New Bees

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It’s spring, I think… The tulips have all bloomed and the peonies are getting taller and taller.  That means it’s time for bees and the garden.  Finally! We lost both of our hives last fall so we had to replace them with new colonies or “packages.”  It went much smoother this time than the first time we did it — for a number of reasons but primarily because Sean took over this job and I just got to take pictures and videos!  It’s kind of an unnerving process because you have to shake thousands of bees from a box into the hive.  They are pretty good about wanting to stay with the Queen and go in pretty easily but it’s still a lot of bees and you have to bang the box kind of hard to really get them to fall out.  We had a beautiful day to put them in and in a couple of days, we will be able to open the hives up and check to see that the Queen is alive and that she is laying eggs.  Because we lost the other hives in the fall and the bees didn’t have a chance to go through any of their honey stores, the new bees should be off to a fast start and we should be able to harvest honey this spring, which we have not been able to do in years past.  Yesterday, after a few pretty dreary, cold days, we had a beautiful day and the bees were really active, bringing in tons of pollen.

We are getting to work on this year’s garden and our kitchen is full of seedlings.  It’s a little crazy.  Next year we may need to move things and get some grow lights.  This year’s garden will include flowers for cutting.  This is not something that we have done in the past — choosing to mostly focus on veggies and pumpkins — so I am really excited to see how it goes.  We are adding six additional raised beds and using the majority of the existing garden for more pumpkins. Sean built two of the beds yesterday and they look awesome.

We over-wintered our carrots and parsnips and they look beautiful already, thought not quite ready to pick.  We also unintentionally left the roots of some of our kale in over the winter as well and it is growing back really nicely.  Not sure how it will taste but it was a nice surprise to see it growing back and it looks really good.

Yesterday, we planted peas and some more kale and we have started to harden off some of the other seedlings.  It’s so tough to be in Massachusetts because the weather is so unpredictable but sometimes I think I wait too long to get things in the ground.  This year I am going to gamble a little bit and get things in earlier in May.  In my next post, I will share some of what we are growing. xo

Catching Up

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Not quite sure how we got to mid-January. I had the best intentions of blogging throughout the holidays but obviously I didn’t. I didn’t even do a year-in-review.  Oh well, time to move forward. 🙂 I probably made more gifts this year than I have in years past but as a total rookie blogger, I didn’t take any good pictures of what I made.  The two photos up top were taken with my phone at my Mom’s house after I had already gifted the items. It didn’t even occur to me to take the pictures until after so I snagged them back for a quick picture.  So there is obviously zero photo-styling going on those shots.  Haha.  I made the Honey Cowl for my sister Lonnie.  I loved, loved, loved this pattern and knitting with Madeline Tosh DK.  The tote is the Wool + Wax Tote from Making:FAUNA. I made this for my sister-in-law Lori and I loved making this tote, too.  I plan to make another one for myself.  I really liked working with waxed canvas and how much structure it provided to the bag.  We made a ton of soaps, orange oil and beeswax salves and apple cinnamon lip balm but I only got pictures of the soaps.  We did two kinds of soap – a honey buttermilk cold process soap and a honey goat’s milk soap made with a soap base.  I think both kinds came out great and I loved the molds that we found to fit with our honey and bee theme. Those adorable mugs were made by Ceara for her friends.  She saw the idea on Pinterest (you use a gold Sharpie and letter stencils) and they came out so awesome.  She filled them with some soaps and lip balms.

December seems like a million years ago now.  We had a wonderful, relaxing holiday week together.  It was so nice that we were all off from work and school.  We went to the Vineyard for Christmas in Edgartown earlier in the month.  It was freezing on the day of the parade.  Last year it was so warm, we didn’t even wear jackets and this year, we could barely stand to walk around. But the parade is always so charming and the locals do such a good job making it a fun event.

2017 is off to a good but busy start.  I am really committed to making the time to be creative this year and I am hoping to take on some new challenges and even a creative adventure.  Last week, I won my first-ever Instagram giveaway – 10 gorgeous skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor from Squam Art Workshops!  I was ridiculously excited about it and a little dorky.  The yarn is so soft and  I can’t wait to make something with it but I need to finish a few projects first. I owe Sean a hat, though, so I may just have to cast on for that. He is not much for wool but this yarn is so soft, it may change his mind.

One of my challenges for the year is to learn to take better photos and hopefully, in turn, improve my blogging game.  The two photos on the bottom were taken after the first “lesson” in an on-line photo course I signed up for.  I have had a pretty decent DSLR camera for almost 10 years.  However, I always take photos in auto-mode and I have never been able to take a photo in low light or actually capture a light bulb or a fire or anything of that nature. I have tried a million times.  But after this lesson and getting out my manual and playing around for awhile – success!! That’s the only reason for posting that. Haha. The bottom one of the succulents was taken after playing around with aperture.  So let’s hope that 2017 brings more photos like the bottom and less like the top. xo

August

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Somebody said to me today, “you know it’s August, so everyone is trying to cram in everything they hoped to do this summer.” Ugh, that feeling is the worst.  It’s the same with Christmas.  I always have so many plans to make the most of the holiday season and then it goes by before you know it.  This summer, I keep reminding myself, we still have time.  But even I am realizing that there are only so many days left.  I’m trying really hard this year to just enjoy the little things and not rush it.  I’m also trying to do some of the things that don’t require a lot of effort but feel relaxing.  Like reading by the pool (The Nightingale. So good.), knitting with coffee, watching a crazy downpour.

Yesterday we went to check out an art installation on a trail in town and then went out to breakfast at a new diner in town.  It was such a nice walk.  I am so happy that there are people who take the time to give back to the community in that way.  And breakfast was so good, too.  Loving our little town these days.

We spotted several gourds finally growing the garden.  We bought the seeds when we were in Paris in April and I am irrationally excited about having them for fall decorating.  The chipmunks kept digging up the pots where I planted the lavender seeds that we also bought in Paris so these feel extra exciting.  We also got to spend a little time checking out the bees this weekend and they are rocking.  We are pretty confident that we will have a good harvest this fall.  xo

 

Busy Bees

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We checked on the bees this weekend and were happy to find the Queen in both hives.  A few weeks ago, we had a swarm from the pink hive, which did so well this winter that they simply did not have enough room in there.  We re-homed the swarm in this new mint green hive (color chosen by Ceara) and after a little over a week we saw eggs.  We patiently waited for nature to take its course in the pink hive and were so happy to find the new Queen as well as eggs and larvae when we did our inspection on Sunday.

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You can see the Queen nestled in between the frame and the comb in the photo above.

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I’m obsessed with how beautiful this frame of pollen is.  These colors are just gorgeous.

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We may have waited a little too long to add a new super to the new hive.  When we opened it up, we found this crazy comb built out between the sugar feeders that we had in an empty super on top.

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This is a photo of the swarm from a few weeks ago.  They basically left the hive and hung out on a tree about 20 feet away.  It was complete luck that I saw it.  I went out to check on the hives and happened to look around and see it there.  We set up a new hive with a super we were lucky enough to get quickly from a friend.  Then we gently brushed the swarm into a cardboard box with a bee brush.  We assumed that they were clustered around the Queen and that if we could get her in there, they would all follow.  You can see in the picture below that they are marching right in the box.  After they were all in, we shook them into the super and stocked them up with sugar water.  We now have two thriving hives. Fingers crossed they both stay strong. xo

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