beekeeping report

It's time for a beekeeping report. I'm glad there's so much interest. When I first decided I wanted to keep bees a couple years ago, I searched all over for beekeeping bloggers, and didn't find much. Now it seems there is a plethora of beekeepers out there. It's so great!

I don't know if I mentioned that my new hive finally arrived, and I've assembled everything that wasn't already assembled, and painted all the exterior surfaces to protect the wood from the weather. The inside doesn't get any paint, because those fastidious little bees would likely chew it all off. They are a very tidy bunch. My hive has some frames with comb tied in with rubberbands. Since they're a new hive, the beekeeper gave them some pieces of comb to get started with, and they break off those bands just as fast as they can, and shove them out the front door. Sometimes they remove the bands faster than they can get the comb firmly attached to the frame as I learned on my second hive inspection, when all that fresh new wax just fell out of a couple frames as I lifted them up. I had to re-band them in place. One fell straight down into the hive, and it was quite nerve-wracking to stick my hand down in there to retrieve it. I did it, though, and they've since started building it out even more.

I'm still cracking myself up every time I think about my hive name, so I blatantly stole this idea from Leigh of Burbs and the Bees, and stenciled my queen's name on the front of the new hive. I'm too lazy to fit the entire "Von Trapp Family Stingers" on the hive, so that will remain my own little joke. I'm quite pleased with the results. I just got the alphabet stencils at Michael's, and made my own crown stencil. I also added the little medallion up top. I think I'll move everyone over this coming weekend. Better to do it now, before the hive gets too big. Excuse my messy shed.


I've been inspecting my hive most weekends, and it's growing slowly. I just hope they'll be strong enough by the end of the Summer to be able to make it through the Winter. Because we're in the mountains, flowers bloom later, so until there's a good nectar flow, I won't see a lot of growth. I'm also watching what is blooming, and noticing what the bees seem to like. I thought they would be all over the lavender, but so far they've just ignored it. Maybe it needs to open more? They loved the rosemary, but with only two bushes, there wasn't much there for them. I took a bunch of rosemary cuttings this past weekend, and am going to try rooting them and planting them around the yard so there will be more for them next year. They weren't interesting in the lilacs, and I haven't seen them in the honeysuckle, which surprises me. We have mustard all over the place, and I've seen a few bees there, but not many. There are wild flowers blooming around the valley, so maybe they're just foraging elsewhere.


There is nectar and pollen in most of the frames, with brood cells in the middle. I've been seeing lots of eggs and larvae, although I haven't actually seen my queen the last couple inspections. It's likely that her attendants have cleaned the green dot off her back, but as long as I see eggs in various stages of development, I know she's there.



If you look at the last picture full-sized, you might be able to see the tiny rice-like eggs.

Twice now I've witnessed them doing an orientation flight. The first time it happened I freaked out a little bit, and thought my little colony was going to swarm, but it turns out that it was just a bunch of new bees getting ready to start going out to gather nectar, pollen and water. On a nice afternoon they will go out and hover in front of the hive to get their bearings. It looked like a traffic jam to get in the hive. I went back to check on them a little later, and everything was back to normal. Here's a good video of bees on an orientation flight.

Oh, and I didn't want to forget to share this helpful tip. Be sure to toss your cat in your purse before leaving for work. You never know when you might need to have a cat handy. I personally prefer a calico-tabby mix, but you have to decide what works best for you.


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brought to you by the color orange (and a little turquoise)

I woke up on day three of my three-day weekend with a killer sore throat. I already had a cold this Winter, so I'm not sure what the purpose of that was, but it was annoying. So I've been laying about, and between naps, did a little knitting. I'm powering my way through that to-do list, and started on my sweater. Originally, this yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) was going to be an Assemblage sweater, which I love and still want to make, but because this yarn is alpaca, and therefore very soft, when I knit the patterned cuff you couldn't see much of a pattern. So I think it will be much better suited for the Diminishing Rib Cardigan in the latest Interweave Knits.


This is the first time I've knit a top-down sweater, but I think it might be my new favorite thing-no seams, try it on as you go, and easily adjust to fit! I also learned a new cast-on for this, the tubular cast-on. It was a little tricky, and I admit, it took about four attempts to get it right, but it makes sense now, and it does make for a nice edge. If you try it out here are my tips: 1. Use straight needle to cast on, and then transfer to your cable needles if you're using them, the cable created all kinds of problems for me, and 2. It will look like a big mess at first, but just give it a few rows, and it will work itself out.

