Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

bees, bees, bees under February trees...

Virginia is a bit confused.  Several days in February have been in the 70-degree range and a couple days even dipped a toe or two into the 80's.  Leaves are popping out everywhere; sources tell us leafing is about 3 weeks ahead of schedule this year.  Our forsythia and lilacs are alive with colorful blossoms.  And the honey bees.....

We lost colonies of bees this Winter...  the weather was weird and harsh at times and it followed a Summer and Autumn that had us distracted with many things.  We donned our suites and took a quick peek at our bees in mid-February.  One top-bar hive was bursting with bees and brood (babies) and stores of honey and pollen.

After waiting two weeks and observing more and more bees, larger and larger traffic jams at the hive entrance, and workers backfilling empty brood comb with early pollen and nectar abundance, we considered an early split to try to prevent swarming as the hive became densely overpopulated.

We lit the smoker and grabbed our suits on a particularly beautiful day.  We went carefully through the hive, noting population, stores, and crazy comb building, and removed some wonky cross comb.  (See that "W" marked on one of the bars?  That was our guide, saying, "Here's that wonky comb!")

There was brood in all stages in every place available, and new nearly-white comb was under construction.

The one thing we could NOT find, after nearly an hour of squinting, was Queen Mum.  We have not marked our Queens since our first season, finding the practice too high-stress for us and for the Queen herself.  We looked and looked, but she was having none of it on this day, escaping our gaze on every bar of comb we inspected.  IF we wanted to split the hive, it would be necessary to find the Queen and move her, bars of brood in all stages and food supplies, and lots of workers to a second top-bar hive, leaving eggs and brood and the Queen cups we noted in the existing hive for the workers to raise a new Queen.  *sigh*  We decided to close the hive and check again for Queen Mum another day.

Just a couple of days later, on yet another gorgeous day, we ventured into the hive again.  This time the inspection was quicker, more fluid, as we'd already noted where the brood chamber was within the hive, and loosed all the bars from their winter-propolized state of "stuck-to-it-ed-ness".  One bar, then another, then another, and then I exclaimed, "I've got her!"

She was moving quickly across the comb, regal and beautiful and filled with life!  We carefully moved the frame to the new hive and stopped just long enough to take some photos.  See if you can find Queen Mum in the photos below.  Other things of interest in these photos are drones hatching out, with their fat bodies and large eyes and workers cleaning out vacated cells in the comb.

We've made a split, and now one colony is two.  The Queen will continue to lay eggs, just as prolifically as before, in her new home.  A new Queen will be reared and emerge to embark on her mating flight, and hopefully return to the mother colony to fill it with new life.  We've added our own organically grown lemongrass to a third hive, a sweet-smelling lure to welcome nearby swarming bees in search of new digs.  We will watch in wonder (and just a little anxiety) how the Great Bee brings these things to pass.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

walking in Old Salem...

Following medical procedures, the advice is to walk.
To wake up the body after anesthesia.
To get the gut moving again.
To release (politely, of course) trapped air.
To fill the lungs with oxygen and cough out any lingering yuck.

Some walk the hospital halls.  Some walk around the hotel.  Some walk a treadmill.  But why not fill your eyes and heart with lovely things while tending to this necessary part of recovery?

We decided to visit Old Salem and walk its brick and stone sidewalks.  A little history lesson, then photos.  Let's go!

"The town of Old Salem traces its history to the immigration of Moravian settlers, who brought their deep religious faith, Germanic heritage and industrious work ethic from central Europe to America in the 18th century.  The Moravians, properly known as the Unity of the Brethren, are a protestant denomination whose members sought religious freedom and economic opportunities in the American colonies, settling several permanent communities in Pennsylvania during the 1740s.  

In 1753, Moravian settlers traveled south to North Carolina to found Wachovia, a 100,000-acre tract of land that would eventually contain six Moravian communities.  These included Bethabara, Bethania, Salem and three smaller outlying settlements.  Salem, founded in 1766 as the central community in Wachovia, served as a hub of economic trade and the spiritual center of the Moravian settlements in the region.

Salem was a congregational town, meaning that one had to be Moravian and a member of the church to live in the community.  However, outsiders were welcomed to come interact with dozens of skilled tradesmen in their shops and the community store.  In addition to such fundamental trades as blacksmithing, woodworking and shoemaking, Salem also offered the much-needed but rarer services of a potter, a doctor, clock maker and justice of the peace to the residents of North Carolina backcountry."  (Visit oldsalem.org to learn more!)

This happens often when we travel...
I go into a shop to buy, oh, maybe a shopping bag full of Moravian cookies, say, and I return to find Tom and Scarlett surrounded by people!

This was a delightful way to speed recovery before our journey home!  (And the cookies were such a treat!!!)

Friday, July 22, 2016

tiny moments...

The test comes back with something new.  Something you weren't expecting.  You pick up the phone to hear your doctor's voice, calling unexpectedly, using the word, "alarmed".  **deep breath**

I could not have predicted this journey with FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis).  I deluded myself that a surgery a few years back to prevent full-blown cancer was the end of the story.  I was a pre-vivor!  And yeah, I have other illnesses, but I can handle those!  This particular hereditary cancer syndrome, though, is tricky, and new polyps are happy to form wherever they wish, of a type that become cancerous if left in place to thrive.

Another procedure looms to vacate a plump and cantankerous growth and many of his smaller neighbors.  Another team of folks trying to keep me strong and cancer-free.  I am so very grateful for all the wise and skilled people guiding me to wellness.  But I needed a moment to catch my breath...

We decided to run away, just for a few days, to the place most sacred and healing for me: the blue, blue mountains of my beloved Virginia.  We wandered.  We laughed.  We walked.  We ate.  We adventured.  And my heart burst open wide. 

I found the camera pointing at textures, focusing in small and profound.  These tiny moments, stay here, linger here.  Here is healing.  Here are secrets waiting to be heard. 

Let me share these tiny moments with you...