May 31, 2014

So I guess I'm a beekeeper: A reminder that not all goes according to plan

We headed north today to check on my hives. Amelia's hive is amazing. She is laying loads of little bees, and frames 4 - 5 are filled with larvae in a perfect pattern. She barely misses a spot to lay.

On frames 6 - 8, there is capped brood throughout, with some capped nectar (the whiter portions) toward the top. This means baby bees will be emerging shortly . Very little are drone brood (you can tell by the larger bumps toward the bottom very occasionally. The bumps are to account for the extra space needed for their eyes.)

It was even cool to watch some of the bees making wax. You can see it extruding from this bee's abdomen here.

The disheartening part of my day was Beatrix's hive. There are no eggs, no larvae, and was no queen. This was confirmed by the supersedure cells the workers are creating all over frame 5 to have the existing weak queen lay a new queen. (The peanut-like cells are to fit a larger bodied queen) The problem is I don't think she's there at all. The queen cells and other cells are filled with nectar. It's all a bad sign. I don't know what went wrong with this hive, but it makes me so sad.

So now, I'm in a race against time. I will need to order a new queen, get her shipped, installed, and hope that the existing bees are around long enough to help her build the brood back up.

I knew the chances of this venture going perfectly were small, but it's really disheartening that it happened so quickly. I guess there's no time like the present to start learning the hard stuff!

May 30, 2014

Mainlining coffee

I'm drained. Almost to the point of not being able to keep my head up. But there's no rest for the wicked.

We have a Brewers work event (for Beerman, my work would never do anything that fun) tonight, a trip north for a bee visit and a family wedding shower tomorrow, and baseball again on Sunday (if it isn't rained out). Maybe I can get some sleep in the car?

May 29, 2014

Spring Concerts

Because nothing says living the thug life like being a North Shore Catholic school kid! I took this after last night's school spring concert. The one that the kids had to dress like "rappers" so they could drum on drums and rap about things like loyalty, courage, and trustworthiness. So, so funny.

May 28, 2014

Hump Day!

  • We spent last night watching the A's win another game. This time, in the 55 degree rain.
  • Tonight he's singing in the school Spring concert. Apparently there will be rapping about trustworthiness and courage. I'm pretty sure 2 Chainz is going to pick that one up next.
  • Tomorrow is another baseball game. It's a good thing he's loving this, because he now has 7 games in two weeks.
  • The cool, rainy weather makes me feel like garbage so I've been retreating and eating sugar, which makes me feel worse. A silly death spiral I'm supposedly smart enough to avoid, yet can't seem to manage.
  • At least it's already Wednesday!

May 27, 2014

Happy things

  • It's a 4 day work-week.
  • We get to wear whatever we want to work for the summer.
  • We have lots of apple blossoms on types we've never had before. It's exciting.
  • C-man has two baseball games this week. That makes him really happy, which makes me happy.
  • He has his spring concert on Wednesday and has to dress like a rapper. Seeing 23 third grade uniformed Catholic school kids from a pretty fortunate area of town try to look thuggish is going to be, well, awesome.
  • Coffee. Seriously, coffee should always be on this list.
  • I've been listening to the Divergent Series (I've got a lot of time in the car with these trips to and from Coleman every weekend). iTunes wanted $30 for the third book, but I got it for free for signing up with an Audible free trial. (I'm going to cancel the Audibles subscription before I'm charged, because it saves you no money, but free is always great.)
  • I think about my bees a lot and it makes me smile.
  • Beerman and I are going to the Brewers Friday night for his work event. We'll be in the Gehl Club. (Needless to say, I won't be repeating last year's sugar over-eating mistakes!)

May 26, 2014

Enjoying it

Ahhh, Memorial Day. It's hot and humid and delightful. A day perfect for cleaning up the perennial bed, reading a book, taking some photos, listening to the Brewers game, wondering how my bees are doing, and enjoying the third cookout with friends of the weekend.

May 25, 2014

Put on your white pants

It's so completely brilliant that summer is actually here. I've planted the plants we bought from the annual Ozaukee Master Gardener's sale held yesterday, mowed grass that had gotten too long in the warm sun, barbecued with the neighbors, played with the kid, and walked the dog. Tonight, we are heading to another cookout with friends. I do love summer.

