May 30, 2015


We've happily arrived at the weekend. The glorious time when Beerman is finally home, I don't have to work, and we have a play and a baseball game and grandparents visiting.

May 29, 2015

Delusions of grandeur (aka - A laying worker)

A queen bee and a worker bee are identical genetically. The difference between them is that a queen has been fed royal jelly by the worker bees since she was an egg, which allows her sexual organs to mature. Eventually, after being fed this royal jelly as an egg and larva, she emerges from her queen cell and goes on a virgin flight, and mates with up to 20 times with 20 drones. (Whose phalluses are ripped from their bodies in the act. It's what you get for being a complete drain on the hive, I suppose.)

However, once in a while, a worker bee has delusions of grandeur, and feels she's the queen. In her rise to power, she kills the queen and begins to lay her own eggs. The problem, is that she is sexually immature and unfertilized, and so only lays drones (males). Since worker bees do all the work, and the drones just hang out in a tree waiting for a virgin queen to emerge, they aren't very useful when they are the only ones being produced. (You only need 1 drone per 100ish workers.)

When you don't spot a queen, it's not always a big deal, and you just look for eggs. I hadn't seen eggs on previous visits, so suspected a problem. So when I finally spotted multiple eggs (those little grains of rice looking things) being laid in each cell, I knew it was either a poor queen or a laying worker. (A good queen lays one per cell.)

When I looked further and saw there were frames of only drones (They aren't flat, but raised bumps to account for their large eyes which help them spot the virgin queen on her flight and 'get it right' if you will), it was clear. The queen was not alive, and a worker had taken it upon herself to become the "B" hive's Anne Boelyn.

While I'd heard of this problem, I hadn't experienced it firsthand. Plus, like most things with this hobby, much of what I'd read was contradictory. So I went to the message boards and asked the beekeepers whose knowledge I trust. So the process went like this:
  1. Order a new queen
  2. Grandma texts to tell you she's here
  3. Take the day off and drive north
  4. Open the hive and take the frames 50 yards away from the hives and shake all of the bees off
  5. Install new frames instead of the multiple egg or drone-laden ones
  6. Hang the new queen in the hive and make sure she can't get out for several days to delay the process as long as possible so the hive accepts her pheromones as the real queen
  7. Let the worker bees fly back to their hive, leaving the laying worker who thinks she's queen (and so therefore does not fly back to the hive), behind
  8. Pray they'll accept the new queen bee, Beyonce
  9. Long live Beyonce. After all, #BeyonceAlwaysOnBeat

Just one more learning experience in this world of beekeeping.

In other news, I saw Caroline. Her hive was a bit slow, but brood is capped, and eggs are laid across 3 full frames. So all is moving along, albeit a bit slowly. Abigail's hive is going cray-cray crazy. The second brood box is almost full. She's a spunky one!

And while I should probably go back in a few days to check on Beyonce, I'm going to leave them all for 2 weeks. I've decided I'm going with less intervention this year to see if it changes anything.

May 28, 2015

Concert recap

Last night was the annual school Spring Concert. This year's theme was about Appalachia, and they used it as an opportunity to fundraise for the Appalachian Service Project. I thought it was a nice combo.

The kids were adorable, as always. The K3 class stole the show, however. Because seriously, exuberant 3 year olds shouting, "Toot! Toot!" with hand gestures really can't be beat.

And today, I head North to requeen a hive. As they say, here goes nothing.

May 26, 2015

Tuesday Ten

  1. C-man didn't have baseball this weekend, so we went and watched his friends (who are on the in-season tournament team) play. His age group won.
  2. He's been asked to try out for the post-season tournament team, which is kind of a big deal. He's thrilled.
  3. Who needs a blissful family summer vacation on the sandy dunes anyway?
  4. C-man's Spring concert is tomorrow, and he needs a green polo. I don't have time to get a green polo.
  5. Hello, Zappos and your beautiful next-day delivery.
  6. My inner thigh sting woke me up this morning with its itchy welty grossness. Damnit.
  7. I think I need beekeeping pants. The little suckers always go for my legs.
  8. I have a new queen coming this week. I hope it's toward the end of the week.
  9. Tonight's baseball game is against one of the best teams in the league.
  10. Which is why you'll forgive me that I'm really excited there are some potential thunderstorms brewing right at game time.

