Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seriously cool

Today when I put Queenie back into the shed, I noticed my dear beloved faithful but neglected MTB in the next rack. My dear sweet girl - I reckon it's time to get out those cleats, pump up those tires, check the pressure in your gorgeous shocks and get on out there once more.

And then I saw this. And I'm in.

A lot can happen in a week

Well, round 3 goes to Queen Malina.

I went back to put the clearer board under that second box of honey in anticipation of another warm day tomorrow - perfect for another honey harvest.

Its been a long wet week. Long enough for the girls to relocate most of the honey down into the lower regions of the hive and OUT OF  MY REACH.

Clever girls.

Clever clever.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oklahomians in Duck Herder Country

Breaking news my Oklahomian friends. It would appear that your homeland is indeedily doodilly represented at the Bendoura Arboretum after all - plot 4 to be exact. That them there, 8th column across and 4th row down.

A stand of LOBLOLLY pine trees. (you couldn't even make that up could you) Pinus Taeda to be exact.

Now I THINK these may grow wild in this true? Could it be so?

But WAIT - there is MORE - pinus ponderosa!

I feel so close to y'all!!

The Beast Rides Again

A crazy bunch of endurance junkie mountainbiking triathlon loving high VO2 Max speed skating cross country skiing champions descended from the mountains and landed upon duck central last  weekend.

Something about a mountain bike race or something.

Anyhoo, you wouldn't be a half dutch family without going for a spin on the BEAST would you?

Apart form the pink sunnies, I think this counts as Bike Clobber, wouldn't you say Mr Slow PRM?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A good day at the office

Things went very well indeed with the honey harvest yesterday. Queen Malina of the front deck and her team were numerous but placid. The smoker was perfectly behaved. After removing the box of honey a little away from the hive, I worked calmly and methodically to lift each frame, gently brush the girls off with a bee brush, and cut the honey comb out straight into a bucket. Each frame then went back into the box while I started on the next one. Once we were all done and I had two buckets of comb honey, the box full of stickies went straight back onto the hive.

Before I closed the hive up, I rearranged things a bit to pull another full box of honey up to the almost top of the hive and put the stickies box, and the new box below this full box so that it is easier to get to next time. There is one more box full of crazy comb - which I moved to the top while I work out what to do with it before winter. It is a bit of a mess, with unripe honey and unfilled comb in all crazy directions. I think I will need to cut this up and probably feed it back to the girls, but I will wait until they have had the chance to rebuild some comb on the stickies and new frames.

That sounds like a lot of boxes I know! - but I use manley sized supers, which really should be called "girly" sized supers, which are just over half the depth of normal ones. I will need to consolidate things before the cold weather sets in - the full box will come off and stay off, as will the crazy comb box, and probably the new box we well.

The girls were in my face, but not angry or aggressive. There was a lot of deep breathing and calm, slow, methodical movements. We all coped very well.

The brittle gums, of which there are many in Holder, are starting to flower (eucalyptus maniferi) which the girls are working hard so hopefully there will be a bit of a nectar flow this autumn and I can get away with harvesting the second box without leaving the girls short for winter.

Here is the very high tech way to get the honey out of the comb - squish it all up, turn it upside down over a mesh strainer over a big bucket and as kirkobeeo from Backwards Beekeepers says; "wait for gravity to do it's thing".

Kirk has a great video of him harvesting honey using this method. All the Backwards Beekeeping vids and resources are great. If you want to know how I get away without using chemically infused foundation in the hives and needing a spinner to harvest honey, you can read all about it on their blog. This method of bee herding is very low tech, low intervention, zero chemical, minimal work and low cost. I think our Northern Hemisphere folks are a bit ahead on natural beekeeping - mostly because they have very quickly had to rediscover bee herding in a post varroa mite and colony collapse disorder world.

Backwards is the new forwards.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

lessons from the bees

Sometimes folks think (wrongly) I am very brave for beeing a keeper of the bees. Sometimes I get very scared and very overwhelmed. Usually this happens when I have the hive dismantled, the smoker has gone out and there are shitty amazons buzzing in my face, their shitty sisters have filled every nook, cranny and lid space with honey and crazy comb which I have broken getting the hive apart, which has dripped honey everywhere and innocent victims are stuck fast in stickiness and I have murdered zillions of their sisterfolk because a heavy box full of honey slipped and squished everyone who was dancing on the rim of the box below instead of being down eating honey where they would have been if the smoker hadn't gone out again and there is sweat dripping in my eyes and my heart is pounding ............................

Lessons from today:

  • The idea that a hive mat will prevent bees from building comb up inside the lid is complete rubbish.
  • Bee tending can be scary
  • Those boxes full of honey are &%#%ing heavy.
  • Bee tending is a DEEP INTENSE opportunity for spiritual practice - for staying calm when things are quickly turning to chaos and angry stingy custard all at once - it demands PRESENCE and deep calm breaths but not on the bees right NOW or you will completely %^&#* it up and be stung a zillion times.
  • bee keeping brings you to your knees with the amazing majestic beautifulness and forgivingness of nature.
  • I mourn every inadvertent death from my clumsiness and lack of skill and strength.
  • I am humbled because many girls died today, and I didn't get stung once in retaliation, even-though I throughly deserved it.
  • Sometimes I think I am too chicken to be a bee herder.

So, I managed to move a full box of honey to the top of the hive, insert a clearer board, put in an extra box and make some steps towards getting all the crazy comb out from under the lid.

Hopefully all the bees will have moved down through the clearer board overnight, and I can go back in tomorrow and take off that top box of honey..........

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day in the Mountains

How can it be beanie weather again already?

Today Mr Duck and I went up into the mountains for a walk and a picnic. Some might say it is a long way to go to read the papers. But I don't mind.

We went to visit the Bendoura Aboretum, which is about 70 years old, up along the Brindabella Range in the Namadji National Park. Its only about 40 minutes from Duck Central. About 1500 meters above sea level. positively giddy!

My what long licorice legs you have my darling.

Cool. Different. Weird. There are lots of different types of pine trees. Mostly from different parts of America. I looked for Oklahomian ones, but there were none that I could see. It was arboreta like this one that helps stupid Australians decide to decimate native forests and replace them with pinus ratiata plantations. sigh.

There was bribery. Here is Mr Duck offering chocolate if I walk up this hill.

Here is Mr Duck, helping to make lunch at Bulls Head Picnic Area.


Saturday, March 5, 2011


I don't mean to boast. Well, OK. I guess that is a lie.

HFS & JFC the Holder Community Garden cleaned up at the Royal Horticultural Society of Canberra Autumn Flower Show. Yup, we done won best veggie display everything.

Naturally we were MOST PLEASED to beat our arch rivals from the Cook Community Garden.

Awesome. Awesome smug awesomeness, in a humble non competitive zen budhist kind of way. Kinda.

Those are my capsicums and garlic and some of my eggplants btw.