Monday, March 16, 2015

We Miss You Mom.

-Posted by Isaac

We miss you Mom.
Please come home.

So Jayne took off for Portland last week. She's got things to do and people to see.

A whirlwind before she left:

Baby Eden turned ONE! And she quickly figured out what birthdays are all about.

The cub scouts toured brother Justin's farm. It was Jayne's idea... show these boys what a tractor actually does. What's a sprayer used for? A combine? A planter? A grain bin?

I don't know if any of it stuck, but they sure had fun playing with the big farm cat.

And then she was off, taking the baby with her. The easy one-year-old. (Ha Ha, you parents know that's a lie.)

 I'm left with the three oldest. The little terrors.

Yes, I managed to put up a zip line. This distracts them from the Leapster games and the computer long enough for me to squeeze in a blog post.

Let me show you some images from the past two weeks. Thinking back, the cold, the nasty, I really think we've landed on another planet. As I write, it's 55 degrees and nearly cloudless. What the??
Feels like we're waking from a bad dream.

Here's a fairly recent early morning trip up to the Worthington market:

As you can imagine, February crowds were somewhat thin. 
But thank you to you die hards who wouldn't let a pesky little Level I Emergency stand between you and your honey!

Out feeding bees, I had another brush with the law. That's two in a month!

"Makin' their way...The only way they know how."
...that's just a little bit more than the law will allow.

There's a good story behind this one. It involves bees, possums, mud and blood. But I can't give you the sordid details.  This is a family blog. You'll have to use your im-ag-i-nat-ion.

Eventually, ever so slowly, we began to see something we haven't seen since, hmmm, let me see... September?


The bees responded in kind.

Life has returned to this godforsaken Ohio Country!

Alive! Alive!

Alive! Alive!

I have made it around to the bee yards delivering powdered protein.
Here's something I can hardly believe. I knew the bees were crazy over protein this time of year, but this is almost baffling:

They ignore the honey! The maples and willows have yet to bloom and the bees are building brood. They need protein. Desperately! So much so, they by-pass the carbs in preference to artificial pollen. Almost unbelievable. As beekeeper Dan Williams responded in a text: You sure wouldn't see this in August!

Bridger has accompanied me the last two days. We've been protein angels. Delivering this precious stuff to our little honey angels.

So things are a bit different with Mommy gone.
The floor remains a wee bit messier. And we may happen to stay in our jammies a little longer.

Our palate for breakfast cereal...

                                 ... has become a bit more colorful. And I don't mean leafy green colorful.

Bon Appetite

 But the laundry is still getting done. One enjoyable use of this rare Ohio sunshine.

Full disclosure: I just had to show my domestication. Honey, I know you'll read this in Oregon and impress your cultured friends with your obviously bridled husband.

We even got a little hiking in with aunt Becky.

Mason later told his teacher about the very scenic and buttfell hike.

Buttfell yes,  but it wasn't much fun without you.

We miss you Mom.

Please come home.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beekeeping Conference = Beekeeping Nerds Unite!!

-posted by Jayne

This past weekend, Isaac and I attended the 37th annual Tri-County Beekeeping Conference.  Which means that 3 years before I was even born, beekeepers were convening near Wooster, Ohio to discuss every little nerdy aspect of the honeybee.  Today, the conference is huge- with over 1,000 beekeepers in attendance, along with every beekeeping resource and business imaginable this side of the Mississippi (and many from the West as well).  I like to think about all the beekeeping nerds uniting under one roof, much the same way as gamers, athletes, or comic book enthusiasts unite at conventions.  Beekeepers are a unique lot, and most are pretty proud of their chosen hobby/profession.

We were especially honored this year, because we were asked to speak on two separate topics.  During lunch, Isaac talked about "You are Not Alone: Mistakes we all Make."  At first I was not sure if we should feel offended that we were asked to speak on this topic (What?  Mistakes?  We don't make mistakes!)... or honored.  But anyone who reads this blog knows that we are pretty open and honest about the blunders and mishaps that have happened throughout our beekeeping journey.  These make entertaining stories for a beekeeping conference.   Later in the day, Isaac also talked about our journey from hobby beekeepers to full-time beekeepers, and how one might go about doing such a thing.  

