Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Quick Look ..

TopBar hive minus cover, note that the actual bars form a second roof.

festooning happening.

first golden moon of wax being built.

On this stunning spring day down here in the pacific ocean, in these islands I love,( sorry for sounding so mushy, but I feel a strong attachment to my homeland, must be cause I feel so ok within me, and the fact that it is a superb country to live in) I decided to take a quick look into the TopBar hive that 2 weeks ago I had installed a swarm of honey bees. I must admit, I was a tad nervous about what I was going to see - I shouldn`t have been, these industrious little insects have started to build comb, beautiful, golden comb at the far end of the hive, just where Phil C says in his book, that they will. Also festooning on other bars with the bars at the end where the 2 entrance holes are are still bare - I am sure that will change in a month or so.They are making a brood nest for their queen to lay in, I will have a longer and more detailed look in another couple of weeks, hopefully will see signs of baby bees happening !

I was also thrilled with the fact that I didn`t need my smoker, I always have trouble with the thing staying smoking ( I use untreated cedar shavings which smell divine and always go well for my friend), the bees didn`t seem to get upset at all, as I was working down the far end I had a look at the end where the entrances are, and they were just busy coming and going as usual. The rest of the hive stays dark and warm as only 2 or 3 bars are out at a time, not even that many today ! It really does make sense to work like this, I guess there will be times when everything turns to custard, but for my first experience it couldn`t have been better - at last I can really get my teeth into this project, now I just have to convince my 2yr old grandson, Elliott, that bees don`t fly into your ears - where he has got that from I don`t know, he hates the buzzing sound, I think he might have super hearing powers !!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flying home in the rain ..

Bees in the sustainable garden at the Hamilton Gardens were getting very wet last week. I just happened to walk into the garden when the rain poured down and droves of bees began returning to their hive which is situated on top of a pergola out of human reach ! It was interesting watching them return in big groups, sort of like aeroplane squadrens returning to base - sort of
My TB hive is going very well by the look of all the activity all week. It has been very windy here so I am hoping it will be nice and calm on the weekend and I will get a chance to open it and see what has been going on. I do get a real kick out of just sitting and looking - it would only be about 3/4 metres from where I am sitting in my dining room at this minute. I have just finished mowing the lawns and there was no worry from either of my hives when mowing quite close to them.
Don`t you worry Cliff, as soon as I get something to report I will be blogging !! I actually hope to start a TB group in NZ, have had a chat to a lady in Auckland who is keen and I know there will be some from my club interested.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

At last - my first TopBar hive !

I am finally the very proud owner of a TopBar hive, built for me by a clever person I met at a talk I gave to the local Organics group here in Hamilton. P used the plans from the BareFoot Beekeeper site that I had down loaded for him - there is even a window on the other side that has a sliding cover so I and the Grandchildren can watch the bees ! It is made from un-treated macrocarpa wood which means it won`t need painting and will slowly fade to a silver colour - it smells good to .. I love it !!
It is situated in a nice sunny,sheltered spot in my front garden where I can watch all the comings and goings from my windows as I drink coffee and read the paper or just watch the bees ! It is actually quite close to the foot path and road but can`t be seen from either of those places. My langstroth hive is at the back of my house and you would never know that was there unless you are the monthly meter reader who comes to read the electrics !

A nice lady rang on Sunday to ask me to come and collect a swarm she had in her garden - I was on the way out in the pouring rain to visit my family, so, rang my kind bee friend and he captured the quite big swarm which I swept into my TB that night - that is what is happening in above photo - notice bars across the hive opening, which all going well the bees will make comb from and attach to under side of bars,then fill with babies, pollen and honey. The poor little things were getting quite edgey by this stage, I got stung afew times but that is understandable, after having spent 2 very wet and cold nights out in the open, dropt into a nuc box, crowded in like sardines then tipped into another box in the dark, I would be too !

The next day dawned warm and sunny with some of the girls venturing out. They don`t seem to mind the lack of a landing pad, mind you, in the wild there is no such thing outside a hole in a tree. I do have another entrance P made at one end which I can unscrew and use if I want and it has a small landing strip, maybe later in the summer if the weather warms up and there is alot of action around the hive.
I am delighted with my first TB hive, it just makes more sense somehow to keep these amazing insects in a way as close to their natural habitat as possible. Totally un-practicle for commercial beekeepers I know, but if you can do it like this - why not ? The honey I collect is a wonderful bonus for me, but I keep bees so I can add my bit to keeping them alive and for the pollination skills they so abundantly use and which we humans depend on ..

