Wax and Comb

Beekeeping 2458Went out this afternoon to see if my strategy of coating the plastic frames with beeswax would encourage the girls to build them out with comb. Mixed results. It definitely worked in the sense that they have started to build up comb in the areas that I spread wax (I was a bit uneven in my application, and their comb building is similarly mottled), but they didn’t build sufficiently to fill with honey (see the photo to the right). Ah well, must be too late in the season for them. I’ve got what I’ve got and that’s what I’ve got. A good year, still.

On another note, Michelle and I took our niece Lauren out to Restaurant Zoe in Belltown tonight and had the most amazing meal. Our friend Nathan is a server there, and his knowledge and love for food and wine is vast and bottomless, so we pushed aside the menus and put ourselves into his able hands for the evening. I’m not a foodie, so I can’t tell you about the braised this and heirloom thats with a classic reduction of whosawhatsa like he can, but I can tell you that the Stilton cheese with honeycomb at the end was absolutely, brainmeltingly good. Highly recommend. For reals.

That’s it for me for a little while. Off to Burning Man tomorrow morning. Owoo!

Lord, I was born a travelin’ man

spainIt’s all official. After 11 years at Microsoft, I’ll be taking a little break and heading out on an extended vacation before joining up with a smaller company or startin’ my own gig.

My little break will involve traveling about Europe from October through December with Michelle, where we’ll be poking our heads in here and there and seeing what kind of trouble we can get into. We plan to stay at least a month in Barcelona, and hope to spend a bit of time Portugal, Morocco and France as well. If there happen to be any beekeepers in those necks of the woods who wouldn’t mind giving us a tour of their apiary, we’d love to see how things work on the other side of the pond. Oh heck, any kind souls of any kind, beekeeping or otherwise.

And Michelle has just informed me that if there are any beekeepers or other kind souls reading this in Europe, they may  be unfamiliar with the idiom “neck of the woods”. It means…over there. I guess.

Beeswax and Banana Bread

Beekeeping 2454Bad news on the beeswax front: I checked both hives tonight, and no new drawing of comb in either hive. I realized, though, that I can’t blame it entirely (or perhaps at all) on the plastic frames, because Hive 1 actually has wax frames. It’s only Hive 2 that has the plastic. So it sounds more likely that as an anonymous commenter noted, it’s just more difficult to get the bees to draw new comb in late summer.

On the off chance that it was the plastic that was holding Hive 2 (the more active of the pair) back, I tried Treeplanter‘s suggestion that I coat the plastic frame in wax the same way I did my wax sculptures. I melted down some beeswax (right) and wiped it onto the plastic, then put the frames back in the hive. I also tried leaving a frame out, in the hopes that they might build into the lacuna as they did around the sculptures.

On another note, the gift economy paid off tonight, as Lance, the person I gave my honey to for his allergies, stopped by with a fresh loaf of chocolate banana bread. Yum!

Flesh Eating Bacteria

The girls have been very hot recently. I wanted to take a quick peek in to see how they were adapting to the new frames I gave them, so I just barely cracked the lid of Hive 2 and two of the girls launched themselves straight at me, stingers first. I wasn’t wearing any gear (I was just taking a peek!) and got stung on my chest and arm. Ouch!

Really, though, I had it easy compared to Michelle. The next day, she’s washing up in our in our lovely outdoor garden shower, not doing nothing to bother nobody, when she gets stung, too, right on her pupic (that’s Yiddish for stomach, don’t always think so dirty). I didn’t think much of it, after all, I had just been stung twice the day before, and laughed it off, so when she called me later in the day to say it had swollen up like a pancake, I figured she was just being a hypochondriac. “You’re not allergic to bees, Michelle,” I told her. “There’s nothing you can do about, so just ignore it.”

That would have been the hardest part of the story to tell casket-side.

That evening, we headed down to Pioneer Square for the First Thursday Gallery Walk, where we met up with a group of friends, including our E.R. doctor friend Marcus. Michelle, annoyed no doubt at the deaf ear I was turning to her complaints of painful and itching pupic, showed Marcus the sting.

Have you ever seen pictures of cellulitis? Don’t. It’s really nasty. It’s an infection and swelling of the connective tissue under the skin and it can be caused by bacteria, including the flesh-eating kind, that gets introduced through a puncture wound, like maybe a insect sting.

She totally had it.

Luckily, Marcus had some antibiotics on him and his prescription pad as well, so Michelle’s back on the road to recovery, but for real, the swelling was radiating up her chest and down her leg after only eight hours, and it totally could have killed her.

So, ya know, if you get stung and the swelling spreads, get it checked.

Oh, and sorry Michelle. I’ll believe you next time.

Ginger Ale

Back in early July, I got a recipe for home made ginger ale from my neighbor, Lesli. I finally got to try it out, and it’s absolutely delicious. I made two bottles, one as described in the original recipe, and one substituting honey for sugar (this site recommends using 7/8ths cup honey in place of 1 cup sugar, as honey is a bit sweeter than cane sugar. I used about 3/4 of a cup of honey.)


House 005There was one, teeny, tiny problem, however. The ginger ale got very, very carbonated, and I grew a little impatient cracking the cap, letting a bit of air out, then quickly resealing it before it fizzed over. I thought to myself, “hey, what’s a little fizz over between friends,” so I carried it over to the sink and opened it all the way.

Big mistake.

Have you seen that awesome video of the guys playing with Diet Coke and Mentos? OK, well it was like that, except in my kitchen instead of outside, I wasn’t wearing goggles, and there was shredded ginger in it.

Michelle and I had a nice chuckle, then spent the next half hour or so mopping the ceiling.

And drinking honey ginger ale.

Plastic Follow Up

Lots of good comments in response to yesterday’s post on plastics, thank you all!

Quick round-up:

  • Plastic is evil: So I’m learning.
  • Bees often don’t draw new comb in late summer: I don’t much feel like working August, either, so I can’t see as how I blame them.
  • I didn’t pop the communication holes out: Take a look at the picture from yesterday’s post and you’ll notice the bees have made holes in the corner of the wax frames they use as hallways. They can’t chew the plastic away so I need to do this by hand for the plastic frames.

I think Treeplanter is right that my plastic frames weren’t wax coated, so if I get a chance to go in over the weekend and they still haven’t started to draw the plastic, I’ll try painting some melted beeswax on the way I did the bee-collaborative sculptures and see if that helps. I just hate the idea of losing a month’s worth of productivity out of them!