May 2009

Today was a very exciting day for the Terpsichore hive.  My dear friend who writes Seeds in the City was up for a visit, and we all suited up to visit the hive and see how things were going. 


Wow!!  The smell of honey was overpowering.  The buzzing, however, turned from a lovely hum to a startled-gradually-rising-in-pitch-buzz, and things got a little dramatic after that.  But first impressions first…



This hive is incredible.  It is almost two months old, and already we have added another brood box and a honey box (this morning).  Mark is going up to Mann Lake next week to get another box or two plus frames. 

The words that come to mind this evening after reviewing the hive inspection (that sounds so cold and clinical, but in essence that’s what we were doing) are: Industrious, fiercely protective, dedicated, expressive.

Thinking back:  Terpsichore was a very fitting name.  I took at tip from another favorite blog, Birdchick, and spoke to the bees while painting their hive.  I wished for them to be productive and to feel secure and safe.

Well, there was drama – my dear friend and hive sister Seeds in the City was stung.  :(  It’s bound to happen to all of us, but it was still unfortunate and I feel sorry.  It appeared to happen as she was lifting one of the boxes – a bee was buzzing around her jeans, and it looked as though it was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She was able to get the stinger out, but not after getting her bee jacket and pants off to do so!  Ouch.  Hope it cools down soon. 😦

It was intense – when she was backing away after being stung, a literal formation of bees was gearing up to go after her!  It reminded me of all of the cartoons I’ve seen of bees forming arrows or fingers before chasing after their victims. 



There is some mold that has formed on one side of one of the brood boxes, and there was some in the bottom board.  The original brood box has bubbled a bit in the paint, too.  The mold was cleaned off of the bottom board and left out so that the hive could better aerate, but the main concern was seeing the box that had the mold (it’s black and flat) – the bees had built comb on frames that were far away from the mold.  Three frames were completely untouched!  We’re guessing that the exceedingly damp weather has caused it, but are at a loss as to how to combat it. We share our land with 13 redwoods, and an organic vegetable and herb garden, so things are lively – but we’re also in a very compact eco-system (designated rain forest, no kidding).  It could be the excessive morning dew, but we’re still not sure.   I’m still looking for answers, and will write  as things unfold.  For now, we’ll just keep watching and hoping that the girls will work with us, as they appear to be doing with incredible finesse.

They have a new addition to the hive for now, and hopefully the airing out will help get rid of anything undesirable.  There is so much honey at the moment it’s incredible!  If things continue going this well, we will add a second hive.



Sleep well, bees.  You are loved.


Just some thoughts

In a way, I adore Sunday evenings, as they’re generally more relaxed than other evenings.  On the other hand Sunday evenings also signify the need to think ahead to the upcoming week. 

I definitely feel SO much better come Monday morning if I’ve taken some time to prepare for the week, especially if that includes a homemade packed lunch.  I have made it a prerogative to bring homemade lunches from now on, but the less rushed and thrown together, the better. 

Pictures and good memories

I’ve been pretty sick this weekend, so getting out into the garden was my prize.  I only wish I wouldn’t get so disappointed with myself and accept that every little bit I do is GOOD.  I just want to do so much, and to care so much more for all the things we are growing and tending.  The cats and I had fun:



Early Girls and Romas are growing well, after a transplant (and soil amending).  Some cages were added today.



The first of the Favas.  :)  From seed.  A first-time!  Can’t wait to sample these.



Lapis decided to take a nap right where I had been sitting a few minutes earlier, using the hose as a pillow. 


One of my favorite pictures of Ruby Salai, ever.  She never strikes poses, and I just happened to catch her ‘just right’. 🙂


Here’s what was picked today – not a whole lot, but just enough to savor the first ‘harvest’ of the garden.  I plan to save as many seeds as I can this year, if all grows well.

With a homemade cherry pie baked, laundry and housework done, library books and movies retrieved, it has been a productive weekend.  Still not feeling so well, and am hoping that a good night’s sleep will make all the difference.

May you enjoy this Full Moon and your Sunday.


getting ready to add the varroa mite screens and new hive box…


everything in place! and now, for a little peek inside…


beautiful, busy bees!


closeup of the comb…there’s honey in there, too!

Love you, Terpsichore hive…


Last Tuesday, I came back from lunch to my boss anxiously awaiting my return.  “Hello, Beekeeper!” he said.  “We have a problem, one of the profs has a swarm of honeybees on her car.”  Long story short, I was able to call James from the Santa Cruz Beekeeping Guild to help, as I’m a brand new beekeeper and didn’t know where to start.


Ever seen ‘Wallace and Grommit’, the full-length motion picture? They are garden pest (well, rabbits mainly) ‘exterminators,’ when in fact they don’t exterminate any of them but in fact suck them up via a ‘Bun Vac’ and bring them home. 🙂 That’s exactly what happened here. James used a shop vac hooked up to a bee cage, called the ‘Bee Vac’. He vacuumed as many as he could into the cage, and later took them home to his hives.


Later he smoked the places where the bees had congregated (the belief was that this swarm had been flying for a few days now, and the Queen decided to have a look in the back of this car as a potential new hive. Eek!

Anyway, all is well now, with the swarm and with the nerves of the poor owner of the car.  And yesterday, she gave us a box of great pastries from the Buttery to thank us!