May 24, 2014

I guess I'm a beekeeper: Inspection #2

I headed north again this morning to check on my bees. I opened up Amelia's hive first, and was happy to see the bees hard at work and honeycomb built out on frames 4 - 8. (They're a little messy toward the top - I'm not sure what to make of that)

I was even happier to make my way through the frames, and find lots of goodies inside. What was most gratifying was that on frame 6, I found Amelia herself, happily working her way around the frame of well drawn out honeycomb.

This is the same picture, but it's easier to spot her this way.

Also exciting was seeing that the eggs were being well tended, and many of them were at the larvae stage (pointed out in the same picture again below), which means they're between 3 and 8 days old. In other frames, there were a few capped cells, which means they were older than 9 days. (It usually takes about 21 full days to have a worker bee emerge)

Hive 2, Beatrix's hive, was a little less advanced. There seem to be a significantly smaller population of bees, which would make sense after all the dead bees I saw under the hive last week. They must have been stressed out during the travel, for some reason, because they otherwise looked and acted quite healthy.

In this hive, only 3 frames had any comb or bees on them, and those weren't drawn out very far. (You can see how much white of the frame is showing vs the yellow of the drawn comb) But despite the smaller population and still not being able to find Beatrix herself (She must be very shy), the hive was very hard at work. So I'm going to trust she's in there and that the population will build up in due time.

I changed out the pollen patties because they have a tendency to mold, gave them new sugar water, and closed up the hives.

So there you have it. Two beehives, hard at work. Until next weekend...

May 23, 2014

Jr Olympics Day

It was Jr Olympics day at school. I always love this day, because the kids are outside and having fun. C-man had less fun this year with no medals. In part because they paired 3rd and 4th grade together (and as we've learned on his baseball team, there's a big leap from 9 to 10), and in part because he insisted on wearing those stupid high tops.

I still had a ton of fun, however, and ended up manning a camera at the finish line to determine the winners of races. (Seriously, people, how hard is it to use a stopwatch?) It was a good thing, because a few parents were trying to get their kids up higher in the results than they really were, and I had photo proof. It was also cool to show that twice it was a complete tie. I've been told they want to continue with the camera next year. Personally, I'm rallying to get the kids chipped.

May 22, 2014


It's the last day of work this week before a 4 day weekend. Apparently, even the stray balls in the yard are smiling about that.

May 21, 2014

Mid-week ramblings

  • The A's won another game last night. This time it was against #2 in the league. That means they're still #1.
  • We have a solid 7 days off baseball games now.
  • I was examining my burr comb that I'd brought home with me from my hive, and realized it has eggs in it. (I took it out because it was built to bridge the gap where the queen cage was to the next frame because they don't like extra space, and a messy hive causes me headaches.)
  • This means Amelia is laying eggs. Awesome. I just hope Beatrix is doing as well. Her hive is the one I am a bit worried about.
  • C-man has a field trip to the EAA today. He really wanted me to come, but I couldn't do 2 days off this week. Plus, a whole day looking at planes - meh.
  • I'm taking Friday off to be at his Jr. Olympics event, which is always fun.

May 20, 2014

So there's more baseball to be played

It's Tuesday, so it must be a baseball game day. It's a good thing we all like baseball so much!

May 19, 2014

Lucky #13

  1. Because he enables each one of my crazy ideas
  2. Because he's a fantastic father to our son (who happens to be just like him)
  3. Because he laughs a lot
  4. Because he researches everything to make sure it's done right
  5. Because he cooks me meals every single night
  6. Because his wanderlust for travel rivals my own
  7. Because our values are the same
  8. Because his taste in TV and movies are so similar (he doesn't do the chick flicks, but I'll let that slide)
  9. Because he's incredibly thoughtful
  10. Because he can balance a chemical equation easily
  11. Because he worries constantly about our little family and my health
  12. Because he enjoys life
  13. Because he loves me

May 18, 2014

I guess I'm a beekeeper: Inspection #1

Today, Beerman, Cman, Harry and I got in the minivan and headed north to see Grandma, Amelia, and Beatrix. I lit my smoker for the very first time, and started on my merry way, first with Amelia, and then on to Beatrix.

The whole point of this inspection is to make sure the queen is out of her queen cage and to see if she's laying eggs. I opened up Amelia's hive, and immediately saw a huge burr comb already built around the queen cage. (It's a great thing for Cman to take to school tomorrow to show off.) She was out!

