you never can tell with bees

a surprise early spring honey harvest

hive at the farm- currently this hive has 3 more supers on it (and it has swarmed once itself!),
and it has been joined by a second hive

view from the hives of the farm cabin with the lake beyond

the current state of our little backyard apiary

one of the swarms way up high

It would be a rather sizable understatement to say that it has been an interesting spring and summer when it comes to our bees.

As of this writing, from our two over-wintered hives we have had nine (NINE!) swarms so far this spring.  And a few of those are swarms from the first round of swarms.  I'm only aware of us ever having had one other swarm in our 5+ years of beekeeping.  We've certainly preemptively split hives early in the spring, and there have been years where by early June we've had 5 supers on a hive, but all of this swarming?  Crazy town.  Of the nine, we successfully caught and held onto three of the swarms.  One we put in a top bar hive here with our other two hives, and the other two are out at the farm where I work. We did catch two others but they didn't stick around.  One of those just wasn't covered in time and they flew off, and the other was a bit of an ordeal.  We saw them land way up a white pine in a neighbor's yard and Mike just couldn't bear to watch them fly off so he donned a full bee suit and got out his climbing gear and climbed up (70 feet up? 80? 100?) with a cardboard box (and again, a FULL bee suit/veil along with his climbing gear) and brushed as much of the cluster as he could get into the box but sadly we think he missed the queen and so....... no dice.

The others just weren't really reachable (or, once we got to a certain point, we had simply run out of boxes and didn't want to go back to the bee supply shop again for more).  One landed somewhere way high up and then left, and the other, pictured above, was 70 or 80' up on the outer branches of an oak, over the power lines.  Another stayed high up in a walnut tree over our backyard for three days (!) before deciding to finally take flight for better digs minutes before friends came to attempt to collect them.  And one of the hives out at the farm has also already swarmed.

We check on the state of things in the hives, we add space as needed- as far as our human eyes can see they've got plenty of room to grow but, well, I suppose these particular bees just have a serious drive to spread their gene pool and get out and explore.  Or something.

That wise old Pooh Bear was right, you just never can tell with bees.


in the kitchen :: minty, krauty, seedy, bubbly, jammy

There've been a few things pretty much on repeat in the kitchen these days.  Lot of berry and melon eating and smoothie and cider drinking, and a good bit of making.  Sauerkraut-making, drying herbs (mostly various mints, along with chamomile and tulsi and lavender and calendula and lemon balm) for tea and medicine, seed cracker-baking, mixing up different secondary fermentation ingredients for kombucha (my favorite was our fresh raspberries, but they are all done for now so I'm moving on to ginger-peach and lemon-ginger-mint and other such things), etc.  There were a couple batches of raspberry jam made, and we are just starting to get into pickling for the summer.  Mike recently made a large batch of refrigerator cucumber pickles and the green bean pile is getting to the point where I really need to gather up some dill and garlic and get to making some dilly beans.  Plus, Claire is getting a little tired of me suggesting green beans each time she requests a snack.  There is a part of me that is calling out for less canning and processing this year, but I think it's mostly just that initial hesitation to steam up the kitchen on these humid July days.  I know my January and February self will heartily thank my mid-late summer self for the work and effort, and so... dilly beans and more jam it is.  Blueberry-blackberry jam, it looks like.



Last week we went away, my love and I.  It was our first vacation as parents (aside from that one awesome 36 hour stretch in NYC three years ago), and the little one stayed at home with nana.  We drove 5 hours southeast from here to Beaufort, SC.  Rented this adorable one-year-old tiny house in the historic district, an easy walk to the main street and waterfront. 

It was really, really good.

Because I neglected to keep a little journal of our days, (as I often like to do when we go exploring, even if it's just a simple note of what we did that day) I shall do so here.  Or I shall attempt to do so insomuch as my memory serves me a week and a half later.  And so, 

Day one:
Drove to Beaufort, checked in to adorable tiny home in the late afternoon.  Headed over the river to a bike shop to get new tubes, to a Publix for some provisions (er, drinks), and, most importantly- to a nearby seafood market for a pound of local shrimp.  Came back and opened said drinks and proceeded to cook a garlicky, shrimpy meal.  Was introduced to the newfangled wonders of smart TVs and amazed by all the music at my fingertips (one may think that since I am a fan of this journaling-on-the-interwebs thing that I am at least moderately aware of such things, such technologies...but I am not.  Not at all.  Poor Mike is so patient with his daft little Luddite). Listened to lots of Saint Paul and the Broken Bones.  And some other things too, but mostly that.  Continued developing an appreciation for rose.  Walked to town, checked out the waterfront, laughed at the ridiculously squeaky swing benches that lots of people insisted on swinging in anyway as they watched the sunset (because you know, I guess it's part of the experience) even though we were all quite aware of how loud and obnoxious they were.  Really- it was pretty funny.  Walked back.  Stayed up too late watching a long and somber movie.