May 25, 2015

Back to Beekeeping

When you install a queen from a queen cage, you need to remove a middle frame from the hive to make room for it to hang until she's released. You may remember my adventurous Abigail took off and then came back to me. So I flung her inside the hive and shut it down. I never put the extra frame in its place, because I didn't want to squish or lose her.

Fast forward 3 weeks when I went to take the top cover off, and found that they'd built their own frame of comb attached to the top cover. Abigail lovingly laid all her eggs on both sides, and it was capped brood comb - hundreds and hundreds of almost baby bees. However, when I lifted the top cover up, the brood comb detatched (pictured above) and fell crashing to the ground.

And they were mad. Pissed, if you will. And one informed me of her displeasure by stinging me in the inside of my left thigh. Sweetbabyjesus did that suck.

But the good news is Abigail and Caroline's hives are doing well. Caroline's is a bit slower than Abigail's, but that's okay. There are eggs and larvae, so all is well.

Beatrice's hive is a bust. A worker with delusions of grandeur must have killed her right away, because there have never been eggs. And now, there is a laying worker. Which means an unfertilized female is laying eggs - thereby creating a hive full of drones. Essentially, the hive is dead.

I kept debating whether or not to get a new queen. But when I checked the supplier from last year, they are shipping this week, so I hit 'buy'. If this doesn't work, then I am just rolling with two hives.

So there you have it. 2 out of 3 are running, and hopefully the third will be back in business later this week. In the meantime, Benadryl + Aloe gel is great stuff.

May 23, 2015

Helloooo, Summer!

It's a beautiful day to start off the summer. The lawn is mowed, the patio furniture is out, my favorite plant sale was frequented, Beasley is panting heavily from his long run, and the drinking gnome is in his garden.

Helloooo, Summer!

May 22, 2015

Hello, weekend

Another Jr. Olympics in the books. C-man came in with the silver for the 50 yard dash. Let the long weekend begin.

May 21, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

  1. I needed a show to watch, and Bev is always taking about Outlander, so I thought I'd try it. I binged through Season 1 in 3 days.
  2. Season 2 is out, but you can't stream it. It's killing me. I need my Outlander now!
  3. Beerman finally made it home at 5:30 a.m. today. While aesthetically nice, the Denver airport really is a POS when it comes to moving you through it.
  4. I have tomorrow off because it's the school's Junior Olympics. That's always fun to watch.
  5. It's supposed to be crummy weather this weekend, unfortunately.
  6. While I'd like summer activities to really begin, I'm also looking forward to some TV and laziness.
  7. I think Beerman and I are planning on going out to eat one night to celebrate our anniversary.
  8. I guess I should find a place for C-man to sleep over, if he hasn't already lined something up for himself.
  9. Tretar means threefill in Swedish. Like, I need a tretar on my coffee. Totally appropriate for today.
  10. I have lunch out today. I love that.
  11. I'm hoping to take some good photographs this weekend. Non-baseball photographs, if you believe that.
  12. Although we have to go wrestling shoe shopping. Apparently his foot grew since March.
  13. TGIT!

May 20, 2015

It's only Wednesday

The A's lost in a heart breaker last night against the top team in the league. They were ahead by one. The other team's best batter was up. He popped up foul twice, and C-man missed them both. Then that kid lined out to the middle of next week, scoring a runner and himself, ending the game. It was controversial, because the first runner didn't touch third and the ump was totally terrible. The loss wasn't C-man's fault, of course. There were strikeouts and errors throughout the game. It just would've been nice to have taken that one as a W. Oh well. We had Dr Dawg after and I didn't make him shower until this morning. Always a positive in his world.

In other news, it's only Wednesday. Sheez. What a long week this has been.

May 19, 2015

Anniversary day

  • It's my wedding anniversary to Beerman today. 14 successful years.
  • He's in Denver.
  • I did get roses and chocolate covered strawberries. So that was nice.
  • C-man has a baseball game and baseball photos tonight.
  • I'll have to leave work again to make it in time.
  • One day I'll be able to make a whole work day.
  • It'd also be nice if I could sleep the whole night. That hasn't happened for so long, it doesn't even seem like a reality anymore.
  • A wrestling mom asked me to make up two collages for her boys.
  • I didn't know I'd still be editing photos in May. But they're good people, so it's not a real complaint.
  • C-man is wrestling on Sundays now. He came home a giant ball of sweat and all bruised up and declared it the best wrestling practice ever.
  • I do not understand this boy stuff.