When I lifted the frames out, it was amazing how busy the hive had been, building out the honeycomb. It took me some time, but I did finally find Amelia. I didn't see any eggs, but that doesn't mean much - they're less than the size of rice, and underneath this giant ball of bees. I thought it best to assume she's doing okay vs risking flipping her around by brushing them off to see if I could actually see any eggs.

Then I moved on to Beatrix's hive. Immediately upon opening, I noticed strings of bees working together, building wax. The frames weren't as drawn out as the first hive, but it's clear they're working hard. I did not find Beatrix, but again, I'm not very adept at this so I am going to assume that since the bees are happily working in the hives, that she is in there.

The sugar syrup wasn't really eaten, but the pollen patties are a hit. I also noticed some bees with giant legs full of yellow pollen - so it seems they're getting some from something that's blooming nearby. I'll continue with the pollen patties for a few more weeks until things are really well established, though.

I know they're just bugs, but I really think that I could sit and watch these ladies buzz around for hours. Until next weekend...

May 17, 2014

The usual

This weekend is just about living our usual lives. You know, getting a haircut, buying rapper clothes for the kid to wear at his spring concert, making sugar syrup for the bees, getting the dog groomed, a night out for an anniversary dinner, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, and seeing a play. Tomorrow's about driving north and checking on my bees (Are my queens out? Are they laying eggs? Are they eating the sugar syrup? Did Grandma really see my bees flying around gathering?) and baseball. In other words, the usual.

May 15, 2014


  • My car's in the shop. It's been shaking like a milkshake when I accelerate on the interstate.
  • It has 20,000 miles so should be under warranty. What are the chances it actually will be?
  • I couldn't sleep last night, so watched The Secret Life of Bees. That movie makes me cry.
  • Josh Reddick's choice of walk-up song might be the best one ever.
  • My boss' sister-in-law is in the hospital with two aneurysms. The medical bills are coming in and they need help. If you can, donate here. These people have fostered countless children, including the little girl my boss adopted.
  • It makes me so angry that we have to beg for money to live in this country.
  • The New Zealand All Blacks are going to play in Soldier Field later this year. As Beerman said, What a great way to see Soldier Field and not have to deal with all those Bears fans.
  • I'm so thankful C-man doesn't have a baseball game until Sunday. Sitting in 39 degree rain would be a bad, bad thing.
  • Tomorrow, Beerman and I have a dinner out together to celebrate our anniversary. Lucky #13 this year.
  • I wonder how my bees are doing? Are my queens out? Are they laying eggs? Are the workers eating the sugar syrup? Are they happy? Will I be able to tell any of this when I look at the hive?

May 14, 2014

Grateful things

There is so much in my life to be grateful about. So much to enjoy and breathe in. Here are just a few:

  • Blooming tulips. They're up and beautiful against the cold sky. Colorful signs of hope, if you will.
  • Going to Grandma's farm
  • My bees (Gosh, I hope they're doing okay!)
  • Unexpected birthday gifts
  • Amazon and its next day delivery of the most bizarre things like burlap for my bee smoker
  • Friday night anniversary dinner reservations (Hopefully no food poisoning at this one!)
  • A wall full of photos of great places I've been
  • A head full of places I dream to go
  • Coffee. I'm always grateful for coffee
  • Books I enjoy. Right now I'm reading two and liking them a lot

May 13, 2014


I'm a little out of things to say today. So instead, I'll leave you with the quiet.

May 12, 2014

I guess I'm a beekeeper: Package Installation

I got my Carniolan bee packages from Hansen Honey Farm in Rhinelander on May 10th and promptly drove them to Coleman for installation. Two, 3 pound packages with an Italian queen in each. (Apparently the Carniolan queens weren't looking that great. It's a good thing I don't know the difference.)

To start, I removed a frame out of the middle of each hive. Since I have 8 frames, I took out frame 5 (counting from the left). That was to leave room for the queen in her queen cage. Next, I popped out the feeder can (filled with sugar syrup for the transport from California to Wisconsin), and slid out the queen cage. First was Amelia. I "inspected" her. Since she was buzzing around angrily, I decided she was good to go. (Because really, as long as she wasn't dead, what else do I know?)

I took out the cork at the bottom of the cage, replaced it with a mini marshmallow, and hung the cage with the hole side down from the top of frame 5 in the middle of the hive. (It's not a great photo, but I was shooting it blind because I had my bee veil on. But it at least gives you the idea of where the hole is and how I shoved the marshmallow into it.)

