Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Missing K-Dog

Today Hubby and I were driving home from a wonderful weekend of kayak fishing with his parents on the coast of NC.  Those of you who live in NC or are familiar with Hwy 40, east of Raleigh, know that this stretch of road consists of little more than open road and endless farmland.  Heading to the coast offers anticipation of arriving at the beach, but not much more in the form of visual stimulation.  The most exciting moments are when you get to joke about which of you is guilty of that awful smell that lingers in your car round about Clinton, NC where hog and turkey houses dapple the fields on either side of the otherwise desolite road.  Now, of course being a farm type of girl, I love the scenery and the quiteness of it all.

Most folks traveling down Hwy 40 East would never notice the exit for Magnolia, NC.  A small hog town somewhere along about the time you start wondering when the openness will end and when the heck are you getting to the beach.  For most people, Magnolia is nothing more than a blip on the Eastern NC map.  But for me, Magnolia is special.  Magnolia is where I found the type of unconditional love and companionship I never knew could exist.  Magnolia was where I found my precious baby girl Kyra.
 Kyra about a week after bringing her home

For the last 12 years, whenever I pass the exit to Magnolia, NC, I would exclaim to anyone willing to listen..."that's the town where I got Kyra.  She was just a 12 week old pup living on a hog farm, so cute and cuddly.  She rode home all the way back to Raleigh in my lap."  Passing that town has always triggered the memories I have of Kyra as a cute chubby pup.

This weekend, passing that little town conjured a reaction I would have never suspected.  Riding along, I happened to look up just as we passed the sign for first thought was as always..."aww that's where I got Kyra"...within moments my eyes teared up and I was a blubbering mess. 

Most of you know that I lost Kyra earlier this year after 12 years of companionship.  This was the very first time since the few days after her death that I really felt that loss.  Sure, I have missed her and have had occassional flash backs of the "good ol' days", but I guess it just hadn't really hit me yet that she was gone.  Seeing that sign made me miss her terribly.  It reminded me that when I got home that afternoon, she wouldn't be there to great me happily and then shun me for leaving her for so long (she was good at pouting)!

I thought I had dealt with losing Kyra.  I thought I had moved on and had nothing left but the happy memories.  But loss is sneaky, stirring up emotions when you least expect them.  Man, I miss my baby girl.  I mean who couldn't fall hopelessly in love with such a spirited and soulful pup?

 Luckily when I got home I still had a wagging tail and happy grin to meet me and even though no other pup could ever fill the space in my heart occupied by Kyra, this one has his own special place too!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The buzzness of bees

We tend to have a very minimalistic, hands-off approach to managing our bee colony.  We check them often enough to make sure they are doing their thing and to manage any pests or disease we may find.  Last year we did not collect honey because we wanted to leave the majority of it for the colony to make it through their first winter.  So this year, Hubby was really looking forward to collecting some honey from our girls.  

You may remember that back in the Spring we had a little trouble with replacing our queen.  We finally had an active queen but by the time she was "large and in charge" our colony had dwindled to quite a low number.  Because of this, we were not sure if we would have a strong colony to make enough honey for collecting.  Our thought process is, we only collect honey if the bees have stored enough for themselves to make it through the winter, that way we just get whatever is extra. 

A few weeks ago we noticed the bees were not as active and we suspected an issue with the colony.  When Hubby went into the hive, he found lower numbers, but also saw evidence of an active queen and a healthy looking hive.  

This weekend, Hubby decided to visit the hive to see if we had any honey to harvest before winter.  What he found was quite a different story from a few weeks ago.  The bees had set up shop in only one of our two hive bodies and the other hive body had been completely destroyed by wax moths (go here to learn more about these destructive insects).  Most colonies can fend off these nasty bugs but ours, dwindling in size, were unable to protect their entire hive.  

In hindsight, this was partially our fault for not reducing the size of the hive when the colony dwindled....but this has been a learning process for us and we try to be the least invasive when managing our hive.  

Hubby removed the damaged hive body (sorry no pictures...but you can go here to get an idea of what we saw) and cleaned up the frames.  There is still a honey super on the hive but we decided to leave this for the bees to eat during the winter.  So not a lot of extra honey for us (sniff, sniff)

However, we did get one frame of good honey, which yielded a nice amber colored jar of sweet goodness!  

 That's the honey super in the background.

Now for our other dilemma.  The remaining honey super we removed from the hive had a few partially filled frames of honey.  We wanted to "return" this honey to the bees and the only way to do this was to have them find the frames and collect the honey themselves.  

We placed the extra honey super on the porch (so we could see what happened but also to keep other insects off the honey).  It took our girls a few days to find the honey...but today they did!  Over a 10 minute time span the number of bees on the frame went from 1 to at least 40 coming and going.  What an amazing activity to watch!  
 The first few to find the frame
 Look closely and you can actually see their proboscis (straw-like mouth part) sucking the honey out of the comb.

Good to the last drop!
The same frame after 10 minutes.  The picture didn't pick up the 20 or so bees that were flying around the frame (and my head!)
Of course, Waylon (our bee-fearing pup) was not so happy that the bees are buzzing around his favorite lounging spot!