The North Wind Did Blow

The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then?
Poor thing.

She’ll sit in the barn,
And keep herself warm,
And hide her head under her wing.
Poor thing.

When my friend and I went for our morning walk Tuesday, I took photos. The flowering trees were just coming into full bloom, and I wanted to document their loveliness because I knew what was coming.

Wednesday, I woke up to this.

View from our back door. I’d say that was at least 6″ of snow, wouldn’t you?
This is a flowering tree (crab apple, I think). Not a large bush, a tree with its limbs bent over by heavy spring snow.
Yep. Those are flowers from that same tree.

That night, it got down into the lower 30s or upper 20s. By then, I didn’t want to know the details.

This, amazingly, is that same tree this morning, still blooming over the compost heap.

On Tuesday, it’s supposed to hit 83 F.

My point is it’s been a week of extremes. Coming immediately after we learned our new hive, GeeBees, had no queen, this is not the best scenario.

If you recall, we put in jars of sugar water with Honey B Healthy Amino-B Booster to encourage them to make a new queen from the frame of eggs we’d stolen from OH Girls.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me that sugar patties might have served them better since bees don’t usually like to drink sugar water during cold weather.

Today we had a quick look at the levels of the jars of food and discovered they had consumed very little, if any. We’ve always read/heard it’s best to leave hives alone when they are (hopefully) in the delicate business of making a queen, so we didn’t look any further, just gave them fresh jars and closed the hive.

Once again, we are left sitting on our hands (with fingers crossed) and waiting.

The good news is their workers are foraging and bringing in pollen. They have fewer bees, so it’s not surprising they have fewer foragers than OH Girls, but at least they’re doing what bees are meant to do in the spring.

OH Girls, on the other hand, are thriving to the extent that we expect to have to split the hive soon. We saw Her Royal Blueness, and she’s clearly keeping busy because there were many frames of capped brood and larvae. It was cloudy, making it difficult to tell if there were eggs, but there was one frame with tiny larvae — not much past the egg stage.

So far, they’ve only made a few queen cups and not queen cells. With so much brood however, we expect to see those peanut-shaped cells when we do our next check, especially because schedule conflicts will push it back to a few weeks from now, rather than the usual seven to ten days.

One advantage to the delay is we’ll also be able to have a more complete check of GeeBees to see if they have requeened. If not, we will move a few queen cells from OH Girls (if they’ve made any).

We’ll probably still have to do a split because moving a frame with queen cells won’t do anything about the bees feeling crowded.

If OH Girls haven’t made queen cells, and GeeBees haven’t made a queen, we’ll have to buy one and go through the whole introduction thing again.

OH Girls have begun to load frames in the classic football or rainbow shape, with brood in the middle, surrounded by pollen, nectar, and honey, which is something we like to see.

Why do we like to see this? Probably because we’ve heard they should do it. Plus, it demonstrates a certain kind of logic — putting food for the brood near the cells where it will be needed.

This article on checking a hive has a good photo at the bottom that demonstrates what I mean.

I took just one picture — this little worker with her small load of pollen. I tried to get one of her sisters, who was loaded with bright orange pollen. Too bad she was not in the mood for the paparazzi and flew away. 🙂

In other news, I got my first vaccine yesterday at a drive-up location. I was worried because having had COVID makes you more likely to have side effects, and one of my co-workers who had the illness last spring(!) was laid up for days.

Imagine then, the smugness of my smile when I woke up today with only a sore arm.

Then The Engineer (who got his second shot yesterday) mentioned how cold it was in the house and that he had a “sinus” headache.

“It’s side effects from the vaccine,” I said, smug smile growing wider.

Yeah. You know what’s coming. Within a half hour, I began to feel chilled, with the onset of a headache.

It’s not unbearable, but we’re both going to take it easy the rest of the day and save planting my fruit bushes until tomorrow.

Also, I feel compelled to tell you about a man who came into the grocery store where I work. I asked if he needed help, not even noticing he didn’t have on a mask until my co-worker pointed it out.

Assuming he’d forgotten his, I got the box of them we keep for such circumstances. When I came back, he was nowhere to be found, and my co-workers told me he’d already been asked to put on a mask.

He pulled one out of his pocket and made some comment about someone already “telling on him.”

I felt like saying, “What are we? Five?”

Having worked a somewhat physical job for over a year wearing a mask to protect myself and others, I must admit I’m finding it difficult to be patient with people with such attitudes.

Must sign off now. I can feel a rant coming on, and I don’t want to get too political.

So, let’s just focus on the bees, shall we?

Bee Update: Fingers Still Crossed

It’s always a great day when you see the queen, but seeing her after months of snow and freezing temperatures … well, celebrations are in order.

We hit the upper 60s today, and finally the snow in our yard has completely melted. More importantly, it was warm enough to do a proper hive inspection which gave us the chance to spot Her Blueness.

