Beekeeping, Gardening and Quilting in Eastern Wake County, North Carolina

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Carol Burnett Show and Scarlett

I was getting my hair "done" the other afternoon and was reading an old magazine (they have the worst), anyhow a little trivia for you folks out there and particularly the ones that LOVE Miss Scarlett.  I should point out I tore the page out of the magazine (something I would not do when I was younger but now I do it all the time).  If I like it (say a recipe), I just tear it out and put in my purse.  But on to the real story here . . . . .
Bob Mackie created approximately 17,940 costumes for The Carol Burnett Show which I did watch and now watch and it just cracks me up.  Among the most famous designs was the "curtain-rod dress" made for a parody of Gone With the Wind.  Like Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 movie, Burnett's character "Starlett" donned a dress made from green velvet drapes - only in this case the gold rod was still attached. You can watch it on YouTube - so funny!
"Starlett" in the Green Velvet Dress
Wishing you the best for the new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Quick Bee Check

Last Thursday (the 22nd), I checked Hive #1 (the only hive I have now).  The weather was around 60 degrees so a quick check was in order.  I moved the deep to the bottom of the hive and put the supers on top - still have two supers full of honey.  Mr. Ellis said the bees might have moved to the top to keep warm - I really have no idea what they're doing.  I just hope they make it thru the winter. 
So I have opened the top cover this past week just to make sure there are bees in the hive and they're at the top again.  I will leave well enough alone. 
A belated Merry Christmas 2016
Mr. Ellis and I have discussed our bee situation and neither of us have any idea what is going on - he is a very experienced beekeeper and he's at a loss as to what has happened.  He has one hive - we're not sure what will come in the spring and we're hoping for the best.  I have discussed with him moving my hives so they will be in more sun - since they're empty, it's not a problem. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Thanksgiving at Biltmore

Grammy and Vivian
Thanksgiving was spent at the Biltmore this year.  It was wonderful and the Biltmore house and grounds were unbelievable. We took a rooftop tour of the Biltmore House, did the Candlelight Tour of the house and a carriage ride on our last day. 
A great trip and if you've never been - well, you just need to go.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ugly Santa

I absolutely love this Santa!  I bought him this year and he just spoke to me when I was in the store.  But I didn't get him - I had to think about it for a day.  So I called my daughter and said would you please go by Homegoods and pick this guy up for me. I described him and she knew right away - her words were "it's here because nobody else would buy something this ugly". 
He gives me great joy for some reason and yes, he's not the most handsome Santa but he seems right at home with the plants.  And the best part - he was less than $10 - what a deal!
There's something for everyone out there!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Late Bee Checkup

The cold weather is coming and today was warm so I checked the bees this afternoon.  I have seen bees coming and going in all three hives so I was totally unprepared for anything less than bees in all three hives.
Hive #4 - two supers on top full of honey and some honey in the top deep.  Nothing in the bottom deep but there were no bees in the hive and I mean none.  In this hive, there were some dead bees on the bottom screen, maybe 20 or less, but not a cluster anywhere so they didn't starve. 
Hive #3 - another empty hive with two supers full of honey but not a cluster which is the norm for bees starving and not going up in the hive body to get food.  And there were none on the bottom board - empty!
Hive #1 - thank goodness there were bees in this hive.  The two supers were full of honey and the bees were in the brood box with maybe three or four frames of honey.  So I put the brood box in the middle with a full super on bottom and on top.  They looked fine but what do I know!
I called Mr. Ellis and he had the same thing happen to his bees.  He has one hive now.  I hope these bees will survive through the winter.  I will check them in another week or so depending on the weather.  Maybe I caught this hive early enough before they disappeared. 
Beekeeping is difficult and I feel I've done a poor job for the past couple of years.  But I'm a beekeeper and want to continue so I'll get some more bees in the spring and hope for the best.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What the heck?

Well, what the heck?  Remnants from Hurricane Matthew at the farm.  It's the neighbor's trampoline which ended up in the trees.  Now you might wonder how it will ever get out of there - well, I wonder the same thing.  Guess it will be "yard art".

