Bee Sting Remedy

 

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Honey comb variations from the hives…and a spoon, the best first sampling of the harvest.

It’s honey harvest time. After taking in 15 frames from 2 hives and being ever so proud of not getting stung, I figured that was enough for one day.

Pride is a dangerous and vindictive thing.

We filled two empty hive boxes sitting on the kitchen table, covered them with a towel for the night, figuring we would get to the straining in the morning. The cuttings and scrapings went into a couple of large bowls that we covered in plastic to contain any remaining bees that got swamped in the honey.

It is also garlic harvest time so that occupied the rest of our day and evening, then off to bed we went.

With the morning came the realization that I had not in fact gotten all of the bees off of the frames. First it was one crawling on the table, OK take her outside…then is was one on the floor, and a couple on the table cloth…time to look inside the boxes. They are persistent little things when it comes to their honey stores.

The boxes and bowls quickly went to the deck where we patiently flicked honey covered bees onto plates to have a chance at survival. I was completely unaware that a few lovelies had fallen to the deck floor and were quietly walking around, drying off and getting adventurous.

I have no idea why I am so slow to learn that open legged  pants have no place around bee work. One wayward bee ended up inside my pants.(Ending up pantless is becoming a regular bee experience for me; faster than small talk and a drink, let me tell you!)Running inside and discarding my pants in the kitchen and quickly making my way to the bathroom to end my pain with this: HOT COMPRESS. It’s like magic (or science…meh, whatever).

After our first trip to the late night ER, as we unfortunately came to realize W is allergic to bee stings, the doctor asked what we had done already. We had ensured the stingers were removed, put an ice pack on the swelling and W had taken an over the counter allergy medicine. Our instinct to treat swelling with cold was incorrect in this scenario. The bee venom deteriorates in the heat of a simple hot wet cloth. We are now the proud owners of double strength prescription Clariton, an Epi-pen and this simple knowledge.

A hot compress is the easiest method for those not allergic(me) to eliminate the pain. The swelling still happens but is much less and the pain is instantaneously gone.This really is all I care about as I am,beyond a doubt, a wimp about pain.

So next time a misguided bee goes all “Defender of the Realm” on you, just scrape out the stinger and get a hot compress on it as soon as possible.

It’s the price of honey, wide leg pants and short term memory issues (tuck pants into boots, got it… maybe).

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Bee Garden

Now that the vegetables are planted and the first round of meat chickens completed there is time to focus on the development of the perennial bee garden. We started with 6 butterfly bushes and 6 catnip bushes in front of the bee hives to keep them from flying too low when they leave…then the idea grew.

The bed is 1000 square feet and is directly in front of the Beehive village. This does add a level of difficulty in planting. I have been doing most of it first thing in the morning (they seem to wake at 9 am) and even then I keep crouched low so I’m not in their way. You do not want to be the obstacle in their flight path. I have managed to wear only a head scarf and sun hat to keep the bees from getting stuck in my hair. It’s quite the crazy garden lady look but hey, whatever keeps me from squashing a Bee in my hair is a good thing. If I go out too late the full hood is needed, so I try not to.

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The hat options.

Friends have been contributing perennial seeds or divided plants and we have been collecting from perennial sales as they happen. That plus moving what was in the yard (chives, lavender, cone flowers…) and we are looking full (on paper).  Much to my chagrin the crows think that I am playing hide and seek with their food. Every time I plant seeds they clean them out…I have saved a good variety of seeds for next year and will start them inside, planting small plants instead.

The plan on paper:

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This thing lives in my pocket.

I had to research every plant for height and width, made a simple chart from short to tall and tried to figure out placement from that.

The flowers we have used are: Cherry trees(2), Bee Balm(3 varieties), Astilbe, Rose Cleome, Lavender(Hidcote and Munstead), Butterfly bush, Cat Nip, Poppies, Cone flowers(yellow and purple),Purple millet, Borage,  Phlox, Holly Hocks, Phalecia, Helenium, Goblin Blanket flowers, Onion Chives, Hyssop Anise, Arctic Fire Dianthus, and  Arabis Snowcap. We added in some annual seeds of Sun flowers(3 heights), Marigolds and Calendula. That’s 29-ish varieties so far. We are always open to more flowers for the bees, we will find a home for them.

The plot is divided into 4 quadrants with a walking path meeting in the center at a bee/bird bath. We have floated sponges in the water for the bees to rest on and not drown but the birds keep eating them and tossing them out. We are trying a wire and cork arrangement with copper fittings in the water to help prevent the green slim growth.

This year will be what it is (minus the eaten seeds) and we will develop the future as we see results, deciding if we like them or not. It’s nothing to look at yet; too much space between plants(will be bigger next year), weeds moving in over the missing seed spaces, the walkway needs to be brick edged and filled with mulch(cut down trees in the back 40 so have a huge pile in the side yard, also really pretty??), the water bath has settled with a wee lean to the right…just things to keep us busy really. It is started and as with any beginning there is learning and corrections to be done.

Something about believing you have a long wealth of future to work with makes planning a perennial garden fun. We will still be here, working this property, so there is no hurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bees in the house,their’s not mine.

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The new bees are in. Five nucs arrived in a field near us for pick up, after a short wait for everyone to get back inside the box, we were set for home. That was evening so they had to wait until morning to be transferred into their new homes.