If you look closely, you can see her blue marking has begun to wear, but she’s still lively, busily scurrying around laying eggs.

The proof is in the capped brood.

Also, I think I may have spotted larvae.

The Engineer is more dubious. It’s hard to be sure because it was on frames with yellow foundation.

When we started beekeeping, we were told black foundation was better because it’s easier to spot tiny white eggs against a dark background. This is true, and we generally stick to black. We ended up with few yellow frames only because my co-beekeeper was going past a bee supply place on his way home from a work trip. We needed frames. They had yellow. So here we are, trying to decide if I was seeing larvae or the yellow foundation at the bottom of the cell.

What do you think?
Sorry, this one is quite blurry.
For comparison, here are some cells at the bottom of a frame that definitely do NOT have larvae.

It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? So let’s take a closer look at those queen pictures. Look inside the highlighted circles.

Yup. That’s definitely larvae.

This doesn’t mean we’re in the clear, however. March is notoriously hard on bees in this area of the country, with little to no food available except for what they’ve stored.

Still, we will keep our fingers crossed and try to do everything right, including a second treatment of Oxalic acid tomorrow. We also put in some fresh pollen and sugar patties, as well as freshly baited beetle traps (because Hive Beetles LOVE pollen patties). The pollen patties will provide the protein needed for larvae, and sugar patties are backup carbs.

You can count on further updates.

But you don’t have to read them. 😉

In the meantime, I’ll be celebrating with a nice cuppa P.G.Tips.

California Girl Photographic Update

Slo-mo – the filming, not the bees 🐝
Sugar patties = back-up food
Bees on the bottom of the inner cover (propped on the ground amongst the pistachio shell “mulch”)

We treated our one surviving hive with Oxalic acid Sunday and will repeat several times in the next weeks to try to ensure they go into spring with a low number of Varroa Mites. I peeked in again today to give them some pollen patties to tide them over until the weather and flowering plants allow for foraging.

Still keeping our fingers crossed they’ll stay viable. We also placed an order for a new package of bees for a second hive.

Perhaps you’d like to cross your fingers too?

Two Out of Three … Not Good

Beekeepers both welcome and dread early spring in equal measure. We are happy to again hear the birds sing and see the snow begin to melt, but spring for us brings a measure of apprehension as we search for proof our bees survived the winter.

It has been a long, cold, snowy one, making it impossible to treat, add food to, or peek at the hives.

Each morning, there’s been a sprinkling of dead bees outside California Girls (aka “The Pink Palace”), which I’ve taken as a good sign because it meant there were still living bees inside.

Of course, it could have just meant they were warmer due to the insulation and so decided to go flying in less than suitable weather, dying in the process.

Outside Buzzers’ Roost and NewBees, there were none.

Here’s a picture of them from my post on 20 November. The view hasn’t changed much these last few months — until today when the temperature rose to nearly 50 F, and the snow began to melt.

This doesn’t mean spring is here or there will be no more snow; it merely means spring is coming … eventually.

More importantly, it meant I could finally check under the hoods of all three hives. It still wasn’t warm enough to do an in-depth inspection, but I was able to take a quick look.

I started with Cali Girls because we knew the hive still had bees, and I wanted to be sure they had food. Also, I wanted to give them some Super DFM probiotics.

Honey bees sometimes suffer from dysentery (diarrhea), especially after a long winter, and I think the probiotics help keep the problem from becoming something more.

Judging by my brief inspection, they seemed to be doing well. I gave them more food and sprinkled on the Super DFM. No picture though. Some were disturbed enough that they began to fly, and I was afraid they’d end up dead in the snow.

Sadly, my judgment about the other two hives proved correct. There was no activity I could see. It’s possible I missed something, but generally when you open a hive in cool weather, at least a few bees will come out to see what’s going on.

Once again, we are entering spring with one hive still living. Once again, it is the Pink Palace. We are hoping that it’s not once again a hive that dies in March.

There is one difference, however, that may work in this hive’s favor. Last year, the Pink Palace was a nucleus hive, split from one of our others, which means it started with a smaller population than this year’s Pink Palace. It struggled into March, but died before its population was replenished.

You never really know what will happen. March is a tough month for bees because the hive begins to repopulate, but there’s not much pollen or nectar available. But the two hives that didn’t survive this winter started with more bees than Cali Girls/Pink Palace.

My thinking is we should probably order another nuc or package while continuing to monitor California Girls. That way, we have at least one hive (hopefully two) this summer. But The Engineer and I will have to Discuss.

To balance out this depressing news, I’m sharing my latest scrap-happy afghan. I like the way its mix of colors and texture resembles a crazy quilt.

Closeup
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Cross your fingers that California Girls will live through spring to become Ohio Girls this summer.

