DIY: Soap Making

I have a very serious case of multipotentialitism. Believe it or not that’s actually almost a real word. A multipotentialite is “an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.” But the problem is I don’t really EXCEL in any of them. I SURE LIKE ATTEMPTING THEM THOUGH.

Speaking of attempting things, this blog post will be about my SOAP MAKING ATTEMPTS. Why soap? I went to an intro class on “urban homesteading” and the teacher said that making your own soap is the most cost effective of all the things he did classes on, and honestly that’s all the encouragement it takes for me to try weird things sometimes.

Granted, previously I have never EVER had a desire to make soap from scratch. I make our laundry soap, but that’s hardly from scratch (as I use Fels Naptha as an ingredient), but a few library books, blog posts, St. Vinny’s pans, and Amazon orders later I was ready for my first soap making attempt.

Attempt #1

I went into this VERY excited, feeling like I was back in chemistry class. I mean, I guess I sort-of was. What I didn’t realize was that soap making takes way more patience and preciseness than I bargained for. Unfortunately I’m generally fresh out of both 99% of the time.

There are a few Important Things about making soap:

You have to use stainless steel pans. Using aluminum gets you more of a chemistry experiment than you probably bargained for:

Per the usual chemistry rule, you want to add your acids/bases INTO the water, NOT the other way around. This is because water combo’d with strong acids or bases (lye, used in soap making, is a base) causes a strong exothermic reaction (read: HOT) and can potentially cause the water to boil. Putting the primary reactive component into the water means you can do it slowly, and there will be less of it in the water should it boil up onto you.

THAT BEING SAID, you should use proper safety equipment.

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I took safety VERY seriously the first time. Devin was quite concerned when he came home to find me looking like this.

So, you know how I said it was very exact and tedious. YES.

The recipe I did for my first batch is as follows:

  • 18.5 oz Canola oil
  • 12 oz Coconut oil
  • 9 oz Palm oil
  • 1 oz Shea butter
  • 10-15 oz water
  • 5.71 oz Lye

As you can see, those are weights, and they’re PRETTY DANG EXACT. The exactness is pretty important because in order for soap to become, well, soap, it has to go through a chemical process called saponification which is (this is the very short version, click here for longer) where the lye and fats in the oil react to form what we know as soap. A nice, lovely, pretty pH neutral cleansing agent to adorn your bathroom counters.

ANYWAY, if you have the wrong proportions of ingredients, you’ll be left with too much lye, a REAL strong base. It’s about a 13.5 on the pH scale and if it’s been a while since you chemistried, the scale goes from 0-14 with 7 being neutral.

Too long, didn’t read: DON’T HAVE LYE LEFTOVER AFTER YOUR CHEMICAL REACTION

How does one accomplish this? First, make sure you run your recipe through a lye calculator such as this one. Secondly, BE PRECISE. As you can see below, I sprung for a digital scale for this project. (Secretly I’ve been wanting one my entire life for weighing animals but that’s neither here nor there.)

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MESSY TABLE

I’m not going to go into all the details because others have done it better (I personally used Small Notebook’s blog post, but after getting my water/lye mixture going in the sink I started measuring and melting down my oils. The biggest problem I found was that I was using a lot of hard oils, which I had been refrigerating, and it was ANNNNNNOYING to scrape out enough that I needed. Also I was originally going to use olive oil but OOPS I was out. Canola oil it was!

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Melty melty little oilies! Also I added mint leaves because I have problems.

After everything was cooled down to a reasonable temperature (they say 100 F to 125 F), I combo’d them up and used my garage sale immersion blender. I’m not 100% sure that it’s made from stainless steel but nothing terrible happened so I think it’s safe?

At this point I definitely stopped taking pictures and let the stress consume me. Basically you want to mix to the point where it “traces” which is essentially the consistency of “slightly thickened custard.” So…good luck with that scientific description, especially if you’ve never made custard. After I got to…that point (look up pictures, seriously, that’s the only way), I dumped it into a stainless steel pan I had bought, which I lined with wax paper because A Book said to line the mold with that. I think that was for wooden molds. Anyway, in hindsight I WOULD NOT have lined the pan with wax paper it was a wreck. I feel like I took pictures of this but I don’t have them anymore so who knows.

