Monday, August 24, 2015

Trouble in the Hive...

It's been quite a while since I've posted about my beehive... since we've had a lot of action happening in there of late, it seems a good time for an update!

The beehive was strong and healthy and growing at a very rapid pace for the first several months. We added as second brood box, and the bees were quickly filling it up with eggs, brood, pollen, and a pretty good amount of capped honey! Then one day in the beginning of August, as I inspected my hive, I noticed there was some capped brood, but no new eggs or larvae.This is a very bad sign... it means that the queen bee is dead, or otherwise no longer viable. Oddly, the bees had been quite agitated the previous week when I had inspected... so agitated, that one of my normally docile bees stung me. My guess is that our queen (whom we had called "Alice") was in trouble then, hence their unrest.

Once I determined that Alice was definitely gone and our hive was definitely queenless, we needed to go about trying to requeen the hive. This is sometimes tricky business, as the hive sometimes rejects a new queen. So, we ordered a new queen from an apiary in Georgia, and upon her arrival, we placed her in the hive, and waited patiently to see if she'd be accepted. After a week, I inspected the hive again. I inspected all ten frames in the top brood box, but found nothing... no queen, no eggs, no larvae. Onto the bottom box... one frame after another... same story: no queen, no eggs, no larvae. About seven frames in, the bees started getting angry. They were buzzing quite loudly, and giving me plenty of warning bumps. One stung me on the wrist. I hoped this meant I was near the queen, and sure enough... on the 19th of 20 frames, I found my new queen (dubbed "Elizabeth" by my cousin, in hopes that she would have a longer reign than Alice!) Along with the queen I found some eggs and brood... hooray! The 20th frame was also full of eggs and brood, so it appears that our hive may be back on track.

In other news... oh my gosh, you guys... it's almost time for the homeschool year to start! We have SO much happening this coming school year. I've been very busy getting our supplies ordered, cleaning out the homeschool cabinet, and getting everything ready! Next post, I'll be sharing some of our preparations, and give you a little peak at our homeschool space.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Old House Blues...

There is a lot to love about living in an older home... the quirky architectural features, the charming details, the sense of history... but along with the cool things there are also quite a few headaches to deal with. Our antique home is always full of surprises, and most of them are both unpleasant and expensive to remedy! Our home was built in 1895, and since I bought it in 2007, I have dealt with things like crumbling walls, rotted studs and subfloors, outdated/unsafe electrical and plumbing, and much, much more. The good news is, we've replaced and repaired so much, that our house has increased in value quite a bit! The bad new is, there is ALWAYS something else going wrong that needs to be fixed, and small repairs often end up turning into much bigger projects (like the time we tried to replace a light fixture in our living room, and found tons of old illegal knob-and-tube wiring which needed to be replaced to the tune of $5000!)

Small part of the
hallway in progress
Currently, we're in the midst of several projects all at once. We didn't really mean for it to be that way, it just sort of happens sometimes with these old houses. First, we were in the process of insulating and replacing windows in our basement TV room, because we've had major problems with frozen and bursting pipes the last couple of winters. We're hoping that better insulation will prevent it from happening again this winter. We have a friend/handyman helping us with that project, as well as fixing the shower down there, which has been on the "to be fixed" list for several years. Meanwhile, we decided to start fixing up the hallways and stairwell, which have suffered some water damage and general wear-and-tear to the old horsehair plaster. That project is still in progress, as it turns out things were in worse shape than anticipated, and our summer has been waaay busier than expected, so we just haven't been able to get it done.

While all this was happening, we ended up with an unexpected plumbing issue, which resulted in this:

Our plumber had to break open the wall to replace some old pipes and such. Since the wall is already torn apart, we're thinking it's probably finally time to get rid of the tile walls we hate, and finally renovate this bathroom. More on that, as it happens! Additionally, we need to have a bit more electrical work done in the basement. And so on, and so on...

In midst of all these home repairs, we've also had to start thinking about the start of the school year! Can you believe that it's mere weeks until Labor Day?? I've already started reorganizing our homeschool corner, ordering supplies and planning out what we'll be doing come September. It's going to be quite an interesting year for me as a homeschool mom... this year I'll be homeschooling two high schoolers, a middle schooler and a fifth grader, and I'll be working part-time. I'm hoping I can handle it all.

Next post... I'll be talking about the latest goings on in my beehive!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Love

We have had a pretty busy summer so far, with lots of kids activities, appointments and such. We've been doing our best to squeeze in small bits of Summer Fun in the midst of it all, but as of the end of this week, theater camp and summer dance will be over, The Man will be taking a couple of days off from work, and we'll finally have some time to really enjoy summer's simple pleasures for a few weeks before we have to start getting ready for the school year. I'm really looking forward to having some unstructured time to relax with my people. Because really, isn't that what summer is really about?

Here are some of my favorites things about summer...

1. Sitting by the fire pit on warm summer nights, watching the fireflies blink.
2. Watching the kids splashing in the pool (and splashing in the pool, myself!)
3. Beach days!
4. Dinner picnics on the beach, staying until the sun sets.
5. Summer flowers, everywhere.
6. Fresh veggies, right from the garden.
7. Summer fruits... strawberries, blueberries, peaches... YUM.
8. Long, warm days.
9. Camping!
10. No shoes, ever.