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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Not my best day . . . .

So late this afternoon, I noticed a strange wasp entering the 2017 Hive and I thought it was a little out of kilter for that to happen. 
Well, let me back up for a minute - on the 16th of October the bees were flying around like lunatics.  There was a cold front coming through and I thought the weather was the reason.  When I checked late Thursday, dead bees were in front of three of the hives.  It was late and I wasn't sure what was happening so I put sugar syrup on all the hives again thinking mosquito spraying might be the culprit.  I talked to Mr. Ellis and later he called back and said it was probably robber bees.  I just didn't add two and two together at the time. 
Well, it was robber bees and then wax moths got in the hives and three of my hives were destroyed.  They were not strong enough to defend themselves and there was not a doggone thing I could have done to save those hives.   But the 2017 Hive was strong enough to ward off the robbers and they seemed to be doing okay and no sign of wax moths in the hive.  I closed the entrance to about 1" and checked the top super - there were lots of bees in the hive.
Until I looked today after seeing the wasp.  They're gone and what were left were dead on the bottom of the hive.  
Robbing is more common in the fall when the bees, wasps, etc. are looking for that last source of food before cold weather. Worker honey bees are normally law-abiding, industrious creatures, but sometimes they can turn to a life of crime – and it may pay handsome dividends.  Robbing begins when a few bees are able to enter a hive and return home with food.  This excites the other foragers to join the raid.  Before long a frenzy of robbing bees will be present at the front of the target hive.  Robbing will continue until the colony is killed and all the honey inside is gone.
I have made many mistakes in keeping bees but never have I lost all my hives.  To say I'm disappointed and upset about this would be an understatement. 
They have been such an important part of my life - I will wait till spring and then decide if I'm up to trying this again. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hurricanes Florence and Michael

Enough already!
It seems we're having a spell and not a good one!  Hurricane Florence has come and gone but left so much damage behind.  A_+{[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[e34  (the cat just walked on the computer)  I was going to type the damage was terrible in so many places and now Hurricane Michael is wrecking havoc.  I just heard a transformer blow but I still have power - I'm on an "old grid" so we seldom lose power (that said, we'll see what happens).  I live in what they call "Old Town" meaning there are so many new subdivisions and every clod of dirt that can be built on - well, I'm getting off the subject and going on a rant. 
So I'm safe, dry and all my animals are okay.  Not much more you can ask for in the scheme of things.  I just hope the tops don't blow off the beehives.  And yes, they are fine or were today when I checked.  Still feeding but they're not taking much sugar syrup but it's there if they want it.
I remember Hurricane Floyd or one of those F named hurricanes.  I told the girls to do their homework - they'd be going to school - get it done.  A huge oak tree fell during the night but didn't hit the house.  I slept thru the whole thing.  There was no school the next day and for several days after the hurricane.  So that just shows what I know! 
So be safe and hope you didn't have much or any damage. 

Downtown New Bern NC
Hurricane Florence

Downtown New Bern NC
Hurricane Florence
I can tell you there were sailboats in the Trent River stuck in mud in low lying areas, all kinds of debris in the fields of corn, piers gone and water in places nobody had ever seen before. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Magic Lily

Lycoris Squamigera
Common Names: Spider Lily, Resurrection Lily, Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, Naked Ladies
I have just dug a bunch of bulbs and put in pots (in case I should ever decide to move and to share with folks that don't have any).  They are to me an old fashioned plant but they originated in Japan or China and are a member of the Amaryllis family.
The leaves sprout and grow in the spring and look a lot like daffodil foliage, a little wider and thicker, but the foliage dies back during June. Then in late fall the lilies pop up again, this time producing between six and eight flowers on thin, leafless stems that grow up to three feet tall.  It only takes four or five days from first emerging to full bloom and the flowers last for two to three weeks.
The suddenness of the bloom is why they are called Magic Lily, Surprise Lily and Resurrection Lily.  The flowers in my yard are a dark pink.  It is a surprise and almost magic for them to just appear out of no where because I can never remember where they are in the yard.  One of my favorites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Neighborhood

I got three little chicks back in July - a Bielefelder for Vivian, a Silver Laced Orpington for Knox, and a Salmon Favorelle for Tiny.  They live in the big house now with the twins but still working on the pecking order.  They're now teenagers and have decided to broaden their horizons and have started sitting on the deck.  Little Kitty, bless her heart, has to put up with the new kids on the block and also the two older (not laying) hens and Lily.  They're cute and funny little things and hopefully I'll be getting some eggs in the near future.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Well, it's been a day or two . . .

