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.

Scrappy Christmas

While I’m not really part of the “Scrap Happy” tradition started by my friend Kate and her friends, I felt I could offer another post on the subject — or at least a continuation of the first.

Since that post, I’ve continued to crochet stars as if they were needed to populate the night sky.

I’ve made at least seventy and am still going strong.

Some have gone to work with me, as thank yous to customers who donate to our staff fund for a local charity for families in need. Some have gone in Christmas cards and on presents. Some will go to my mom to give to her caregivers and friends at her facility. And some have gone on our tree.

It’s not our usual tree. But it’s going to be a weird Christmas for everyone, and things are no different here. Darling Daughter and I have not yet decided if it’s a good idea for her and Boyfriend to come home for the holiday. Somehow dragging the tree and all its ornaments down from the loft and decorating it seemed, not a waste of time exactly, but sort of superfluous.

I wanted something simpler, and chose to decorate the Norfolk Pine I’ve been growing for more years than I can remember.

I also strung popcorn for garland. (Note on stringing popcorn: After I’d already started stringing, I read it’s best to let the popcorn sit for a day or two so it doesn’t crumble so easily. This would probably make it easier. Still, the squirrels are enjoying the scraps, so that’s a good thing.)

I’ll admit I didn’t envision the tree turning out quite so Charlie Brownish. But that’s okay. I’m going to buy more lights. Twinkle lights make everything look better. (The Brits call them “fairy lights,” I think, which I prefer. I like the hint of magic in the phrase.)

In other scrappy news, three more lap rug/afghans went to my mom’s place for the residents.

One could also make an argument that my “Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter” is also scrappy. Heaven knows the recipes came from many scraps of paper stuck in many cookbooks in our cupboards.

And now, though I’ve shared it many times before, I feel compelled to (once again) share the best Christmas song ever. I know you are probably saying, “Kym, that’s your opinion,” but I disagree.

It is the best Christmas song ever.

The Scrappy Type

I’m not very good at handicrafts. And I have the test scores to prove it. (I also have photos, shared below. I have no pride.)

You see, when I was fourteen, we took an aptitude test at school. This test rated a person’s aptitude for a variety of work-related abilities and assigned a score from 1-10 for each.

I recently stumbled across my results. Readers, I scored under five on motor coordination, manual dexterity, and a measly 2 on finger dexterity.

So, I have an excuse.

However, my grandmother was very good at crochet, and she taught my mother who taught me.

Because of them, I can manage basic patterns and might even be able to do more complex work if I wanted to concentrate.

But that’s not why I crochet.

I crochet while The Engineer and I watch movies. It helps me relax.

Complicated patterns would defeat the purpose and almost certainly involve a lot of swearing.

Instead I use two basic patterns — a giant granny square and one where you do a single crochet in the back loop of the previous rows stitches. Or a double crochet. Or a half double. (I can do these stitches as long as no one asks me which stitch it is I’m doing. For that I need a book.)

No bad language. Very relaxing.

In this bumbling manner I’ve managed to make more afghans than we could ever possibly need, one for practically every member of my family and many of my friends, and have long since moved on to making them for people I don’t know.

First, they went to our library’s Warm Up America program. Then, I donated to our local hospice. When it closed, the afghans piled up in the spare room until I found a fabric store accepting such donations.

However, I recently had a brain wave and thought to check with my mom’s long-term care facility to see if they had residents who might like such donations.

They were thrilled! I was thrilled because there were six on one of our living room chairs.

These afghans are scrappy because they’re made primarily from thrift store yarn. I’m not rich, after all.

Thrift store yarn is usually single skeins of single colors and ends of skeins left over from someone else’s project.

Yarn from my most recent score at the thrift shop — a huge tub of beautiful color!

As a result, my afghans are a bit like the crazy quilts of our ancestors made from old dresses, flour sacks, and any bits of fabric they had saved.

This appeals to me because I love randomly mixing colors and textures, though I must admit some turn out better than others.

They’re all cheap and cheerful, as the Brits would say, which is great because I like cheap, and I like cheerful.

There have been a misshappen few I kept, unwilling to foist them on others (though they are lovely and soft).

See below for illustration of just how far off course I have wandered.

To make it even more obvious.

Generally, however, they turn out well. This is my latest endeavor, and another I’m not quite sure about. That rust colored yarn … hmm.

Too bad I didn’t take photos of the ones I just donated. They were more — how do I put this? — normal in their color combinations. Still, that rust-colored yarn is very soft, and I hope it will feel comforting to whoever ends up with the afghan.

Recently, I found a pattern for these super-simple crochet stars. They’ve become a small addiction because I can whip one up in about fifteen minutes. At least, I can now I’ve reviewed how to do a double and treble stitch.

I’ve made quite a pile and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I’m going to give them to everyone! On packages, on cards, to co-workers, strung for the tree and/or our mantle.

The best part is I’m using up all sorts of little scraps (more scrappiness!) of yarn that I didn’t even remember I had.

My third scrappy project is using some of our beeswax (mostly from cappings cut off during the extracting process) to make candles. So far, I’ve made just the one. I wanted to see how it worked out.

Beeswax smells so good when it’s burning.

In summary, I guess you could say I may not be handy, but I’m definitely the scrappy type!