Monday, January 27, 2014

beekeeping: the start of a new hobby

i am officially going to be a beekeeper. every time someone new finds out about this adventure, i swear a hundred questions follow. this includes my husband, my mom, my soon-to-be brother in law, my closest friends, and the lady sitting next to me on the flight to san diego last weekend.

so i thought spilling my beekeeping heart out in a post might be a good idea.

q&a:

what made you want to become a beekeeper? i love honey. most days i eat 4 teaspoons, which means i consume about 1 quart a month. i keep the bees in business. i eat honey in my tea, on bananas, drizzled over peanut butter toast, with crackers or simply by the spoonful. my slight addiction was enough to make me curious about having bees of my own. so i did some research and signed myself up for a beginner beekeeping class hosted by the northern colorado beekeepers association.

Beekeeping Class, Day 1: the anatomy of a bee

aren't you afraid of being stung? no, not really. i actually don't think i've ever been stung in my life. but i do know i am not afraid. shocking, since i am afraid of most things. but if being stung a handful of times each year means i get to harvest my own honey, then i'll survive. it's only a matter of time until my very first bee sting. that's inevitable when you agree to house tens of thousands of bees.

something to note, most summertime-picnic-ruining stings are from yellow jackets and wasps, not honey bees. honey bees are far less aggressive. please educate yourself here and spread the news.

are you really getting bees shipped to your house? yes. i ordered two 3lb packages this weekend. they will arrive sometime in mid-april. each package will have one queen and over 10,000 bees. i can barely wrap my head around that last sentence.

i may have attended a class and understand the basics, but i have never actually spent any time around bees. and certainly not 10,000 of them. so to say i am not nervous about that many bees arriving at my front door, would be a lie. however, despite the nerves, i am actually really excited to get started. maybe i'll have a "bee voice" - mr. b aren't you excited for that?

what do the bees arrive in? they come in a shoebox-size wooden box with screened sides. they are packaged at the almond farms in california and brought to colorado by truck. did you know that the almond crop relies 100% on honey bee pollination? i sure didn't. and how about about apples, grapefruit, cherries, avocados, cucumbers, and oranges? yep, they all require bee pollination too!

where are you going to keep your hives? i am in the process of choosing a location now. our yard is not really ideal (according to my husband), so i've made a couple of contacts and will be visiting some properties over the next few weeks. i have learned pretty quickly that there is high demand for beekeepers, so finding property is really not as big of a problem as i anticipated.

how much does this cost? like most hobbies, it's not cheap. the first year investment is probably the most expensive though because you need to purchase your clothing, tools and smoker which are items that you won't have to purchase year after year. to get started with one hive and your gear, expect to pay upwards of $500.

are you getting one of those smoker things? yes. it's a must. you use the smoker when opening the hive. or when you approach the hive and the bees are acting aggressive. if an intruder were to come to your house, you'd panic and try to stop them, right? well the bees do the same. they send off "alarm" pheromones if they think their hive is being threatened. so the smoke masks that "alarm" pheromone and essentially calms the bees down.

everyone loves the veil. does it come in different colors? no. at least not in the 5 catalogs i have scattered on my floor. bees associate dark colors with pests and intruders (ie. mice, raccoons, bears, etc). i'd rather not make them mad (aka get stung), so i am sticking with white.

Beekeeping Class, Day 2: testing veils
ps. i love catalogs and i am so excited to add another type to my collection. my husband is not.

how often do you have to visit your hives? during the first year, our instructors suggested we visit our bees once a week for a full inspection. mostly as a learning experience - learning what is normal so we can identify when something is wrong. experienced beekeepers usually only inspect the hive a handful of times a year. [inspecting is different than watching. inspecting involves taking out the frames and looking at the foundation. you could visit and watch the bees every day if you wanted to.]

Beekeeping Class, Day 3: a sneak peek into a bee box

what will you do with your bees in the winter? let them alone. cold temps usually don't kill bees, heat does. they feed off the honey reserves, which keeps their bellies full. and they "huddle" together and flap their wings to keep warm. their goal is to keep the queen alive until next season. of course some bees will not survive the winter, but in a hive of 30,000 bees, that's expected. except for the occasional sunny winter days (>55 degrees), they usually stay in the hive for most of the winter season.

how much honey will you harvest? possibly none my first year. i was a little unhappy to hear this during my first class. but my bees will be spending most of their time (this year) building out their comb, multiplying their colony, and making their box a home. that requires months of work on their part, so when they eventually bring back enough nectar to fill the "supers" (the name for the honey box that sits on top of the hive) that is when i will have honey to harvest. a typical hive will eventually produce 60-90lbs of honey, which equals 5+ gallons.

