If you have "no place to go," come here!

yes, we are still married

It is our anniversary. Nine years ago she and I promised to love honor, aid, and abet, as long as we both wanted to. And we said it in front of family, friends, and a duly authorized person in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. The duly authorized person was nicknamed the Big Mitten for no reason but her last name and that the fab GF does stuff like that. It was a beautiful summer day, very hot. Earlier that afternoon the fab GF had run down the street to fetch me an ice cream sandwich from an ice cream truck that was jingling-jangling by the way they do, with that demented music and a trail of bike-riding kids.

Then we ate ice cream sandwiches and looked at the front garden of the B&B hosting our wedding, still in our jammies.

That may have been the best day ever. I can't say for sure because there are still days ahead and I never really know what new joy or struggle will appear. But that one was a mighty good day.

I think we're going to the homebrew store here in town to celebrate. I am going to make cider again, only I don't know if I'll do it the way I did before or try a bit mroe formal approach. I have an idea for a beverage fermented from blackberry and honey that could be quite nice. The berries grow everywhere. The honey we'll get from our hives.

Yes, we're keeping bees again. The fab GF is keeping the bees---I am the helper monkey. But I made some honey supers and Imirie shims, so I am a useful helper monkey and not a poo-flinging helper monkey. So far I've been stung once and the resulting bump was as large as my hand and itched really bad, but I'm all better. Oh, and I rescued the queen bee from the Rocky colony when she escaped. If queens escape when they're being added to a hive, the colony dies. This queen decided to fly away, but the next day, I saw some bees in a little ball cluster. When I shooed them away, I saw the queen----you can tell a queen because her body is longer than a worker bee's and thinner than a drone's. Also, she is marked, so she has a reddish pink dot on her back. Anyway, I got her on a twig and back in the supers. She's been doing very well. I named her Queen BB.

There are a lot of bees in the two colonies we have. A lot. The colonies are named Rocky and Bullwinkle, so the fab GF wants to call any honey we get Squirrel Jam. I want to use our traditional brand name: Chateau Marmoset. We'll see what happens.

Honey flow has recently started and already you can smell the nectar in the hives from twenty feet away. I don't have pictures because the digital camera crapped out, but perhaps we'll get them soon. Maybe not. We wear gloves when working the hives and the gloves are already covered with nectar and honey and pollen, and I don't really want to get that stuff all over any electronics. But this no tragedy and I have options, so if I can work out how to do it without getting everything sticky or anyone (namely me) stung, then so be it.

Get it? So "bee" it. Ha. Bet that pun stings. Haha. Yep, I still got it.

Anyway, the world remains a mess but we are alive and together. There are blooms and bees, and a few months ago there was an eagle sitting on a fence post, right by the side of the road. And nine years ago We each said to the other, "I choose you."

It was as sweet as honey.

Average: 5 (2 votes)


Submitted by lambert on

Virtual cake, showers of confetti, etc. Good to hear from you and of course about the Fab GF!

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'm mostly opposed to marriage, and the normalization of the idea that two (or more) people have to be legally entwined before they be considered legitimate economic and social units, but promises to love honor, aid, and abet could make me reconsider...

congratulations and felicitations to you and the fab gf!

and it's good to hear from you too.

ps. one of my cats is named rocky-the-flying-squirrel-cat so i vote for squirrel jam. otoh, i like the sound of chateau marmoset and those little critters are pretty darn adorable.

Submitted by lambert on


Time flies, and I see many in 2011, and in 2012, not many. Which is fine; life intervenes! Except our loss as readers, and newer Correntians might not even know about our work, in the same way they might not know how DCBlogger and Hipparchia fought the good fight for single payer so strongly in 2009... A long time ago, I now realize.

In any case, do check out some of those posts.

Submitted by ohio on

Thanks all. It was a great weekend. Though I got stung three times because my crappy Fat Karate Elvis beesuit has two openings right at pocket level. The bees get inside and then there is sadness. I should take a picture of these stings. One of them is actually blistering---it's like watching meat ferment.

And Queen BB is getting superceded. I'm kind of sad.

Supercedure means the colony raises a new queen to replace the old one by selecting a worker larvae from the brood and feeding it royal jelly to turn her into a queen. When she emerges (it is really really cool to watch a bee emerge from a brood cell), she finds the old queen and they fight. Usually, though not always, the old queen gets killed by the new queen. Then the new queen then goes on a mating flight and the drones get to show their special purpose. From then on, the new queen starts laying eggs like crazy and new bees emerge to replace the older bees.

