Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sliding door

Adam really should be writing this post. He did an incredible job creating this sliding door for our downstairs bathroom. He used sliding door track from Lowe's and some scrap lumber. He even created the stops and the thingy to keep it from being wobbly out of wood that we had. There is a tutorial floating around the Internet, but I'm pretty sure he gleaned a bit here and there to make it his own.
I accidentally stripped the door using isopropyl alcohol trying to remove latex paint from the backplate. It worked a little too well, but I love the old paint distressed look. The alcohol dried out the wood, so I oiled it before putting a tung oil finish on it. He epoxyed an old door knob on the outside and we have a simple hook latch on the inside.
We are still waiting patiently for the plumber to hook up the faucets in there, although he did set up Adam's shop up with plumbing. I asked at the very last minute to have another faucet outside so I can have a designated outdoor sink for plants or rinsing out really dirty boy clothes.
Also, I found a fantastic rug at an estate sale on Thursday for $25.00 and a beautiful cake stand for $12.00. I love a good find!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A visit to a beeyard

the large queen cage
  Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Doyle Hawthorne's bee yard. The visit was organized by the Hot Springs Beekeeper's Association and Betty Smith from the Arkansas State Plant Board was there to facilitate the inspections of his hives.  He has 39 hives on his property and it was an incredible sight to see!  The weather was mild, partly sunny and no wind.  It was right after six o'clock when they started the inspections.  I've read not to disturb them after five, because the whole gang is back at the hive.  But, they were in good spirits and not at all aggressive.
  We witnessed a new hive being created with the addition of a queen and three frames from an existing hive.  His queen cages are much larger than the industry standards and he believes that the larger cage allows greater acceptance of the new queen.  He has a 99% acceptance rate.
  Then we looked at frames with capped brood cells.  I was amazed that different bees have different cell characteristics.  Worker bee cells were large and domed and they reminded me of the top of a pencil eraser.  Queen cells look like a circus peanut, spread out across the foundation.  Finally, they inspected two hives that were swarms caught in Hot Springs Village.  They cut the comb to fit into the foundation and then rubber band them into place.  One of the hives was queen less.  There was no new egg cells and they were very disorganized.  They were not aggressive, but flying around unsure of the situation.  I watched with amazement as they had another queen ready to take over.
 Betty Scott was a wealth of information.  For example, I learned that there could be two queens in a hive if it was a mother and daughter.  If the mother is ailing, the daughter will let her live.  If there are two sister queens, the new one will sting the other one to death.  I also learned that I need to register my bees with the state! Betty does apiary inspections and I'm very excited to have her come out and see my little hive.  The visit was a wonderful experience and I'm looking forward to opening my hive this weekend to do my own inspection!

Mr. Hawthorn feeds his bees a mix of simple sugar, corn syrup and  a concoction of ripe fruit boiled down and strained. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 10

Just fed the bees their sugar water. Beautiful, cooler spring day. Very busy outside the hive. I didn't use a smoker today. I feel a little more protected with one. As they say, " a smoker will become your best friend" from Beekeeping for Dummies, pg. 72. Also, I found two ticks on me. Which means I will spend the rest of the day feeling imaginary ticks on me. gross. Im going with the Beekeeper's association to an apiary on Thursday. Very excited and looking forward to it! I've got lots of questions!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Be still, my heart

A few new wonderful things on the house. A sliding door to the bathroom, a new vanity, and door knobs! I purchased an old cardboard box of about 5 old doorknobs for $60.00 at Shaw's Antiques. I think he was feeling generous that day. (side note: that's a strange place). We had to get retrofit kits for modern doors for the knobs to work from Amazon. Adam painted the doors earlier today in our trim color, Greek Villa from SW.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the sliding door!

Day nine with the bees- helpers

Today I lost track of time and I finally was able to go out with the kids to see the bees. I love their enthusiasm! We suited up and went out! The bees still had sugar water from yesterday, but I refilled it. Also, I had plans to put the top feeder on, but I will wait to open the hive when the kids are more comfortable or they aren't with me. They really seemed to enjoy it, they were cautious but curious.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day eight with the bees.

I thought it would be fun to document the first days of having some bees in the back. So, I finally gathered my courage and got ready to go out and see and feed the bees. I really talk myself into it. I'm hoping that goes away quickly. Got dressed in white (seems I have to change colors every time, apparently I have a penchant for dark colors) and prepared the sugar water. Went out and it was raining. I know that bees stay home in the rain. I still need to feed them, so I'm going out. Wish me luck! I've got a new top feeder that I'm going to install tomorrow.
Update: back from pouring in the sugar water and observing. Today is a cool, gray drizzly day. Not much activity, so little I'm tempted to peer in. But, it is not advised. I'm surprised they haven't created supers that you can see through. Or for that matter, I'm going to be designing update and stylish beekeeping attire. I've got Adam's only collared shirt on and his only work pants that haven't ripped in numerous locations. I'm serious, to, Beekeeping is only going to become more popular and girls like me want something unlike a tyvek puffy suit. Or your husband's castoff clothing. So, as I waited ever so patiently, more and more bees were coming in. Ok, they haven't all died off in the middle of the night...