Next, I sprayed the bees with a 1:1 sugar water syrup. This weighs them down so they don't want to fly, but supposedly also helps stimulate each of them to begin grooming one another, creating a more hospitable and cohesive hive group. After I felt that they were sufficiently sprayed, I lifted out the can of syrup, bonked the whole container hard once to get them to fall down to the bottom, and then turned the box over and shook the bees into the hive. (There is very little finesse with this approach, for sure.)

Then I threw a pollen patty on top (to feed the larvae once Amelia begins laying eggs), added another box above them with a gallon of sugar syrup I'd made up (I'll do this until the hive starts growing and things start blooming and the workers can find their own sweetness in the world), put an entrance reducer at the front to prevent the need to guard the hive so heavily and to keep robber bees out, and closed it up. I left the containers I shook them out of near the front of the hive so any remaining hanger-onners could come out at their leisure. (I'll get rid of those next week.)

Then I repeated the process with Beatrix, my second queen. (Why yes, I did name my bees.) She seemed less angry than Amelia, but the bees seemed to respond just as positively to her.

And that was it. My first installation.

I actually questioned if I did something really wrong because it went so smoothly and easily. I'm going to head back next weekend to see if the queens are freed from their cages and laying any eggs. (And if I did do it correctly!)

It's a good thing they're so far away, because I'm really curious as to how they're doing!

May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day

To all of you who are mothers or have been mothered, but especially to the mother I adore and for the child who made me a mother, Happy Mothers Day!

May 9, 2014

It's a good day

It's a good day.

It's the end of the work week, which is always nice. Plus, I only have a half day today, and it's going to be filled with some good things. (Like that toasted asiago bagel I just ate, for example)

And then at noon, I'm off - with my car already loaded down with sugar syrup, a bee jacket, and hive tools, I'm heading north to Rhinelander to hang with Beerman's godparents for the night. Then in the morning, I'll finally pick up my bees and head to Coleman to install them. (After which, I'll race back to try to make it back in time for my Austrian cooking class.)

So yes. Rain and all, it's a good day.

May 8, 2014

Another Wednesday, another A's win

In what might have been the best night of his life, last night C-man played catcher. He made a couple of great tags, and even got to do a rundown tag from catcher - the play he's practiced in the driveway in his head at least a million times. It's really beautiful to watch how motivated he is to improve this year. It sure hasn't helped me stay calm, though!

And tonight, with no baseball or other obligations, I'm buying my weed guard for under my hives, making up my sugar syrup, and packing the car. Because tomorrow I'm heading north with my jacket and veil and hive tools and going to become a beekeeper. I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it.

May 7, 2014

Parenting things

A friend of mine showed me an article that explained we don't talk to our kids about sexual abuse enough. We're too embarrassed about it ourselves or worried that we'll scare the children, so instead, give the good touch-bad touch talk. But that it doesn't go far enough, and kids are still getting abused and not talking.

So I realized I was one of those parents who hadn't gone far enough with this, assuming it could never happen to my child, and I needed to talk about the topic more. In fact, I'd talked more about abductions than abuse, yet don't know anyone who was ever abducted, but know far too many people who were abused by uncles/friends/step-brothers. (That said, the news this morning was about an attempted abduction 2 blocks from our house. Yikes!)

So I did it. And I'm really glad we talked it through. It was a great conversation, and he asked good questions. (Why would anyone do that? Does it mean that they're gay? Can we stop talking about this because my penis is hurting now?) But I feel like I made real headway in him understanding that it could happen. That it means the person is probably mentally ill, and we'd never need to keep that a secret. That it is his right to say no to an adult and protect himself, even if he's scared it might hurt someone's feelings or come across as disrespectful.

Coincidentally, two days later, he came home with a home safety sheet all about abuse. In class they had talked through some scenarios and had to come up with solutions as a group. And he was quite happy that he had already talked through some of these things so knew the "answers".

So this is my request to you if you have smaller children: Talk to them. Explain the situation possibilities. Tell them it could be someone they know. Don't keep it a secret. Knowledge is power.

May 6, 2014

It's Tapas Tuesday

I had a massage last night, which was a pretty great cap to any Monday, let alone my birthday. But tonight, we're going to celebrate at Pastiche, a restaurant I've been wanting to get to, but just haven't made it. And since C-man is with us, I figured French would be a safe bet. So imagine my giggles when Beerman told me it's Tapas Tuesday! Nothing says French like tapas, after all. That's okay. I'll just tell C-man we're getting him ready for the Spanish trip he so desperately wants to take.