Prepping the Girls for Winter

It’s a common misconception that all bees hibernate in winter. I can’t speak for all species, but honey bees do not, although they become much less active. (See link for a description of their winter habits.

This will be our fourth winter as beekeepers, and every year we’ve changed up our winterizing process, trying to find the perfect tactic for our area.

The first year, we wrapped our sole hive with a “Vinyl Coated Hive Wrap” from Better Bee. They survived the winter, so the next year, we did something similar, sliding a piece of foam insulation between the hives to create a common wall for better insulation, and wrapping them together. (You can see the foam insulation, reused this year, in the above photo.)

The Engineer also created a shelter to keep them dry, which I mentally dubbed “La Hacienda de la Apis Mellifera.”

They survived again, so we repeated the process in 2019. This time, however, we had a nuc from a successful split we were trying to overwinter.

To accomodate them, The Engineer built the “Pink Palace,” basically a smaller version of the foam structure above.

All three hives perished, though the Pink Palace survived the longest. Our Bee Inspector said it was likely due to the effects of Varroa, but we treat for the mites regularly, so I’m not sure I agree (although he certainly is a more experienced beekeeper, so maybe I just don’t want to admit we didn’t protect them enough).

Still, we rallied and began again in spring with an Ohio-bred nucleus hive and an over-wintered queen, as well as a package of Saskatraz bees shipped from California.

Both hives thrived, which meant splitting them to prevent swarming. One split (the one from Buzzers’ Roost II, the Ohio hive) “took,” creating their own queen, but the other never managed to make new royalty. We ended up combining them with NewBees (the split from Buzzers’).

So going into winter, we have three full-size hives.

Just before COVID became an issue, we attended the Ohio State Beekeepers’ conference (where once again we learned how little we know about beekeeping) and bought a quilt box.

This is basically a wood box (and there are many many designs available to build or buy), which is then filled with some kind of moisture-absorbing material. Wood shavings are a favorite, but I’ve also heard of people using crumpled newspaper.

Here’s a picture of our quilt box (taken from the side), which we’ve put on Buzzers’ Roost (II). Note the holes covered with screen to allow for ventilation.

Here’s a peek inside.

The Engineer repurposed the original Pink Palace to fit California Girls, so they have no outer cover, instead being surrounded by an igloo of insulating foam.

The NewBees setup is similar to past years, with a wrap, the inner cover, and foam insulation cut to size between the inner and outer covers.

Buzzers’ doesn’t need the foam because they have the quilt box.

We’ve done away with the Hacienda this year, though Buzzers’ and NewBees each have newly shaped metal overhangs (courtesy of The Engineer and his workshop) to help keep rain or snow melt from forming puddles on their front porch.

And here they are, all set for winter.

The forecast is for 8″-12″ of snow over the next 36 hours, which actually means the bees are probably better prepared than we are. 🙂

Addendum: One day later, the words “nick” and “time” come to mind.

Girls vs Boys

It’s girls vs boys in all three hives.

The girls (workers) are winning, of course, partly because they far outnumber the boys (drones).

Plus workers have stingers. Drones do not. 

I like to think it’s also partly payback for the drones enjoying a long hot summer of laziness while their sisters slaved.

Drones exist solely to mate with queens. Not all manage this feat which may or may not be a good thing since mating breaks a drone in half, bringing his life to a quick — but I’d like to think exciting — end. 

If the drone doesn’t find his queen, he spends his life begging food and toddling around the hive getting in the way of his sisters.

Those sisters, meanwhile, are in the process of working themselves to death. Not only do they look after their bumbling brothers, they clean the hive, feed and raise the young, make honey, feed and tend the queen, produce and shape wax into comb, guard the hive, and forage for food.

When workers can no longer work, they fly away — often with wings so tattered they barely function — to spare their sisters the labor of dragging out their dead body. 

That’s assuming they aren’t first eaten by a bird, killed by a yellow jacket or poisoned by pesticides.

Even the queen’s life is constant labor — laying up to 2,000 eggs a day leaves little time for rest.  

Still, the drones who didn’t mate get their comeuppance in the fall. 

They are superfluous to the needs of a hive, and as the hive prepares for winter, they’re banished. 

In this case, “banished” means being pulled from the hive and dropped on the ground outside, often with their wings chewed off to make sure they cannot return. Worker bees may even pull drone pupae from their cell and push it out the hive entrance. Occasionally, they fly away carrying a full grown drone.

This is an interesting sight since drones are so much bigger than workers. The first time I saw it, I thought, “Why is that bee flying so strangely?” They look as though they can barely maintain lift. 

The worker bee goes back in the hive to continue her work. 
The drone is expected to die.
And so he does. 

After all, he is incapable of work, therefore unable to feed himself. (Seems there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.)

There is no room for sentimentality in a beehive. If a hive is to survive, it must get through winter by living on honey made during the summer. Dead weight must go, and drones certainly fall into that category in the autumn.