One of the pecan trees blew over - there were three in a row and the middle one blew over.  Now why the middle - who knows! 
I'm very thankful everything else was left standing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

NC State Fair

It's that time of the year again!  The NC State Fair starts tomorrow and will run thru the 23rd.  There's nothing better or more entertaining than the fair - the best thing after the animals and crazy food is the people watching. 
Many years ago I went to the fair with the "love of my life" at the time and his horrible child.  It was as fun as could be considering the circumstances - well, enough about that part - anyhow, he won a goldfish and this little goldfish lived with me for a long, long time.  I think I named it Lucky (well, it was lucky to be alive so the name was appropriate).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Curious George

Curious George turns 75!  The first Curious George book was published in 1941.  The Reys wrote seven stories about Curious George and more books were released in the 1980s and a series of books called the New Adventures continues today.
Curious George appears on television, movies and the little monkey has six apps for mobile phones and tablets.  He is funny and I enjoy watching his show on television (I don't know what that says about me). 
A couple of interesting facts - the authors were Jewish and had to flee Paris on bicycles - they carried only the essential items - warm coats, food and five book manuscripts, including "Curious George".  Eventually they made their way to New York City and the rest is history.  "The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey" by Louise Borden at the library or bookstore.  On my list to read.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Lily has a little powdered sugar on her back - she's a mess.
Lily and I are making cookies for the reunion tomorrow.  It's my Father's side of the family and truthfully almost all the original family members have passed on and now I'm probably considered one of the "older generation".  It's almost frightening to realize you're OLD!  OMG!
But glad to be here and Lily and I are making my Mother's Sugar Cookies and also deviled eggs.  I'll take something else but not sure right now - might be Carolina Packers Bright Leaf Hot Dogs - I can fry them.  Makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I will miss my Mom's chicken pastry and brown peas. She always made an Italian Cream Cake too which was a favorite of one of my cousins - well, really everybody but especially Sherwood.
Anyhow the reunion - we always have barbecue (the pig will be cooked tonight) and lemonade made by hand (of course) in wooden tubs which are probably older than me.  The food is great but as I said we're a small family now but I have always gone to reunions.  I just love going - seeing everybody and getting a chance to catch up without it being at a funeral. 
One of my cousins (now deceased) and his wife always did the genealogical stuff and it goes back to the 1700's.  The first reunion was held the 2nd Sunday in September, 1930.  I am the eleventh  generation of my family in this country.   
Mom's Sugar Cookies
I skipped last year cause my relatives has pissed me off to the point I didn't think I could be in the same room much less same building with them but I've settled down a little. You can pick your friends but you're kinda stuck with your relatives - mine are a mess to say the least!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Holy Batman

After our walk this morning and as I was getting ready for work, Lily got a little excited with something on the floor in front of the refrigerator.  At first I thought it was a small turd but after giving it a better look - Holy Batman - it was a small bat (and alive no less).  So I put a dish towel over the little bat and picked it up and carried it outside.  I did put it across the fence.
Now how you ask could I have a bat in the house . . . . well, the answer would be Little Kitty.  She was in early this morning and all happy with herself.  I should have known.  So I figure she caught that little bat, brought him in the house and just dumped him, he/she scooted under the refrigerator trying to get away and then it came out later. 
Little Kitty is great - I don't have mice, rats, snakes or much of anything in the garden and around the house.  I'm excited about the bat because they eat mosquitos and that means I must have a family around here somewhere.  A single bat can eat more than 600 bugs an hour — making bats a perfect choice for organic pest control.

Not my hand you see there!

Bats just hanging out!

Again life is interesting with all my animals.