Also in orange, the shot cotton scarves I mentioned last time:


I might be a little obsessed with this fabric, although I don't think I can do it justice in a photograph.

One last bit of orange (and white) for your amusement, someone found the catnip stash and had herself a little party:


Later we found her looking for pop tarts (the last paragraph of that news story cracked me up).

And now on to the turquoise. I painted my picture frame, which will eventually be an inspiration board, but it needs some help.


It's a little darker than I hoped, and also a little flat. I'd like it to be more the color of my tray, but I'm not sure what to do to get it there. Maybe a watered down greenish glaze? And a clear, glossy coat of paint? Any ideas?

And thanks for all the little pep talks about my bookcases on Apartment Therapy. I'm not letting the haters get me down, and really, the nice comments you left for me here more than made up for the snarky ones over there!

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music and meaning


It's a Christmas Miracle! Well, maybe that's a little dramatic, but still, it looks like I'll actually manage to send out Christmas cards this year. This is quite an accomplishment for me. I always start December with the best intentions and plans for handmade, spectacular cards with long, personalized letters for each recipient. And then reality sets in, and not only do no cards get made or letters written, I can't even manage to send out boxed cards with just a signature. So this time I decided to try something a little different. I've been enjoying Christmas music so much this year that I made a nifty mix CD, and that's what I'm sending. Of course I had to make special, festive envelopes, but there won't be any long letters, just a signed CD that I hope will be enjoyed by those who receive them, as much as I have enjoyed listening to lots of great Christmas music while making them.

I want to share the music with all you lovely blog visitors too! I've got a dozen or so extra CDs to share, so the first twelve comments will get one. If there are more people interested, I'll probably be able to draw a few names from the additional commenters to receive CDs too. There some traditional Christmas songs, some original songs, some Winter songs, and maybe some irreverent songs, the common thread is that they are all songs I just love, and they are Christmas-y.

This is one of my favorite hymns from my favorite Christmas album right now:

Excuse the slightly cheesy video. And I know it's not really a Christmas song, but the message still fits the season.

But wait! There's more! Not a lot more, just a little thing. I made a Pandora Christmas radio station, based on some of my current favorites included on the CD, so if you'd like a little taste, click the Christmas link under HeyLucy radio to the left, and listen right now on your computer! Nifty, isn't it?

Here's a new game we've been playing at our house lately. It's called 'Where's Lucy?' If we make it until January without the tree falling over it will be another Christmas Miracle!


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warm and cozy

I'm back to normal! I was so disappointed to get a cold last week, it's been about two and a half years since I've had a bad cold or flu. I was going for a new record and instead I got sick twice in a month. That's just dumb.

I feel terribly behind, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. I have e-mail and comments to respond to, and I will get to it soon, promise! I'm not ignoring anyone, just trying to get all caught up. Meanwhile I promised to share quilt tops, so here is a little glimpse:


It was dark and gloomy this weekend, so this is the best I can do for now, but I think you can see that I've got quite the bonanza here. I think my New Year's resolutions for 2009 will involve finishing a couple quilts, starting with the Double Wedding ring quilt.


I need to do a little research first. I'm somewhat concerned about the stitching. It's all done by hand, and I'm not sure just how sturdy it is. There are a few places where pieces need to be restitched. I think the fabric itself is still in good shape. Also, the rings are actually the edges of the quilt, it's not square, so I think I have to turn the edges under and sew it by hand? Or can I bind it normally? It would be a pain, but it's doable with a bias binding. I'm just not sure if that's how it's traditionally done. Any expert quilters out there? Mom, what do you think? Either way, it's going to be so cute when it's done.

The four-pointed star is fun too. I haven't looked too carefully, but I don't think there are many fabrics repeated. I think it might have been made from the family's old clothes. These quilts have been in the family for a long time, my mother-in-law doesn't sew or do any kind of handicrafts, and she doesn't really know who made what or when it was made. I think the fabrics look like they are mostly from the 1930s and 1940s.


I feel like I hit the lottery with these quilts. There will be periodic updates, I'm sure. I'd really like to finish and use them. That seems like the best tribute I can give their makers.

Despite the gloominess outside, it was warm and cozy inside our little house, and I put up the Christmas tree last night while the fire was roaring in the stove (thanks to Mr. HeyLucy, fire-builder extraordinaire). Between the tree and the fire the cats were in heaven. At one point I found Lucy sitting in the middle of the tree, precariously balanced across several branches. Oi. They especially like it when the lights are on. I still have all my glass ball ornaments to hang, but that should be done sometime over the next couple days. I wire them to the branches with florist wire, so the cats can't easily bat them off, although they will try.