Two of our hives had a lot of drones this year, and there’s a good reason they did. 

As usual, it was the fault of the beekeepers.

Remember that pretty comb the bees made earlier this year? The pieces we attached to the frames with rubber bands because we didn’t want to waste their hard work?

The two hives made those entire frames into drone comb. Since they had plenty of worker bees, we decided to leave it go and see what happened. (We’d also been treating for Varroa, so theoretically they shouldn’t have become a Varroa bomb even though Varroa love drone brood.)

What happened was an overabundance of drones resulting in a mass cleanout of them in the last week. 

I didn’t take a picture, but if you want to see what it looks like or read more about it, you can go here or here. Our hives didn’t have quite as many dead as the first link, but we did have larvae similar to the picture. They look kind of like mummified white bees on the ground.

Anyway, we won’t do that again. 

Still, that’s how you learn. In beekeeping, as in many things, the books and classes only take you so far. 

A Quick Overview of Our Beekeeping Adventures and Misadventures:  This year, we started with a nucleus hive with an overwintered Ohio queen, and a package of Saskatraz bees from California. Both did well and started making swarm cells, so we split them.

The split from the Ohio hive was put into a nuc box, and they successfully made a queen.

The split from the California hive was done by separating the two deep boxes, leaving the queen in one, and making sure the other had eggs. After more than a month, there were no signs of a queen.

We combined the two splits, putting a double-layer screen board between them. Ten days later, we removed the screen. The merging of the hives was successful, though there were some dead bees outside (fewer than 100) the morning after we removed the screen.

Today, when we checked, we could see that hive is now flourishing.

In the meantime, when we last looked at the Ohio hive (Buzzers Roost II), it was boiling over with bees and they’d started making swarm cells again.

OOOOOOOHHHH, NOOOOOOO! They can’t swarm now! A swarm this late in the year will never survive because they won’t have winter stores, and the hive they leave behind might also be weakened.

We closed the hive and thought about it, ultimately deciding to make it so they couldn’t swarm. A hive won’t swarm without a queen, so we destroyed the queen cells and put queen excluders both above and below the box with the queen. 

Was this the right thing to do? Will it succeed? Today we removed the second queen excluder, reasoning that it’s getting cold enough that they certainly won’t swarm now. 

Will they? Will they? All my fingers are crossed in the hope that they will not!

California Girls was also doing well when we last checked it (about ten days ago). I can really smell the honey when I walk behind it. 

Tomorrow, we will start Formic Pro treatment for Varroa once more — two strips in each hive for ten days per strip. By the time they come off, the Goldenrod and aster flow will be done, and we’ll begin a heavy feed on all three hives.

At least that’s the plan. 

To tide you over until next time, here’s some pix of our lovely ladies bringing in pollen.

Hive Loss

After treating our hives a few weeks ago, we anxiously waited for a break in the weather to take a peek under the hood.

That break finally came on Tuesday , but the news wasn’t good.

Our plan was to check food stores and give all three hives a dose of probiotics to try to combat any possible side effects of the Oxalic Acid.

We opened Buzzers’ Roost and immediately saw the worst had happened. Though there was plenty of food (cleared away before taking the photo), there was no activity whatsoever.

Not a single living bee in sight, and not many dead.

Dreading what we might find, we opened FreeBees to find a similar sight.

Both hives seemed damp, so I immediately concluded they died from too much moisture. Bees can handle cold better than damp, so this is a possible explanation. “A wet bee is a dead bee,” is a phrase commonly bandied about by more experienced beekeepers.

The Engineer focused on how few bees there were, which reminded me of the number of dead we cleared out last time we were in the hives. Too few bees = not enough warmth because it takes a certain number to generate enough heat to keep the hive warm.*

Either of these could be the cause of the die-off. Or they could be merely a symptom.

The only thing we can rule out is lack of food.

Both hives had honey, which you can see above, as well as sugar patties. (And although the bee above looks like she is alive, she’s not.)

We knew NewBees were still alive, possibly thriving, because they were out flying.

They’ve been out more than the other two hives all winter, but we put that down to the difference in how they were winterized. “The Pink Igloo” has proven to be a simpler, and warmer, winter cover. Because it goes over the hive, with airspace in between, it gives our girls a means of getting outside the hive without having to face winter weather. And that space also allows air circulation to help keep their home drier.

The Pink Palace before its placement outside

Where do we go from here?

The Buzzers’ and FreeBees hives are gone, but we still have NewBees (crossing fingers, wishing hard, praying they make it to spring), plenty of drawn comb, and even some honey and pollen to help build new hives.

When the weather warms, we’ll move FreeBees into one of the empty boxes to begin that process. I’ve ordered a package of Saskatraz bees for the other.