Monday, July 18, 2016


I've just finished reading Lee Smith's "Dimestore".  It's funny and charming - little stories about her life growing up in Virginia, helping in the local dimestore which her father owned, crazy and unusual relatives, her writing and life in general. 
One of the stories was about Aunt Gay-Gay.  "She drank a lot of gin and tonics and sometimes she'd start in on them early, winking at my Uncle Bob and saying, "Pour me one, honey, it's already dark underneath the house."  This just cracked me up!  So now I don't have to wait till five o'clock.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Checking Hives

Hive #1
Hive #3

Hive #4
I checked the hives last week when it was so HOT!  They're holding their own but not making honey like I've seen in years past.  They all still have room in the hive which was surprising.  There's plenty of bees, didn't see but one hive beetle, some ants in Hive #1 but not a problem.  I put a super on Hive #3 and removed the brood box which I had put on in April.  They didn't need all that space and had not started working the frames in the brood box.  Hive #1 and #4 still had empty frames so I left well enough alone.
It seems this year is not as productive for my bees.  I know this is not the case for everyone but I won't be taking any honey till the fall and then we'll see.  Hive #1 and #3 are both new hives - plenty of bees in each hive and they look strong and healthy.  Hive #4 is also a strong hive.  I'll say again the weather this year has been different.  Right now we are in the hot, muggy and thunderstorm period and I expect more of the same for the next several weeks.  Then we'll probably hit the hot and dry spells in August and September.  And I have left the jars on the hives - I'll probably be feeding so it just makes more sense - will be one less thing to do later on. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

European Hornets

I noticed some large wasps going in and out of this hollow cavity in the Mimosa tree the other day.  They are European Hornets (sometimes confused with Japanese hornets).  They're about an inch long and lots of them. They will (so I've been told) completely destroy a hive of bees.  So out came the spray and late evening I went out and sprayed the entrance.  I also sprayed the following evening.  Well, I still have these wasps going in and out.  There must be a bunch of them in there.  They're not aggressive (yet) and we've had rain so I'm gonna spray again in a couple more days. 
There's always something going on with insects or varmints of some kind around here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Old Baldy Lighthouse and Alligators

A little trip to Bald Head Island and what a great place!  Get off the ferry and you're definitely on island time.  Great restaurants, no cars (only golf carts), no where to go except around and around the island - wonderful.
So we stayed in the Villas next to the old club and there's a canal that winds thru the villas.  Very clear water with fish, turtle and alligators!  Yep, standing on the deck and look down and there's a 14 foot alligator swimming along. 

He/she stayed around while we were in a OMG situation.  The last thing we expected to see.  He/she went under the grasses and you would have never know it was there.  Just disappeared.  We saw another large one that day and then the best was the baby alligator.

Just a tiny little fella swimming around.  It was amazing to say the least and we were very careful when we went outside.  Climbed to the top of Old Baldy with the grandchildren.  Beautiful place to visit and when I win the lottery, I'm gonna buy a house there!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sounded good at the time . . .

Well my cardboard idea went to "H E double L in a hand basket".  It sounded so good at the time.  Line the paths with cardboard and put limbs and other stuff on top to keep from blowing away and in no time I'd have a clean path.  Didn't happen - those pesky weeds are smart and faster than me.  So I'll take the paper off and the chickens and birds will have a field day with all those worms underneath and I'll keep chopping those weeds.  But it did sound good at the time!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Catching Up and Bee Report

Well, I'm just like everybody else - behind!  Saturday afternoon I checked the bees.  I thought all the hives were doing just fine but again I was wrong.  Hive #2 which has been a problem from the get go is done.  I dismantled the hive.  I thought there was a queen because I was still feeding and seeing bees going in and out - well, they must have been the neighbor bees - no queen, brood and very few bees in the hive.  But with that said, Hive #4, #3 and #1 are doing fine.
I added a brood box to Hive #3 and a super to Hive #1.  Both supers on these hives were full of honey and bees.  Hive #4 still has room but again lots of bees. 
So all in all not bad and three hives are plenty for me. We've had a lot of rain or it seems that way but HOT weather is on the way. 
And since my camera is not cooperating - the internet is full of anything you can imagine so some different beehives - unfortunately, I don't know where in the world these are located.

