It’s a little earlier than when I usually split bee colonies but this year, since we had little in the way of winter, the bees are really booming and desperately needed to be split. Bees typically start to bring in increasing amounts of nectar which stimulates the queen to lay more eggs and eventually the brood nest becomes so full of bees that some of the bees leave. That’s how a swarm is born. For beekeepers,swarms are not exactly ideal. I don’t always mind if my bees swarm so long as I can find the swarm and catch it. Too often though, swarms happen when folks aren’t watching and then half a hive of bees is lost.
Anyhow, I usually make splits to hopefully prevent natural swarms. To make a split, I simply take 3-6 frames of bees, eggs, honey and pollen from one hive and put them into a new hive box. The bees (apparently) feel as if they have swarmed and with the newly opened space, they are free to go on about their business as a properly sized hive. I usually make splits a few weeks from now but the hives at the house were bursting at the seams and had swarm cells. Swarm cells are the hive’s preparation to make a new queen to replace the queen that leaves when the bees swarm.
I have had excellent luck preventing swarms by timing my splits just right so I expect that this season will see no swarms from my hives. I have high hopes of getting calls from the city, however, to retrieve swarms from other people’s hives!
In addition to making splits this week, I also moved most of my remaining hives from the city out to our place in the country. Moving bees is a wild prospect. Emily and I woke up at dawn’s crack (actually, before dawn) to cover the hives in bedsheets to keep the bees inside for the most part. We laid down a sheet for each hive and then moved each hive onto the sheet. I gathered the sheet around the hive boxes and duct taped them to the side of the hive boxes. Emily then threw another sheet on the top and taped it down as well. For the most part, that kept the bees inside the “netting” and allowed us to move them safely.
We had to prepare the hives before dawn to make sure that all of the bees were inside the hives when we closed them up. The hives are quickly gaining weight this time of year so lifting them is quite an adventure. Emily was a great help and all hives arrived safe and sound! Sometimes splitting up and moving can be a pretty good deal!
Did you ever wonder what would happen when a bullet passes through different things? I have always enjoyed shooting a random pumpkin or a tv. Just fyi…a pumpkin makes an excellent display when shot with a proper shotgun. A tv is far more dull than I expected. I suppose that shooting a plugged-in-and-running tv might be interesting but I digress.
Anyhow, guns are awesome things…in both good and bad ways. I truly enjoy target shooting…that’s one of the good-awesome aspects of shooting. So, a friend of mine at work often heads to the shooting range with me at lunch. This week, Emily came along with us too. She wanted to shoot her Valentine’s day gun (and you thought I wasn’t a romantic).
So, my friend and I work at an IT business. We are both involved in developing software but we often get old or crashed computers in that are headed for the big website in the sky. We always recycle every bit of equipment that comes in. Part of that includes destroying the hard drives to protect any information that might be on them. Eventually, every hard drive gets shredded in a super cool shredder machine that eats them like a paper shredder chews stupid credit card offers.
Anyhow, that gives us an opportunity to pre-destroy the hard drives via bullet. We took two hard drives to the range the other day and shot them with a bunch of different guns. The one that surprised me most was the 38 caliber bullet. If you look carefully, you can see how it ricocheted off of the hard drive face. I couldn’t believe it! How could a bullet not pass through a simple hard drive?! One bullet splattered on impact. Why oh why 38 are you so weak?
We stepped it up a bit with other calibers and had great success with the 45 caliber and the .223 (typical assault rifle ammo). I knew those bullets would penetrate but I was incredibly surprised about the 38.
So friends, if you ever find your self in possession of a hard drive that simply needs to be shot, I can heartily recommend only calibers larger than the pitiful 38!
A week or so ago, we went to PA to celebrate my Grandpa’s 98th birthday. That was fun and we got into all sorts of things…
We opened some late Christmas presents
We unloaded 3 tons of wood pellets for my parents’ pellet stove
Isaac even helped
but definitely needed a break!
We climbed trees
Played some football
Had a great party with Grandpa
There were leprechauns
We hunted Easter eggs…full of money!
We verified that Isaac is growing and hide-and-seek isn’t as easy as it used to be
So, although it wasn’t nearly as green up there, spring was about to hit and we had a really great time! When we stay home, we never seem to be able to do so many things on a weekend. We needed a break after the short vacation!
So I mentioned in the last post that we took a trip to PA to celebrate my Grandpa’s 98th birthday. It’s a bit of a trip – 6 hours or so and we never leave until after work. That puts us in pretty late. We always stop at a particular truck-stop right as we get off of the interstate and start the hour and a half trip through the dark and windy roads to Tionesta. Needless to say, we are sometimes a little goofy at that point so you can only imagine the hooting and carrying on we did when I saw the job application for the truck-stop. I guess you take a number and you’re hired.