After THAT I put a box over it, wrapped it in a towel, and let it do its thing for 24 hrs at which time I popped it out, crudely chopped it up with a wire I had, and let it rest. Essentially while the bulk of the chemical process has happened it will continue for about a monthish, so you let it “rest” for that period with lots of air flow.

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My very resty soap. That looks like a caveman chopped it up.

A month later, and I’m using it! It’s really lathery? I LIKE IT? I used it to shave my legs and it was like, GREAT? It lengthened my shower times because it makes me feel so luxurious? I have PROBLEMS???

Attempt #2

Shortly after Attempt #1 of soapmaking I was reminded that a mom of a friend of ours is like The Soapmaking Queen. She used to make it and lotions to sell at local wineries. So OBVIOUSLY, the next thing I did was call her to set up a soap making date!

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When I saw the quantities we were dealing with, I knew we were in the house of an EXPERT.

The process and recipe were pretty similar, though we went sans protective equipment (don’t tell!). I think next time I do it myself I’ll probably go somewhere halfsies, wearing safety glasses because I value my eyes and don’t want splashies. Also maybe light gloves. IDK.

Our recipe was as follows:

  • 40 oz Canola Oil
  • 10 oz Cocoa Butter
  • 25 oz Coconut Oil
  • 25 oz Palm oil
  • 32 oz Water
  • 14.1 oz Lye
  • 1 oz Lemongrass Essential Oil (for scent)
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Confession: I LOOOOOOOVE LEMONGRASS OIL

Her stash of scents for soap was MIND BLOWING, I resisted taking a picture because I thought it’d be weird but there were DRAWERS. #GOALS?

The other things of note were her soap cutter (handmade!) and the molds she uses for her soap. She prefers circular soap, and pours her post-trace mixture into the following:

Essentially a 3 inch (I think??) PVC pipe with a cap on it. Then, after it has set, she uses this soap cutter:

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She very kindly gave me a PVC pipe tube to take home, and after a couple days of sitting and some time in the freezer, my husband held the tube while I Falcon Punched the soap out. It was both harder than expected and yet still easier than Attempt #1’s soap mold removal.

After a few more days resting (it was still pretty soft) I made a rather MEH soap cutter to test it out:

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It turns out I can be precise until the point where I cut the soap and then I’m just like EH WHATEVER, SOAP!

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So now it will rest for a month, and then WE GET TO USE IT. I’m so excited, the lemongrass scent is just DELISH.

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I don’t know where I was going with this blog post but YEAH. SOAP. PICTURES. CHEMISTRY. IT’S OVERWHELMINGLY GREAT.

Provoked Thoughts #2

This continues my weekly series on things I saw that tickled my noggin. There are a lot more JUST FOR FUNSIES this time. And yes, I realize I definitely missed a week. OOPS.


SPOILERS I watch LotR videos way too often oooooops sorry NOT SORRY.


Blooming flowers are obviously VERY PERTINENT to my interests lately.


Instagram worst social media app for young people’s mental health

I always take these articles with a grain of salt but I thought it was interesting!


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This, curiously, was in a graphic novel biography I didn’t like but it PROVOKED SOME THOUGHTS if you know what I mean. Free speech is one of those curious things for me wherein I think it’s very important but also how uncomfortable or problematic it can be at times. Case and point, the lady this biography is about was an anarchist (the political party) and some of the things she said were…sketchy. Very sketchy. Borderline criminal? But also getting abused and locked up for exercising your free speech is BAD. So yeah. Free speech. It’s surprisingly complicated?


Not every new beekeeper needs a mentor

Good notes for everyone who is looking for a mentor or thinking about becoming one. I have never had a “real” mentor…I tried it a few times in game development but it always fell through, which was definitely mostly my fault. Finding a good match in any industry or hobby seems HARD. Then again, I am not the easiest to get along with.