Ule, Bees, Summer, Beekeeping

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Honey Bees

Late this afternoon I checked the bees.  It's been rainy and I'm still feeding all the hives.  I put a super on Hive #1 and Hive #3.  Hive #2, which I've been so concerned about, has a queen but they're struggling so I borrowed two full supers from Hive #4.  This will give them honey if they need it and it might not do any good but it made me feel better. 
Mother's Day is upon us again and I'll just say "I did the best I could under the circumstances".  You don't get instructions with those little chitlings and you just have to make do sometimes and do what you think is right at the time.  My Mom passed away a couple of years ago - I miss asking her questions - she knew a lot about a lot if that makes sense. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Virginia Garden Week

Everybody has a bucket list whether it's written on paper or in their head.  Well, mine is not written but there's things I've always thought about doing or thought I wanted to do - one was going on a garden/house tour during the Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Hosted by The Garden Club of Gloucester were several houses in the Gloucester and Mathews area. 
Ware Church and Cemetery
Ware Church (Episcopal) was founded in 1652 at another location but the current building which still holds services dates circa 1718.  Pews in the church date from 1854 and the cemetery has graves dating back to the 1700's. 
The Heath House owned by Brent and Becky Heath (think Brent and Becky's Bulbs) had a 100-year old sycamore tree in the front yard and is on the banks of Back Creek.  All I'll say is this was an interesting house.

Snake in the bush.  Yes, he/she was on the garden tour enjoying a brief minute of sunshine.
Sweetwater on the North River occupies 198 acres of what used to be a 2,000 acre farm in the 1860's.  And the house was 9,100 sq. ft. but did not feel that big (ha, ha) - again an interesting house.
The River House in Ware Neck  sits on the Ware River.  A giant red maple in the front yard of this house- 19 feet around at "the waist" and stands about 92 feet tall.  It was impressive!
None of these houses had gardens worth mentioning and that was disappointing but in each house and every room of the houses were fresh flower arrangements by the members of the garden club.
Rosewell Plantation Ruins
But the best of the best was the Rosewell Plantation Ruins on the York River.  It's amazing how knowledgeable and ingenius people were to build houses back in the day.  The house was built in 1725 by Mann Page but was ravaged by fire in 1916.  The ruins today are impressive and the ice house is still there or parts of it. 

York River

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Random Act of Kindness

I was out and about this week and went to an estate sale out in the country near Bagley (and I mean the country).  It always interesting not only for the stuff for sale but the people you meet - it's a fun event.  So I bought the globe - it's metal and I love them and have several but not one like this - it was a great buy. 
When I got ready to leave I noticed my back tire looked a little low but thought it was because I parked on the side of the road in the grass.  Well I had to stop for a train and got out to check and sure enough it was low.  Well, this nice man stopped and said "M'am is everything okay?".  So he looked and said he knew Mr. Ken at the tire store and he would fix me right up.  Well I followed him to Kenly (I was going that way anyhow) and we stopped at Kenly Servicenter and he introduced me to Mr. Ken and I got my tire patched.  I had a little nail in the tire and I had him check all the tires while I was there.  Seems Mr. Ken and this nice gentleman that stopped to help me sing gospel music and know each other well.  Another lady was in the shop having her tires or something done too and an old man talking politics.  So what could have been a not so good situation turned into a good experience.  If you're ever in Kenly and have tire troubles, stop at Kenly Servicenter - really nice folks.

And I went to the Museum of Art for the "Art in Bloom" exhibit.
A "tire" bouquet!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

My Love Affair with Cardboard

As some of you may have noticed, I use a lot of cardboard.  I like to recycle and cardboard is good for so many things - paths, lasagna gardening and chicken coops.  Early in March, I (without thinking ahead) took the plastic off the front door of the chicken coop - don't know what I was thinking.  I am a native and I know April is always cold, sometimes snow and just plain unpredictable.  Well, April is here and we're having temps that's making everybody's teeth chatter. 
Cardboard and a staple gun - yep, that's the answer to everything. 

