Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Beekeeping: Choosing a Property

My bees have arrived. I am officially the proud owner of approximately 20,000 bees. Oh. My. Gosh. Details on their arrival coming soon.

When I originally made the commitment to becoming a beekeeper, I had no idea where my bees were going to live. Of course, they were going to live in a hive, but our backyard wasn't really an ideal place to keep the hives. So I posted an ad on Craig's List, asking for a place to keep my bees. It didn't take long to realize, this wasn't going to be as hard as I anticipated. I received multiple offers and decided to set up meet and greets to check out the properties. As advised by my instructors, you should never pay anyone to "rent" their property. Farmers and gardeners are always willing to "rent" property in return for pollination and maybe a few jars of honey at the end of the season.

I narrowed my options down pretty quickly and in the end, convenience won out. I was deciding between two properties and although they were both great options, one was a 30 minute commute and the other 10 minutes away. Distance was important to me since it is recommended you visit your hive once a week during the first year of beekeeping.

I am happy to report, my bees officially have a home on a farm in Johnstown, Colorado.



Things to keep in mind when choosing your bee location:
  • Sunlight: Your bees should be in a location where their entrance can face the South (Southeast). In the Spring and Summer the morning sunlight encourages them to leave the hive and get a head start on collecting pollen and nectar. In the Winter, they receive the full benefit of the sun's rays so they have to do less work to keep the hive warm.
    • Although sunlight is important, too much of it can be harmful and cause the hive to overwork to maintain the appropriate temperature. Our instructors suggested having some kind of coverage/shield in one direction of the hive, so they are not in the full sun.
  • Shield: It is important to provide a wind break at the back of the hive, to give them some protection against strong (winter) winds. This also offers some amount of shade so they are not in full-time sun.
  • Drainage: The hive should be level from side-to-side, but the front of the hive should be slightly lower, for rainwater to drain. One inch is sufficient.
  • Water: Bees need a water source. During foraging season they use the water to dilute thick honey and cool the hive during hot summers. Interesting huh? If you are unable to find a property with a water source nearby (lake, river, stream, reservoir), there are other alternatives and ways that you can provide them water - google is a great resource.
  • Easy Access: Position your hive so that you can easily access it. When it is time to harvest your honey, the supers can weigh over 40lbs, so you don't want to be hauling them a mile back to your vehicle.
  • Floral Source: This isn't necessarily a requirement since your bees will travel miles to gather the nectar they like most, however, this could influence the flavor of your honey. So if you'd like to harvest a specific kind of honey, then you will need to put your colony of bees in the midst of that preferred source.

I almost opted out of becoming a beekeeper this year because I stressed I wouldn't find a place to keep them. Lucky for the bees, Craig's List saved their life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monty Someday


While exploring the wild and camping this weekend, Mr. B captured this shot. Tell me he doesn't look like a muppet?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pogo

 
Meet Pogo.
 
He is a Kangaroo that lives in Loveland. No, not in Australia, where he belongs, but rather 8 miles away from our house.
 
Mr. B found nails in tires of both of our vehicles this weekend. What are the chances? Maybe we should stop doing home improvement projects or just do a better job of cleaning up the garage when we are done. I digress. We took them to the tire shop and while we waited we walked to our local ranch store, Jax. There was a group of people crowding around the entrance. I asked Scott why and he said, "Oh they probably have rabbits on display for Easter." Made sense to me, so we decided to skip the crowd and walk in the side entrance.
 
We used the front entrance when we left and I discovered what the crowd was gawking at, and it wasn't a rabbit. It was Pogo the kangaroo and his owner, Chris. I looked Chris in the eye and said, "Why is he here?" His reply, "He is my pet and we have a partnership with Jax to show him off for educational purposes." With the most peculiar look on my face I said, "Your pet? Like in your house?" He replied as if it were totally normal to have a pet kangaroo hanging out bouncing around the living room.
 
While everyone and their child were petting Pogo, I snapped a few photos and walked away. In shock, I think. It still boggles my mind why someone would own a pet kangaroo. Although Colorado is rather lenient - first marijuana and now kangaroos. How does a kangaroo not make the list of banned exotic animals?
 
Pogo is currently 1 year old, but by the time he is 4, he will be as large as his owner. Please tell me someone else finds this totally humorous? What the...!!!
 
Read more about this mans home zoohere.
 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Monty Monday


He was curious about the make-up process. Obviously, mascara is boring to him.  


