot of good things have happened this week, many on which the jury is still deliberating. But, being the week of Fathers' Day, I'd have to say it was learning the gender of the next Mosher-to-be. But leave it to me to fuck up anything, great or small! I called my mom the following afternoon to ask if she was "interested to know the gender of her firstest, latest (and lastest) grand-son" . . . Doh!

Rainshine

Jun. 18th, 2009 04:50 pm
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This year has been wonderful for establishing perennials in the mid-Atlantic region. It seems that everytime I go on a random planting spree it rains directly afterward, sometimes for days!
doodlemaier: (travel: are we there yet? are we there y)
How does one avoid being surrounded by imbeciles?
doodlemaier: (Default)
Everyone around me complains of their habitat: "It's so cold in here; It's so hot; It's too humid, too much pollen, the air, Jesus Christ, His followers, the inevitable. . . " I must have the innate ability to regulate my hypothalamus through the use of beer because the only thing I ever gripe about (out loud or in public, at least) is being sober. Damn sobriety!

A strange sympathy card was received today, with a sentiment containing the word "clones". How would anyone, even in the technologically super-tarded society we inhabit, be able to work that term into a sympathy card?
Dear So&So,
I was so sorry to hear about your untimely demise. I take great reassurance in the fact that, at least, we still have enough of your DNA to make clones.
Okay, that wasn't how it was worded at all but sometimes people do smoke absurd.

My office is swarming! To run with the beekeeping analogy we were re-queened a couple years ago when Malene came on board and we've since located another hive about 3 miles from our current place in Merrifield. The floor plan for the new office we're to inhabit has been published and it seems that a cube bearing my name is way too close to the cube bearing Barb's, her ever-vigilant "internal" dialog, and the airwave pollution of Rush Limbaugh's and his relentless polit-o-babbletizement. In lieu of being the guy who "says something" about that I'm going to have to find a place to post my operation up at another department. Why would anyone who works for a hospice organization listen to Limbaugh? Isn't the end of life supposed to be about peace and dignity?

Bur comb

May. 24th, 2009 06:14 pm
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I hived my bees on the 5th of May, and today was my very first inspection. Everything went well, I didn't find the queen but there was brood and eggs, plenty of pollen and un-capped honey. I'm not sure if anytime sooner than later is a good time to super an extra deep of brood frame but I think I can wait a couple of weeks for that, at least as only about 5 frames contained brood and those weren't yet full. Everything was textbook except bur comb. They'd gotten an early start making bur comb; a week after hiving them I went back in to removed the queen cage, etc. and they'd managed to create bur comb between the frames around the empty queen cage after releasing her that I, in turn, had managed to drop down inside the hive while attempting to remove it. Rather than go into the empty space left by the "absent" frame and try to pull it out then, I left it. It has been a point of concern for me after the fact that in doing so I took the chance of having possibly crushed my queen had she been on that bur comb when I situated the full compliment of brood frames.

Today I discovered that they'd managed to make bur comb in between two adjacent frames despite that they were squeezed tightly together. It looked as though rather than drawing comb based the foundation they formed a little bridge attached at the top bar that was connected only marginally to either of the flanking foundations. They managed to make similar bur comb with what I'd left on the bottom board two weeks prior. While separating the two nesting frames I managed to damage both caps or base. This time I was diligent to remove this "extra" comb although it contained brood, eggs, pollen, and un-capped honey. I weighed my options quickly but carefully as to whether I should take this stuff out now or leave it. Just in removing the frame I had already done significant damage to many of the cells within the questionable comb, and would probably compound the damage with each successive inspection, so I took the chance and removed it. Had I discovered this later in the season I wouldn't have attempted it but in doing so now I'm hoping it's still early enough to encourage the girls to draw out the foundation without significantly setting back their progress.


Chunks of comb removed from a single deep brood box, the largest two are each the size of my hand (and, therefore, probably the size of yours). The middle piece at the top was what I had managed to drop to the bottom board when removing the the empty queen cage two weeks ago.