Hope this is the last of the cold.  It's been a blustery day to say the least.
And all the bees are nice and warm in their hives.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Same Swarm

So imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon when I saw a small swarm of bees under Hive #3.  I think it might be the original swarm that flew the coop a couple of days ago.  Anyhow I tried to get them but the queen was between the cinderblocks and the bottom board.  It was really cold last night so I was afraid they would freeze but they were okay this morning. Mr. Ellis came to check on Hive #4 and helped me get the swarm in a nuc.  He picked up the hive body and I took the bottom board with the queen and bees and put in the nuc - put another bottom board on Hive #3 and put the hive body back and they were fine.  All the bees were with the queen on the bottom board so we shock them off and closed them tighter than a tick.  So they're inside for a couple of days and then I'll put a queen excluder on the front of the hive.  Don't want to take the chance of her leaving again.

Nuc 0416
Checked Hive #4 and they were fine.  Switched the top and bottom brood boxes - lots of bees in the hive and new bees.

Hive #4 April 2016

Checked all the small hives and took the queen cage out.  Bees are working hard and everything looked good. 

New Beehives April 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Swarm and A Mess

These bees are just weird!  When I went to check on the hives Thursday afternoon I had a swarm on the rose bush fence (the same place I had a swarm before).  Wasn't sure where this swarm came from so I started checking the new bees. 
Swarm March 2016
Hive #3 was fine - queen was still in the cage and the bees had come out of the box and were working. 
Hive #2 - empty - nothing, no queen and no bees.  So I'm thinking (hoping) that might be where the swarm came from. 
Hive #1 - the bees were all still in the package box and were making foundation inside the package box.  The queen was still in her cage and workers were all around the cage so she'll be out in a day or so.  No choice but to dump the bees in the brood box.  So my good intentions of not banging and shaking the bees was shot to hell because that's exactly what I had to do.  Sprayed a little sugar syrup and banged the heck out of the box to get them inside the brood box.

Foundation made by bees inside package box
 Got the swarm using a 5-gallon bucket and sprayed them with sugar water and brushed them into the bucket.  Fortunately, I got the queen in the bucket so all the other bees went in too.  Later put them in the nuc box and shut them up tight.  Will open them tomorrow morning.

Took 3 frames with brood and bees from Hive #4 and put in Hive #2 since it was empty - there was a queen cell on one of the frames.  We'll see how this works out. 
The bees were the most pleasant little girls throughout all this opening, closing, opening again to make sure I saw what I thought I saw, and banging the heck out of the bees, etc.  I did get stung on my foot but no big deal with that.  So hopefully the temperament of these bees will continue to be good.
New Home for Swarm
The saga continues . . . .
UPDATE - evidently these girls didn't like their new home!  By Friday afternoon they were gone.  Didn't see it so no chance of catching them again.  The queen must have been released to soon with the package bees.  They need 4 days or so to get acclimated with the new queen and this didn't happen.  I must have pushed the candy out of the queen bee cage or it fell out - something happened to make them release her so early.  Well - you just live and learn. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Robber Bees

 Yesterday after installing the bees, I checked on them several times during the day and noticed a tremendous amount of activity - more than I thought there should be.  So I called Mr. Ellis and he had installed his package and now had robber bees trying to get to the sugar water in the hive.  I suited up and put a brick in front of the entrance and stopped all the "in and out".  After dark, I went down and had bees clustered under Hive #3 - so these were not robber bees but bees from the package that had been out and couldn't get back in the hive before dark. 
Cluster under Hive #3
This morning the bees were still under Hive #3 (it was a little chilly and early) so I moved the brick over maybe 1/2 inch for the opening.  That will give the inside bees more protection if there are robbers and a big enough space for going back and forth.  I'm not sure I had robber bees but I would be very upset and I don't say this lightly if my bees were gone.  Robber bees will strip a hive of all the honey, run off the bees and you're left with nothing.  So with the smell of sugar water they were coming from who knows where to get a free lunch.
So far so good today . . . . .

