Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blue the Coon Dog....

This summer we had a coon dog show up at the house....he was laying under the bush in the driveway.  I don't dislike coon hounds (or any hounds) but they are not the type of dog I gravitate towards.  Well, there was something about the way this big guy looked at me that just captured my heart.  He was gentle, loving, and he made himself right at home when I let him in the yard.  The other two female dogs took a liking to him too (which is a miracle because they can be pretty witchy) he was allowed to stay.....unless someone claimed him.  Of course I had to give him a name, so I called him the classic coon hound name - Blue.  :-)

Blue got an introduction to self portrait time...he got pretty good at it!

Awwww shucks.....she said I was cute!

I think I will give her the "I am a confident coon hound" look....

I told Brian that I knew good coon hounds were worth a lot of money, so someone was probably missing him and it was only right to put an ad out.  We did - and we were very vague in the ad.  We did not mention markings or color (they come in reds too)....just that he was very friendly.

I got the call at work and the girl mentioned the notch out of his ear, and a couple other things about his dogenality that made me KNOW it was him.  It was her boyfriends dog.....she came to get him and we both cried.  Her - because she is a girl (like me...hee hee!) and a huge animal lover, and she could see how comfortable he made himself here, and she was happy to get him back.  Me - I loved Blue but was happy he found his people.  I lost a puppy once and was literally sick to my stomach.  He was returned to me from some people down the road where Phantom had wandered.  We had visited the day before and they had small they found Phantom playing with their dogs.  So it was a mixture of emotions.

She said if Blue (come to find out that was his real name...ha ha!) came back that she would not tell her boyfriend - and he could stay.  I let her know if he came back I would call her to let her know he was okay......well, I have not seen Blue so I am guessing he is doing okay.

Until later....Karen and Tripp who thought I was a little too chummy with Blue!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bee Hive Update...

Just a quickie update on the hives....we checked them last month and even tho one of them has enough honey to give us a little bit, we are going to let the bee's keep it for a food source for the winter.  We can still take a little dab out for say we have eaten our own honey.  :-)

Here is a quick honey making fact:  When the bees get back to the hive with the nectar, the worker bees help the field bees unload what they gathered.  Nectar at this point is about 80% water.  The honey is processed with enzymes...the conversion process is basically an evaporation process which works with warm temps and air movement.  The bees control the air movement by flapping their wings...they know exactly what they are doing!  The buzzing sound you hear coming from a hive, even at night, is the 'evaporation process' in action.  The end result is a thick honey with a 17% to 18% moisture content.  ONLY when the moisture content is low enough, will the bees put a waxy cap over the top.  There is now pure honey in each capped cell.
This is just the quick version of what happens....isn't it just amazing?

Now, a few pictures....Brian set up a couple new hives this Spring, and this is one of the traditional white boxes.  He tried something different and put a platform in the hive to hold the food bag.  We started feeding our bees raw honey instead of sugar water.  You know the old saying "You are what you eat?"  I can't get that out of my head, and in my opinion a bee that eats honey is going to make true blue honey.  In my opinion, feeding sugar water makes it harder for a bee to make honey, and when they do it isn't the real deal. F.Y.I. - I have talked to some people who do feed sugar water, but for only short periods of time IF there is a drought, not enough pollen and nectar sources, etc.  Like most things, I don't know that there is a right and is what we are choosing to do.  I had another guy tell me that feeding raw honey is if you are feeding them temporarily.  We don't want to feed them too much because then they will turn into lazy bees.  :-)

Anyways, when we checked on this new hive we saw that we should have checked it sooner.  The bees are all over some new comb that they built on their own....

And here is what it looked like after we smoked the bees (they don't like the smoke so headed back down into the hive)....isn't it just beautiful and pure?  Unfortunately we had to take it out.  Some of the cells had new honey in them, so we took the comb out and put it outside of the hive for the bees to feed on.

