Friday, April 3, 2009

Installing Bees



4 hives in front of the persimmon grove



Cluster of bees inside the package


2 hives by the blackberry patch




Mr. Tabb in the mint with his carpet that he drug out of the garage.



Mr. Tabb sleeping in the flowerpot by the door.



I haven't had the opportunity this week for any inspired cooking because there is so much happening I feel I can bearly keep my head above water, but it's all good. I get ready to complain, and hesitate, because it is a lot of good stuff that is happening at once. However, the whole balance thing that I try to practice is difficult, especially this week. To illustrate how I feel, imagine a see-saw and I'm standing in the middle straddling both sides trying to maintain balance--teeter here, teeter there...oooohhh ba-la-nce. You've been there, right?
It started 3 weeks ago with Booker our outside dog running over to the neighbors house a 1/2 mile away after we would leave for work in the mornings. He somehow figured out they had doggies over there that would play with him. Mr. Tabb started off just bringing him back and dropping him off at the end of the driveway. He started calling us and asking us to come get him. He was really nice about it because he has a beagle that would go 2-3 miles away and visit the neighbors so he understood. Plus, it helps that Booker is so sweet. Then Booker decided that after we went in for the evening, he would go over and hang out on the Tabb's porch. So, the calls came after 9:00 pm. Night driving is not my favorite thing, but I had to go get him.
Two Fridays ago, Mr. Tabb called to inform us Booker was over there and someone had dropped a beagle that afternoon. We went over and Booker had already befriended the lonesome fellow. The stray beagle had a sore back paw and was skin and bones. We packed both of them in the truck and back home we went. On the good side, Booker has not gone to Mr. Tabb's since. On the bad side, we couldn't figure out where our cats went. Now we know. Booker and the beagle who has been named Mr. Tabb since that's where he came from have been chasing them all over the property; not to hurt them but just for the sport of it. The barn cats have gone to the Amish across the street, and Cornelia Corncat has been living in the woods behind the house. Bootsie the old cat has smacked Booker and Mr. Tabb in the face so they leave her alone. The other 3 have never learned to stand up to the 2 knuckleheads because they have always had free run of the yard. David has been working with Mr. Tabb but it has been really hard because, well, he's a beagle and very stubborn. Neither of us have ever had beagles so this is all new. One observation: he has peculiar habits such as the desire to drag his bedding outside of the garage, play in the rain, and sleep in my flowerpot. So the beagle drama is ongoing stress.
Sunday was a horrible day weather-wise; windy, rain, sleet, snow flurries. And, as luck would have it, I had picked up 6 packages of bees Saturday. I had to install them Sunday afternoon because they had traveled up from Georgia and were already showing signs of stress. In my Iditarod suit and 'mad bomber' fur-lined hat, I slipped my beesuit over all of it and looked like the Michelin Man. I rode my bee mobile (John Deere Gator) to the back end of the 'boot' as we call it and set up my hives. When viewed on the aerial property maps, that 15 acre section resembles the shape of Italy. There is a grove of persimmon trees and wild blackberries so it just seemed like a nice place for hives, plus we are seeding the area in wild flowers, grasses, and bee forage. Four of the packages were strong, but two of them seemed a little weak. I may lose those two; no guarantees with bees. In the pictures, the screen boxes at the hive entrances are what the bees travelled in. I have to pry the tops of pull out the queen cage and hang it between frames then shake the packages, as they are called, into the hive boxes. Some bees always stay behind, so I prop the packages at the hive entrances. When the bees smell the queen's pheremones inside the hive box, they will crawl/fly into the hive box on their own.

Finally, all the packages were installed and I was able to get back home. At home, I went to the garage and started seeding trays with tomato seeds, over 200 seeds which sounds crazy, remember, though, I have acres of gardens this year. In the quiet of the garage, it hit me. I had forgotten to put the sugar syrup buckets which the bees feed from in the hive boxes.

Monday: David had a heart catheterization in Louisville. We left the house at 5:00 am to make the 6:45 appointment. The day was taken up with that. Good news is all arteries are clear.