I was proud to see my honey up there talking about... honey.  Front and center you can also see the new beekeeping license plate, available mid-March.  The plate reads "Save the Honey Bee" at the bottom, and funds raised from the sale of this license plate will go towards education and beekeeping research.

Several OSU student researchers had displays explaining pollen sources throughout the season.  It was fascinating to see the samples side by side, week by week.  We also had the opportunity to look at pollens up close under a microscope.

A hands-on room- with bees under microscopes.

And a beautiful monarch butterfly- which looks beautifully hairy under the scope.  Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's new book, Flight Behavior?  It's an entertaining novel- I highly recommend it.

When attending a beekeeping conference you have many opportunities to purchase signs that proudly display your dorkiness- and love of bees, of course.

There is a honey baking contest, and at the end of the day, the attendees can sample all the leftovers that that judges couldn't finish.  I got there a little late.  We beekeepers are a ravenous sort.

You can buy lots of fancy beekeeping equipment.  Seen here is a fancy nuc hive.  Check out that roof!

Or, you can go all out and purchase one with a cupola-like steeple on top.  For those religious bees that want to feel more reverent at home.  

I probably should have taken more pictures, so all you non-beekeepers know what you are missing out on.  But this gives you an idea of what beekeeping nerds do on weekends.  For fun.
That is... when we're not hanging out with a bunch of stinging insects.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Yeah but I been a working man, dang near all my life."

-Posted by Isaac

Notice how Merle holds that cigarette with this picking hand-- a lost art.

I've done a bit of working the last two bitter weeks and this old Merle song has popped into my head. My thinking was that I would regale you with some of my superhuman efforts to keep bees alive. This involved crowing about my past and how you've got to step up your game when times get tough. The tough get going, right? I was going to make myself into some kind of working man hero with that song as my backdrop. "...gotta buy my kid a brand new pair of shoes..."
But yesterday I walked by the barn and noticed this:

Skis n' Bees
 And I realized something... who am I kidding? Most of my life has been play. In fact, just about all of it. There was one small and horrid stint of teaching school. I can say that felt like real work. But for the most part, throughout my life, when the cold comes and when the snow falls in blankets, when things get tough... the tough get going...

King of the Hill
 I've been busy feeding bees, yes, but we can't deny a few hours (every day) for fun.
The Crown Hill Nordic Center has been practically empty. Come on out! You'll have the trails to yourself.

I just don't know how they manage to stay in business.

So the weather got nasty didn't it? Just a week ago the mercury was reading -19 F at our place. Kind of tough on bees. Does this remind you of anything rather recent? Like, hmmm, about a year ago...

It only furthers my conviction that God has it out for the Bible Belt. And our Bible Belt bees.

But we won't let any little thing like the wrath of God stop us. 
We're going to save our girls!

I've been feeding a select few of the hives most of the winter, but this past week everybody got a patty. This was homemade stuff, about 800 pounds of sugar and a lot of mixing.

This time of year the bees are brooding. They need to keep that precious next generation 90 degrees or above. A tough task when just outside the hive, winter howls, -35 windchill.
I don't know how anyone survives. It's a miracle, really.
But to make the miracle happen, bees need calories! And that's my job. (The big working man pats his back.)
Here's a pick-up load:

Unfortunately you can't just drive up to the hives and dump them in. In fact, my 4x4 is in the shop (Of all pleasant weeks for that to happen!), so it's been a lot of walking.

The bees are doing good, I'm glad to report. Still hanging in there, and I'm happy to pay them a visit. Even though it has, at times, almost resembled actual work.

"Gotta buy my kid a brand new pair of shoes."

"And sing a little bit of these working man blues..."