i have to ensure i leave enough honey for my bees to survive through the winter. that means i can't be selfish and take all of the liquid gold for myself. unfortunate, i know. but if your hive survives the winter, they will start filling the honey supers earlier the following season. why? because they will already be an established colony.

when can i get my first jar of honey? typically in colorado, honey harvest begins early september and runs through the middle of the month.

are you going to turn this into a business? no, that is not the intention. just a hobby. i do however, plan to share.

does mr. b think you are nuts? he laughed when i told him i wanted to take the class. then i asked if he wanted to join - he said no. frankly the part he is most excited about, is making a video about the experience. what i am excited about? exuding sexiness in our matching bee jackets. [insert sarcasm]


i think i covered the basic questions i've been getting asked. fascinated yet? there will be much more to come. so stick around.

i can't wait to meet my girls. yes everyone in class calls their bees their girls. if i am going to be a beekeeper, i may as well start talking the lingo.

more questions? ask away.

Friday, January 24, 2014

deed #3

last week was made up a couple small deeds that i am hoping counts as one big one? then again, who's judging? a good deed, small or large is still a good deed, right?

the first small deed took place at target. mr. b and i are officially in "save mode" for our europe 2014 trip, so that means i have to stay out of target. i didn't make it three weeks into the new year, before i found a really solid reason to go. we needed toilet paper. i know, i know, i could have easily gone to walmart or the grocery store. both are places i try to rush out of and places that don't tempt me like target does. yet, target was closer. that's was the excuse i gave mr. b anyway.

anyway, i was heading towards the checkout with my package of toilet paper, paper towels and a few other "necessities" that i really needed. eyeliner counts, right? as i passed the little girls section there was a rack that had nearly 30 target gift cards scattered below it. i knew that wasn't where they belonged and so did the other 15 people walking past. i hesitated when i saw them and thought about continuing on to the checkout. it was just easier and i wanted to get out of there to get on to the next place i was going. instead i reminded myself of this little good deed project. then considered smacking myself. it shouldn't take a good deed project to make me do the right thing. i was just being lazy. so i stopped. i collected all of the cards and took them to the target employees standing 15 feet away. they thanked me and i continued on to the checkout to pay for my necessities.

the second small deed was volunteering to stay after my bee class last week to help move the tables and chairs in the classroom back to their original location. the class ran over nearly 90 minutes. after sitting in there for 6 hours at that point, everyone was ready to go home. me, included. however, they asked for people to stay and help get the room back in order. so i did. it took about 5 minutes of my time and allowed the teachers to focus on clearing out their bee supplies and go home too. [a post on my beekeeping class coming soon - i have been getting a lot of questions]

again, nothing special, but it still felt good.

mr b and i have a few good deeds coming that we are excited to share. still in research mode. stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

deed #2

[if you are new to the "deed" posts. you can start here.]

you will have to forgive me for the back-to-back posts. but when i finally sat down to write "deed #1" - it was already the third week of January. so i need to play a little catch up on my side if i plan to have 52 deed posts by the end of the year.

on to deed #2. i was traveling last week for work. we had our annual sales meeting in knoxville, tennessee. I don't know how familiar you are with the knoxville airport, but i can tell you it's nearly impossible to get a direct flight in and out of there. so rather than have a layover in atlanta - which typically greets with me with a delayed flight - i have learned that charlotte is usually a better option.

i try to avoid airplane bathrooms if at all possible. i am nearly a germaphobe when it comes to those tiny stalls. with that said, i usually find my way to the public restroom when i get off the plane. too much info? sorry.

after the three hour flight to charlotte, i walked into a restroom to find a small table set up with mints, listerine, flowers and tissues. the attendant standing there welcomed each of the women walking in and even opened the stall doors for us. i smiled at her and then continued on to find my gate to knoxville.

what i neglected to mention in the paragraph above, was the tip jar the woman had sitting beside her basket of mints. i didn't mention it, because i didn't leave anything in it. i felt guilty about it all week. i know you can't give money to every homeless person you pass, or donate to every charity that effects you, but this very well could be her livelihood. it may not be her full-time job, but nonetheless she relies on that money to some capacity.

so on my return trip back from knoxville, i had another layover in charlotte. i made it a point to go back to that same restroom, in hopes of being greeted by the same woman. fortunately, i was and she was singing aloud, while adding more rolls to the toilet paper dispensers. i almost chuckled. who is that happy while cleaning a public restroom? i complain when i have to clean my own.

i smiled and said "thank you". this time around, when i exited, I added a $5 bill to her collection of $1's in the tip jar.

it's not much, but it was enough to let her know i appreciated her.

to whomever you are, thank you for spreading cheer in a place that is often times full of unhappy travelers.