Detail of the piece of bur on the right of the previous photo. The dark cells along the top and right-hand edges contain pollen. The maggoty-looking things from the center down to the bottom corners are larval bees. From the center left, if you look carefully (click for larger image), you can make out a single egg in many of the cells (looking like a tiny grain of rice) - good signs that my hive has a healthy laying queen present, as late as two days ago.


Detail of the chunk from the right (opposite side pictured in 1st photo) showing pollen and capped brood. Except for having to remove this stuff everything looks good!

And, not that you're counting )
doodlemaier: (Default)
Well, that happened this morning!

cut fer the stank! )

I usually make it a point not to drink before noon but I think I've earned it today.
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[Error: unknown template qotd]Actually my favorite is a bit of a rural legend: The Wampus Cat of King George Co. Virginia. Anyone familiar with the Weird U.S. series of books can reference the story in Weird Virginia. Friends claim to have seen the wampus cat of King George up close, personally, and quite fequently. Big Loud Dan swears up and down they'd see the thing and it would visit their campsite each ans everytime they camped on the privately owned property of Hollywood Farm, that it could walk upright or on all fours, that it drank vodka and ate raspberries. His exact words were. "The first time I saw it I realized that everything I've ever been taught was a a lie." The more he described it the more it started to sound like his ever present bicycling companion, Biz-quik. Then after seeing an episode of Monsters (Planet?) on the History Channel Dan conceded that whatever lived in the 300+ acres around Hollywood Farm must be the same species as Florida's skunk ape. So, yeah. Do I know anyone who's been fooled by one? Me!
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The Mrs. is at her midwifery appt. Keep your hexes, doodles, and a teacup full of leaches crossed that we get to keep her!
doodlemaier: (Default)
This post is made for the express purpose of expressing how much I hate American Express. Opening an account to transfer a balance, no less, is the worst decision I have ever made. They cannot be trusted with numbers. They are nothing more than a technical difficulty on every level. I'm sure all you travellers out there just love your Amex. . . .Well, I don't travel, and I don't use my card and they still suck! Makes me want to make a batch a of soap and go Fight Club on their asses!


"The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."

"It's only after you've lost everything, that you're free to do anything."

"With enough soap, you could blow up the whole world."
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Special? "Special" for me or special to the world at large? I snicked some wine bottles out of a few people's recycling bins to put my own homebrewed beer into, but I wouldn't call it "special" because I'll do it again next week.

I mean, fuck it, I am special because everyday is Earth Day at [livejournal.com profile] doodlemaier's half acre (except for those increasingly rare occasions when I wake up on Venus, or where ever) and I'll tell you why. Because, everyday I look around me I see the "things" of my life, regardless whether I love 'em or hate 'em, I take moment to consider from what and where in Nature all those things came from and what went into to bringing them here. Are they well-crafted? Are they useful? Are they even still serving any purpose at all?

Every single bit of the wealth in the world is derived from nature, and the sorry fact is that most of it is utter garbage; mass-marketed, disposable, created on someone's shift who's bored with their job in a factory somewhere that took it miles and months to get where it is. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle (and in that order of priority) So yeah, I'm celebrating Eart' Day today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and for the rest of my life.
doodlemaier: (Default)
Susan Boyle wants to be a professional singer just like Elaine Paige. She's been singing since she was 12 (currently 47), lives in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland with her cat, "Pebbles", her two chins, and has never married or even been kissed. . . Evar! She can't wait to perform in front of a large audience and wants to make that audience rock! (for those of us who don't speak Scotisch)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

(embedding disabled by request)

Oh, Hell yeah!


For your information, I detest American Idol, the premise of the show, anything resembling it or, in this case, anything it resembles and the medium it rode in on (television). Although when at my daughter's mom's who's fanatic (and so it's always on) I do take a rather sick pleasure in the truly pathetic auditions and, on all too rare occasions, a most uncommon performance, such as this.
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I need to get this kid of mine a copy of Macromedia Flash and Photoshop w/ instructional material!

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