Somehow this reminds me of this most dear clip from Brooklyn 99:


Devin shared a video with me this week that’s going viral of ducklings jumping off a platform into a pond. I told him THAT WAS NOTHING, and realized he’s never seen how several waterfowl species nest in trees and expect their tinies to jump to their what-seems-very-assured deaths.


So Nerdwriter1 is ONE OF MY FAVORITE youtubers, probably because he does amazing videos on LotR (yeah, I’m a one trick pony). But I thought this was also very interesting.


I should have more articles but I’M NOT SO GOOD AT READING LATELY. OOPS.

Tragedy in the Beeyard

This is probably a clickbait title. This title should probably  be reserved for bears ripping open hives or death-by-bees. But it was devastating to me and I write the titles so THERE.

I’ve been meaning to go into the hives and check to see if they need more empty bars. The weather turned rainy so I hadn’t gotten a chance but today when we returned home from church IT WAS MAYHEM out back. I couldn’t tell if the whole world was robbing my hives or if just, EVERYONE had hatched and shoved the next batch out to do their orientation flights, or WHAT. So, I had Devin suit up and we opened up the hives.

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It’s impossible for the camera to capture how many bees were flying. But also there were about five ON the camera at this time soooo

Devin is not super comfortable with bees. That’s too gracious. Devin is 95% terrified of bees but he loves me VERY MUCH. But still, considering how ACTIVE and NUMEROUS the bees were, this was a major test of love.

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This is where Devin feels comfortable. Well, actually, even this is probably “too close for comfort.”

The smoker WOULD. NOT. START. which I should’ve just given up because I basically didn’t use it anyway. Ah well. Practice.

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Devin, being my BELLOWING MAN, giving the smoker oxygen.

I opened up the hives, with fuzzy (at best) goals. See if they need more bars. See if there is obvious robbing. See if there are even food stores to ROB? See if there are drone brood, maybe pop one open to look for varroa mites.

Varroa mites. I meant to write a blog post about them but I thought “I have time.” In short, they are probably The Biggest Nemesis. (There are many but this one is winning.) The short version is, they’re like the ticks of bees, if ticks were half the size of our face. Think headcrab. But on bees.

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This poor bee has three visible.

Like ticks, varroa mites (also called varroa destructors) carry a plethora of Bad Things. Bad Things like viruses which cause bees to hatch with deformed wings as one tiny example. Needless to say, they can wreak havoc and double their population in one month.

I’m scared of varroa. I don’t want to treat, but I don’t want my bees (my very expensive and loved bees) to die. I am still formulating what methodology I want to adopt in dealing with that type of issue.

Which is why it was devastating when today I watched one of the brood bees drag a pupae body out of the hive and see a varroa mite scrambling to get back in after clearly having laid an egg with that pupae causing it to get tossed out.

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Removed pupae.

I had a lot of feelings. One of those stomach dropping, assume my hives are basically all dead, I killed my bees feelings. I don’t like it. My more reasonable side says, “Hey now shhhhhh. They aren’t dead YET. Yes, you found a bomb in the hive, you don’t know how to diffuse it, BUT you have probably enough time to read some bomb manuals and TRY to diffuse it!” Thanks, reasonable me. I feel sooooo much better.

So now, I have to figure out what to do. Oh, and bonus points because also the “tree hive” had TONS of water in it again??? HOW??? WHY??? I checked the roof and it’s not a leak. Unless it’s coming in through the sides or something, or just bee-living condensation, I don’t get it. I also DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.

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I AM SO DISPLEASED

In lieu of not knowing what to do about THAT EITHER, I scattered a few pine pellets in the bottom so at least it’d be getting soaked up by something. Seriously, what a crap day.

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WHY, WATER? ALSO, HOW?

With regards to my goals, I think I identified some drone brood. Of course, now that I know THERE ARE MITES (though other hive), this is NOT GOOD.

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I believe the drone brood are those raised caps there in the middle. A lot of those are empty too or uncapped, so probably that hive has varroa as well. I HATE EVERYTHING.

All and all, a crap day in the bee yard and a lot of problems to solve. SIGH.

I did manage to take a bad selfie though, sooooo

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One of the new bars of comb! They’re up to 12 now.