**

some people would rather remain silent on the good things they do for others. i agree with that in many ways. being humble is a wonderful quality to have. however, stories of kind acts always encourage me to want to do the same. so if my stories encourage you, then together we are making this world a little brighter.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

deed #1

it's no secret that doing something good for someone else makes you feel better.

an opportunity to help someone approached me during the first week of the year. the weather was bad outside. the temperature was nearly 4 degrees. the ground was icy. the wind was blowing. and snow was falling. we had a limited supply of food in our fridge and nothing for our lunches the following day. okay, let's be honest, it was stocked with a bunch of stuff we weren't in the mood for and ingredients that didn't mix well.

i put on snow boots. bundled up in my winter apparel. and drove the 1.8 miles downtown to the market. the snow had erased all of the lines in the parking lot, so people were creating their own general spot. when i pulled into my "spot" i sat there for an extra minute dreading the idea of walking a 100 yards to the front door in the detrimental weather.

my car was facing the McDonald's next door. while i sat there debating opening my car door i looked up and saw a young kid trying to push a 10 foot stack of bread trays, on a cart, across the icy/snow covered parking lot. the wheels of the cart were getting stuck in the snow and every time he attempted to push the cart, the lack of tread on his shoes, had him losing his balance.

i jumped out of my car and yelled, "do you want some help? it looks like you could use it." he replied, "sure if you want to." i grabbed the other side of the cart and we basically picked it up together and wheeled/carried the cart back to the front door. he thanked me for my help and i told him to have a good rest of the night, despite the fact that his shift continued until 2 in the morning.

i tightened my scarf a little tighter and ran back across the parking lot to the front door of the market. i was no longer thinking about the cold, but smiling instead.

***

granted, this is no act of sainthood. i know that. but this small event at the start of the year encouraged me to want to do one good deed, once a week, for the rest of 2014. maybe that isn't a lot to most. i know some task themselves with doing one good deed a day. but in reality, there are some days that i never leave my house. i work from home and often times stay in my bathrobe. i am all for setting goals, but i don't want to be unrealistic.

some weeks the opportunity may approach me and others, i may have to go looking. some deeds may be small (like this one) and others may be little greater. i am all for getting creative. so if you have ideas, please share.

to add to the challenge, i am going to blog about each good deed. Mr B is always telling me that i need to get on a more consistent blogging schedule. he tells me i have followers that i am disappointing. maybe i do, maybe i don't. but this will be a great way for me to have one consistent post each week. hold me to it, followers.

hope the new year is giving you something to smile about.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Moments of 2013

The dreadful flu has officially attacked the Bores house. So while I am taking a break from tending to my needy husband, I decided to make a list of our favorite moments from 2013.

1. The Shaffers Visit to Colorado

2. Friend Reunion in Raleigh, North Carolina

3. Celebrating St. Patty's Day in Savannah, Georgia

4. Yellowstone National Park [I blogged every day of our adventure - start here]

5. Celebrating our One Year Anniversary in San Francisco

6. Celebrating the Covinos and drinking wine with our brotherwife in Napa

7. Bores Family Camping trip to Palisade, Colorado

8. Outerbanks for the Conklin Wedding

9. Game Night with Friends

10. My family visit for Thanksgiving


2013 was such a blessed and happy year for us, but there is already so much to look forward to in 2014.

Two words should sum it up: Babies and Exploring. No, not together. And no, the first one does not relate to us. Sorry Mom and Carol, you'll get grand babies in a few years.

Babies. Three of the closest women in my life will be bringing life into this world - my sweet sister, my childhood best friend Jenna and my dear friend Andrea who is having twin boys. I will get to be an auntie to four new babies this year and I am beyond thrilled.

Exploring. We have a few trips planned and a few in the works. We'll be spending a weekend in Nashville with our Raleigh friends. Bring on country music and cowboy boots. Mr. B also convinced me to spend another week in the camper visiting Arches National Park and Canyon-lands. I can't say I am overly thrilled about spending 7 straight nights in our camper again, but I am excited about scratching another state off my list. We also have two weddings to attend back in Pennsylvania and we are already looking forward to sipping cocktails and busting a move on the dance floor with family and friends. And lastly, my dream vacation of visiting Europe is actually going to happen. I'm about to wear out my highlighter circling cities to visit in the Switzerland and Italy books Mr. B got me for Christmas. There is still a lot of planning and saving to do, but one thing is for sure, we will end our trip by cheering on our Alma Mater in Ireland with our newly engaged travel buddies, Scott and Steph.

It's going to be a great year. Thank you God for everything you've given us this year and bless us all with another safe, happy, and healthy New Year.

The "healthly" part of that is off to a bad start.

...back to chasing Mr. B with Lysol and Clorox wipes.
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