In the meantime, The Engineer and I will take an afternoon to dismantle, clean, and try to autopsy Buzzers’ and FreeBees. If we can get an idea what happened, we can try to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. (On a side note, I think next year going into winter, there will be a row of pink palaces in our yard, rather than one pink and two black-wrapped hives.)

We will also be keeping a watchful eye on NewBees and hoping for a good spring nectar and pollen flow.

*Such disagreements and the resulting discussions are one of the many reasons I’m glad our beekeeping is a team effort. It’s been extremely helpful because although we work well together, we think differently and bring different skills to the job.

The Bird and the Bees

First, the bird (and an apology for the poor picture quality — it was shot through glass).IMG_2578

I was working in the kitchen when I heard the “Whomp!” of a bird hitting the window. Unfortunately, this happens now and then, even where we put fake hawk stickers. I didn’t think too much about it until I glanced out a few minutes later to see this Tufted Titmouse still sitting on our deck looking bemused.

But, as I watched her/him, another Titmouse came up beside and started gently pecking and hovering above the first one as if encouraging it to get up and fly. IMG_2579

The first Titmouse merely sat back up, and blinked.

The second one flew away, and I thought that was the end of it.

However, a few minutes later, several Titmice — yes, that’s the correct plural — appeared. Two hung back and watched as one performed the same ritual: gentle peck, flutter above, push.

The crashed Titmouse’s response was modest, at best.

Once more, the “helper birds” flew away.

But one returned again, clearly determined to get her/his flockmate moving.

IMG_2580S/he shoved the first bird over, pecking, pushing, and fluttering around until finally, finally, they both flew off together.

It was amazing.

It was also quite smart because we have hawks who hunt on our property, occasionally even perching on our deck, probably for a better view of our bird feeders.

 

 

And now, some more good news.IMG_2588

Yes, this is a dandelion, and yes, I saw it Saturday when The Engineer and I went for a hike/walk.

I realize this may not be good news if you are the type of person to nurture an immaculate lawn. Still, that type of lawn requires herbicides, which aren’t good for bees, and if you’re someone who thinks a green lawn is more important than pollination, you’re probably reading the wrong blog anyway.

Suffice to say, dandelions are a major source of food for bees in the spring, so it’s good news for them.

In other bee news, the weekend was warm enough for us to treat the hives with oxalic acid vapor to kill any mites that might be on the bees.

We also scraped the dead bees from the bottom of the hives.

Below, you see two photos made into one, the top of FreeBees with the bees out exploring, and their dead sisters (along with a few brothers) in the picture beneath.3BA5759C-205B-4D5E-AC25-B0F3384F210F

It looks like lot of dead bees, but that’s to be expected. In warmer weather, the dead are less noticeable because they don’t all die inside. If they do, the other bees push them out the front (and occasionally pick them up and fly off to dump the carcasses elsewhere).

The Engineer pored through all the dead bodies and didn’t find any queens. In March 2018, this is how we learned we’d lost the queen of our only hive, so we’re always relieved when she’s not among the dead.

All three hives were active, with bees zooming in and out on cleansing flights. If you aren’t sure what “cleansing flight” means, feel free to check out my post on bee poop. The picture below is a pretty clear illustration of what it looks like.IMG_2586

And although beekeepers lose more hives in March than the winter, it’s still a relief to see them out flying in February.

In the early spring, bees sometimes run out of the food they stored for winter. We’re paranoid about this and feed them sugar patties. These are made from a four pound bag of sugar, about 6 oz of water, and some Honey-B-Healthy. The mixture is shaped into patties on parchment paper and left to dry.

The essential oils in Honey-B-Healthy are said to stimulate feeding. As a bonus, when I make a batch of bee food, the house smells wonderful for days!

The next time it hits 50 F, we’ll place the patties directly on top of the frames and pray it stays warm enough for the bees to reach the food.

Also, since we treated the hives, we’ll feed them some bee probiotics to help keep their guts healthy. It may sound a bit woo-woo, but there’s science to support the idea.

In fact, I think it helped last spring when Buzzers’ Roost’s bees had a touch (spurt?) of diarrhea. This is a scary symptom because it could indicate Nosema (which is truly awful). But, we’re learning. Before panicking, we cleaned out the fouled sugar pats and fed them probiotics. By the next hive check, the problem was gone.

As the weather warms, you’ll probably hear from me more often, but for now, I’d like to encourage you to consider voting for Queen Right Colonies in the FedEx Small Business Grant contest. Queen Right could win a $50,000 grant, and you can help by voting for them. Click on the link, and type “Queen Right” into the search box. You don’t even have to register. Just provide a name and email.

The folks at Queen Right been an invaluable help in our beekeeping adventures, and it would be great to see them get some love (or at least some cash).

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

The Many Children of John Garman

Barbara, Caroline, Mary, Susanna, Eliza Ann, Sophia, Sarah Ann, Samuel, Nancy, Louisa, Magdalene, Lydia, Levi, John W. (Jr.), Leah, William, Fianna, Adam, Ellen, Franklin, Charles, Edwin, Lewis, Emanuel, Daniel, Ida, Frederick, and maybe Anna.