Tuesday: Got 2 yorkies ready for vet trip to get their teeth cleaned and Mr. Tabb to be nuetered. Thank God for Joyce the pet sitter who was going to drive them to Elizabethtown for the procedures. Went back to the farm and put the syrup buckets on the hives. Had to release one of the queens in one of the weak hives. I'm worried about that one especially because the queen was moving slow and the bees were really weak. Probably will lose that one. Went to work and realized I had over 50 folders to invoice. Blood pressure and heart rate went up immediately, when will I get it done? That night, I put the finishing touches on a Beef Council recipe for their cook-off. Deadline is midnight, but I beat it by 4 hours.

Wednesday: April Fools Day. Went to work and finished 2 folders. The rest of the day was a wash because David was too busy engaging me to figure out pranks to play on the office staff. I left at 3:00 pm and went to the grocery store to buy office supplies. I saw Easter coloring kits and grabbed a couple. Ran back to the office and unloaded the office stuff, went to say good-bye to David. He grabbed me and said I couldn't leave because he had just set up the prank of all pranks of the day. Bonnie ran out of the bathroom screaming and laughing. He had taken the dye tablets out of my Easter kits, unscrewed the faucets, and stuck a red dye tablet in and then screwed back the faucet. When Bonnie turned on the water, it was red. So, I tossed the remaining kits, what good are Easter coloring kits w/o the colors? It was fun though, and it was good to see him laugh.

Thursday: Drove to Louisville to pick up my car that was in the shop for scheduled maintenance. I dropped it off on Monday while David was in recovery. Had to be back at the house to wait for the Directv repairman who was schedule between 12 and 4. We have only been able to watch BBCA for the last 2 weeks. Of course, he didn't show up until about 2:30. Could have been worse I suppose. Set up emergency supplies for the tornadic weather the weather folks have been warning about all day. Good news, no tornadoes. Bad news, there are 10 more bills to invoice. More good news, David said don't worry about billing until next week.

Friday: My brother comes to town this afternoon which will be so much fun. He is the company's IT guy so he has a lot of work to do, but we always make the most of it after-hours. He will be deployed for a year so he wants to make sure everything is ship-shape before he leaves. Initially, it was scheduled as an Iraq deployment, but then it changed to Ft. Benning. Again, thank God he is state-side.

Saturday: He doesn't know it yet, but I am kidnapping my brother and driving to our other property to assess the bees down there in Taylor County. When we get back home, we are going to spend the day at the new property which he hasn't had an opportunity to explore. I want him to the trapper's cabin ruins and I will take our metal detector with me so we can search for ruins of a whiskey/moonshine still at the base of the bluffs near the trapper's cabin. It's marked on an old map and I can't wait to see if I can find pieces of it. David doesn't know it yet, but I ordered a book about building a still. I know, it's illegal, but I thought it would be nice to have one on that site, strictly for educational purposes. Refer the ATF to this blog if anything happens to me so they know I was not up to any tomfoolery! (smile) Of course, when the book arrives, David will flip his lid. I can hear it now, "you're gonna get us both locked up!"

As you can read, it has been wild around here, all good, but still stressful, and really no time for recipe testing much less preparing a proper meal. I came close last night though with spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and garlic bread with blackberry/cabernet sorbet for dessert. The meatballs are from a previous post. I do have one little recipe if you can call it that. I hope you try it because it is delicious.
Honeyed Blueberries
1 small container of blueberries
1/4 cup honey
Wash blueberries and place in a medium bowl with the water that is clinging to the berries. Drizzle honey over top. Gently stir. Let set for a few minutes. Stir again, then eat as is or spoon over the top of anything you like ie cheesecake, yogurt, cereal, ice cream.
This is so deceptively simple, yet the magic that happens when the blueberries and the honey comingle is delicious.

3 comments:

Mary said...

I got lost in your words and had a serious Walton moment. Despite the business you sound very tranquil.

jennifer said...

I love the beagle in the flowerpot! I've been thinking about getting some bees. The main thing stopping me is that I'm kind of afraid of them lol. Are they hard to take care of?

The Inexperienced Foodie said...

Wow you are brave I would love to have bees but I'm to much of a chicken. T hat dog is so funny!