We had a warm spell back in the winter/early spring, which got the queen bees laying new brood early... and then a really cold snap that kept us from getting into the hives to do splits. And then warmth... and then rain that again kept us from getting into the hives.
As a result, were dealing with swarms from all our hives for the entire spring and into the summer, in addition to the nucs we bought. It was exhausting. Eric was working from home a lot, and our friend Carol, who was a brand new beek and our mentee this season, also works from home, so they spent every day chasing swarms all over town. We have one tree in the backyard we dubbed "the swarm tree," and at one point, it had three swarms in residence.
We weren't able to catch them all, and lost a lot of bees. On top of that, we had bear attacks that took out six of the twenty-four hives to which we'd built up. We tried combining, requeening, and did what we could. It was a tough season that resulted in much more work and less honey than we anticipated, and us being down to eight hives now. Fingers crossed they all make it through winter!
Agriculture is rough. Love it anyway, even through the occasional tears.
On top of all of that, there's We Bee-lieve! Eric and I have formed a NJ domestic nonprofit corporation to bring bees to kids and vice versa. Feel free to visit the site or Facebook page (and "like" it to keep up with our doings! We're on Instagram too! The plan is doing bee talks, which we've already started (photos on the Facebook page and Instagram), plus put hives in depressed areas and teach kids everything from how to make seed bombs and what pollinators do all the way up to how to be beekeepers. We have our five inaugural hives on the roof of the old Uniroyal factory in Passaic, NJ, and our initial investor is the land developer who owns that property. It's amazing, and so far the girls up there are flourishing. The hives are facing the Passaic River, where there must be a ton of forage, because over the spring and summer they were working their little wings off bringing in nectar and pollen.
In case we weren't missing enough sleep (Who needs sleep? Sleep is boring!), we've taken on some new endeavors too! First of all, Eric has gotten into fine woodworking. You can see his wares at Blades and Board, and like his Facebook page if you're interested in also seeing his stuff that doesn't get listed for sale. He's really amazingly talented. In addition to the stuff on his site and FB page, we had a joint effort... he turned apple wood and walnut ornaments, and I painted them! We got a ton of custom orders, which was fun but harrowing. These are a few of the ones we did...
Of course, I couldn't let Eric have all the fun! I've taken up some new avocations too! It just so happens that Eric and I made some new friends from whom got these angora buns...
Washburne William, a/k/a "Wash"
Malcolm Lassie, a/k/a "Mal," together with Jack
How freakin' cute are they?... and this drop spindle...
... and what felt about two seconds later, I had this spinning wheel.
She's a 1960-something Ashford Traditional, named Serenity (you nerds will get the connection if you read the buns' names), and I made some more new friends in the process of the purchase! This was in October, and I've been spinning ever since! I'm completely addicted. I even got to spin with some help from Santa when Eric and I were vendors at a holiday festival.
And for Chanukah, Eric got me the best gifts ever.
Those right there are two yarn dyeing books, which I plan to start reading imminently. I'm really looking forward to putting the one on the left to good use right away, and the one on the right, which is about creating natural dyes, to good use come spring when things start blooming. Apparently tickseed makes an amazing red-orange that Eric is really looking forward to.
In the middle is King Gumdrop, an out-of-print antique book (1916) I had as a kid, which has old candy recipes in the back! And that little thing there is a remote shutter control for my DSLR. Expect some amazing photos of the bees come spring!
Meanwhile, I think in the not too distant future, there will be yarn for sale!