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beekeeping: Frame Wiring How To

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about the equipment you need to start your beehive? Well let's refresh a bit on the frames and the foundation that goes inside of them:  

Frames: These are wooden frames that go inside the hive bodies and supers. My boxes will each contain ten frames. So if you do the math, I have 4 hive bodies (2 per hive). I also have 2 supers (1 per hive). Six boxes mean I need 60 frames. That's a lot of work. Did I mention, each of those frames need a beeswax foundation? [Note: Not everyone is a beekeeper for the honey. I am, which means I want to give my bees a foundation to start building out their comb immediately. If I don't give them a foundation, I will have to wait for them to build it themselves. They would, if I let them, but I would rather not lose time when I could give them something to start. The time it would take them to build out their foundation, is precious time the queen could be laying eggs, nurturing more worker bees to life, and sending them out to collect pollen and nectar.]

When you purchase your equipment you have three options when it comes to foundation.
  • You choose to go foundation-less
    • Allowing the bees to build their own. If your main priority is to harvest honey you probably do not want to choose this option. It takes the bees longer to build their own, than it would be if you gave them a base foundation to start.
  • You choose wax and wire (W&W) foundation
    • A great option if your priority is to harvest honey. It's essentially plain beeswax that has been formed into thin layers of foundation with embedded wire to hold them in the frame. The beekeeper is required to add an additional horizontal wire to give the foundation strength. Otherwise, the summer heat can cause the wax foundation to collapse and fall out of the frame.
  • You choose a plastic foundation (Plasticell, Duragilt, Ritecell, etc)
    • Another great option if your priority is to harvest honey. It is similar to wax and wire foundation, only it's the plastic version. It snaps into the frames and does not require a lot of preparation by the beekeeper. 

Most of our instructors in class informed us that the W&W foundation is more natural than the plastic version and they felt the bees drew out their comb faster with W&W. Their advice convinced me to choose wax and wire foundation for my two hives. However, we did have one instructor who has tested both W&W and Plasticell and didn't notice a difference. He has converted fully to Plasticell for convenience purposes. If I had 60 hives to prep and care for, I would probably choose the most convenient option as well. #seriousbusiness 

This tutorial is to teach you how to wire your frames in preparation for your wax foundation. 


SUPPLIES

1. Gather your supplies and frames.

2. Hammer eyelets into the pre-drilled holes on each side of your frames. For the deep frames there will be 4 on each side; totaling 8 eyelets per frame. For the shallow frames, there will be 2 on each side; totaling 4 eyelets per frame.


3. Remove the wedge top from the frame with a utility knife. The frames should already have a groove, pre-cut, which makes the removal process very simple. Save the wedge top, you will need it again after you insert the wax foundation.


4. Hammer two nails (half way) on the right side of each frame. The first one near the top eyelet and the second one near the bottom eyelet (refer to supplies photo for area of nail placement). Since the nails are small, it helps to hold the nail steady with the needle nose pliers. It prevents bruised fingers too.

5. Continuously string the wire (like a shoelace), beginning from the top left eyelet and ending at the bottom left eyelet. The wire should be strung tight. At our workshop our instructor suggested it should be a "G Flat" - I don't play guitar so it didn't mean much to me. I just strung as tightly as I could.


6. Pull 5 inches of excess wire through the bottom left eyelet, snip the wire with your wire cutters, and wrap the excess wire three times around the nail you "half-way" hammered. Trim the excess wire and hammer the nail the rest of the way.

7. Take your spool of wire at the top left eyelet and give it a good tug to pull the wire extra tight. Then take the spool of wire and also wrap it three times around the other "half-way" nail. Trim the excess wire and hammer the nail the rest of the way.




Turn on some music, grab a case of beer, and repeat process for each of your frames. This took me about six hours to complete all 60 frames. They weren't kidding when they said it was time consuming, so I hope my bees appreciate it. If not, next year I will be converting to plastic. #lazybeekeeper

I will be returning soon with the how-to on adding the wax foundation. Unfortunately, it's not much easier than the wiring process.

PS. Be sure to keep a tight grip on your spool of wire. If you let it go, it has a mind of it's own and will become a tangled mess. Believe me, I speak from experience!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chicago

 

I love the Windy City. It's one of the few cities that I always say, "I'd spend money to go back there!" And that's mostly because I want to explore it with my husband. Unfortunately, there are a few other cities and vacations that take priority over Chicago. Cough, Europe. Cough, Seattle. But one day, we'll go together and play tourist strolling around Navy Pier, taking selfies at The Bean, having a beverage at the top of The Hancock Building, and eating our weight in Chicago Style Pizza. Oh wait, I've already done that. Well most of it.

Exploring it with one of my greatest friends and colleagues, Melissa, was just as fun. We didn't have a lot of free time since we were there for a work trip, but this was our third time in Chicago together and we didn't let a minute pass without making the most of it.

Breakfast at Yolk if you are craving your entire meal served in a pineapple. Even their website will make you smile.