I’d say it’s a pretty tough place to work so maybe the only way they can get enough people to staff the place is to take absolutely anyone who can pull a ticket. I don’t know but I have to tell you, I still chuckle when I look at this picture!
My parents bought the house they are in awhile ago. I was not born in that house but it is the only house I ever knew as a kid. So, like many folks, they paid for it month after month for what seems like an eternity. Just in the last few months they made their final payment and are now mortgage free.
We were in PA for a party (more on that another day) and had a little time to hang out with an old friend. You see, my brother was also in for this party so it was a pretty cool opportunity to hang out with a guy that we have both known since for as long as we can remember. Jefé(as we will call him here…to protect the innocent) has been a great friend, especially so to my brother. They went to school together since kindergarten (I went with Jefé’s sister since we were in kindergarten).
Anyhow, Jefé found himself in possession of a small cannon. Yes, a literal cannon. My parents had their paid-off mortgage papers, we had access to a cannon…do you see where this is going? Isaac, my brother and I spent the day target shooting with Jefé, so the cannon as grand finale was a perfect end to the day. Right after dark, Jefé loaded the cannon with powder and my Mom stuffed the mortgage down into the muzzle.
We stood around anxiously waiting for the fuse to burn down. It was only a few seconds but the excitement we all shared was so awesome! The cannon fired sending flames and smoke and the remnants of the mortgage flying through the air. The mortgage had met its match and lost!
I can’t wait until my mortgage is paid off. The few seconds of excitement blowing Mom and Dad’s away was so much fun. I am sure they are relieved and proud and relieved. Honestly, every bank should be required to supply a cannon to folks when they pay off their mortgage. There is such celebration when you sign on for a mortgage but the best part usually goes by without even a mention. Not me dear friends…a cannon will be a part of many important celebrations in my life!
(By the way, shooting a cannon is incredibly dangerous so DO NOT try it on your own! You can’t pay off your mortgage if you’re dead!)
I was in grad school in computer science a bunch of years ago and one of the professors was into amateur radio (AKA Ham radio). I went into his office early one morning to talk with him about how to get started in the hobby. We were doing a bunch of electronics projects and some pretty cool stuff in his class so amateur radio seemed like a pretty natural step. He pretty much said I shouldn’t bother…get a cell phone and forget about it.
Well I showed him! Last weekend I went to a cram course for the technician class ham radio license and I passed! I am now a licensed ham operator! I do have a cell phone so it may seem pretty weird why I bothered getting into amateur radio too. I think the best answer is because I can. I also like the idea of being able to communicate with people all over apart from the cellular network. I also still like the challenge of building electronic circuits and learning new stuff like I did in Professor CellPhone’s class.
My father-in-law also wanted to become a licensed ham operator since he was a kid and he is also licensed now too! I figure we will probably talk to each other a lot at first as we try to learn how this whole process works. There really is a lot to amateur radio and apparently the FCC takes a lot of it very seriously…I’ll have to be careful not to have an audio Janet-Jackson-in-the-Super-Bowl moment on air!
There is a lot to learn so I am in search of an Elmer – a ham willing to help a newbie learn the ropes. Much like beekeeping, it seems that the number of people entering the hobbies are declining. I do not fully understand why but I hope to do my part to keep both hobbies middle-age friendly!
Christmas was almost 3 months ago and we still have all of the ornaments from our tree sitting in a pile in our living room. We took them off of the tree so we could haul the tree out but never got a chance to actually put the ornaments into their boxes and then into the attic.
I remember as a kid that it seemed like time took so long. It was a wait until Christmas and it seemed like we enjoyed the build-up for months in school. We made paper chains and strung popcorn and sang carols and all sorts of Christmasy things. Now it seems like Thanksgiving was just yesterday and here it is almost Spring!
I read somewhere about a theory as to why that happens…when you are a kid, a single day is a much higher percentage of your life than when you are an adult. Days as an adult seem much shorter/faster when compared against all of the days that have already bee lived.
We are travelling to PA this weekend to celebrate my Grandpa’s 98th trip around the Sun. I suppose that time must really fly for him. He’s seen so many changes in his lifetime. I remember his talking about the first time he saw a car and the first time he saw a plane fly overhead. Neither were common where he lived when he was a kid. So much has happened since then.
