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Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Break in the Cold

Though it's only November, the cold temps we've been having make it seem like it's January. I'm not totally opposed to the cold. In fact, I look forward to it every year. I love wrapping up in a comfy sweater and warm scarf. I'm thinking, though, by late January, if the frigid temps continue, I'm going to be more than ready for some spring and summer warmth. These cold temps so early also have me stressing over the bees. I know I can only do so much, which I'm trying to be sure to do, but I still worry.

Two weeks ago I removed the top cover on the beehive to put a fresh jar of sugar syrup in place of the empty jar. After removing the empty jar, I looked down through the frames. Nothing moved. Nothing. I couldn't see one single bee. In disappointment, I returned to the house to don my bee suit so I could go deeper into the hive to see if the bees were truly gone. As I was dressing, Funny Delightful Son asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was afraid all my bees were either dead or gone. He accompanied me to the hive to help me check. As soon as I removed the top cover, I saw the bees. They'd come up from wherever they had been in the hive for the new sugar syrup I'd put in place. A sense of relief washed over me. Funny Delightful Son teased me over my gloom and doom reaction to not seeing a bee the first time I'd opened the hive. "You know, Mom," he said matter-of-factly, "when it's cold, bees form a ball to create heat. They were most likely in a spot where you couldn't see them." Such a smartie pants.

Today the temps have warmed to right around 50 degrees. I knew I had to take advantage of the warmth to place a new jar of syrup in the hive. This time, when I opened the hive, a mass of bees were on the top bars. Some were even coming and going at the front entrance. I saw another drag a dead bee from the hive and take it to the ground a few feet in front. I decided to go ahead and install the mouse guard, just tacking it temporarily in place to see how it works. The space between the bars is barely enough for the bees to get through, so hopefully I'll not have mice getting into the hive and stealing all their food stores.

Though we're early into the winter weather, I'm feeling hopeful about wintering over my bees. At least they're still here at this point. The next four months will really be the test, though.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A First

Flat tire. First time. Happened sometime overnight while parked inside the shop. Already running late for work. No time to change out the tube. No worries. Just look up. Three more bikes hanging from the rafters. Hmmmmm. Which one to ride? The trusty blue cruiser it is.

During all my years of riding, I've never had a flat tire while out riding. Even as I went from Yorktown, VA to San Francisco, CA, I didn't have to stop by the side of the road to change out a tube. What are the odds? One of the other cyclists had a flat nearly every day, or so it seemed anyways. On one occasion, he had two flats within a couple of hours and didn't have a second spare, so I gave him one of mine. I've often wondered why one person has so many flats while another never has any. I do try to check my tires every day, making sure they're free of debris. I give them a good looking over, examining them closely for cracks, missing chunks of rubber, or anything that I might have picked up during a ride. So far this has served me well. I have changed out tires that have become worn and are just a whisper away from becoming a shredded mess. When I change out the tires, I change out the tubes just to have peace of mind.

Today, on the ride home at lunch to let the puppy out, I found myself having to maneuver around several trucks parked smack dab in the middle of the trail. Workers were busy trimming tree limbs away from the utility lines running alongside the trail. Most of the trees are Orange Osage, and they have some nasty thorns on their branches, so not only did I have to wind my way around orange cones and large "Tree Work Ahead" signs placed--guess where--smack dab in the middle of the trail, but I also had to be sure to avoid the branches and twigs lying across the pavement. I'll be surprised if I didn't pick up a thorn along the way. I might end up with a second flat waiting for me in the morning.

Thankfully my first flat happened right here at home. Part of me isn't surprised. I've been riding on that tire and tube for 5 years now. I'd have to say I certainly got my money's worth out of both.