The boxes consisted of 4 deep super frames full of bees, brood, honey and hopefully a queen(didn’t see any but I have full faith that one is there or they will make one).The bees are from Ontario and the queens are from Chili. Full inspection for hive beetle , done twice, confirms we are clear and safe. Each hive got a quart of 1:1 sugar water, a piece of pollen patty to boost their chances and where left to settle in.

Tomorrow after 2 days of settling in they will get a full inspection to see how they are doing.

Can you say honey overload??? We hope so.

New Hive Village

We have been building the new hives over the winter months and it was finally time to paint the roof shingles and assemble them on their stands. They are protected from the north winds, are south facing and level so there is a better chance of them building straight comb.

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We waited until dusk to move the one hive that made it through the winter. The second hive unfortunately starved to death when we got -30 winds for a couple of days. The hive was half filled with honey but it was too cold for them to move to the other side of the hive where the food was, poor little girls.

We are styling and ready for the five new nucs that are coming soon.

Now if they can just stop getting stuck in my hair,twice today was a bit much (I was painting the tops on the hives, so really it’s my own fault).

 

First Day Foraging

The bees found the crocus. It’s their first day really getting out and about.

Another couple of weeks and we have 5 new Nucs being delivered, so have been busy building new hives. The new and improved design is working out to be quite pretty. They just need the stands made for the 3 pairs of hives, then cap and seal the shingled tops.

Honey is a labor of love, pine and bee stings.

Small Honey flow

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4 pints from two frames, not bad.

We started with one bee hive last year after Blueberry season, bought off a local bee keeper. He gave us the bees, queen, two boxes, a queen extruder (never got used to them),one suit, smoker, hive tool and brush. It was a great starter kit.

Nothing like warm honey fresh from the frame.
Nothing like warm honey fresh from the frame.

This year we felt the need to expand, splitting the hive in early spring. It worked well enough but the original hive has turned from it’s lovely friendly self into a bit of a monster. They are aggressive and one or two will chase me to sting me if I am working in their area, but I steal honey from them so I guess I will adjust. We found earwigs in their cover so between that and the possibility of the ever present ants, that could explain their disgruntlement.

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Cutting into the foundation-less frame.

Based on the early spring split we don’t expect much in the way of honey this year. We are switching them onto foundation-less frames as well. Nothing like shaking their world up all at once.

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Straining the gold 🙂

After an early August inspection we came up with two frames of honey we could harvest, both from the new hive. The Island season seems to be running permanently one month behind what everyone expects so we are still hopeful for at least 4 more frames. That will double what we got last year and really, that would be a good return. If we let them settle next year we should be into the 9-10 frames per hive we are aiming for.

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The honey flow.

One frame was a full plastic foundation and the other was luckily one of the foundation-less ones. The plastic frame is simply scraped into a bowl, mashed and then strained overnight(well covered to keep our little fly friends out). We use a jelly sieve and a nylon stocking. It gives us a nice clean product in the end.The foundation-less frame is much more fun. We cut out squares and they are beautiful. We don’t have a need for combed honey so it ultimately gets mashed and strained as well. It is so pretty and the weight of the frame is amazing.

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So hard to mash these, too pretty, but it has to be done.

The now empty and very messy frames go back to the hive to be cleaned by the bees and reused. When talking to people about having bees, especially with beekeepers, they seem to think honey cannot be harvested without an industrial spinning extractor. I’m quite certain my grandmother never had one, nor many cultures that also keep bees. There is a gadget for everything and if you want to clean it and store it, go for it. At the scale we are at, this gets the job done fine.

The stocking of wax heads for the freezer until we are completely done with the honey harvest so it can be cleaned in one gross happening and not as we go. I love the wax but it is nasty to clean.

And so goes the honey flow.

A typical Tuesday.

This morning started with Backyard Bunny while the chickens where being let out and laundry being put on the line. Mad dash into the house for the camera, there were two but one hopped off. I think he’s cute only so long as he eats grass, when he rips limbs off the new trees I dislike him immensely.

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Then on to the project list.

First the civic address sign post which will have our Forever Green Homestead sign hanging from it when we get around to making it…

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The Bees needed a check in.

DSC_0143CSC_0179CSC_0181They seem to be doing OK with the open frames we gave them. They are building out comb, making new bees and storing a bit of honey. We removed the queen extruders as they seemed to be restricting all activity to the lower two boxes. The season is late this year so hoping for a proper harvest by the end of August.

Then onto the new perennial flower garden with late bloomers for the bees. Laid the edging stones, planted and mulched.

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There was also a screen door built for the coop and a new mail box post built and cemented into it’s new hole. We do  a lot of digging in a day.

A little sit down was required to bird watch. Our beautiful Humming Bird gladly obliged with a photo shoot sitting at the top of the maple, very kind of him really.

CSC_0071It is a full moon and a clear sky so a fire pit with marshmallows and hot dogs was in order. We use wood pellets (no sparks) in a grill pan on the deck so we don’t burn down the new deck or the house.

DSC_0177It’s been a long day but we found time to relax as well. It was our first fire of the year, I think we missed last year altogether. We are trying to remember to indulge a little in the simple things that give us joy and trying to reserve enough energy to do it. Today we did.

The list will still be there tomorrow and we will tackle more then.