Monday, March 28, 2011

Touring with the Rye Mountain Boys

This weekend I went on tour with Hubby's bluegrass band, the Rye Mountain Boys.  We traveled up to the beautiful state of West Virginia this past Friday.  The drive was absolutely gorgeous and made me long for rolling hills and an old farmhouse of my own.  The "Boys" played at a quaint little coffee house/restaurant/bar called the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV.  There was a good crowd and those boys put on a good show. 

We rolled out early on Saturday morning, after eating a great breakfast at a cute little eatery called Flying Pigs and headed over to Frostburg, Maryland.  Frostburg is a small college town in the mountains.  The views were beautiful and the air was cold!  Brrrr!  We spent the afternoon resting up and hanging out in some of the local establishments. 

Saturday night the Rye Mountain Boys played at the Frostburg Palace Theatre.  They opened for Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice.  A well known traditonal bluegrass band, and some down right nice guys.  The show was amazing.  The Rye Mountain Boys won the hearts of the crowd with their traditional bluegrass tunes and waltzes, while Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice tore it up with some fast paced traditional and original bluegrass music.  Of course I am partial and will tell you that the Rye Mountain Boys were the beaus of that bluegrass ball! 

We headed out early Sunday morning for the long drive home.  Hubby thinks we should buy land in the middle of the WV mountains, he figures he would make a good hillbilly.  I guess it's in his blood :-)

One of my friends asked if I was a roadie, a groupie, or a Yoko.  My response was this....I carried a fiddle so I guess that makes me a roadie....I went home with the fiddle player so I guess that makes me a groupie....but alas...I am married to that fiddle player so maybe that makes me a Yoko?  But no worries Rye Mountain Boys, I wont get in the way! 

Wanna hear how great the Rye Mountain Boys sound?  Check out the music on their website.... ...and stay tuned...videos from this weekend are coming soon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our visit to Honey Bee Lane

This weekend Hubby and I were finally able to get into the bee hive and get those little ladies ready for the Spring nectar flow.  This time around we went through every single frame looking for signs of disease and replacing any damaged frames.  Our other goal for our morning visit was to check for a healthy queen and evaluate/treat the bees for varroa mites.  We are definitely newbies at this bee keeping thing but we are enjoying the learning process.  Saturday's visit to "Honeybee Lane" was quite successful.  Hubby and I didn't seem to aggravate the little ladies too much and neither of us were stung!

Duct taped shoes is especially important for those pesky ladies that like to crawl up pants legs!

This is me removing the top of the hive....I know....bee suits are not the most flattering attire!

After removing the top of the hive, Hubby removed the medium honey super and the top brood chamber and placed them on a piece of plywood.  This allowed us to go through the bottom brood chamber first.  
 Just look at that proper lifting technique!  That brood chamber was heavy!

This is the bottom brood chamber.  You can see the top super, and brood chamber there in the left of the picture.  Here Hubby is cleaning up the top of the frames, removing extra comb.

This is me removing a frame from the bottom brood chamber for inspection.

Lots of healthy ladies!

 Up close, you can see the pollen attached to some of the bee's legs!

This frame had some damaged foundation so it was replaced...
  You can see the new frame among the older ones, the ladies will be happy about that!  New foundation always get's the bees excited and busy building new comb!

After we inspected all of the frames in the bottom brood chamber we dusted the entire chamber with a cup of powdered sugar.  This is a non-chemical method of measuring and controlling varroa mites on the bees.  The theory is that if you dust the bees with the sugar, not only do the mites fall off, but the bees also groom each other to get the sugar, in turn helping clean off more mites. 
After dusting the bees, we placed a grid under the hive to measure the number of mites.

Next we went through all of the frames in the top brood chamber.  As we inspected the frames we placed them into a chamber box.  This rotation of boxes helps to preserve the boxes and makes them easier to clean each year.  
 Lots of bees in this hive body.  This is where we found evidence of the queen, newly laid eggs, and lots of uniform, healthy looking brood.  There were also a few frames of honey.
 After inspecting these frames and placing them in the new box, we dusted this box with sugar as well.  Then we went through the honey super to evaluate the food storage.  Looks like our bees still have at least 20lb or more of honey stored in their hive!  

Here is a frame from the honey super, this one is almost completely full of honey!  This tells us our bees should have enough food to get through the remainder of the winter and early Spring, which is essential this time of year.  Many bees die of starvation in the late winter.  We will continue to evaluate their food storage and feed them if they begin to run low on food before the nectar flow. 

By far this was the most exciting experience with our bees.  They were calm and our intrusions seem to have caused minimal upset in their hive.  I have a few videos as well that I hope to post soon.    In the next month we will add new honey supers for our own honey collection!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Honey Collecting Princess Nymph

I just learned an interesting factoid about my name.  I have always known that my name "Melissa" means "honey or bee" but I guess I had not thought about the connection lately.  My parent's would have never guessed that the sweet honeybee of a baby (that was me in case you were wondering) they named Melissa would have lived up to her name!

I was reading about what my name meant for no reason in particular, I was just bored and I came across the following story about the origin of my name..

Melissa was a Cretan princess who discovered honey and taught the uses for honey.  Some stories say she then turned into a bee herself.  She was often referred to in Greek Mythology as a nymph.  She was a nurse to Zeus but instead of feeding the babe milk, she fed him honey.  It has also been said that the bees brought the honey straight to the babe's mouth.  

It is believed that because of this that all of the nymphs who cared for Zeus as a babe were referred to as Melissai.  It is also believed that this is the origin of the honeybee scientific name....Mellifera.

So considering that tomorrow I will be up to my bonnet in honeybees while Hubby and I work the hive and later this summer I suspect I will be up to my elbows in honey, I would have to say that my parents picked the perfect name!

Anyone need a honey collecting princess nymph?  I know where you can find one!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Garden Limbo

I've been a horrible blogger lately.  I know you have all been holding your breath in anticipation for my next post......right?.....

Alas, I have not fallen off the face of the planet...I've been a horrible blogger lately.  I know you have all been holding your breath in anticipation for my next post......right?.....I have just been a little bored and I wanted to spare you the pain of reading about my boring life at the moment.  We are in that downtime of late winter/early spring around here.  Late enough in winter to start thinking about the Spring but not warm enough to start really planting and preparing for the Spring growing season any more than we already have.  There is a little work to do (late winter garden, preparing the soil, etc) but not enough to keep me busy!  So I continue to float along in garden limbo for a few more weeks!

In other exciting news, I am working on my 3rd growth chart.  This is my first one for a little boy and I am so excited to get it completed.  I think it will be just darling and boyish all at the same time. 

This weekend hubby and I are getting into the bee hive and doing our Spring maintenance in preparation for the nectar flow.  I am hoping to get some pictures and video of the process . So keep your eyes peeled for that next week!  

In the meantime, here is a picture of one of my crazy chickens drinking out of the dog's water bucket and generally making themselves at home, anywhere they please! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Can you guess...

...what this is going to be?

How about this?

Here's another hint...

And another...

Still need another hint?  I've been busy as a BEE putting these together....

You guessed it!  It's our new honey supers and frames/foundations for our bee hive!
You guys are so smart!

The nectar flow is coming soon, so we are preparing to add extra honey supers to our hive.  The bees made it through the winter and are going strong and loving these warm days!  Our existing hive is blue and I painted the honey supers yellow to add some pizazz to our hive! (But, clumsy me, I dropped my camera before I could get a picture of the finished boxes...RIP my poor little camera!)  This year we hope to collect honey from our bees so stay tuned for this will be a bzzzzy summer!