Posts Tagged ‘topbar hive’

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Me as a beekeeping mentor?

October 27, 2012

I am a laissez faire beekeeper – or – perhaps more accurately – a lazy fairy beekeeper.  I am not worried about maximizing honey production, breeding queens with particular characteristics, or moving my bees from field to field as pollinators for hire.  DSCF1276Although not opposed to taking a bit of honey now and again; I otherwise assume that bees know how to be bees better than I do – so bzzz and let bzzz.

Perhaps because of my Earth Mother leanings it is only natural that I have become a mentor for a local Montessori class of 4th – 6th graders.  The Montessori philosophy: “To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator” (Maria Montessorri, http://www.alfredmontessori.com/montessori-philosophy.htm) is not terribly different from my beekeeping philosophy, granted, to a different end.  I just want healthy bee colonies – not educated ones (to bee, or not to bee…).

So not too long ago I received an e-mail from a Montessori teacher asking if I’d help them as they venture into the world of beekeeping.  Now I am no expert beekeeper.  I’ve had hives only since 2009.  I explained my philosophy, my l limited knowledge, my newbee status.  Jane still wanted me to be their mentor.

Earlier this month I met with the class and talked about bees until all of our attentions flagged.  DSCF1320Yesterday, though, the class took a field trip to my apiary.

We opened a couple of hives – just took the lids off – it was only in the 40’s and I’m still concerned the bees got too chilled.  We looked at my Langstroth vs. my topbar hive.  It isn’t much of a comparison at the moment.  The topbar bees absconded this summer.  Can’t blame them, with a severe drought and not much nectar, they were having a heck of time building comb.  I hope they found a happy place. 

I don’t know how I’ll do as a mentor, I suspect I’ll learn more than the students, and about more than just bees.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Spring Break– I need to go to work to rest

March 18, 2012

I’m on Spring Break from my academic job – and I’m exhausted!

When last I posted we were in the middle of the bathroom redo.  We still are.  The plumbers are 99% done – a part was missing from the faucet set for the sink, and a couple other plumbing niceties are needed to make everything look pretty.  The carpenters are also 99% done – quarter round  and cabinet doors to be installed early next week.  That just leaves the work that my husband and I need to do. 

I’ve stained the woodwork and put on one coat of polyurethane (water-based – of course), it needs one more.  My husband has given the ceiling on coat of paint, one more later today.  I will paint the walls.  All this painting involves protecting the other surfaces – I should buy stock in painter’s tape.DSCF0049  I will unveil the bath for all to see when its finally done.

I’ve also begun stripping the door.  I’ll give a rundown on the greenness of this redo in the near future.  DSCF0042[The stripper is green – both figuratively and literally.]

But the bathroom is only part of my break activities.  The very best part was a visit with a dear friend, Vicky.  She made the trek half-way across the country to see me (well, she did see her daughter in college in Chicago also).  We’ve been trying to get together once a year for the past few years.  First it was a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin, then some time at her place in the Berkshires, next, a funeral, but it gave me a few days with her in NYC, and this time showing her my digs in the Midwest.  I can’t believe that I didn’t take any pictures of Vicky while she was here.  I have witnesses though, including my friends, Jill and Ravonda, with whom we had a great evening over wine and snacks and lots of laughs.  [No pictures of them either, you will just have to take my word for it that I have friends.]

Vicky and I grew up in a hilly, tree-filled part of of upstate NY.  I now live in former prairie country – my new hometown had two, count them two, trees when it was established in 1837.  On the road you can usually see about 5 miles to the horizon.  There are some hills but they usually indicate a river valley and I don’t live in a river valley.  It takes a practiced eye to appreciate the subtle beauty of the Midwest landscape.  I tried to give Vicky a crash course – I’m not sure I succeeded.  We also explored big-box home improvement stores to find the perfect towel bars.  Can I show a girl a good time or what?  [We did have a nice lunch at the Mackinaw Depot Tearoom, I’m not a total dud as a hostess.]

Vicky is the reason I keep bees.  She did it first and I was a copycat. So one of the very nifty things we did during her short visit was to put together my new topbar hive. DSCF0034DSCF0033

My sweet and loving husband (who gave me the hive kit for Christmas) built the stand.  We had those metal table legs and he built a stand just my height using them.  On top of the legs would actually be too tall for me to work comfortably (I am not of willowy stature).  This design is the right height and works even better given the winds around here.  It will take a tornado to topple this sucker.  And if a tornado topples my beehive I’m afraid my beehive is going to be the least of my worries.

Tuesday morning, March 20th,  at 1:14 a.m. is the vernal equinox.  Spring begins officially.  Someone should tell Mother Nature, because she has gone completely whacko this year.  We had the winter that wasn’t, and now, as winter is supposed to be waning with DSCF0045normal temperatures this week usually in the upper 40’s and low 50’s, we have had a week of highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s.  I am not complaining, no siree. The warmer weather timed perfectly during my spring break (and wonders of wonders, during my husband’s break also, he teaches at a different institution and our breaks don’t always align) meant we could get into the yard.  My husband has tilled the vegetable gardens and planted seeds for lettuce and radishes and carrots.  I have been making progress on the flower gardens.  And spring has been busting out all over!

All in all it was a great and productive week.  But back to the salt mine tomorrow.  I wonder when I’ll find time to paint the bathroom?