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Our hive and bees arrived today. Adrian suited up and watched David Neel, the president of the Whidbey Island Beekeeper’s Association and owner of Island Apiaries put the three-pound “package” of New World Carniolan bees into our hive. New World Carniolans do better in our cooler, more humid weather than other strains of bees do. They’re winter hardy, build up very quickly in spring, and are good wax and honey producers.

David removed the teeny cage containing the queen from the package and brushed the worker bees off into the hive

David removed the teeny cage containing the queen from the package and brushed the worker bees off into the hive

Her highness, the queen, in her teeny cage

Her royal highness, the queen. She will lay about 2,000 eggs a day during her 2-year lifespan.

David removed the cork from the queen's cage using a dental pick

David removed the cork from the queen's cage using a dental pick

David used a dental pick to remove the cork from the queen's cage

Then he plugged the hole with a mini-marshmallow. This plug is called "candy." The worker bees will eat through the marshmallow in about three days and release the queen.

David poured the rest of the bees into the hive while Adrian watched

David poured the rest of the bees into the hive

Adrian looks on while David gingerly places frames over the bees in the hive. Ours is a second hand hive that we bartered for. The frames have wax and goo on them, but the bees will clean them spotless within the next three days or so.

Ours is a second hand hive that we bartered for. The frames have wax and goo on them, but the bees will clean them spotless within the next three days or so. Here, Adrian looks on while David gingerly places frames over the bees in the hive.

David placed an empty super full of frames over the one containing the bees

After hanging the queen's cage between two frames, David places an empty super full of frames over the one containing the bees

David pours the syrup that Adrian and I made into the top feeder. The bees will consume this and start building comb. How they turn sugar water into wax is as mysterious as cows turning grass into milk.

David pours the syrup that Adrian and I made into the top feeder. The bees will consume this and start building comb. How they turn sugar water into wax is as a mystery to me.

Adrian places the cover on the hive.

Adrian places the cover on the hive

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Adrian screwing on a flangeOur bees are coming soon, and we need to have a stand ready to put the hive on when they arrive. By following the verbal instructions of David Neel (the president of the Whidbey Island Beekeepers Association–web site by yours truly), we built a hive stand today. Having found nothing like it on the Internet, I thought I’d describe the process.

I found a cedar plank that was left over from building the house and cut it in half with a hand saw. Because I don’t have a power saw, this was easier for me than cutting a piece of plywood to size. I knew that if I connected these planks via braces, they would accommodate the 22 x 16.25-inch dimensions of a Langstroth hive‘s bottom board.Adrian screws one of the legs into the flange

It took two trips to the hardware store, but we eventually gathered:

  • four half-inch galvanized flanges
  • four half-inch galvanized pipes (threaded on both ends). These come in various lengths. Ours are about seven inches long.
  • four half-inch galvanized caps
  • three 6-inch galvanized braces
  • 28 one-and-a-half-inch wood screws.

I marked and pre-drilled holes for the flanges. Or tried to. Both drill batteries were dead thanks to the offspring, who got a talking-to.

Once the flanges were screwed onto the boards, I pre-drilled the braces and screwed those on. Then we put the caps on the pipes and screwed the pipes onto the flanges. I suppose you could do it without the caps, but I found that they offered a cool self-leveling feature. It was easy to loosen or tighten them to level the stand.

Adrian with the hive stand. Legs are in tin-can ant moats.The finished stand looks like a little coffee table. We placed it on six 2 x 8 x 16-inch pavers, and placed tin cans under the legs. Pouring oil in these cans creates a “moat” that prevents ants and other invaders from scaling the legs of the stand and entering the hive. This is why I opted not to use regular cinder blocks or a wooden frame as a stand. I like the idea  of keeping uninvited guests out of the hive.

While she stayed at the Writer’s Refuge, Carolyn Gale took the following pictures of our goats, for which I’m grateful. Now that they’re grown, it’s fun to be reminded of how downright adorable they were.

The goats are named after four of Saturn’s 23 moons. The does are Pandora and Rhea, and the bucks are Calypso and Pan. Moon names are inspired by the name of our farm: “13 Moons Farm.”

Calypso When they were smaller, we took all four goats for a "browse" occasionally Adrian would bolt down Foxglove Lane, and the goats would tear after him Adrian would bolt down Foxglove Lane, and the goats would tear after him Calypso was Adrian's favorite Calypso visits Adrian in the fort he made out of fire wood The girls look so much alike, that we tell them apart by their collars. Pandora = purple. Rhea = red.