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The last Fledgeling turns 18 today ...

My beautiful youngest daughter, Ellena Roseanne, turns 18 today, this was the sight that greeted her just before she left for her weekend job as the dishie at a local cafe this morning ! One of her lovely friends, Rene, delivered a South African dish that Ellena loves, to our front door at 8.45am !! It is a milk pudding, sounds sort of like the junket my mother made us eat as kids, I will get a taste later.

Ellena is going to Victoria University in Wellington next year, about 7 hours drive south from where we live. I am so excited for her and sad for me, it is a real new life challange for us both. She was the 4th child I so desperately wanted after loosing a number of babies between her eldest sister Meg, her brother Cameron and sister Phillippa - there is 9 yrs between Ellena and Pip. I didn`t plan on the big gaps but thats how it turned out. I have never regretted having my late baby, although at 38 I was a tad to old I think - took me years to catch up on sleep and I was always the oldest Mum at kindy and school !! She has been a delight all along, is adored by her sibblings and probably abit spoilt but she has grown into a beautiful young woman and tomorrow we will celebrate as a family at her brothers place by the ocean.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Happy Place ...

One of Meg`s paintings, she is a clever artist and sells her work through-out NZ, Raglan is full of arty folks !!

During the last week I took afew days off work, badly needed I might add, spending a night and 2 days out at my `happy place` Raglan-by-the-sea or Whaingaroa as it is rightly named. My eldest daughter, Meg and her daughter Lia live out there, on the side of a hill over-looking the harbour and out to the heads - a fairly dangerous bar. Meg had taken students to Wellington to see the Wearable Arts show, which I might add, is an amazing night, Lia was at her Dad`s and I had the house to me !! oh, and the crazy cat and noisy finch ..

The view from the window I sat by in a very nice cafe/bar and ate my dinner. It was raining but I didn`t mind, it is just so peaceful there, no rush, people smile and say kia ora (hello) - I hope the place never changes and becomes a `Bondi beach (Oz) or even Mt Maunganui which is a resort on the eastern coast of NZ. Raglan is on the west coast and very different geographically and every other way - wild and windy with crashing seas, rocks, some nice beaches and black sand that really does stick to every part of your body !! It only takes me 40 mins to drive out from home, I never tire of the views, it is a good road now, used to be a `goat track` as my dear old Dad would have said - can you get my drift at how much I love this place ??

The view from Meg`s balcony looking out over the little town and up the harbour - the sparkling water is always a deep blue/green and sometimes there are pods of orca to be seen, chasing the stingray they love to munch on.. Don`t you love the old building which is the pub ? The Palms were planted down the main street over 90 yrs ago now, could even be 100yrs - they are protected trees, as much as I don`t like them, they are part of what makes Raglan special and the neat thing is, Pohutukawa are planted at the sea end of the street and they are beautiful, especially with their aireal roots and other small native plants growing in the branch unions.

Mt Karioi, shrouded in mist, a view from Wainui Rd taken after I had visited my bee keeping friend. This dormant volcano is often called the `Sleeping Lady` as the mountain resembles a womans form when seen without the cloud. She dominates the scenery for miles, people climb to the top, the locals are beginning to care for her, getting rid of pests like possums that eat all the new growth of the native trees, with the new generation of children becoming involved with looking after the ocean and land around them - yah !!

A me trying to be `arty`, photo of the coast line, it was very wet and windy, everything blowing like mad, and cold ! I get these crazy ideas sometimes, they usually bomb out, but I quite like this one ..
I caught up with one of my favourite photographers, Gillian Lankshear, who lives at Raglan and takes the most beautiful photos using film, no digital for this lady, and showed her my photos, I am hoping to start something with my pics later in the year - whats left of it !! if you google Gillian`s name with Raglan, NZ beside it, you can see some of her work - she is an inspiration to me ..
I came home late in the afternoon, feeling restored and rested - just what I had in mind .. back to work next week and will be full on as the students are back for the last term of the year. I am teaching 2 night classes on beekeeping again this term if we get the interest and have just been approached by a very cool mag called `Good` for an interview re bees - all wonderful stuff ..
Oh, and I managed to buy the incense I was after, there is a seriously good Herbal shop on the main street - I tell you, Raggers is the place for me !!