Speaking of trips, my passport expired this week. Dang it. How did I let that happen? I knew it was coming, and then it just sneaked up on me. I'm hoping to get a new picture taken tonight so I can have the whole thing sent out tomorrow. I'm going to miss this passport. It has stamps from Botswana, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, France, and Turkey. I think my new passport will be my 6th passport.

Speaking of the 6th, today is the 6th. We have a baseball practice tonight (before dinner), a baseball game to watch tomorrow, a half-day on Friday to drive north, and then Saturday is the 10th - which is what I'm really looking forward to, because it's going to be my bee day! I am so excited about getting my bees. I really hope I don't screw this up. After all this thinking about it, it's hard to believe it's actually going to happen.

May 5, 2014

So I'm 38 now.

I'm at work on a Monday. And it's my birthday. I've turned 38. Which seems very old in the eyes of a young person. Because it hasn't quite set in that I'm not a 21 year old person anymore. But then I wipe my brow and say, "Thank God I'm not that person anymore!"

So what does 38 look like? Well, I suppose it looks pretty good. I made an internal resolution this year to learn new things. Try new things. Meet new people. Have new experiences and views. And while it started was still while I was 37, I want to make sure this year continues strong in that vein.

And then there's some of the continuation of the old stuff. Being a wife and a mom. Cheering on baseball. Meditating behind a camera lens. Reading a lot. Loving Game of Thrones. Drinking coffee. Having fun with friends. And getting older.

And I guess all of that is pretty good stuff.

So without further ado, here's to 38 and beyond.

May 4, 2014

Double-header Sunday

Today was the annual game at Helfaer Field, the small park next to Miller Park that used to be where County Stadium sat. C-man got his first solid hit. (The last one was just a little blooper we'd rather not remember.) He was soooo happy. Apparently those private hitting times are paying off.

With the hit, he also got an RBI. Both, big deals for him. He also got hit by the ball another time up. It happens. But at least there were no strikeouts.

Yesterday, the coach told us to bring his cup because he was going to put him in as catcher. So imagine my surprise when I saw him in the bullpen warming up to pitch. Ack! I was a complete nervous wreck. He hadn't practiced pitching much. And let's just say we won't be including this outing in his lifetime ERA.

It was only an exhibition game, which is why they all got to play all over the place. But they won anyway, which was the cherry on top. And now, we're off to game 2 of the day. At least it's sunny.

May 3, 2014


When you solve one of life's mysteries, it's best just to sit back and pat yourself on the back. In other news, Ford's navigation system does not like interstates.

May 2, 2014

Random stuff

  • I'm so tired of the crappy news. It's all blah, blah, blah, Malaysia flight, Clippers talk, blah, blah. What about Putin and his $40 billion squirreled away? Ukraine? The girls in Nigeria? Brunei and sharia? What about the 33 dead in Syria? Or even the fluffier stuff - Rio is so far behind for the Olympics, they'll never make it in time? I get frustrated with having to go to page 6 to get the real news we should be paying attention to.
  • Arthritis has been kicking my butt lately. My legs and feet have been so miserable, I don't want to walk. It makes me incredibly grateful it's the weekend. Although our weekend is a bit nuts. But still. A weekend is always better.
  • C-man has his annual game at Helfaer Field this weekend. That's always such a fun game.
  • My pants no longer fit. Not that I'm complaining, because it's due to the weight loss. But it still sucks trying to get dressed. I need to fix that.
  • My neck has been hurting, so I have a chiropractic appointment today. I can't wait.
  • My bees come next week. I was supposed to have the bee installation class before that. It looks like bees are at a premium, however, and they aren't coming in time for the class. Darn it. Now I have to figure out how to light a smoker on my own. To YouTube I go!

May 1, 2014

A flip of the calendar

The calendar has flipped, but Mother Nature sure didn't notice. We shivered our way through another baseball game last night. It was the best team they've played so far, but the A's still managed to pull ahead for an exciting win in the bottom of the final inning.

It continues to be interesting to see C-man play against his good friends, and how genuinely happy they are for one another when they do well. (Although, it still does get a bit distracting when they're on the same base together.) He was swinging better last night, but still struck out. So it's back to more hitting practice Friday night, because he now has 6 games in 10 days.

Overall, he's just incredibly happy to be on a team that gets along well and is winning while they do it. I think it's going to be a big growth year for this little man.