Yep, it's been awhile and I have no excuse except this is time consuming and I've been piddling around a lot lately.  So, that said, here's some of what I've been doing - went across the pond - yep, a trip to England - 11 (yes, eleven) days away from home.  I went with a group on a garden tour with the J.C. Raulston Arboretum and it was wonderful.  Every day was another garden that was better than the one before - big, little, in between sizes, public and private gardens.  But I was glad to get back to the flat land of eastern North Carolina.  That's the longest I've ever been gone from home. And yes I took lots of photos but who wants to look at somebody else's trip photos - not me!
But I did see bees and beehives and there were bees in the walls of this chapel which is still used for services.  It was lovely.

1700's Chapel

Bees in the wall of the Chapel

Trip to Bald Head Island with the grandkids which is always great.  I love that place - even with bad weather it's a great place to visit.  Lots of trips to the river.
Trying to keep ahead of grass and weeds and I just gave up in the garden.
Beeyard - September 23, 2018
So today I checked the bees.  I didn't take any honey this summer.  Just not enough and I wanted to be sure the bees would have enough for the winter.  I have started feeding again - front feeders on two hives and inside feeders on two.  They don't have enough honey to last the winter and I'll just keep feeding.  Hurricane Florence dropped a lot of rain here and this has been a weird weather year. The Farmer's Almanac is calling for a mild winter but that is neither a good or bad situation.  If they don't have enough honey stored in the hive, they'll starve cold weather or not.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Bees

Bees May 2018
This photo was taken around the first of May when I was checking the hives.  Lots of new bees - a  beautiful sight.
I checked all the hives on May 5th and saw the queen in three of the hives.  Did not see the queen in 2017 Hive but there was brood.  I quickly checked the hives yesterday and added a super to Hive #2 less two empty frames that I put in 0318 Hive. I took part of the entrance reducers off so the bees could come and go easier. Did not change entrance reducer on 2017 Hive - they are not as strong the other hives but there is brood in the hive.  I'm continuing to feed all the hives even though they are bringing in pollen and we're finally having rain.
I've already had requests for honey and truthfully I don't know if I'll have any to share.  Since three of the hives are new, I have to be sure they have plenty of food to last thru the winter and I don't want to give folks sugar syrup which is what is in the hive now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Funerals and Manners

Well, it has come to my attention that with the Internet, social media and cell phones attached to your ear that manners and common sense have fallen by the wayside.  Yes, I'm talking about all those folks out there (and there are many) that feel they can't live without their cell phone in their hand. 
I have been to three funerals in the past month - my aunt, a neighbor from home, and a cousin's husband.  At the last funeral during the service a cell phone rang - not once but twice (I do think they were different phones cause you know how everybody has those crazy songs for their ringer).  It was beyond inappropriate!  Now the preacher just kept right on and he didn't stop and ask that person to leave but he should have.  What is wrong with folks? 

My Great, Great Grandfather
Now you know when they had his funeral everybody minded their manners.
So when I go to the great beyond and if you happen to be at my service - leave your cellphone OFF.  If you're so important that you can't turn it off, you surely do not need to be at my funeral.  And for goodness sakes, close that casket!

Saturday, April 21, 2018


April 12, 2018 Update - I checked 2017 Hive and 0318 Hive.  0318 Hive was doing fine but the 2017 Hive did not have brood and did not see a queen.  I called Mr. Ellis and he came by late afternoon with a queen and to help me check both hives.  Neither of us saw a queen in 2017 Hive and he agreed she must be gone.  So we put the new queen in the 2017 Hive.  Sat her on top of the super and put a small frame box (about 1-2") on top and closed the hive.  This will give the bees room to take care of the queen, get the candy from the box and release the queen.
We did see the queen in 0318 Hive - it's always exciting (nerd alert!).  
The weather has been cold and very windy so I have not checked the hive.  Will do tomorrow (the 18th) since the temps will be in the 70's or higher. I'm still continuing to feed all the hives.  They are slowly taking the sugar syrup.
April 20, 2018 Update - On Wednesday, I opened 2017 Hive, the queen was still in her little box so I took the screened top off and she went inside the hive.  I was more careful when opening and releasing since I lost a queen last year - didn't want to make the same mistake again. 
Queen Bee
So all the hives are working, still feeding and hope we have warmer and more consistent weather soon.  I covered my ferns again last night and will tonight since it'll be in the 30's again.  Have a couple of tomato plants but will wait another week or so before putting them out.

