Hats Off …

… to Mom for finally giving therapy her best effort. She’s been walking further each day — using a walker (obviously) and with a lot of help getting up, but she’s making progress. Her doctor put her on Memantine for her dementia, and she seems (slightly) less confused, which I think helps. She also “self-propelled” her wheelchair all the way down a hall to lunch a few days ago. The goal is to get her strong enough to transfer from bed to chair/toilet with only the help of an aide. Reaching the point where she can get up by herself and walk with the walker would be a huge accomplishment, but may prove beyond her ability. Still, it is so wonderful to see her moving again. As my brother said, “I thought she was going to stay in a chair forever.”

… to our hives. We’ve realized we left our honey supers on too long because none of the six had as much honey as we’d like to see going into winter. Most of what they’d made was in the honey supers, although in our defense, the queens were laying so many eggs, many of the deep frames were filled with brood from May on! At one point, we had to borrow ten deep frames of honey to keep various hives from getting too crowded (to try to prevent swarming), so we had that to give back to them.

Also, we have a lot of goldenrod, and they were bringing it in (you can tell by the smell), so we left the boxes on for that. Since the Yellow Jackets were always present, trying to rob, we were reluctant to really open the hives and check things out. Once the goldenrod ended and the nasty yellow things calmed down, we went through them all. What we saw made us immediately start feeding thick syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar with some Honey B Healthy to stimulate their appetites).

Some of the hives responded by draining the jars. Others were a bit slower. And we discovered a ton of dead bees on the pull-out part of the bottom board I’d won. It was a different design than the others we have — kind of like a metal tray. I can’t say I recommend it. They seemed to be get stuck between the board and the bottom screen of the hive. Unable to reach food, they died.

Below is a diagram from https://bee-health.extension.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Parts-std-hive2.jpg, The bit that’s pulled out on the bottom board is what I’m talking about.

Because we saw the mother (queen), and she was still laying, we decided to feed them along with the rest, and hope for the best. Unfortunately, the next time we checked, the population remained small. Ultimately, we chose to move them into a nuc box, which would be easier for them to defend.

Another option would have been to kill the queen and try to combine the hive’s population with another hive. Two reasons we didn’t do this are: 1) We’d have had to find her again, and 2) If the problem is something more than the bees just getting caught downstairs, we wouldn’t want to spread whatever caused the problem to another hive.

Still, I’ll be very surprised if they last through the cold weather, which makes me sad.

This week, we’ve been taking the final steps to winterize. To our surprise, those hardworking sisters were still bringing in pollen! Yesterday and the day before, it was only a few bees, but today there were lots coming in just loaded down with orange protein!

The nights have gotten too cold for them to take liquid food, so the jars came off. In their places, we added supers filled with the honey we’d been saving, topped with either sugar bricks or newspaper with sugar spread over it.

The latter is called “mountain camp feeding,” and is a method we haven’t used before. The sugar is supposed to offer the added advantage of absorbing some of the moisture in the hive.

Moisture in a hive is a very bad thing for a variety of reasons. Go here, if you want to learn more about the havoc it can wreak.

Most people use sugar bricks, fondant or the mountain camp method in late winter or early spring, but I’m paranoid about the prospect of them running out of food, especially when it’s extremely cold and we’d be reluctant to open the lid.

Today, we wrapped and covered. In the past, we’ve used a variety of methods to keep our girls warm and dry. In the picture below, you see hive wraps, hive cozies, and some insulated boxes The Engineer made.

The grey and pink covers are foam insulation, the two outer hives on the right stand have bee cozies that just slip on, and the two hives in the middle of the stands are wrapped. I see they now make the wraps with velcro, which ours don’t have. In the past, we’ve used tape and rope to keep them on, but this year, we’re just using tape.

Prior to starting the whole winterizing procedure, we treated them one more time for Varroa.

All that remains now is to cross our fingers and hope … and tend to the woodenware. The Engineer spent a good hour or two scraping propolis today so we’ll be ready when spring comes, and the photo below is his.

If you don’t keep bees, you may not realize what a job this is, but he’d much rather do that then think about Christmas gifts and cards, which was on my schedule.

Division of labor — that’s what it’s all about!

Last of all, hats off to me, only this time I mean it literally.

I got my hair cut recently, which means the beautiful knit wool headbands my friend Lynne made me aren’t always enough to keep the heat in now, and I decided to crochet myself a beanie from a pattern I’d used before. (Thank you, Lynne, I do still wear them, just need something with more coverage for those very cold mornings!)

Because I have plenty of scrap yarn (both donated — again, thank you, Lynne — and bought at thrift stores), I decided to use what I had.

I’m not very good at the whole “gauge” concept, and if you knit or crochet, you can guess what happened next. I ended up “adjusting” the pattern to what I thought would fit me with varying results.

Like the Three Bears, the first was too big.

The second wasn’t quite right either.

So, I made another, which turned out fairly good, but the color was wrong for my coat. I may give it as a gift, so I’m not showing it here.

The next one was made from velour yarn and looked like a tea cosy. It’s been repurposed as such.

But, finally, finally(!) I made one that works. Matches purple coat — check. Fits my head and does not look like a tea cosy — check and check.

I would have modeled it for you, but today was a no-makeup day, and sadly I’m too vain.

If you’d like to try your hand at a tea cosy, I mean beanie, you can find the pattern here. It really is pretty easy, even if you have to adjust for different yarns and head sizes.

And on the plus side, our local thrift store is getting two hats out of my venture as well. 🙂

P.S. I apologize for neglecting to post in the last weeks. I could offer many excuses including the fact that we took a little trip to Kentucky and Tennessee. Mostly though it’s just trying to get into a new normal that involves working around my more frequent and longer visits with Mom. I feel we’ve dodged the bullet this time, but I know the gun is still out there in our future, loaded and waiting. And yes, I do realize this is a dark image. I’m using it anyway because it’s accurate.

Q. What Have I Got to Complain About?

Nothing, that’s what.

I had a frustrating day yesterday –five hours with Delta online and phone trying to straighten out a change they made in our flights. During the last hour of it, as I was talking to the agent or on hold, Mom called me eight times and left five messages.

It’s become clear the anesthesia has sent her reeling into dementia.

But this morning, after I went to see her, I saw two women who had clearly come to visit someone. One of them was developmentally disabled, and the other used a cane, but probably really needed a walker.

I felt ashamed of myself. What right did/do I have to feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way when there are people in the world whose every action requires just that extra bit of effort?

Sometimes I just need to get over myself and remember that whatever I’m dealing with, someone else is struggling with something far worse.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

That’s all — just in case someone else needed a reminder too.