May 18, 2015

Band concert

Some day, schools will be in touch with reality. But for now, they still schedule band concerts on Mondays at 1 p.m. C-man, of course, expects us to be there, so I dutifully made my way home to watch them gut out When the Saints Go Marching In. It's not like I wanted to work today anyway, right?

May 17, 2015

Baseball and Chick Flicks

Last night was the annual game at Helfaer Field, this year under the lights. The A's lost, but it was okay. They beat this same team earlier in the week. So there was that. Plus, Beerman was pitching kids who had never pitched before, and playing kids where they wouldn't otherwise play because the game doesn't count. Kind of an experience thing. The other team was playing its best kids in their positions. So that was cool.

C-man was totally distracted and nervous because Cousin Kyle was there. He finally settled in and made some solid defensive plays, and then pulled a double off in his last at bat.

A cute night, as always. And now, it's a rainy Sunday and I've got to get the dog to the park. I should be checking on my bees, but the weather and the drive put me off. So off to the park, and then it's chick flicks all afternoon!

May 15, 2015

Can you hear that? Oh yeah... the weekend is coming...


Seriously, I'm so thankful it's the weekend. C-man plays at Helfaer Field tomorrow, but not until I sleep in and have a facial.

Beasley had his vet appointment yesterday. He's 95 pounds and the vet referred to him as "one of those ADHD" dogs. What a perfect description of this maniac. We really should have weighed him when we got him. I think he must have been 110 pounds. But now he's almost fighting weight and has more energy than ever.

Beerman was in Chippewa Falls brewing all night last night and on his way home. I think it'll be a slow night at home tonight.

The local technical college is offering a free 5-class welding certificate covered by the US Department of Labor. It seriously makes me want to learn how to weld.

This might just be how I have so many ridiculous hobbies, by the way...

May 13, 2015

Magical moments

It's the moment he has played out in his head a million times... The bottom of the last inning. The score is tied at 8. A runner is on third. C-man is up to bat.

He hits a clutch line drive between the pitcher and shortstop. The A's win it 9-8. Magic.

May 12, 2015

Shmooseday Tuesday

  • This weather is crushing me.
  • So are all the political commentary and posts on Facebook.
  • I've found I just tend to remove myself totally from political discussions lately. Funny, considering it was one of my undergrad majors. But people don't seem open to facts, and just get loud and rude.
  • C-man plays baseball tonight. It's going to be cold and crappy.
  • Hopefully, this weekend is nicer for his game at Helfaer Field.
  • My work got rid of the compostable, yet disposable cups for water. So now everyone buys bottled water. #fail
  • I need some sunshine to make me happier. Happier is good.
  • I hope my bees are doing okay. It's been cold at night. At least they have fresh sugar syrup.

May 11, 2015

A day of first world problems

  • I got stung on Saturday, but didn't realize it until Sunday when I had an itchy welt on my thigh. Just one more thing to log in the, "You know you're a beekeeper when..."
  • With C-man's game rain out yesterday, we ended up doing a lot of nothing. Which was good, because the rain really crushed me on the pain scale and sent me to bed early.
  • We saw the Avengers this weekend. While Thor is still hot, the movie was dumb. Even for a superhero movie.
  • Starbucks mini frappuccino? Yes, please.
  • I'm getting sick of my hair being as long as it is. I thought this was a good idea, but I'm so annoyed with it, laying around and flying all over the place, not doing what it's told. Sigh. First world problems.
  • My shoulder continues to be total crap with no improvement. Physical therapy loses again.
  • This day needs more cowbell. And coffee.

May 10, 2015

Happy Mothers Day!

The cold and rain mean there is no geocaching or picnic or bike rides with my newly wicker basketed bike. But it also means no baseball. And as much as I love baseball, I'm super okay with not sitting on bleachers in this yuk.

So Happy Mothers Day to you! May it be wrapped in warmth and love and good food.

May 9, 2015

Baseball and Bees

The A's lost last night. Sigh. They should have won. It's depressing. But in happier news, C-man hit a home run in a giant bomb to left-center. He's like a different kid out there this year.

And today, I drove north to check on my bees. Abigail and Caroline's hives are fantastic - strong, lots of bees and eggs, and they are bringing in pollen and nectar. I'm not so sure about Beatrice. I couldn't find her, and the hive wasn't looking very strong. I'm going to let it go a bit, though. Maybe she's in there and just not laying a lot yet. Or maybe she isn't and they'll raise their own queen. Either way, this is why I got three hives instead of two.

And now, it's time to go see the Avengers assemble!

