Tansley Farm: Part 1 – The Book of Reckoning

I’ve spent the past two weeks adapting to the rhythm of life here at Tansley Farm, embedding the daily tasks I’ll be responsible for when the family leaves this weekend. (The word quotidian comes to mind, because it’s a Very Good Word, but I’m afraid it’s too often used to mean common, or ordinary.)

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Tansley Farm: Part 0.5

Good lord, I’ve been here over a week, uploaded photos and videos, and have yet to actually post anything. Based on the numbering of this post, feel free to assume this won’t be a proper entry, either.

Just wanted to say I’m alive, and terrifically busy, and enjoying every bit of it. Big posts to come soon, including the final summary of Villa Marti, as well as a discussion of what I’ve been up to. I’ve also been sketching out an explanation of just what my goals are, with this whole taking-off-to-explore thing.

Lots going on, really, and I’ve gotta get up early to milk a goat and take care of animals before going bottle cider. So many good things happening!

The Harvest: Day One

On the first day I attempted a honey harvest (before my lovely extractor came in), I removed the freshest frame from the Blues, on which they’d only built out one side’s worth of honey. My roommate helped me fashion a fairly primitive method of extraction, and we made a mess, but the results were delicious and we had a great time!

For reference, this is what an empty frame looks like:


Here’s the bare beginnings on the reverse side of the the frame I harvested:

IMG_20140727_125330_388  IMG_20140727_125430_769

Here’s the side to be harvested:


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Apologies for slacking here.

At least I’ve been on-point with the bees. About to go open them up, in fact, and just ordered another shallow box for each of them, exclusively for pollen/honey storage. (Mann Lake Ltd., of course.) Got a second queen excluder to that purpose, as well as some all-natural hive beetle traps to address the problem I noted last time I opened up.

The weather’s gotten much hotter, so I’m trying to decide what, if anything, I need to do about the water situation. The area of the backyard they’re in is prone to mosquitoes, so I really can’t have standing water about. There are nearby neighborhood lakes, though, practically across the street in their flight pattern, so that may be sufficient– in addition to whatever water’s spawning these mosquitoes, though that can’t be the freshest for obvious reasons.

The bees have mostly laid off the sugar water; they’d stopped entirely at one point, so I removed the feeders for a few days and washed them out, before the weather got gross and I returned them, for back-up purposes. They’ve been working on the same pound (each) for a few days now, will probably replace them tomorrow just to see. The neighborhood trees are blooming, though, and so are the red-and-yellow flowers by the roadsides, and more.

Going to start with the Silvers today, since I tend to give them less time. Will be quick about it, though– both hives have been doing spectacularly (from an outsider’s perspective). Every day I’m out there watching them arrive with more lovely loads of pollen and all. I’m not going to inspect the bottom boxes; I want to spend as little time in there as possible today, and figure I’ll get a good read on the situations by seeing what progress they’ve made in the top boxes. As above, so below, and all.

I think I still have another post hanging out in draft stage from a week or so ago. But really, it’s slowed down a bit for me: the hives are established, the flowers are blooming, the bees are happy. Judging by the color and shape of the bees around the entrance, the first batch of bees, from the package, are aging well, and the first sets of brood may be making their way towards the entrance here soon, and starting their first orientation flights. How quickly things move!

Must…Resist…Bee Puns

Just so you know, I am keeping track of all the puns I am resisting putting in this blog. There can be absolutely nothing new under the sun in that regard, so I must stay strong. Those who know me can attest to how difficult I find this.

There was a lovely storm, the first proper one of the season, the Friday before I picked up the bees. This was excellent, as it meant the forecasted 90+ temperatures didn’t manifest, and the air was cool and calm in the aftermath when I was setting them up. Sun breaking through periodically, better through the afternoon– quite a nice day, on the whole.

I just went out for a little while to look at the hives (and take a few more pictures, of course). Won’t be opening them up till Tuesday, but I wanted to make sure there was still a reasonable amount of action, and to check the levels of the feeders. Those guys have been sucking it up! Each jar is nearly two-thirds gone, though the Blues have been running through it a bit faster.


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Orientation Flights

My bees arrived today, and they are safely and (hopefully) successfully decanted into their new homes.

I probably should have started this the day I decided to start beekeeping, February 15th, 2014– the day of my beekeeping class, courtesy of Round Rock Honey (and a spectacular birthday gift from a friend). However, I was too busy reading and watching videos and buying supplies to think about documenting the experience, so here I am. A new suburban beekeeper, on day one of having the bees home.

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