2018 Marked Queen
When buying a Queen, they are marked  with a dot of paint on their thorax.  The color code indicates the birth year of the queen  - red is the color for queen bees for 2018.  Makes the Queen a little easier to find in the hive.

These are photos from the internet.  Just wanted to have an example of what the queen cage looks like and also a marked queen. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Two Packages

Packages of bees are measured by the pound.  There are 3-4,000 bees per pound so Monday I got two 3-lb packages of about 10,000 bees in each package and a mated queen. Packages consist of bees who didn't know that they were leaving home when they woke up on the morning they were poured into a box (package) with a bunch of other bees with a queen who wasn't their mother. If they were swarming bees, they would have filled their bellies with honey in preparation for the swarm. So it's like leaving home with no luggage. They have to draw wax and get started the minute they are installed but without honey in their honey stomachs so they have no resources to make wax. Even with the honey flow and stuff out there, they have to be fed and continue feeding until they stop taking the sugar syrup.
The initial worker bees in the package are not offspring of the queen, and may be any breed. They are usually Italian, as Italians are known to build up fast. The bees and queen have to become accustomed to each other and that's why she is separated at the beginning of this journey. The worker bees will eat thru the candy in her little box so she can get out and get busy laying eggs.
The worker bees draw out comb, collect nectar and pollen, and the queen begins laying eggs, and those eggs begin to mature and emerge. It takes about 21 days for the egg to grow into a bee. Meanwhile, the initial work force will slowly die off, hopefully to be replaced by young bees. The emerging bees are offspring of the queen, and will be true to the queen and her mates. 
0418 Hive #1

0418 Hive #2

Bee Yard April 2018
Yesterday I quickly opened each hive and took out the package bee box and put in the remaining 5 frames.  The bees are working and have settled down.
Bees are amazing just like all the insects, birds, animals - we take so much for granted in our little world.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Two for One or One for Two

Well, I'm not sure which is which . . . but last Wednesday I checked Hive #2.  I thought they might need a super and just to see what was going on inside the hive.  This is the first day we've had in a long time that was warm (above 50 degrees).
So there were two supers and a deep.  I took off the two supers and looked in the deep - guess what!  A queen - yes, there she was so I put the frame back in the deep and put the first super on and checked that super.  Everything looked okay and then I put the top super back on the hive and checked the frames on that super.  Well, lo and behold, there was another queen!  

Inside 2017 Hive
I put everything back together and thought about what I needed to do - this gave the bees times to settle down and when I took the super off to move, I didn't smoke the bees.  I wanted as many bees in the top super as possible. I checked to make sure there was a queen in the super after moving and put a jar of sugar water on the hive.  

0318 Hive
Fast forward to today and the bees are doing fine in both hives.  Feeding both hives and they are bringing in pollen - red, orange, yellow.   
The package bees were delayed a couple of weeks.  Should get them around income tax time. I feel very fortunate or lucky that I found both queens.  So with the packages, I'll have four hives.  Good way to start the new beekeeping year.

Monday, March 26, 2018


I'm soon to become a member of the National Society of  Daughters of the American Revolution or DAR.  I started years ago but got sidetracked but just recently got all my paperwork in order with help from the DAR group I'll be joining.  Generation 8 (1700's) on my Mother's side of the family - my GGGGGGrandfather served in the American Revolution and fought at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, a very early decisive victory for the Patriots.   I hope I have the number of GG's right but you get the general idea. 
It will be several months before I will become "certified" if that's the right term.  The DAR is very particular about their paperwork. Only direct female descendants of Revolutionary soldiers or participants in Revolutionary causes are eligible for membership.
"Thirteen colonies fought to gain independence from the British Empire, resulting in the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783. The colonies penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the war was finally won after many bloody battles in 1781. Those who fought in the Revolution were known as patriots. For membership purposes, DAR defines “patriot” as “one who provided service or direct assistance in achieving America's independence” [source: DAR].
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My GGGrandfather served in the Civil War and fought at Fort Fisher but that's another story for another day.  I have relatives on my Father's side of the family in both wars but unfortunately the paper trail is incomplete. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

New Bee Packages

The beginning of a new year for beekeeping. 
The weather has been different again this year and continues with the same - last night we had a mix of snow, sleet, and rain.  Cold, damp and wet this morning. The high today will be 52 but it won't feel like that.  I hope this is the last of the cold and we're headed toward warmer and not a blast of hot weather.  Midweek is supposed to be in the 70's. 
Today Mr. Ellis is picking up two packages of bees for me and I'll bring them home late afternoon.  They'll stay in the barn (out of the wind/cold) till it warms up a little - maybe Tuesday.
New Hives March, 25, 2018
Yesterday I made two new hive boxes - one with a nuc box and one regular. I have one hive that overwintered.  I have had to move the hives down in the garden.  I'm running out of sun but I don't want to cut down any trees (they are along the fence and block out the traffic noise) so I'll see how this works.  
Beeyard March 25, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's the little things . . .

