Dump Them in the Top

Early in the winter I make my best guesses and place my orders for packages of bees. Those packages are two or three pound boxes of bees that will replace a hive that may (or may not) die out over the winter. After this is done I promptly forget how many packages I ordered and when I requested they arrive. This is key to my yearly process because that means when I get the call from the bee man that the bees have arrived, it’s always a fun spring surprise. Surprise! Drop everything, it’s time to hive the bees!

Now that sounds dramatic but here is a little secret. To hive the bees you take an empty beehive and you dump all the bees in the top. Then you put the lid on and leave.

The end.

Sure, it’s a little more nuanced than that. I usually take a few frames out so they have room to fall into the hive easier, the queen comes in her own special cage inside the package of bees and she needs to be placed in the hive within her little package first. And the art of slamming a two or three pound box of bees on the ground repeatedly and then shaking them out is… well, actually, that’s not much of an art. It’s just banging and shaking and it makes me feel like a mad woman every year. “Hey look, a few thousand bees in a box, lets bang them on the ground and dump them out!”

But, as beekeepers have known for ages bees without a hive to defend are really fairly docile. On a nice spring evening, the perfect time to hive a package of bees, many fly up in the air until you are inside a cloud of bees but they quickly locate their queen in the new hive and like magic settle back down inside. Before you know it the mad drama of shaking bees is over and you are free to put the lid on and leave.

Of course this year, as sometimes happens in April in Wisconsin, it was snowing. Making it a decidedly less idyllic situation. For starters it’s hard to wear a stocking cap under a bee veil without everything going cattywampus and falling over your eyes. In order to get them into the hive as quick as possible I upped my level of mad woman shaking and dumping and shaking and dumping, trying to get as many as possible inside, where they would soon warm it up before I put the lid on. All sorts of bees still filled the air but instead of finding the hive many of them found me and clung to me because it’s just too cold to fly in the snow when you are a little bee. A bunch of gentle flicking and swiping and plucking and shaking and finally the bees had been dumped on top of the hive, I put the lid on and walked away.

I’m participating in the April Squares challenge with The Life of B!

Top Secret

Sweet Pea the goose is laying eggs. While she is doing her best to keep the location secret we have been penning the geese in the yard for just that reason and we found her and her eggs deep in the gooseberry patch.

Perhaps once we make some delicious goose egg custard, a few giant omelettes and the next cold snap passes, we will let her try and hatch out a few of her own. Until then she’s going to have to try harder to keep the location secret!

I’m participating in the April Square hosted by The Life of B!

Spun Like A Top

We were gifted a fun egg decorator this year that we immediately dubbed “The Egg Lathe. ” Today we pulled out traditional egg decorating supplies as well as The Egg Lathe and three hours later the kids decorated four dozen duck and chicken eggs and three goose eggs.

They turned out beautiful but unfortunately we are a family where zero people eat egg salad.

I hear you can make chocolate chip cookies with hard boiled eggs. How many bags of chocolate chips do you suppose we need to get through four dozen eggs?

I’m participating in the April Square hosted by The Life of B. Have you figured the theme out yet?

Tree Top Home

Mourning doves make pitiful looking nests. To my eye they are no more than a few beakfulls of sticks in a haphazard pile but I am no mourning dove.

Last year a pair of doves nested and raised two babies just outside one of our second story windows. I marveled at those those few sticks that made up the nest as they persistently clung to the branches all through the winter, and now, the doves are back. They have added what looks to my eyes to be another scant pinch of twigs to spruce up their old tree top home and are settled down to the business of raising a family. The top of an old tree on a tiny bed of sticks look like a perilous position to me.

But I am no mourning dove.

I’m participating in the April Squares challenge with  The Life of B!