I am sad to say that we did lose this particular hive.  We were watching it and it just did not seem to be as strong as the other hives...not as many bees flying around, etc.  We were reading up and there are many reasons this could happen....Queen left (but usually the rest of the colony will follow her), Queen died so the other worker bees took over and some of the worker girls can even start laying unfertilized eggs.  Then there were things we could have tried to help the colony grow again, and that is to take a couple frames out of a strong hive and add it to this hive.  The only problem is finding the Queen.  If we accidentally take the Queen from the good hive, it won't stay a good hive and the new Queen and old one (if she is still in there) will fight to the death.  Another thing was to take all the frames far away from the hive, brush off all the bees, put the frames back in the hive and the worker bees who took over laying eggs would not find their way back.  Nope, too mean for me.  So we opted to let nature take its course and see what happened....when we checked a while back, the hive was done.  So we will save the boxes for next year.  We are hoping to capture a 'swarm' of bees to put in that box.

This picture shows the larvae in the cells.  One of the signs of the worker bees taking over is when more than one larvae is in a cell.  There were a lot of cells with two larvae, which means they were creating drones.  If you remember from a previous post, the drones are the boys who just sit around and do nothing except be fed by the girls.  They are the couch potatoes of the bee world.  :-)

The other hive is a different style.  All we do is put plain pieces of wood across the top of the opening and the bees build their comb from the top down.  They start out with the smaller comb like what is showing in the front, and gradually add to it.  Some of the pieces of comb are the whole size of the inside of the hive.  The bag at the bottom of the comb is raw honey...we put small slices into the bag and the bees feed off it.

 This is the same picture as the other, except this one was not done with the flash.  I could not tell which picture was better, so I decided to use both. They both show different things.

This comb has lots of babies in it, and a few capped honey cells.

So there you have it, the bee update.  It has been a long hot dry summer so we have set containers of water all over the place, and I put small sticks or pieces of wood in them just in case the bee accidentally slides into the water.  I also find I am not as anal about mowing the front driveway area as I used to be since I know the bees feed on the flowers....even the flowers of weeds.  We are hoping for a good Fall flower crop for them to feed off of, but we sure are not seeing it yet. 

That is all I know for now.....
Until later, Karen and Tripp who thinks we get a little too close to those bees for his liking! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cicada kinda summer....

This summer was a pretty big cicada year for us...they really are fascinating little creatures.  There were so many of them hatching that you could not walk thru a parking lot without getting 'caught' by one or more.  The males are the talkers, and when a male gets stuck in your hair and starts hollering, you know it!  They are very loud and it sounds like a high pitched screaming.  They have sticky feet like June me the heebie jeebies.

There were empty 'shells' all over the trees and around our yard they were also in the grass. 

Those eyes....I wonder if they really see out of the little black speck that we can see.  And if so, what are they thinking?

Here are a few cicada fun facts that I found on the Internet...I just picked out a few.
Cicadas emerge after the soil temperature exceeds 64ยบ F, which is usually in late May.
Only the male cicadas sing. They have sound-producing structures called tymbals on either side of the abdomen.
There are three different species of 17-year periodical cicadas that will not emerge in 2011.
There are four species of 13-year cicadas, which will emerge in 2011. 
Adult cicadas do not eat solid food, but do drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
Adult cicadas do not sting or bite humans, and they do not carry diseases. But they can harm young trees when female cicadas lay their eggs in the tree’s new growth. It is not recommended that you spray to kill the cicadas, because they fly into a tree to lay their eggs and spraying will not kill these incoming cicadas. If you have a young tree, you can loosely wrap the branches with cheesecloth to keep the female from laying her eggs.
• Pesticides are not effective at controlling periodical cicadas.
• Periodical cicada years are quite beneficial to the ecology of the region. Their egg-laying in trees is a natural pruning that results in increased numbers of fruits in the succeeding years. Their emergence from the ground turns over large amounts of soil, and after they die their decaying bodies contribute a massive amount of nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil.
Periodical cicadas are best eaten when they are still white, and they taste like cold canned asparagus. Like all insects, cicadas have a good balance of vitamins, are low in fat, and, especially the females, are high in protein.
Periodical cicadas are often incorrectly called locusts. Locusts are grasshoppers and cicadas are more closely related to aphids than grasshoppers.
There you have it....what part of our summer consisted of.  The big hatch is over, so now there are just the normal cicada sounds and less chance of getting snagged by one.  :-)
Until later....Karen and Tripp who thinks cicadas are too loud.