Friday, August 18, 2017

Hive Check & Varroa

 I got out into my hives again this week with high hopes- the last time I gave them a peek, it looked like I'd probably get at least a few frames of honey from both North Hive and South Hive, so I had my wheel barrow, clean sheet, and bee brush at the ready! Alas, I came away empty-handed and with significant concern weighing on my mind.

North Hive and Middle Hive were almost empty of stored nectar, and now need to be fed to prevent starvation. South Hive still has a bit of stored surplus nectar, however none of it has ever been capped and there is significantly less than the when I took note of it last time.

I removed the honey super (and queen excluder) I had so optimistically placed on North Hive at the beginning of the honey flow, and replaced it with a feeder. Middle Hive retained it's feeder as well, though South Hive gets to keep their honey super... for now. I noticed eggs and brood in all three hives, as well as a decent array of pollen, though honey and nectar was shockingly absent. It's going to be feed feed feed for the rest of the month at least.

I had a sinking feeling that I might know why they were in such bad shape, so I slid my IPM "sticky boards" under all three hives and let them sit for 24 hours. What I found when I retrieved them confirmed everything- North Hive and Middle Hive are being smothered by varroa mites.

Ugh, I should have treated last winter, but I didn't. Now my girls are paying for my rookie mistake.

I pulled my sticky boards out from under my hives last night after just a little over 24 hours. At first glance, it was even easy to see that Middle Hive was the worst. I waited to count them until the morning when all the distractions were out of the house and my eyes were a little fresher.

South Hive

North Hive

Middle Hive

My final counts are a little bit of an estimate, because I'm sure it's possible I missed some, double-counted others, and mistook debris for a mite here and there... but South Hive (the hive with the highest population) had 47 mites on their sticky board after ~24 hours. North Hive had 90. Middle Hive had 209.

The hive with the lowest population had two hundred nine mites after 24 hours.

I can't even begin to explain how crappy it feels to realize you made a bad decision at the expense of thousands and thousands of creatures.

So I've ordered some Mite-Away Quick Strips (formic acid), and I've learned my lesson... I'll always treat at least once a year from now on...

...assuming I still have hives to treat, come spring.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Little Campers :: Wrap-Up Party

Kids these days... you just can't conclude anything without a party marking The End, right? Or is it just me? OK, maybe it is just me... after all, it was the grown-ups who planned this whole thing...


On Tuesday we had our Little Campers conclusion/wrap-up party (sorry about the late share, back-to-school and all that, ya know). They had their last session last week, and it was kinda heartwarming to see how sad they seemed to be that it was all over... maybe we did do a good job pulling off this homemade summer camp, after all!

So to give 'em all just one more Little Campers day, we came together (sporting heavy, loaded sashes) for a little party and closing ceremony (of sorts):

We even awarded them little plaques with their pictures and a 'Little Campers' less-is-more logo, and got one last group photo...

...and thus concluded our homemade summer camp!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1st and 3rd

 First Grade. Third Grade. They're off, y'all... and I'm back at the house... by myself... in the quiet...

...but I'm feeling OK this morning, because they were so happy to go back. What can I say? My kiddos love school, they love learning, they love their teachers and they love being around their friends. I am so proud of them.

It's  going to be a great year.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


We've gotten the backpacks packed, the first-day "homework" ready, the outfits laid out, and a very special bath (with a big lavender bath bomb) has been taken (fingers and toes were thoroughly prunified, and sister's hair was lovingly done and redone). We've got a good high-protein dinner at the ready, several chapters of our story-time book (Chronicles of Narnia at the moment) on the evening agenda, and early bedtimes planned for all.

First day of school, here we come!

They are so ready.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Two pullet eggs this weekend, y'all! The best belated birthday present a chicken keeper could ask for.

Hoping everyone else is finding something magical in their weekend, too! Happy weekending!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Little Campers :: Photography Lesson

Today marks the last proper "session" of our homemade summer camp, Little Campers (we took last week off to register our babies- all of them- for school). All four of our kiddos have some version or generation of these kid-friendly cameras, and they're all really in to them at the moment, so what better way to conclude all our projects than with a lesson in photography?

We talked about portraits vs. candid shots, making sure someone is OK with their picture being taken before taking their picture, composition, lighting, and thinking about what you want to shoot before snapping the picture. We also took a little walk around Keri's neighborhood to practice looking for interesting things to shoot. We even got to practice sharing, taking turns, and patience (all of us)... again.

While walking, we encountered a neighbor who generously invited us to come visit- and photograph- her pet tortoise "Bolt Tortuga." He won the day.

Some highlights of the kiddos' photo shoots:

At the end of our lesson, each kiddo received a camera pin of their choosing from a variety Keri picked up at one of her crafty haunts, then they posed for a portrait wearing his or her full sash (to be used later in something they'll be receiving at our little closing ceremony).

Last time: Cooking Lesson

Next time: Closing Ceremony!

Sunday, August 6, 2017


The panoramic effect made my kiddos look oddly-shaped...

"My: Shipe Henwii"

We're weekending hard over here... house projects, errands, a trip to the farmer's market, a trip to the water park, late breakfasts, late bedtimes... and what messes we've made! But mostly, what fun we've had!

Wishing all a full weekend in the best sort of way... Happy weekending!