 

Sunday Project: DUCK HOUSE

After a tragedy in the bee yard (blog impending) we moved on to the NEXT crisis: duck housing. I had made a frame on Thursday/Friday out of scrap lumber but got stuck on the plywood bit. See, no truck makes it hard to get lumber of any size.

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Me, every day.

ANYWAY, today it was do or die. Spoilers: we didn’t die, but IT WAS CLOSE. If you’re using scrap lumber make sure you don’t accidentally hit nails or screws with a circular saw. Just…saying.

We got some plywood, sawed it in half to fit it into the car, and then played a lot of lumber tetris, but we managed to get something slapped together enough to work. I like making things that look like you know, someone tried. But for this, I DID NOT CARE. So it could, and it DOES, look like a patchwork quilt. Wait, no, patchwork quilts look nice. Like if a quilter tried to patchwork wood into an architectural monstrosity.

ANYWAY, it’s done, the ducks are happy, and actually I’m surprisingly pleased with the design? The top has a LOT of ventilation (which is probably too much but also ducks are the pigs of the poultry world sooo), which also means one can look in without disturbing anyone WHICH IS FUN.

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THAT’S THE CUTEST DUCK I EVER SEEN

I also learned from Devin’s A-frame “rabbit tractor” (or…quail tractor as it is now) that doors are very important. Mostly, if you ever want to be able to grab little wiggly animals, you have to make smart door decisions. So, while it disrupts the roofing something awful, I made the door NICE AND BIG and it just swings up and rests to be open and swings down to close. We’ll see if it holds up but DANG I like it. Easy access for food and water too. I guess if you didn’t want the things ever getting out this would be a bad solution, but these little goofs will be getting let out this week to free range so I think it’ll be nice.

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THE DUCKGATES SHALL BE OPENED

We definitely…weren’t great at measuring stuff, and less great at having lumber that fit said measurements…but…it all worked out. Also I had little “handles” that can be used to lift the thing. Once again, despite my best intentions, it is INSANELY HEAVY. We just…build heavy things. HEAVY BUILT PEOPLE WE ARE. It’s moveable though, so once they tromp down one area it can be moved a smidge over to clean ground. That’s really the only way to do it in my opinion. The chicken coop we bought (pictured below, behind Devin) does NOT move (easily) and that thing IS A PAIN. The run is entirely useless because the main building can’t be moved so the run gets destroyed in a few days and nothing can be done about it (except to just remove it and let them run freeeeee).

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It’s not pretty but it’s MUCH prettier than the cage they’ve outgrown and soil IMMEDIATELY after cleaning.

Anyway, there’s not any meat to this blog post but yeah. WE DID A THING.

And no, “Project Sundays” will not be a regular thing. I wish it was but also I’m a realist. ^_^

What Not to Wear: Bee Edition

I’m the actual worst at fashion. Also I’m barely not the worst at bees. But hey, I’ve learned a few things so WHY NOT.

Welcome to…

WHAT NOT TO WEAR: BEE EDITION

#1: Sunglasses

One might think, HEY, protect my eyes, wear sunglasses! I mean, you’re half right. Bees defensive mechanism is to go for the eyes. It’s the only thing that’ll get a predator, like a big fuzzy bear, out of their hive. But, here’s the thing. How do they decide where the eyes are? LOOK FOR DARKNESS. So, if you’re wearing LARGE, DARK sunglasses you’re basically saying, “DUDE I HAVE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST, MOST VULNERABLE EYES, PLEASE COME GET ME.”

So yeah. Veil. Not sunglasses.

#2: Dark Colors

I mean, this is basically the above. Dark colors = MAYBE EYES?? See, I always thought beekeepers wore white because it’s supposed to promote cleanliness or something. Nope, it’s so you can be like “HEY NO EYES HERE.” Also, KEEP IN MIND, that bees see colors differently from us. They have no photo-receptors for red, for example, so if you wear red, it looks like black. (Which is dark, obvs.) Interesting article: How Bees See and Why it Matters.