I’ll save you the bother of counting. There are twenty-eight names on my list of possible 3x great-aunts and uncles, a number that seems audaciously beyond the ability of a non-polygamous man.

And since John was my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father (my 3x great grandfather), I felt compelled to try to untangle which offspring were his and which belonged to a similarly aged John Garman who also lived in Ohio’s Summit and Stark counties during the 1800s.

If you aren’t into genealogy, you may not realize that, because of European naming traditions, it isn’t uncommon to find duplicately named cousins of similar age in the same counties and towns.

So finding another John Garman to claim some of the kids seemed likely.

But I didn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t find other John Garmans. I found a few. The one that came up most often was my 2x great-uncle, John W. Garman, Jr.

I also found a John Garman married to a woman with a name very similar to my 3x great grandpa’s third wife. But in the 1860 census, I know my John was living in Green Township with his second wife and seven children (including my 2x great grandmother Leah). The other John, who was twenty years younger, was recorded in another part of the state.

Finally, I began tracing the lives of each of John’s possible children, which took most of my free time for a week and left The Engineer asking, “Why do you need to do this?”

I didn’t really have an answer. It was just a mystery I had to solve, at least to my own satisfaction.

So, here’s where I tell you I’m not a professional genealogist, and I’m not promising my conclusions are correct. For a few of the children, I only have a findagrave.com record that references someone else’s research from a 1955 book of someone else’s transcript of gravestones long gone.

And yet, the timing and place fit. They make sense to me, and that’s all I was looking for.

As I progressed, I realized I needed to graphically lay out the pertinent information as I found it, which meant a spreadsheet and a list.

I won’t bore you with them here, but will try to keep my conclusions succinct

John Garman was most likely born in 1810 or 1811. If we go by the age on his death certificate and use the online tombstone birthday calculator (yes, there is such a thing), we get a birth date in December of 1810.

He had three wives. I know this both from death certificates of his children and from marriage registers (though his name was spelled as German on two of them – not uncommon in a time of spell-it-as-it-sounds-to-you phonetics).

Magdalene “Martha” Dickerhoof – Married 1830 until her death in 1849 at the age of 38 (recorded in a book of Stark County early church records and findagrave.com). She’s buried in North Canton Cemetery, which is relevant because most the Garman graves are there.

Marriage Register for “Martha” Dickerhoof and John “German” – 1830

Mary Weaver – Married John in February of 1850. The 1850 census lists her age as 25, making her about 13 years younger than her husband. Best guess for year of death is early 1860s because she’s alive in 1860 with John and the aforementioned seven children. By 1870, she’s gone, and there’s a seven-year break in ages in the children.

Marriage Register for Mary Weaver and John “Garman” -1850

Catharine Hane – Married 1865 until John’s death in 1889. Catharine is listed in 1870 census as aged 32. John is 59. She dies in 1920 at the age of 81.

Marriage License and Return for Catharine Hane and John Garman – 1865

The Children

Barbara – Barbara’s life was brief and not well-documented. The only record I have is from findagrave.com, giving her date of death as 15 January 1832 and “d/o J and Magdalene.” However, the date fits, coming after John and Magdalene’s marriage and before their next child. Also, Barbara is buried in North Canton Cemetery, which also fits.

Caroline – Caroline also died young (age 21) and was buried in the same cemetery as her sister and mother, with the same notation on her stone. Unlike Barbara, jshe lived long enough to be counted in the 1850 census (aged 17) with her father, his new wife Mary, and three siblings and half-siblings.

Mary A – Mary was born on 15 November 1834 and outlived three husbands. In 1850, she also was living with her siblings and John and his wife Mary. Mary A outlived three husbands, marrying the last, Emanuel Sholley, when she was 73 and he was 75. Her third marriage license confirms Magdalene Dickerhoof as her mother and John Garman as her father. She died at 88 in New York, where she lived near one of her sons. Interestingly (to me, at least), her third husband was almost certainly related to my mother’s mother, whose maiden name was Sholley.

Susanna – Like her sister Barbara, Susanna was only around long enough to be found in findagrave, which provides details from a 1955 book called Cemetery Records Stark County Ohio.” The inscription provided says “d/o J and Magdalene Garman, age 1 year, 5 months,” giving a death date as 6 September 1840, buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Eliza Ann – Eliza’s life was also brief, and I’m guessing when I say she probably died in her first year. It’s possible she was born earlier, in the gap between Mary A and and Susanna perhaps. Either way, she couldn’t have been much over the age of five. All we know is what findagrave gives us: “d/o J and Magdalene,” death date 3 August 1840, buried in North Canton Cemetery. Take a moment to look at the date at the end of the previous paragraph and compare it to Eliza’s.

