goodness, humor

Sweet, sweet regurgitation

I burst out laughing at this last week.  It’s so hilariously honest.  I love my bees, but people tend to turn a blind eye to where their food comes from.  Let’s take a nice, close look, shall we? 🙂

BLUUUUURGH!

BLUUUUURGH!

 

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family, goodness

Hive inspection: Success edition!

Dad and I have been attempting to keep some bees for months now, and every time we think they’ll stay, their numbers peter out.  The first batch just took off, the second and third hung out for a while, but didn’t make much progress and were too small.  The fourth built a bunch of comb and then started leaving.  The most recent colony, however, has taken to the hive beautifully.  We did an inspection yesterday and saw loads of brood (mostly capped), two generations deep, meaning: The queen starts laying in the center of the comb and works her way out toward the edge of the comb.  On a few of the strips we saw capped brood at the edge of the comb (unhatched first generation babies), then empty comb (where some first generation babies had already hatched and left), then, in the center of the comb, more capped brood (where the queen had already laid another batch of babies: a second generation).  That’s our working theory, anyway.

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped (and the capped honey at the very top)

Once their numbers are shored up, they’ll keep building comb and dedicating more comb-space to food storage (honey, pollen, and a combo of the two adorably called “bee bread”).  We saw a high concentration of bees on the edges of the comb, which probably means they’re already building the comb out, and in fact there’s already been a noticeable difference in the size of the existing comb leftover from the last swarm.  Some of the strips were downright heavy with the weight of the comb, full cells and bees milling around.  There wasn’t much honey, but we’re assuming that once their numbers go up, they’ll shift their focus a bit.  I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

We took a bunch of photos of each strip so we could inspect them carefully without disturbing the bees.  I lifted each strip out of the hive while Dad took some quick hi-res photos, and carefully replaced each strip so we wouldn’t crush any of them.  There were only maybe a dozen bees that were noticeably agitated (flying at our faces and such), which is a sign that either smoking bees really does make them more docile, or we have some very well-behaved ladies in the hive.  They stayed on the comb when we pulled each strip out, even when a stiff breeze came by.  We even saw a few bees waggling their abdomens up and down.  It didn’t look like a waggle dance, so we’re not sure what they were doing, lil’ weirdos 🙂

Afterward, while examining the photos (very thoroughly), I spotted the queen!  We knew she must be there, but it’s good to see her.  We didn’t find any drones, though.  Perhaps they were on a mating flight?  We also saw some really pretty pollen, all different colors, on the comb and on some bees’ legs: dark orange, dusty yellow and vivid yellow.

They seem like a strong colony.  I can’t wait to see how they do.  Dad’s going out of town for the week, so I’ll check on them in his absence, checking for pollen on their legs when they return to the hive, and peeking in through the window to see if they’re building more comb.

various colors of pollen in bright new comb

various colors of pollen in bright new comb

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family, goodness

Beautiful comb

Dad and I checked out the hive yesterday to see if the queen was still there since half the colony seems to have absconded.  We found her!  He pulled out three bars with comb on them before we found her.  The comb looked gorgeous.  The honey glowed, and there were a few spots where you could see actual larvae.  Very exciting.

Technically it’s illegal to keep bees in Los Angeles, but who’s going to stop us?  Seriously:

“You can’t keep bees here, that’s illegal.”
“Oh ok, go ahead and move them then.”
“…”
“Right.  We done here?”

clean empty comb around the border, baby bees at the bottom, honey at the top.  so pretty.

clean empty comb around the border, pollen storage at the bottom, honey at the top (some of which is capped at the very top). so pretty.

We also biked up and down Venice for the CicLAvia event which was way too crowded, but otherwise fun.  My butt is sore and the back of my left leg hurts.  Blerg.

UPDATE: April 23, 2013
There’s the queen at the top left!  She’s long and brown with no stripes.

ALL HAIL HER MAJESTY

ALL HAIL HER MAJESTY

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goodness, life

I can has bees!

I will join a several thousand-year-old tradition, and thereby become a badass

I will join a several thousand-year-old tradition, and thereby become a badass

Dad has decided he wants to keep bees.  Naturally, I’m on board.  We’re going to catch a swarm together, put it in the hive he’s built and hopefully, eventually, harvest some honey from them.

We went to a local beekeepers’ meeting a couple weeks back, and yesterday attended a small mentoring program where we accompanied a very experienced bee keeper named Kirk who helps run the Backwards Beekeepers.  He’s hysterical.  He gives advice like, “I always put my bee suit on before going near a hive or a swarm.  That way I never wish to hell I had put on my bee suit.”  The man is a genius.

We checked on six box hives of various size, ranging from one to four stacked levels.  He loaned me the top half of a bee suit, and Dad brought me some gloves.  I felt super confident from the mid-thigh up.  I gathered and clutched the bottom of the “shirt” to keep bees from flying up into the shirt (it worked, miraculously).  We looked on while the other three attendees (more experienced than we) opened the hives and pulled out each frame to check on the bees’ progress, helpfully pointing out the various occupants of each section of comb: drone brood, larvae, honey, etc.  They pointed out drones (huge) and we got a quick peek at a queen (large, brown and sensitive to light).  Overall, super cool.

Captain Obvious says, "If you keep bees, you'll get stung."

Captain Obvious says, “If you keep bees, you’ll get stung.”

I started menstruating yesterday, so I was really tired and sat down after about an hour of this.  After a minute I worried that sitting would cause the cuff of my pants to lift and allow bees to fly up my pants.  I pondered this issue, and as I tried to think of a solution that wouldn’t involve standing, I got stung on my left leg right above the knee, through my pants.  Well.  Shit.

Sitting had pressed my pants right against my skin, so there was no space to protect me from a stinger.  I brushed the bee off and quickly pulled my pants away from my leg, which extracted the stinger.  It hurt a little more than an inoculation, and kept hurting for a few minutes.  Still, I expected to be stung at some point during my beekeeping experience, so I wasn’t too dismayed. Plus, it was my first sting ever!  So I was curious to see how I would react, both psychologically (temporary pain doesn’t really bother me) and (mostly) physically.  I took a Benadryl when I got home, and took a six hour nap, lol.  I haven’t had a chance to sleep in for two weeks so I was in desperate need to some catch-up sleep, and I typically take a long nap on the first day of my menstruation cycle, so I doubt it was a symptom of an allergic reaction.  The spot where I got stung is just a small pink dot on my leg now, and it doesn’t even itch, so I think I’m ok.

Dad was super bummed that I got stung.  He kept apologizing, and Boyfriend doted on me when I got home and did work on his laptop next to me in bed until I fell asleep.  Dad kept checking on me, and called me at work this morning to see how I was doing.  So sweet.  I am so loved.  Plus, I bet he doesn’t want me getting scared off, which is understandable; he wants a beekeeping buddy 🙂  He said he’s going to get me my own beekeeping suit!  Hooray!  I’ll be so confident in my own suit!  I can’t wait!  I’m doing that thing where I get really excited about a new thing.  I almost impulse purchased this necklace on Etsy the other day, lol.

UPDATE:  Aaaaaand I bought this one instead (two of them, actually, one for Dad and one for me).  Not sure where his will go, maybe on his wall at work?  Ugh.  I am the worst/best.

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