Day two:
Rise and shine.  Breakfast.
Day trip to Savannah.  Rainy rainy.  Drinks and snacks at a brewery, lunch at a place on the river, then a drive out to see dear good friends.  A sweet visit, then a drive back to Beaufort in time to see the very pink and very lovely sunset down by the waterfront.  Music, bananagrams.

Day three:
A lot of adventure. (also, I painted my nails)

After breakfast we took the bikes down to Hunting Island State Park and rode on some trails.  Mike's chain broke so it made things..... interesting.  But he's a good sport and kinda just 'scootered' the bike along at the end. Walked out to the ocean on one of the trails and walked among the downed trees for a good long time.  Watched pelicans, listened to the waves telling us things.  Went down to the beach near the lighthouse and hung out for a bit- read, relaxed, ate lunch, swam.  Stopped back by the bike shop for a new chain, grabbed some more provisions (wine, more seafood from another local market- this time flounder and shrimp), headed back to the house.  While dinner cooked I walked around the neighborhood checking out some of the old homes.  Another delicious seafood meal.  And then after, because we hauled the kayaks all the way there (so really, we may as well use them) and because low tide was coinciding with sunset and we were told of a sandbar just a ways off from the town boat launch, we took the boats down to the waterfront and paddled out to the sandbar to watch the sunset.  It was pretty great (I didn't dare bring along my camera, so I have no photos, but it was beautiful).  We paddled back, got home in the dark and read and I played solitaire bananagrams like I sometimes do.

Day four:

Obviously, it had to be another beach day.  When I realized that it had taken us until our third day of being so close to the ocean to actually stick our feet in it,  I was a little shocked.  How could we?!  That salty ocean air is one of my favorite medicines, after all.  I suppose we'd just gotten a little carried away with all the relaxing and the nothing and the seafood eating.  Ahhhhhh.

But first- A nice, slow morning.  I took my tea and book out to the stoop and played with the neighbors' cat.  A breakfast of salad greens topped with bacon and plantains, and then we rode off on the bikes in search of the Spanish Moss trail, a Rails-to-Trails trail that connects Beaufort with surrounding towns.  We rode through an old depot, over a couple bridges that took us across marshes, past an old fish-canning and pickle-making factory, and down to the southern end of the trail and back.  Rode through the historic district looking at some of the amazing old homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries- from the great sprawling grand ones to the tumble-down and much more humble ones.  It had been a long time since I'd been on my old bike instead of riding the cargo bike with Claire (and usually a good bit of other stuff), and it felt so nice to just be pulling my own weight, literally.

After the bike ride we headed back to the beach for a long walk.  We walked from the lighthouse down past the campground (which is still closed due to last fall's Hurricane Matthew) and out to seemingly endless sandbars.  We explored.  Found five sand dollars.  Counted loggerhead nests.  Swam in the warm, warm sea.  Carried two stranded loons back to the water (their legs are so far back they cannot walk on land and sometimes get stranded with the tide and then have to wait hours and hours to get back to the sea- unless we happen upon them, that is).  Lingered.  This is another time I left the camera and I was quite disappointed by that, really- I'd have loved to have taken photos of the endless low-tide sandbars, and the lagoon, and of the softly crooning (not that one could tell that from a photo) stranded loons.  But alas.  Maybe I'll figure out how to put some of the photos from Mike's phone on here (see? Luddite).

Another fresh seafood dinner.  Whole red snapper and clams, for a change.  Because surely we can't eat only shrimp.

Day five:

Wake up, pack up.

There had been talk of maybe taking the kayaks back out before we hit the road but neither of us wanted to get all wet and sandy before the drive, so we just took the morning slowly and then headed home to nana and our girl.


It was good, this trip.  For all of us.  In so many ways.