Fun fact: only new bees shed the wax cells used to build the comb. They brush it off the front of their thoraxes, which sounds positively Seussian.

The Fab GF could find Queen BB and kill her and replace with a bought, marked, and mated queen. But she decided to let the hive do what it's decided to do. The risks are the old queen kills the new queen, or they both die, the new queen survives but is too injured to going on a mating flight, the new queen gets et by a bird while in her mating flight, the new queen's brood is sub-par, etc. But we have to trust the bees in this instance.

We'll know in about 2-3 weeks if a new queen has taken over.

The hive does this supercedure thing when they decide the queen is not doing so great. The Fab GF thinks they're onto something because Queen BB's brood pattern is not what it was (and should be) and the fab GF noticed a another new phenomenon beekeepers now have to look for. In addition to verroa mites, tracheal mites, small hive beetle (haven't made it here but we still look), nosema (controllable but really sad), American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood---and that's just some of them---we now have to look for paralysis.

The experts believe this is a genetic disorder through the drone side of things, so changing the queen is the solution. (Queen bees mate once and that's it, so you can't ask her to find a new boyfriend. Boyfriend already did his job and then died.) Anyway, what you see are worker bees who can't really fly. They can't turn themselves upright. They can't really get around very well. And this is really sad because worker bees are usually nimble little creatures.

The test is to shake a bunch of bees off of something and watch if they fly or fall. If they fall, they should get up pretty quickly and fly away. Often right at the person in the Fat Karate Elvis beesuit who has openings allowing for a bee to vent her considerably rage. Which is what bee venom is: liquid rage.

So we have enough bees who appear to be paralyzed that the fab GF has decided to let the supercedure go through. Normally we cut these queen cups out of the comb, eliminating supercedure and swarming.

Supercedure and swarm cells work pretty much the same way: workers are turned into queens. The difference is where the queen cup is located and what happens after she comes out of the cell. Swarm cells are the bottom and sides of a hive frame; supercedure cells are smack in the middle. Both are long and peanut-y looking.

When a virgin queen emerges from a swarm cell, that is a signal to the entire colony that a split is in the offing. The old queen and half the bees are going to leave, skedaddle, get lost, exit stage left chased by a bear, etc. They leave usually in early afternoon and well end up in a huge clump on a tree limb or an eave or a fence. Scout bees will then go looking for a new home while the main clump of bees remain clumped---the queen is in the middle of all of that, being protected. It's called, "balling the queen."

I have no comment on that.

Anyway, once the scouts have found a good place, they come back to communicate the new location (yes, they really do) and off the swarm goes.

Anyway, enough about bees for now.

Thanks for your good wishes and hope all are well.

Oh and I think this blister-y sting has started to ooze. Gross.

Submitted by lambert on

My father was a beekeeper, in fact. But it sounds like you have more to worry about than beekeepers twenty years ago.

Submitted by ohio on

Weirdly, yes, there's a lot to consider. We know more about them than ever and yet are often helpless in the face of the destruction raining down on them. Still, they are...cute. And really interesting. I'll try to get some pictures, at minimum, maybe of some of the bee furniture I'm making.

It's an odd hobby, which isn't quite the right word. The fab GF is getting a microscope to help her study and track what's going on with them. I love that shit. Smart is hot and girls with microscopes are the hottest.

I'll try to get some pictures. Seriously, I should show you guys this one sting, it's so disgusting, it's better than TV.

Submitted by ohio on

I have to do the dining room set for them, with china hutch. And several recambiers so they can loll about.


Bee furniture is the hive boxes and stands and Imirie shims and crap like that for keeping them. I have to do this one kind of base that uses dadoes and crap. Yes, "crap" is a synonym for "et cetera."

I roughed out the pieces yesterday, will get them to size today (probably), and start the dadoes and maybe mortise and tenon if I want to get fancy. Then assemble and paint. Ta-da: bee furniture.

Submitted by lambert on

... because that sounds like a lot of work. Somewhere I remember reading that round hives were better -- trees are round! -- but then again, round supers? Reminds me of the old joke whose punchline is: "So, anybody in the market for a round pool table?"

Anyhow, I hope your stings are suppurating less prolifically...