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Saturday, May 14, 2011

lots going on!

Lately I've been finding it hard to find the time to get some blogging done because its been so nice outside. I've been busy with the bees and garden, busy with work and busy worrying about what the next few months are going to do to me. I have to move out of my apartment. Soon.  The floors are rotting in both the kitchen and the bathroom and the maintenance people come and go as they please, leaving things messy or broken. I fought with the management enough to get May and June's rent free but I have to be out by July 1.  In other news, A few weeks ago Greg decided that he will be moving to Nebraska to help his family farm. They own a lot of land and need the help. This is something Greg has wanted to do since the day I met him so I can be nothing but supportive. Still, Its going to be really hard on me. Unfortunately neither one of us are in the financial position for me to be able to quit my job and relocate out to Nebraska (where jobs are few and far between) anytime soon.  We will have to take it a day at a time and just see what happens.

I might not be doing the greatest but at least the bees are doing well! Here are the rest of the pictures of installing the packages.

Sorry, Cody. I didn't get any good pictures of you helping out. I will have to get those from your mom.

took this a few days later on the beehive at on my grandparent's property. The bees were busy collecting from pear blossoms. 
I am happy to say that the bees are doing great! All the queens are laying eggs and in a few weeks the populations in each of the three hives will have doubled.  I am really hopeful that even though we did not have last year's hives survive the winter, we will still get more honey than we did last year. Even though Greg won't be around as much to help me, I will probably be constantly calling him for advice and to give him updates.

Since the weather has been worm and dryer the past two weeks I have been able to get a lot of my veggies planted. The radishes are already popping up and the carrots and green onions will be (hopefully) making their appearances soon. My heirloom zucchini and scallopini squash are planted as well as beans, peas, cilantro, broccoli, eggplant, golden beets and a few tomatoes. Greg's Thai basil (seeds saved from last year's plants) are also in the ground. I can't wait to be eating dinner entirely from food grown at home. 

My aunt and mom arranged a fantastic plant swap and today I brought home bee balm, sedum, and several other bee friendly plants.  After the swap and a fantastic lunch with my mom, aunt Sandy, my sister Sara and her munchkin, Trevor, Greg and I visited a local greenhouse and brought home some Serrano and jalapeno peppers and some herbs; lemon balm, thyme, sage, globe basil and peppermint. I hope to be able make teas out of the lemon balm and peppermint and dry the other herbs for later use.

My sister, Leeanna, and I planting kohlrabi in the Konrad Family Garden
  Greg's 31st birthday was over two weeks ago and I just got around to giving him his gift. It's not that I forgot, I just wanted to make sure I got him something he would really like.
Its a meat grinder attachment for his kitchenaid mixer. See the smile on his face? He loved it. I also got him a sausage stuffer (insert giggle here) and a book titled "MEAT book" which is all about raising, butchering and cooking ethically raised livestock.

 The present works really well. Last evening, we enjoyed home ground hamburgers. Tonight Greg roasted a whole chicken and made a delicious gravy recipe from the "MEAT book".

Along with...

Asparagus. We picked it ourselves from my Grandparents' enormous patch. Sauteed it up with some green onions (past their prime) salt, pepper and olive oil. Nothing better.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the bees have arrived!

They're here! We picked up our bees last Tuesday. We ordered them from a new place. Although we had quite an interesting experience in Waldo last year, we decided that since we had a string of bad luck with them that may or may not have been coincidences ( lazy bees, lost a queen, had a swarm, a wax moth infestation and finally, frozen bees) it was a good idea to try a new source this go round.

Beekeepers tend to be strange folks. I guess people who willing open up a box full of thousands of stinging angry bees and poke around inside of it have to be a little crazy, and I guess Greg and I fall under that category but still, it seems like every time we have a run in with professional beekeepers they always seem a bit off. We drove two hours to eastern Ohio to pick up our bees. The bee farm was out in the country and as we were searching for the right place we saw a flock of white doves walking around in the road. Like the doves you release at weddings, those white doves. Not something you typically see at the bird feeder. The doves didn't seem to mind that we were about to run over them and they slowly strutted into a driveway next to the road.

The driveway happened to have the same address as the one listed on our order form for our bees.
It didn't take me too long to figure out that these doves must have been some kind of side project that the bee farmers were doing. We parked the car next to a big barn which happened to have even more white doves hanging out inside.This was our first indication that we were in the right place. Like I said, beekeepers are weird. Nice, but weird.

pallets of bee packages. Hundreds of thousands of bees. You can't see it really well but there are tons of loose bees flying around. Often times during shipping packages break open.

We went into a little shop next to the dove barn to tell them we were here to pick up our bees. Inside there was this wall covered with articles, pictures and newspaper clippings all about bees. Like a huge scrapbook.

I bet this tiny girl knows more about beekeeping than I do.
I don't know who she belonged to but with all those bees flying around, I was nervous.
She's carrying an empty bee box, but still. There were TONS of bees flying around.
The bee farmer man putting our queen in the package.

Marking the queen. We decided to pay a few extra bucks to easily find the queen this year.
Last year we were never able to spot her. Maybe we had such a bad year because we didn't even have queens? When I asked the gentleman if it was okay to take pictures he said sure and that he hoped he didn't accidentally let the queen fly away because he would be embarrassed. Sure enough, he accidentally let her go and it took about five minutes of him dancing around trying to catch her again. Free entertainment I guess.

wall o' bees

We added a hive to our little apiary for 2011. This is the new one. Its wax treated and unpainted. Ordered from the same crazy bee farmers.

This creepy beehive rocking chair caught my eye. Yup, beekeepers are weird.

the rogue loaded up and ready to go.

I guess the bee farmers were into turkeys too.

A lot of loose bees flying around the INSIDE of the car on the way home. This happened last year too. Guess you can't avoid it. I was much calmer about it this time around.
 I will post the pictures of hiving the bees this weekend. Its bedtime.  Did I tell you that Greg and I have an apprentice this year? My cousin Cody is in high school and he is doing his 4-H project on beekeeping. I think he will be a lot of help to us this year. I hope we do a good enough job teaching him so that he will want to get his own hive next year!