#3: Animal Fibers

One would probably think, “HMM what are the thickets socks I have? AH, WOOL, PERFECT!” I did it. Well, here’s the thing. When you’re doing bee things, you want to NOT smell like a mammal. Turns out, mammals are the number one offender when it comes to “let’s take all the honey.” So, if you’re wearing animal fiber, that area of your body is more likely to be targeted by angry bees. This is a great time to note that if you are a smelly, smelly human, like I am, best to shower sometime before popping the lid on that hive.

#4: Perfume, Cologne

I mean, again, smells. Try not to smell bad but also try not to smell too good. Like, just try not to smell at all. SMELL NEUTRAL. It’s hard, I know.

#5: Skinny Jeans & Super Sexy Tanktops

I mean, you can. But the less room between your clothing and your skin, the more likely if an angry bee wants to stab ya, you’re gonna get stabbed.

#6: Holey Clothes

I know, it’s hard. You don’t want tight clothes, but you don’t want lose clothes so bees can you know, get trapped between your clothes and your skin. It’s so complicated.

#7 Panic

Panic isn’t a great look on anyone. If a bee bumps your veil, back away and give them some space. If a bee flies into your hair (this basically happens on any sunny day with me now), TRY NOT TO FLIP THE CRAP OUT. I know. It’s the most natural response ever. I have curly hair so walking through the yard if a bee hits me I often get this lovely “IMMA STUCK BUZZ BUZZ HALP” sound RIGHT BY MY EAR. It’s fine. Just stop (and don’t drop and roll). The faster you move, the more a bee is gonna flip the crap out. Slow movements, like you live and breathe tai chi. Bees have like crazy seeing superpowers so swatting them when they’re flying is REAL HARD, and also, will make them angry. So just no. If you have dark hair and/or crazy hair like me, tie it back and use a light colored bandana over it. Remember, a honey bee* DOES NOT want to sting you. It kills them. If you do get stung, scrape the stinger out of your skin and LEAVE. When a honeybee stings it releases pheromones so you’ve basically been tagged as a big, mean target. Tai chi your way out of there.

* Yellow jackets and hornets are another story. KILL ON SIGHT. I mean, what. Bumble bees also keep their stinger, but I love them so just like, don’t troll them.

Notes

If you’re going to help someone with their bee hive (or if you’re letting someone help YOU with your hive), here’s something to keep in mind. Guests should ALWAYS be wearing more protection than the person opening up the hive. Why? Because while the person opening up the hive may be the “primary aggressor,” the beekeeper needs to look out for their guests first. If the beekeeper is fully protected and has bear mode engaged they may not be aware of how riled up the hive is getting, but the guests sure will! If someone enters the area when a beekeeper is doing a hive inspection and is not wearing protective gear, they need to be stopped and removed from the area or equipped properly. People, I realize more and more, are terrified of bees. It’s a beekeeper’s job not only to take care of their hives but also be a good educator and bee advocate to the public.

 

The more you know! And knowing is half the battle. 😉

Around the Farm (April/May)

I don’t have a farm. But that’s okay. I’m going to pretend. Hopefully you enjoy these pictures and explanations of my farm that’s not a farm. ;P


I was running some errands and happened to drive past where I went to preschool – low and behold there was someone sitting there with FREE PLANTS. SO MANY. It was the most exciting thing.

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FREE PLANTS

The chickens started roosting. IT IS STUPID CUTE. I don’t even like chickens, ya’ll, why am I getting attached to their dumb little jerky personalities??

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What a bunch of dummies.

 

Finn turned 5 and we celebrated with yogurt. Spoilers: I actually cleaned out the fridge and there was expired yogurt. I didn’t buy it for him. Don’t tell though.

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I cannot even with how cute the ducks are. Just, always. THEY ARE GETTING SO BIG YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

 

Speaking of cuties…Brego and I had to get some selfies in.

Can you tell I REALLY enjoy taking pictures of bees?

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I decided to steal some of my parents’ Camas from their pasture to try and cultivate in my lawn. In case you don’t know about Camas plants: they are in the asparagus family, and were used by the natives for food. After the plants die back their bulbs would be dug and roasted in a fire to create something sweeter than a sweet potato or they would be dried and ground to use as flower. I once lived in a city named after the flower, supposedly because when the pioneers came over the mountains they thought the valley was a huge lake because all the blooming Camas flowers were so thick and expansive. They are beautiful and bees love them. I have yet to try eating them but some day I want to. NOTE: there is another called a “death camas” which is white and yes, will kill you. So…be careful, as always.