Sophia – On the other end of the spectrum is Sophia, who lived from 1841 to 1937. I’ll do the math (actually my genealogy program did): She died at age 95. We know she’s John’s daughter because she also is living with him in 1850. Her death certificate lists John Garman and Mary Dickerhoof as her parents. She’s buried not in North Canton, but in Greensburg Cemetery, near where she was raised.

Sarah Ann – Another sad one. Another findagrave record from a missing stone. Same reference book as Susanna, this time saying “d/o J and Magdalene, aged 9m, 15d,” with a death date of 23 October 1843, buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Samuel – Samuel is in North Canton Cemetery, “s/o J and Magdalene, aged less than 1 year,” died 16 September 1845 (findagrave).

Nancy – Born in 1846, we can only surmise Nancy is Magdalene’s daughter. Her death certificate lists only John Garman. However, since Magdalene was still alive in 1846, this seems likely. Nancy was living with John and Mary in 1850, married and lived in the same county all her life, eventually dying there in 1934 (age 87), and being buried in Akron.

1850 Census – Garman Household in Green Township, Summit County, Ohio

Magdalene – Magdalene is probably the first child of Mary and John, showing up in the 1860 census at age 8. By 1870, she’s gone. I found no trace of a marriage or death, though there’s a “Mary” Garman buried buried in nearby Massillon, born 1852, died 1900.

1860 Census – Mary Weaver Garman, John Garman and Children, Green Township

Louisa – Another possibility for Mary and John’s first child is Louisa. Although listed as age 7 in the 1860 census, her death certificate says she was born in 1851, also giving John Garman and Mary Weaver as her parents. She married, had children, and outlived her husband, dying in 1935, aged 83. On a side note, I found a military widow’s pension record for her for her husband’s service in the Civil War, and from the 1900 census, we see he was about 16 years older than her – making him about 33 to her 17 when they wed.

Pension file showing Louisa/Louise’s husband George’s invalid pension and (later) Louisa’s widow’s pension

Levi – The tragedy of a child’s death wasn’t limited to John and Magdalene. He and Mary also lost a child. Levi also could have been John and Mary’s first child, born in 1850, sometime after the census. Or perhaps he was born between Louisa and Lydia. I have no records for him except a findagrave one saying “s/o J and Mary,” death date 12 March 1856.

Lydia – Born in 1855, Lydia was married at 16, choosing Levi Reiter, aged 21,and therefore closer to her age than Louisa’s spouse. She died in 1920 and is buried in Canton (same county as North Canton).

John W., Jr. – With his father and mother, Mary, in the 1860 census, and his dad and stepmother, Catharine, in 1870, John Jr. married six years later, dying in Akron in 1933. His death certificate confirms his parents as John Garman and his mothers maiden name as Weaver.

Leah – My 2x great grandmother was born in 1858 to John and Mary, John’s 15th child. She has the interesting distinction of appearing twice in the 1870 census, on July 22 with her father and stepmother, and on July 26 with her sister Sophia and her husband. In 1876, at age 17, she married Rolandous Myers, a man 10 years her senior. They had 11 or 12 children, including my grandfather’s mother Sophia Viola. Leah died in 1920 at age 61 and is buried next to Rolandous in Summit County.

Top photo: Leah Garman (publicly shared Ancestry files). Bottom:Leah, husband Rolandous, and their children including my great grandma Sophia Viola (middle)

Sophia Viola and her husband, my great grandpa James Gideon Armstrong

William – Leah’s brother William was born in August of 1859. He died Christmas Day in 1860 and was buried in North Canton Cemetery, “s/o J and Mary Garman, age 1y, 4m, 12d.”All we know about him is from findagrave, with the information coming from the 1955 book mentioned earlier.

Adam – Another North Canton Cemetery grave holds William’s brother, who died 1 November 1861. Findagrave says only “s/o J and Mary Garman.”

Fianna – There is little information on Fianna, as well, just a transcript from her grave in North Canton Cemetery from findagrave: Death 22 February 1863, “d/o J and Mary Garman.”

Ellen R. – The first child of Catharine Hane and John, Ellen was born in December 1865 , when John was in his mid-fifties. The 1880 census confirms this, listing her as his daughter. Ellen’s death certificate also gives John and Catharine as her parents. Ellen married at 21, died in 1952, and was buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Franklin – John’s second son to survive childhood, Franklin was born in 1868, counted in the 1870 census with siblings Lydia, John, Leah, Ellen, and another brother. (This overlapping of children from different wives was partly how I realized most of the children I’d discovered truly were offspring of the same man.) Franklin married at 22, was widowed by age 41. He died in 1929, age 60, and was buried in Greensburg.

Charles – Charles also shows up in the 1870 census, aged 7 months. Married in 1890 at age 20, he died at age 25 in Green Township of myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.