May 8, 2015

It's finally here

The weekend is upon us. It came a little sooner than I thought when I woke up and C-man informed me it is a short day at school. (Grrr - I hate these stupid short days) But it's gorgeous outside, and I didn't have any meetings, so am working from my kitchen counter with the windows open.

In other good news, the A's brought home a win last night, which was incredibly fun. They may even have a shot at another win when they play again tonight. Between baseball and sugar syrup making for my bees and the sounds of lawn mowers running... I think summer is finally here.

May 7, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

  1. I have three vases of flowers at my desk and one on my table at home from my birthday. I can't tell you how happy it makes me.
  2. The A's play the Royals tonight. If ever there was a chance to win a game this season, this could be it.
  3. I consciously had my last PT appointment for my rotator cuff this morning. It still hurts, but the time for me to go to PT is lame when she tells me to move my arm in a simple lame way that is doing nothing.
  4. It's so beautiful outside. The sun is shining, the leaves are all budded out, and it's glorious. I wait all winter for days like these.
  5. I finally got Beasley a vet appointment next week. I keep forgetting to do that.
  6. I don't know if it's my allergies or pain or what, but I've been so tired lately.
  7. I definitely need to exercise more.
  8. My nightly bike rides with C-man have been fantastic. I'm so glad I got a new bike that fits.
  9. On Saturday, I'm going to try to get up north to check on my bees. Gosh, I hope they're doing what they need to do.
  10. I'm so happy the weekend is supposed to be nice weather.
  11. Beerman's in the process of building me a vegetable garden. I can't wait.
  12. Cinnamon Altoids rule.
  13. Let's go A's!

May 6, 2015

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike

I've been studying happiness lately. It's actually a field of study, if you can believe that. But what I've learned is that you have to be happy to make happy. In other words, happiness isn't a reward, but a means to a reward. It's something you have to cultivate, both in yourself and others, in order for it to permeate and thrive.

I like this idea of cultivating happiness so much. And I like that it's in my control through simple actions - gratitude I express toward others, meditation, giving things to others that they need. Because there are days when it seems that happiness is not in me, when the pain is too overwhelming. But it's just not true. Happiness is my choice.

I love that.

May 5, 2015

Thirty-nine thankfuls

It's my exit year. The last of the thirties. I don't know how this has happened so quickly. There's so much I have left to do. So many places to see. So many hobbies to acquire. So many people to meet. So many photos to take. But I'm so, so thankful, and so, so fortunate to be where I am. So this year, I am taking time to be grateful for the love and life I've got. In no particular order (beyond the top 4, of course):
  1. Beerman, who is my caretaker and food maker and father to my child and all around really fabulous person who puts up with my crazy
  2. C-man, who makes my heart swell every day
  3. My family, who taught me laughter is more important than anything
  4. Beasley, whose belly is always available for a rub when I need it most
  5. My beehives, that have taught and continue to teach me humility and hard work and nature
  6. My camera, from whose lens I experience different perspectives and lights
  7. Travel experiences, the stories I've had around the world shape my daily thoughts and actions
  8. The educational experiences I've had, learning is a daily activity that makes me better
  9. My job, that despite my complaints, allows me to use my strengths and skills and rewards me well
  10. Spring, which brings all the holidays I love, but also a new hope for the year
  11. Coffee, which brings me happiness and tastiness, and morning joy
  12. Baseball, despite its long season, always brings me happy childhood memories, and a full summer of smiles
  13. The roof over my head, it makes me more fortunate than most in this world
  14. Mountain tops, I've been on a few, and they always inspire me with joy
  15. My ability to send my child to a private school, it isn't a necessity, but that I can make the right choice for him is something I never take for granted
  16. Friends, both near and far, young and old who weave together the fabric of my life
  17. That Halley's comet is showing her tail tonight for my birthday
  18. A completely full Facebook walls of birthday well wishes
  19. A new bike from my boys, which will one day soon be complete with wicker basket
  20. The ability to live in a safe place my son can roam freely on his bike, yet we can go to theater and sports in an instant
  21. Curly hair, while it may make me crazy some days, it is different and unique
  22. Straight teeth, because as my mom always said, your eyes are a mess, so at least your teeth are good.
  23. Good shoes, because you can never go wrong with a new pair of beautiful shoes. And I seem to have a lot of them
  24. My herb garden, because walking through it makes me breathe deeper and love my life
  25. Living so close to Lake Michigan, because I can take a walk along the waves almost any time I want
  26. Warm sunshine on my face
  27. Old photos of good times past
  28. The smell of vanilla straight out of the bottle, because it reminds me of cookies. And really, how can that ever be bad?
  29. Heated seats and a sunroof in my car. It's the first time having either, and I love them
  30. Beer, because it's tasty and good and pays my mortgage
  31. Butterflies and birds and squirrels and all the creatures in my gardens who I may have named
  32. Five continents before 40
  33. All the hobbies I do that are possible and enabled by my family
  34. Yarn stores, because they are beautiful and warm and make me smile
  35. My hammock chair, because it swings and sways and is the best place to be
  36. Vacation plans, because they're hopeful and fun and take me on my next adventure
  37. Online shopping, because it means I don't have to enter a real store. Ever.
  38. 39 years of safety and happiness and exploration and love and laughter
  39. Dreaming about next year's birthday. It's still one year away, but so many fulfilled dreams and adventures lie ahead.