Yes, it's snowing outside if you can believe it!  I was Down East today and drove back in snow/rain/ice/sleet conditions.  I saw the most wrecks between LaGrange and the exit for 795/Wilson - I bet in 5 miles I saw 10-12 cars upside down in the ditch or overturned in the woods.  It was crazy!  So I got behind this little car with their flashers on and we went about 45-50 miles an hour for a long, long time. 
But I'm home now and having a glass of wine (I have not been drinking lately due to a cold that I got from those cute, sweet little grandkids) and it is the little things that make life good.  Getting home safe and having a glass of wine - Lily and Little Kitty inside all safe and sound with me.
Not bad, not bad at all!  Stay inside tonight - you won't need anything from the grocery store - it'll be gone tomorrow afternoon. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Image result for mister rogers neighborhood

"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" - it's been 50 years since Fred Rogers first appeared on TV screens - can you believe that?  When my girls were little, we always watched Mister Rogers.  Just the best show in the world - even now, it's so relevant.  We could relax, take a breath and listen to that calm voice and song "Won't you Be My Neighbor?" and "I like you just the way you are," are there any words better to hear.
My grandchildren watch "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" which was created by Angela Santomero, who grew up watching Mister Rogers.  So now PBS will have a special in March, a new postage stamp, a feature-length documentary this summer and plans for a Tom Hanks-led biopic.
I remember when he went to the crayon factory and we learned how crayons were made and towels - who knew!  I loved watching Mister Rogers probably as much as my girls.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Goat - A - Gram

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!  I stopped by the grocery store yesterday afternoon and almost all the Valentine's Day candy was gone - it's time for the Easter Bunny.  I'm always a day late and a dollar short but . . . . . you can always get a Goat-A-Gram for your loved one.  Yes, it's true, for a mere $100, Farmer Brown (actually farm owner Andrew Crihfield) will arrive at your doorstep in a pair of overalls, toting Blue and May, a pair of 8-month old Nubian goats and a bouquet of flowers - unless the goats eat them first - for a 30-minute visit.  Goats bring a different portrait of "love" than the usual flowers and chocolate  - they are bold, stubborn and hungry!  What a great idea and they have done goat yoga sessions, goat pumpkin-carving parties and who knows what's in the future for Blue and May.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Snow January 2018

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Alligators, Walmart, and New Year

I know - that's quite a title for one post but I have a lot to say tonight. 
Alligators - let's do that first.  If you haven't heard yet, alligators stick their snouts out of the water at just the right time to keep from freezing in North Carolina.  Yes, it's true - - well, I hope that works but anyhow Shallottee River Swamp Park posted a follow up to the original video that shows the alligators sun-bathing in brisk 62-degree temps.  All the 12 alligators and baby survived our deep freeze but they are still hibernating (a state called brumation) which can make them irritable - well, the weather made me irritable too!
Now on to the Walmart - I went to the WallyWorld three days in a row - OMG - and I have been a couple times since and it's only the 12th of January . . .  Holy Batman . . . is this a sign of my year to come!  Yikes!!!!!!!!!!  But Walmart released a list of 2017's top-selling items on and mayonnaise was the big seller in North Carolina (it must have been Dukes Mayonnaise).  Among the other top items in the state:  electric knives.
I don't know what that says about us.
So the New Year - enough about going to Walmart, a funeral (never ever how you want to start the New Year), and MAJOR plumbing expenses --- but with that came fun times with the grandchildren, time with my daughters, quilting with Pat and Sally and help/advice from my good friends Judy and Donald (what in the world would I do without them) - so all in all, even with the bad came much good.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Beehive Eye Candy

It's bitterly cold and they're saying it will snow later today/tonight.  So a little "eye candy" today.
Martha Stewart Hives

Internet land has so many pictures, stories and "how to" - it's amazing.  I always find something to look at and whittle away more of my day.  Beehives, gardens, quilts - well, the list is endless.
Enjoy your day and stay warm.