Friday, April 13, 2012


I’ve been thinking of Paris lately.  The other night Adam and I watched “Midnight in Paris” and I was enthralled with all the beautiful, cliché images of Paris.  The Paris I know from my two visits as a teenager.  Oh dear, as a teenager, I just didn’t get it then.
  I think Paris still holds a special spot for me because of several reasons.  It was the last trip my sister and I took with my father.  It was also my first glimpse of a life that existed outside my realm.  That you could eat chocolate croissants and hot chocolate for BREAKFAST and it was perfectly acceptable.  That art can exist on every corner. 
  I came back from my first trip to Paris almost embarrassed.  What 14 year old goes to Paris on Spring Break? I didn’t want to brag and carry on about the croissants, the view from the Eifel tower, the flowers, the museums (“the croissants were so buttery and warm…”) I wasn’t sure what to say really, so I totally down played it.  “Oh, you know, it was Paris, the Eiffel tower was big”.  I knew that trip was a life-changer, I just couldn’t put into words. 
  The second trip was such a whirl-wind. Montmarte, sidewalk artists, a girl that tumbled down the stairs on the Rue Foyatier, I could smack myself. 
  So, my thoughts keep returning to Paris.  I want to embrace it in my so-called adult life.  See it with grown-up eyes.  Sit and people watch by the Seine.  Eat copious amounts of chocolate croissants.  Go to the flea markets and soak it all in.  Perhaps, Milo will drive me.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My morning with the bees

They are here, finally.  After two years of having my beekeeping supplies and hive, they are here.  The first year I didn't realize that you really needed to order bees before Christmas for the next spring season.  So, I was a bit late getting started, considering it was almost May. I breathed a silent sigh of relief.  "Bees, am I crazy?"  Last year I knew we were going to be selling our house and building, so I really didn't want to start another hobby.   But, I was able to attend last month's beekeeping meeting and made some connections.  There was a lady who had lost her hive to starvation and had found an apiary who still had bee packages in late March.  Apparently, that was rare. Packages include the queen and a couple thousand other bees.  I ran home after the meeting and looked up their website.  Next morning, I called first thing and by the end of our 45 minute conversation, I had ordered 4 lbs. of Italian honeybees.  I knew it was now or never. Bring on the bees.
  Last weekend, I pulled out all of my supplies at the house and realized I was missing a key box of supplies.  Basically, everything. Crap.  I couldn't remember if it was in my mother's attic, my mother in law's attic, or one of three storage units.  (The worst part of this move is not knowing where anything is!)  I finally located it on Tuesday in a storage unit and had the boys help me put the frames in the supers.  The apiary called on Tuesday night and told me to expect them on Friday.  But, I had a feeling I needed to be ready.  Like nesting for a new baby, I gathered my cinder blocks, bought 4 lbs. of sugar to make their syrup and positioned the hive just right. (Facing south-east with a view of the sunset,  wind break of trees behind, lightly bathed in dappled light).  This morning, I got the call to pick them up.  I was so excited and Milo asked if he would be able to help in the clothes he was wearing.  Yesterday I gave them a speel about wearing the right protective clothing and not wear dark colors and he wanted to help today!  Their little beekeeper suits are coming soon, I promised them.  I picked the bees up at the post office and the clerks were very nice about having them there.  I drove them home slowly and placed them by their hive while I made the sugar syrup.  Making the syrup wasn't difficult, but pouring into the entrance feeder made a huge mess.  I could see it now, a swarm of bees infiltrate a house because of spilled sugar water.  After I cleaned that up, I went outside to light the smoker.  I have enough common sense to go outside at least. I didn't have any trouble lighting it the first time, but why won't it stay lit now? So, as I am trying to get the smoker lit, another dog comes over to bother Lucy.  They end up in a tussle and I'm right in the middle of it and get a little bite on the leg. This is really going well. I make the trek out to the bees while scanning for copperheads. A friend had recommended "Beekeeping for Dummies", a helpful book, but stated that gloves are pretty much optional for installing a hive.  I gathered my hive tool and started prying off the top. That first staple pulled out and  I stopped what I was doing and put on my gloves.  I'm glad I did.  They say bees are nice and calm in the spring.  I'm afraid to see them in the fall and winter.  They were pissed.  I sprayed them down the sugar water and smoked them.  They were no longer calm as Hindu cows. As I was shaking them in to their new home, I realized that Lucy was getting stung.  I stopped what I was doing and ran her back into the house. The whole time I'm thinking I need to get that epi-pen.  (My doctor won't prescribe one over the phone and since I haven't seen her two years I need to come in on Monday.) She's o.k., so I went back out to finish up.  I gingerly put the inner cover on and the top.  There were still a lot of bees left in the mailing package, but hopefully they will find their way into the hive.  I was stung once on the top of my head.  I didn't feel it at the time. So, they are here.  I'm very excited, but still a little nervous on this adventure!