May 4, 2015

So it's Monday and stuff

The weekend is over. Wow. I need another weekend. I haven't slept much, my head is pounding, and my house is a mess. I spent yesterday afternoon/evening at C-man's A's game. They were beyond terrible. Then we went out to eat after. I really just wanted to go to bed because I was feeling so lousy, but the other 2/3 of the family wanted to be social.

In happy news, the two baby doves on our grape arbor are now gone, presumably to their own lives in the trees. I will miss their sweet, chubby bodies, but am glad the hawk didn't get them.

May 3, 2015

That day the queen flew away

Yesterday, I loaded up my car and drove north. I stopped in Greenville, WI to pick up my three, 3 pound packages of bees and their queens. About 5 minutes after getting them,  I realized I was carrying about 45,000 bees with me. But it was the three loose ones that worried me most. Thankfully, they just flew around the back window the whole time, and there were no incidents.

Once I got to Coleman, I started by setting up the three hives in their positions. I even used my phone's level to make sure they were straight this time. Once everything was set up, and some more weed block was put down in front of the hives, it was time to install the bees.

I pulled the 4th frame out to leave room for the queens. Then I sprayed the packages with sugar water to subdue them a bit. (It was in the 70s, so there was no worry about chilling them.) Then I pried the sugar syrup can (which was totally empty already) out of the box, and slid the queen cage out. These cages came with corks in the bottoms, so pulled the cork and replaced it with a marshmallow. I hung the queen with the marshmallow facing down, and then grabbed the box of bees. I turned the box over, and shook them on top of the queen. Once I got as many out as possible, I put the box in front of the hive, put the feeder on top, filled it with sugar water, and put on the cover.

And then I moved on to the next one. Spray the sugar, pry the can out, grab the queen, take the cork out, and... watch her fly away. I just stood there in disbelief, having heard of this woe before, but not believing it could actually happen if you were paying attention. So I started to figure out what to do - do I dump the bees in and quick get a queen this week, or do I dump them in to the next hive, so there would be 6# of bees in one hive. All while praying to St. Abigail, patron saint of bees.

I reached for the third box and began to install it. And that's when I saw the blue-dotted queen, Abigail, if you will, fly back to the box of her bees. I tried to get her back into the queen cage, but she is a wily one. And since I didn't want to crush her after she'd so nicely come back to me, I flicked her into the hive, quickly dumped her box of bees on top of her, and closed it up. I used a front feeder instead of a top feeder because I wasn't about to open that hive again.

Thankfully, the third hive went like clockwork. I left the empty-ish boxes they came in by the hives, because there were a few stubborn girls unwilling to leave. They'll be totally empty by the time I'm back next week to make sure the (two) queens are released and laying.

So there you have it. Beatrice, Abigail, and Caroline. Rulers of their new kingdoms.

May 1, 2015

Rounding Third and Heading Home

  • It's sugar syrup making night for my bees.
  • My three, 3# packages of bees plus 3 queens.
  • It's also - oh crap, find all the new equipment and round it up in one place night.
  • Donald Driver is going to be at work today.
  • I can't even explain who that is. If you don't know, then I'm moving on.
  • I am pretty sure C-man has a sinus infection.
  • He's going to the walk-in clinic after his baseball practice.
  • I have a painter coming in for a quote on our interior walls and ceiling.
  • We never hire this stuff done, so I'm sort of excited.
  • Until I see the estimate. Then maybe I won't be anymore!
  • Ahhh, bring it, weekend.