Edwin – In the 1880 census, Edwin is listed as Edward, age 8, but his birth records say Edwin and name his mother as Catharine Hain and father as John Garman. Since the 1890 census isn’t available, the next record I found is a record of enlistment, stating his age at enlistment as two years older. It may be him; it wasn’t uncommon for boys to lie about their age, and the young man in question was from Summit County where most of John’s children were raised. Or it could simply be someone with the same name. Either way, the man in question is noted as having deserted in 1893 – two years after joining. I Lund no one conclusive records on Edwin.

Is this our Edwin? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. The place and time are right, but there is no definitive link

Lewis – Edwin’s younger brother’s life is better documented. Lewis is present in the 1880 census, marries at 21, registers for the draft in 1918, and resides in Plain Township for the rest of his life, eventually dying in 1951 and being buried beside his wife in North Canton Cemetery. His death register gives his mother’s name as Mary, but I feel pretty confident this is merely an error made by his wife, who reported his death.

Emanuel – Born in 1877, Emanuel also appears in the 1880 census with his family. Like Lewis, he lives in Plain Township for most of his adult life and registers for the draft in 1918, on the same day as both Lewis and Daniel. I like finding draft registration documents because they give details on my ancestors’ physical features. Lewis was medium build and height with black hair and blue eyes. Emanuel was also medium build, but with light brown hair and light blue eyes. He married in 1901 at age 24, died of chronic pulmonary tuberculosis in 1935, and his death record gives his interment place as Zion Cemetery in North Canton. (Zion Cemetery was eventually renamed North Canton Cemetery.) The same record confirms his parents as John Garman and Catherine “Hayne.”

Daniel – Daniel was Emanuel’s twin, but his draft registration says he is short with a slender build, blue eyes, and brown hair. It also notes he has a “shorter right leg” and is “physically disfigured.” Starting out in Jackson Township after marrying in 1900, he and his wife also lived in Plain for a while, but spent their later years in Canton. Their marriage record confirms his parents as John and Catharine, as does Daniel’s death certificate in 1930 when he died of liver cancer. He is buried in Stark County.

Ida – John’s last born daughter was born in 1879, ten years before his death. Ida was just eight months old for the 1880 census. By the time she married in 1898, John had been dead nine years. She spent her life in Green Township, where her husband eventually owned a Ford dealership. Ida died in 1952, and her death certificate confirmed her parents as John and Catharine. (If you’re into cars, check out this website about her husband Charles’s dealership).

Frederick, Fredrick – John’s last child, Frederick, was born in 1882 when John was 72, and Catharine was 44. In 1900, Frederick lived with his brother, William, and William’s wife in Greensburg. He married in 1903, and by 1910, he and his wife were living in Plain. By 1920, they’d moved to Akron, and in 1942, he is a widower entering his second marriage. When he died in 1955, he was buried in north Canton Cemetery, next to his first wife.

Anna – Anna was the only one on the list I could disprove. She was born to her John and Catharine Garman in 1861 in McDonaldsville, but in 1860, they were in Madison, Hancock County. Her death certificate in 1947 lists her parents as John Garman and Catherine Haines. This seems to be an incredible coincidence, because she doesn’t show up on any other records with my John and any of his three wives, including Catharine Hane.

Twenty-seven children. Eleven dead before the age of 30. Of those remaining, at least five living well into their 80s. Three wives, two of whom were substantially younger (which does a lot to explain the number of children).

I find myself trying to imagine this many lives filled with so much loss, as well as joy, but can’t wrap my 21st century brain around it.

Still, I feel the lives of John Garman, his wives, and many children were worth sharing. I know it was a lot to read, and if you stuck through it to here, I thank you.

Bee Check Addendum: We had a peek at the bees over the weekend when temperatures reached into the 60s. All three hives are lively and seem well-populated, which was a relief since FreeBees haven’t been out flying near as much as Buzzers’ and NewBees.

Bee Report

There were lots of bees flying today – it was 50-ish and sunny. And it wasn’t just cleansing either; these girls were going places. We didn’t see any pollen(still early for that), but they were definitely flying out somewhere.

This is a good thing because the the hive lid is looking more and more like a very messy ladies’ room.Check out the propolis on the screen.

Then, it was a look under the hood of both hives.

First, it was Buzzers’ Roost.

Followed by FreeBees.

As you can see, neither hive has eaten much of the sugar patties we put in a few weeks ago.

Once the hives were closed again, a few girls consented to some closeups.

According to The Ohio State GDD calendar (https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/gdd/CalendarView.asp), we have a while yet before the Silver Maples bloom, and the bees can get some pollen. Hive Beetles have been a continual problem this year, especially in FreeBees, so we’re reluctant to put in any pollen patties because the patties seem to really attract them.

Still, we are cautiously hopeful our girls will survive the rest of winter.