 
A stroll through Millennium Park and taking a few selfies at The Bean.
 


 
Eating the best Chicago Style Pizza at Lou Malnati's. Get a local beer while your there too!
 


And of course getting a rush from hailing a cab. I don't get to do that often and can't remember if I've ever hailed a cab in my lifetime. So there I was, asking Melissa to take a photo of me, so I could officially check "Hailing a cab" off my bucket list. I knew the cab driver thought I was nuts, so I jokingly told him I lived on a farm and didn't get out much. They have to hate tourists. Then again, scratch that thought. That's how they make most of their money - not watching tourists take photos, but driving their clueless asses butts around the city - so I guess I shouldn't have apologized.



If you haven't been to Chicago yet, add it to your list! To see the city, not the stars. The cabby driving me to my hotel was one of the kindest drivers I have ever had. He was from Ethiopia and asked me if I could see the stars in Colorado. "Of course we can." I replied, "Is it too light to see them here?" Unfortunately, like most major cities, the city of Chicago has too much light pollution, which alters the view of the twinkly night skies. My driver said it was the one thing most people take for granted and I agreed. So the next time you are sitting around a campfire looking for the Big Dipper or a shooting star, remember those in the heart of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago have to travel far beyond the city nightlife to see what you can see.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monty Monday

 
 
 
I couldn't decide on just one photo this week, so I picked two. The first one I like to call, "Please let me in the kitchen!" Since we had a good run at counter surfing a few weeks ago, we are trying our best to keep Monty out of the kitchen when we are cooking. Most days it doesn't work well, because we can't seem to break the habit of calling for him when we drop food on the floor. You know dogs are the best vacuums when it comes to kitchens. And we wonder why he takes any opportunity he can to eat human food. #ShameOnUs
 
The second photo I like to call, "Lazy!" When Monty isn't laying at the top of the stairs just outside my office, that's usually a sure sign he can be found in our bed. So when I took a break from work today, this is where I discovered him. I can't decide if he is giving me the "Do you need something?" look or the "Come snuggle, Mom!" look.
 
Please ignore my messy bed. I read a fact once that said making your bed in the morning is a good way to make you feel organized before work. Well today is Monday...Monty Monday actually and if I had made my bed, then Monty would have messed it up while taking his afternoon nap. I knew I left it messy for a reason. #SpoiledPup
 
Why don't I look that cute when I sleep? I never was a pretty sleeper. Sorry Mr. B.
 
 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monty Monday


 

Monty's Grandma spoiled him while she was in town visiting. By spoiled I mean, two walks a day, handfuls of treats, a tug of war partner, constant snuggles, and the chance to lick a dinner plate.

We all miss you around here. Come back soon Mama, Grandma.

Love,
Monty

Surprise

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook you probably saw I received really amazing surprise 10 days ago. My thoughtful husband flew my mom 1500 miles from Pennsylvania to visit for six days, without me knowing. I didn't even have an inkling she was coming. Looking back there were a few signs that I could have picked up on, but at the time, I thought nothing of it.

The thing is, Mr. B is a terrible liar and he knows it. There aren't many, if any, lies that he has gotten away with so when he told me he would be coming home late last Thursday (a lie) he made sure he was smart about his delivery. Rather then tell me face to face, he chose to tell me while he was in the other room putting on his shoes. He yelled, "I will probably be late tonight. I am meeting a vendor and may grab dinner with him." I yelled back, "Okay, just call me on your way home."

[Reason for being late, he was picking my mom up from the airport.]

He later told me, while laughing, "If I had told you that lie about working late to your face, you would have accused me of lying and probably cheating." I giggled because he is probably right. His smile gives him away.

The camera man that he is, happened to capture the surprise on film. If you missed the video, take a look. I obviously swear when I am in shock.



I have had a few inquires as to why I am laying on the floor rather than the open couches in my living room. Reason being is simple - I like the floor. Not to mention, our fireplace is next to where I was laying, which means that's the best seat in the house for ultimate warmth.

Since I was unaware of my mom's arrival, I didn't have anything planned. We decided to keep it low key and just do normal things. Well our "normal" is way more active that the "normal" she is used too. I think she was exhausted by the time she left.

Highlights included: dinner at Scott's parents; wine tasting and house hunting in Ft. Collins; antiquing in Loveland; having a girls day exploring Old Town with Danielle; standing in line for 45 minutes at VooDoo donut to feed a pregnancy craving (Andreas, not mine); putting together beehive frames; walks with Monty; cheering out loud for the Voice contestants; introducing her to gelato; and sitting in Adirondack chairs at Kohl's and dreaming about summer.











Thank you Mr. B from the bottom of my heart for flying my mamabear out here. Our memories from that week will always be special. I love you both.
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