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State of the Bees: 2017/05/11

This post is SOOO LATE but we’re just gonna ignore that.

FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS AGO, my good friend Kevin came from California. Apparently not willing to be outdone by Galadriel, he game bearing gifts. SO MANY GIFTS.

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Fortunately he did not ask me to look into any creepy mirrors. (Art by Matt Stewart. Do yourself a favor and go look at his gorgeous pieces, seriously, your eyes will thank you.)

ANYWAY, after bestowing upon me homemade donuts, homebrewed pear cider, wildflower seed, and the (probably complete) works of Asimov, I decided I GUESS I’ll let you help me with a hive inspection. But of course it was raining. TO BE CONTINUED.

At some point that week (04/26?) I was out doing a little gardening and suddenly bees kept hitting me as I walked by the hives. This is usually a very rare occasion but I had three or four do it in the span of a few minutes. I looked at the hive entrances and it was like Los Angeles traffic at rush hour. They were landing three deep on top of each other, knocking huge bunches of other bees off onto the ground. MAYHEM. So I opened up another entrance. I didn’t want to till the brood started hatching (21 days after the queen was released, so still a week+ away), but IT WAS CRAY ALL UP IN THERE. I threw on a veil, opened up the next one over, and not more than a minute or two after it starts POURING. Going from sun to rain in Oregon is not unusual but this was pretty dang impressive, even for us. I was soaked by the time I got back into the house. The bees, by the time the rain started, had already gotten back in THEIR house. So I’m not actually sure they NEEDED the other entrance open so much as they had used their Bee Powers (™, probably) to sense the coming rain and all wanted to get in before they would be stranded who knows where. It was fascinating. I love watching and learning from them about weather.

DO OVER DAY (4/29)

The sun is shining, and we’re suited up and ready to go! Seriously though, I’M FEELING GOOD about this hive inspection. The bees are all out flying in force, it’s nice and warm, I’ve got someone to help me LIFT THE ROOOOOOF (apparently the coffee is working well this morning), and uhhh I guess that’s it. BUT IT SEEMS GOOD.

Inspection goals:

  • EVERYONE STAY CALM
  • Pull out feeders OR refill and replace
  • Go through frames, counting the number of bars with drawn comb
  • Put empty bars in-between straight-drawn comb
  • Smoker practice
  • TAKE PICTURES??

The smoker, as always, was an interesting challenge. Here’s the thing. I’m sure I’ve said this before BUT I’m great at fires. The best. I make the best fires. No one is better at making fires. I make BIG FIRES. HOT AND FAST. But with a smoker you have to basically make a really bad fire. A tiny, bad, very sad fire. I’m really bad at that. ANYWAY, Kevin got to watch me struggle to make a fire that is tiny, mostly dying ie. VERY SMOKY, but somehow alive enough to last for like thirty minutes while we dork around with the bees. IT’S HARD, K?

So, we popped the roof off on both of them, let things settle a bit, then checked out the feeders. They were mostly full, which I had assumed. I’m not sure if it’s because I am the #1 World’s Worst Sugar Syrup Maker or what, but nothing likes my sugar syrup. Even when I supposedly make it right. WHATEVER, IT’S FINE. But, unfortunately, even though it clearly hadn’t leaked, one of the hives definitely had MOLD???? NOT GOOD.

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WHAT THE WHAT

Fortunately it was just on the access follower and since they clearly had enough natural food sources I just pulled it and the feeder out. UGH, though. UGH UGH. So…I have to figure that out.

Then it was HIVE TIME!

I had my camera so here’s a shot of the “house hive.” SO CUTE. Devin (my husband) watched safely from the bedroom window. I was really glad he participated. FRIENDS DOING BEE THINGS WITH ME. MAKES ME FEEL SO LOVED.

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The inside of the hive! There were little white flakes at the bottom of this one that I’m a little paranoid about even though google searches seem to indicate it’s fine. I still need to ask the bee forum, oops.

