Many years ago, we had ten robust beehives. We'd feed the bees, check the hives, add new supers when needed; and at the end of each summer harvest the excess honey. We'd leave enough honey behind in each hive to assure that our bees had adequate food for the winter.
It wasn't long after we began beekeeping that the honeybees throughout the world began declining. There was a lot of "buzz" about colony collapse disorder... and sadly, at that time, no understanding of what was causing it. As it turns out, pesticide and herbicide use plays a major role in the decline of these precious creatures.
It was during that time that our own bees began to dwindle. Each year, only a percentage of our hives would make it through the winter. Eventually (over 10 years or so), all of our hives had perished, despite starting new colonies when old had died. It was during the life of our last hive that we found out that Hubbs was deathly allergic to bees. His intolerance to stings had begun to increase over the years, culminating in a sting that put him in the ER with an anaphylactic reaction. It was at this time that we decided that we would start no more beehives. Within a couple years, we had no beehives left. It was the natural end of our beekeeping story.
Or so we thought. Last year, a wild swarm took over one of the three empty hives that sits down near the old log cabin. It was a happy surprise. However, we no longer owned any beekeeping equipment, so we decided that we would take a hands-off approach to this wild hive.
I loved having so many pollinators flying around the farm. Hubbs avoided the hives and all was fine. At the end of the summer, we crossed our fingers and prayed that our wild bees would survive the winter and live to pollinate another year.
This year, as spring brought warmer days, I looked to see if there was any activity around the beehive. Sadly, there was none.
I checked the doorway and found many dead bees at the doorway. Yesterday we opened the hive to find a mass of dead bees at the center of the hive. I am assuming they froze to death or died of disease. I feel awful, because I might have prevented this if I had taken an active role in caring for this hive, but I had decided to let nature do its thing. In hindsight, this was probably a mistake, and one for which I am sorry. One thing that I know for sure is that they did not starve. The hive is filled with honey. We were amazed to find frames inside this hive. We had thought that we had removed all of the frames from the remaining hives. Apparently we had not.
We no longer have a honey extractor (centrifuge) or any other equipment, so I will check with a beekeeping friend to see if he can extract the honey for us.
I do miss the days when our hives were full and robust, but having beehives is not worth the risk of losing Hubbs. He has had two more anaphylactic reactions since the first, and, truthfully, they are pretty scary. Needless to say, EPI pens are always on hand!
Yesterday was another spectacular spring day. Temperatures reached 70 and the sun shone through a dramatic cloud-filled sky. The horses spent their morning in the upper pasture... once again in grazing muzzles because spring grass is so nutrient rich.
Fly masks replaced grazing muzzles when they came back in. It amazes me how our quickly our world is taken over by insects. One day there are none... the next day they are out in droves.
I did a bit of cooking in the morning... using up the last of last summer's raspberries and blackberries for jam,
and I made a pot of chicken gnocchi soup.
Yesterday was bread mixing day. I fed my two different sourdough starters (each makes a different type of bread) in the morning, and then realized that I did not have enough flour for the two different types of bread I would be baking. Luckily, we have plenty of well-stocked, little country stores in our area.
A short ride through Amish country, and you can get just about anything you might need.
This particular store has the best selection of all types of organic flours - as well as housewares, deli, produce, dairy, baby items and toys. (And it's close enough that I can get to and from on a single charge of our Prius - I've ridden my bike there on occasion, too, but yesterday I was pressed for time.)
I'm still working on watercolor painting, and try to do lessons online as often as possible. Sometimes it is just fun to play, though, and yesterday I tried this tutorial.
The texture of the moon is the result of salt crystals, which are dropped on the paint before it dries.