Hive #3
I've checked the hives several times today and they're looking good.  The half inch opening is just right to keep robber bees out.  Mr. Ellis called and his hive is fine and if there were robbers, they've gone on to another hive.  So we both gave a sigh of relief.  Our bees are fine for now.
More tomorrow when I'll take the package box out and put in the 5 frames.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Installing Bee Packages

Yesterday Mr. Ellis and I went to Goldsboro and picked up 4- 3 lb packages of bees (one for him and three for me).  Each package has a queen (marked this year with a white dot) and anywhere between 6000-7000 bees - more or less.

Packages are stapled together with a small strip of wood.
It was not a good afternoon for installing and I had other things to do anyhow so I put them in the wheelbarrow and left them in the barn overnight.  I sprayed them with sugar water and partially covered with a sheet.  They were fine this morning. 
So I have finished putting the girls in their new homes.  It was much easier than I had anticipated.  I did watch some YouTube videos (some were just crazy but some had good information).  I put the bees in a deep/brood box with 5 frames (a deep holds 10 frames).  The queen is left in her cage and after taking out the cork and taking a toothpick and poking a hole thru the candy, she was put in the hive using the rubber band method.  You put a rubber band around a frame and her cage/container fits between the wax and the rubber band.  Holds it perfectly and you don't have to worry about her falling to the bottom or the bees not being able to chew thru the candy to release her.  

Got the queen settled and then I took the lid off the box and put the whole thing in deep beside the 5 frames.  The queen is between frames 4 and 5. No shaking of the bees, no thumping them on the ground - just put them in and they come out of their box on their own.  Wednesday I'll check and take the box out and put 5 frames in the hive and they'll be all set.
The package box fits perfectly in the hive.

Beehive March 2016
There's so much more involved in putting a package in than I can tell in one of my posts and everybody's eyes start to glaze over after about five minutes so just know it's fascinating and I would have never thought I would be a beekeeper.  I think it might skip a generation with my girls.  My parents weren't interested and that's an understatement but my paternal Grandfather and maternal Grandmother both kept bees. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Getting Ready

Mr. Ellis and I are going to Goldsboro Sunday to pick up some packages.  A package is a queen with about 3 lbs of bees.  So today since it was so nice and I was home for a change, I started getting my ducks in a row for when the girls come on Sunday.  I'm putting the new hives in a different location - I think they need more sun and hopefully this will work.  And I've got to get some deep frames before Sunday.  Busy, busy, busy  . . . .

Hive #4 March 2016

Yes I know Sunday is Easter.  Mr. Ellis is going to church then we'll meet and go down to Goldsboro and pick up the bees.  It's the only time we can get this done - it works for both of us.  And I have to make deviled eggs, sweet tea (is there any other kind?), pick up my child at the airport and then dinner with the grandchildren.  So anyhow, we'll get it done and I'm excited to be getting some bees.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beatrix Potter

Some of the most beloved characters in all of children’s literature are those created by Beatrix Potter. This year, we celebrate the 150 anniversary of the birth of this author and illustrator in London. Perhaps her most famous work was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, published in 1902. She followed that with many other popular Tales, including those of Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle, the Flopsy Bunnies and many others. Many of the characters in the books were based on Potter’s many pets and lifelong love of nature.
The proceeds from her books and related merchandise made Potter a very wealthy woman and she invested much of her money in land preservation (and sheep raising) in England’s Lake District. Beginning with only one small farm, she purchased land until, at the time of her death in 1943, she owned over 4000 acres. Upon the death of her husband less than two years later, all of the land was donated to England’s National Trust and the original house is now open as a museum.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Well something went under the sofa and they looked but it was dark under there.  So everybody got a little flashlight so they could check it out.  What did they find . . .  lots of dust bunnies, a couple of chew bones, other odds and ends.  So we left the dust and played with the flashlights.