I was talking with my kids just the other night about things. I got a shortwave radio and we were doing a bang-up job of tuning in several stations that were broadcasting static (I don’t know why so many stations broadcast static 😉 ). Abigail asked me what that noise was and it occurred to me that with digital tuners and memory buttons on our radios, she had never heard static. It started me to thinking about TV when I was a kid…we got 3 stations on good days and had to wait for the set to warm up. Channel changes were manual (and the job of the kids) and so was turning the antenna. Cell phones didn’t exist and neither did home computers. I just saw in the news that Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be printing its volumes. These changes are no where near as drastic as those my Grandpa has seen but still, holy cow! When I think about it, my kids do live in a much different world than I did at their age.
I guess when it comes down to it, our Christmas ornaments are just fine sitting on the armoire. Time doesn’t have to fly. It’s still Christmasy around our house, at least a little bit. Maybe I’ll have to ask my Grandpa how he feels about the ornaments on display…I bet he’ll just chuckle…”Well Christmas was just yesterday!”
I grew up in the woods in Pennsylvania. I really only ever knew the woods as the nearest “city” of 3500 or so folks was 25 miles away. I never saw any real city until I was much older and to me, that very much felt like living dangerously. Cars moved so fast (except for when they didn’t) and then there were the people. People were louder and looked different and talked different. The city was very scary indeed but the woods were easy and safe.
Years later now, my kids are city kids. They see people and roads and city stuff as normal and safe. They like to mess around at our place in the country but they never really stray too far from where Emily and I were. I am always amazed at how they like to sit inside the shell of our cabin and read rather than being outside playing in the stream or rolling in the dirt.
So, the kids were at the place last weekend and, to my amazement, wanted to explore in the woods. “Sure” I said figuring they would take two steps into the tree line and come running back. A neighbor girl came over too and the three of them ventured off.
An hour passed very quickly, so when I looked up and they weren’t back, I was a bit worried. You see, city kids just don’t venture off into the woods for an hour. They were out of sight and hearing range so I didn’t know what they were up to. I waited and eventually they traipsed up the hill with flushed cheeks and big smiles…and mud.
It occurred to me that kids used to be gone all day and the parents had no idea where they were. Emily’s granddad talks about swimming cross the local river (with barge traffic and chemical plants, etc) before he was 10. Likewise, my grandpa hopped trains and rode around as a teenager. I can’t imagine allowing my kids to do that but I am absolutely thrilled that they struck out on their own and acted like kids in the woods should act.
There are many books and discussions on letting your kids experience a little danger. Isaac took me down to their “end-point” and I was surprised how far they had gotten and how wild the area was. There was a little danger for sure and I think they enjoyed the thrill. It worried me a little but they loved it and I couldn’t be happier to see their “country eyes” light up. The city may always be good with them, but I surely hope they come to understand and love the woods too!
Our winter was not a winter and I couldn’t be happier! Still, we had to take a break from working on the cabin as the rains and soccer interrupted our schedule for most of January. This weekend was free and absolutely beautiful so we got back to work! Both of the kids came up on Saturday and explored the woods a good bunch with the girl down the road. Emily and I discovered just how out of shape our ladder climbing legs had become. We also discovered just how pasty white our skin had become. I ended up getting another ridiculous basball cap ring from the sun this weekend…geez.
Anyhow, we got the soffit and fascia up on the back end of the house a few weeks ago. This weekend we got it up on both sides of the cabin so now there are no places for critters to get inside. Spring is apparently here and the birds will soon be looking for nesting spots and the open eaves would have been prime real estate. Crisis averted! The drag is, installing soffit goes up 12 inches at a time so getting both sides installed took a million trips up and down the ladder. I just cannot manage more than one piece at a time while trying to hold on to the ladder and the hammer. Maybe I will end up with a yoga booty when this is all done!
Finishing the ends/corners of the soffit and fascia can be done several different ways. I guess everyone has a preference without knowing it…the only thing is, when you see what you don’t like, it stands out like crazy…I think. Maybe I am crazy. Anyhow, we did it the right way so I am pretty pleased with the end result.
Soccer is about to start up again (we play fall, winter and spring leagues…gee whiz…too much soccer) so I am not sure what the coming weeks look like for progress but we will add the ledger boards for the deck (the board that hooks to the house) and then get siding up. Siding should go up fast since we can cover large areas in short time with the long pieces. We have already started to see the effects of UV on the weather guard. The orange plastic caps on the nails we used to hang the house wrap are faded to nearly white on the two sides that get the most sun (the picture right above is a good example…compare the white nail caps with the orange caps in the picture right below). Siding is UV resistant and is critical before summer gets here.
I can tell by the look on your face that you are not nearly as excited as I am to see the soffit and fascia in place, but just you wait until I get my yoga booty going! Maybe I can work on a soffit and fascia work-out tape! Call me the next Richard Simmons!