I also made the most delicious hot chocolate ever, to sip under the Christmas tree lights. Here's the recipe, if you want to try it yourself:

For each serving mix together in a saucepan: a generous teaspoonful of good cocoa powder, an equal (or slightly more if you want it sweeter) amount of sugar, a tiny capful of good vanilla and some finely grated Belgian chocolate (about one square inch). If you're feeling adventurous, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. You won't taste the pepper, but you'll feel the heat when you drink it. It's quite nice. Add a little milk, and stir until all the powdery bits are well incorporated into the milk. Add more milk to make a big mugful. Heat gently, until piping hot, but don't let it boil over! I speak from experience when I say that you will have a big mess that is not fun to clean up if it boils over. And here's my top secret weapon to make it truly the most delicious hot chocolate ever: get yourself one of these little gadgets, and whip up each cup for a minute or so before serving. I found mine at a local Ace Hardware store for $10 or $15 I think, which is a little extravagant for a tool I use for only one thing, but it doesn't take up hardly any space and it really makes all the difference, so I don't regret purchasing it at all. Serving it in a pink café au lait bowl, and sitting down with some knitting and a feline companion will make it just perfect.


There will be more Christmas-y stuff here this week, and a special Christmas gift for my lovely blog readers, so be sure to come back soon, I don't want you to miss out!   

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colorful II

I have some more colorful things to share, which is especially good because it's dark and gloomy out around here today, and that means my drive to work is probably going to be excessively long. We Californians tend to come  a little un-glued when it rains. Once there was a huge, unexpected rainstorm on a Friday afternoon and it took me three hours to get home. Not even kidding. That was like two years ago and I still remember the horror. But that's another story for another day.

Do you have a uniform? You know, not an actual uniform, but a set of clothes you regularly wear with interchangeable components? Mine is jeans, t-shirt, cardigan sweater, flats. I try to keep it from getting boring by doing interesting things to my t-shirts, and buying things like green pants and cute flats. I wonder if I should be embarrassed by the number of cardigans in my closet. It's like I'm channeling Mr. Rogers. Anyway, back to today's colors!

I didn't realize that I needed yellow shoes until I saw these at Target, but I think they are going to turn out to be this Fall's must-have accessory. Thank you Target for now carrying shoes in size 11 for my ski's-for-feet! Stinkin' cute, right? I didn't get the little ankle strap in the pictures, but you can see the little heels below.


I am modeling them with my new $15 Old Navy grey cords. I had to give up on the idea of winning that weight-loss competition. That was a stupid idea for me to join a weight-loss competition with a bunch of guys. So, since there was no chance I would be taking home any prize money, I've obviously been pants shopping. And it it nice to be able to walk around without constantly tugging at my waist band to pull my pants up. Plus, you know, you can look pretty cute for not a lot of money, I'm discovering.


Another Target find that I am enjoying:


I generally hesitate to decorate with mass-produced 'art', but I just really love this tray, and the colors were perfect for my living room. Plus it is functional, I can always take it down and actually use it as a tray. Trays are good things to have around.

I'm knitting more socks, pink this time! This is my first time using Knit Picks Essential Sock yarn. I wasn't too sure I would like it, it's so inexpensive and I am partial to Lorna's Laces, but I think it's a nice yarn for the price. Sure, it's not hand-dyed, but I bought a few colors, and they're all pretty nice. Sometimes you just want a good, solid color, you know? And it's washable, and quite soft, so as long as I'm on this sock knitting bender, I'll keep using it. Has anyone knit socks with it? I'm curious how well it wears.


And I'll leave you with not color, but a black and white cat and a short list:

  1. I watched Lars and the Real Girl this weekend. It was so sweet.
  2. I can't stop playing Zilch. Don't click that link, I'm warning you, you'll start playing and won't be able to stop.
  3. For my fellow Americans, take this quiz and see how much you know about our history and government. I'm embarrassed that the average is so low. We need to know this stuff, people! Politics is beyond the scope of this blog, but I think it's important to know this stuff (I was in the 80% range, if you were wondering, and I think I should have done better). 
  4. You would never know that 10 minutes before the picture below was taken there was a black and white blur flying from one corner of the house to another, bouncing off window sills and jumping on the kitchen counter, which is absolutely NOT ALLOWED in our house. It is against the rules, I tell you!


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