PHOTO OP TIME!

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So much drawn comb! IT MAKES ME SO GLEEFUL. And also Kevin seems to enjoy it as well.

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Kevin holding the BUSY BEES

I still haven’t seen the queen. Well, that’s a lie. I THINK I see the queen ALL THE TIME but I don’t think I’ve ever ACTUALLY seen the queen. She’s a wily Russian lady. I’m still REALLY BAD at recognizing, well, everything. But I couldn’t figure out if this was capped brood (in the middle) or capped honey. A friend told me it was capped brood. I realized I could’ve popped one open to check but I was too busy working about goal #1 EVERYONE STAY CALM. In all, there were 8 bars with at least half or full comb drawn on them. That seems WAY FASTER than I was expecting? Especially since it had only been two weeks, at least one of which was basically solid rain? I don’t know, apparently these ladies are hardcore.

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Along the way I realized my smoke might’ve been a bit too hot. See, how do you even make cold smoke, this is so hard. It wasn’t SCALDING, but on the second hive when I puffed the guards they were all “YOU WANNA GO?” I convinced them, I would be going shortly, no need for a fight. It was the second hive (the “tree hive”) that had the mold pictured previously that I pulled. This hive didn’t have the white powder (which is probably wax flakes) at the bottom of the hive. It also had about 8 drawn bars, and with both hives I added two empty ones, and moved the last empty so that all three new bars were in-between straight drawn bars. Which, it appeared, was all of them! So either my bar guides are good or these ladies know how to keep a tidy house.

We ended up wrapping up our inspection and I think we accomplished all our goals! I don’t think we had any bees who got mad enough to try and sting us, though I did accidentally squish a few. All in all I think we were pretty calm!

MISSION SUCCESS

Adding More Bars (05/03)

On Wednesday the third of May we had an 80 degree (F) day because WHY NOT. It’s cool to go from 30 degree nights to 80 degree days. After doing some pondering I was really worried that after going through 8 bars in 2 weeks of rain they would’ve gone through 3 bars easy in the span of a couple good foraging days. Plus, the brood would be hatching VERY SOON. So, after Devin got home from work, I enlisted his help in putting more bars in. Apparently full of confidence (and being lazy), I just wore my veil. NO GLOVES. They say you shouldn’t wear gloves but honestly that’s the one thing I have a huge problem with. I don’t want to get stung on the hands more than other places. It doesn’t make sense, I know. Anyway, Devin was brave, we pulled the roof off (the house hive roof is sticking again, CRYYYYYY), and I popped ten empty bars in the back of each hive. I didn’t want to intersperse them because I realized I’m also concerned about breaking up their brood too much since the nights are still not warm, and I feel pretty confident about their neatness so far.

I need to go in and do another hive inspection to see if I should add MORE bars now that brood has hatched, but now we’re supposed to have more rain forever.

Yesterday was our last day of “nice” weather for a bit, and I noticed a lot of activity around one of the hives (the tree hive). I’m a bit concerned because it almost looked like they were being robbed by bees from another hive, but I couldn’t tell for sure, and it seems like a really weird season for that? But there were some bees moving quicker than I usually note, and trying to get into gaps in the hive that are not the entrances. I’m not really sure what to do about that…I thought about closing up one of the entrances but weirdly there aren’t many bees USING the second entrance anyway? More questions for the forum I need to post.

ANYWAY, that’s the State of the Hive Address for now. I will keep you better updated hopefully. OH WAIT MORE PICTURES.

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Look at ALL THE POLLEN this lady was bringing in! SO PROUD.

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I used the wet grass method to smother the fire in my smoker – they say it’s best if you plug the hole so it cuts off oxygen so you can save the fuel for next time. Also pictured: trash because my yard is a mess BUT ALSO a wee bit of comb I accidentally broke off in my last inspection that they didn’t reclaim.

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Finn showing off the blooming crimson clover on 05/11.

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Honeybee demonstrating the proper flight approach to said crimson clover.

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Honeybee demonstrating the proper om nom procedure on said crimson clover.