SINful Bee Keeping

I’ve always found insects fascinating but beyond satisfying my curiosity, I enjoy being hands-on about things.  As a city girl living in Virginia, I’ve been working on learning how to grow and maintain a backyard garden.  Sounds easy enough right?  Believe me, there have been challenges!  Aside dealing with animals that eat your veggies before they have a chance to grow, there are of course insects to contend with.   While the investigation continues to determine the affects of pesticides on the bee population,  I’ve been experimenting with quite a few natural remedies for insects.    Some work, while others do not.  It’s hit or miss when you take advice from people that have been growing on this land for generations.    Many advocate the modern conveniences of buying chemicals, while others (much like myself) would rather find other options.  It’s not just the bee population that is concerning but contaminating the water table as well.

Along this journey, I’ve been drawn to try my hand at bee-keeping.  Not only is it beneficial to my garden but also provides a scientific education.   Sounds so very simple doesn’t it?  Just attract some bees, allow the hive to be present and a colony moves in.  Nope.   In all the years I’ve lived in Salem Village, it was just happenstance that a colony started in a small wooden bird house in a Wild Privet on my property (otherwise known as the Accidental Apiary).   Imagine trying to attract a few bees deliberately!

Bee-Keeping can become pretty costly, especially if you don’t have the tools and/or carpentry skills to build it yourself.  Your average tiered-hive can run about $500 for all the supplies needed, and even more so if you intend to raise bees for honey.  I’m opting for the DIY approach.  With a few minor modifications, I intend to turn a small 2-door cabinet into a large Super.  It’s a little late in the season to get started so I’ll have to winterize the hive at the end of the Summer if I manage to attract bees to it using pheromones.

I’ve ordered (2) mason jar lids for my super, and plan on modifying an old aquarium for an observation tank.   Unusual Bee Works offers a tutorial HERE.  I plan on keeping it outside vs. inside a building so I’ll have to take extra steps to shade it so the bees don’t get overheated.

mason jar super

Many new Bee-Keepers don’t have much luck the first year but I’m hoping to take advantage of the already existing colony living in the bird house.  At the very least, it’s the start of yet another interesting hobby to entertain myself and male guests! Heh


Resources:

VA Dept of Agriculture

Bee Keepers Guild of Southeast Virginia  

(see BMP )

Don, The Fat Bee Man

Bees! on Paganspace.net

World of Bee Keeping

Virginia’s Grant Program ended in 2014 but there is a Federal Grant program (up to $200 per individual).

Honey Bee Festival 2016

Mite Control – Using Mineral Oil

Bee Keeper’s Glossary

Bee Vocabulary List:

  • Abdomen – rear section of bee that contains the stinger and other organs.
  • Antennae – sensors on the bees head that are used to smell with.
  • Barb – pointy thorns that stick out of the stinger making it hard to remove.
  • Bee Dance – used to show other bees where nectar/flowers are.
  • Beekeeper – someone who cares for and raises bees.
  • Colony – a group of bees living together.
  • Compound Eye – large eye with many sections which enable a bee to see all around.
  • Drone – Male bee whose only job is to mate with the queen.
  • Hive – a bees home, where it lives with other bees and produces honey.
  • Honey – food produced by bees.
  • Honeycomb – area where honey is stored, also called cells.
  • Insect – an animal with an exoskeleton, 3 body parts and 6 legs.
  • Larvae -second stage of bee, grub like stage, eats beebread.
  • Mandibles – plier-like jaws that are part of the bees mouth.
  • Nectar – the sweet juice produced by flowers, gathered by bees and turned into honey.
  • Nurse Bee – the bees that take care of the eggs, larvae and pupas.
  • Pollen – small spores from a plant that appear as a dust and are necessary for plant reproduction.
  • Pollen basket – area where bees carry the pollen on their bodies (hind legs).
  • Pollination – the act of transferring pollen from one flower to the other.
  • Proboscis – combined area of tongue and mandibles.
  • Queen Bee – the only bee that produces eggs.
  • Scout Bee – the bee that goes out and looks for flowers/nectar.
  • Spiracles – holes in the sides of bees which they breathe through.
  • Swarm – when a new queen leaves the hive with other bees to start a new hive.
  • Thorax – the middle section of the bees body, where the legs are connected.
  • Wax – produced by bees to make the hive cells.
  • Worker Bee – guards hive, gathers nectar, makes honey, repairs hive and cleans it. All workers are female bees

 

I will post periodic updates as I embark on this project.  It’s bound to get interesting!

 

Update:

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Attack of the Killer Tomato Worms!

As a city-gal that keeps working at the fanny farmer angle, I can tell you, I suck at it.  Year after year each attempt at a home garden has had its trials and tribulations.  I bought my house from a woman who was pretty prolific at it. I figured I was set! Cheater, cheater Pumkin Eater!  She gave me pointers to maintain what she already had on the land but still, I managed to kill it.  I could tell she put a lot of time and resources into the plot in the back.  Everything from a fenced in area for veggies to tonnage of rich soil piled on top of the sand and clay of Virginia’s swamp land.  If it wasn’t my backyard neighbor hurling bags of dog-poo over the fence to salt the Earth, it was  his invasive tree roots robbing the plants of nutrients.  If I wasn’t battling with that, it was contractors coming in to remove fallen trees and jacking my top soil to be sold offbunnies!.   I’ve had many agricultural adversaries, everything from people, environmental conditions to pests  (Bunnies are never pests!)

This year I was going to be more proactive, or so I thought.  I followed the planting season recommendations this past Spring, I composted, sectioned off areas where I’d plant and use natural pesticides.  Rain flooded out a lot of my plants that I started from seeds.  What I could salvage I moved to containers.  I even had a green house but it was taken down by gale force winds, ahhhh the pleasures of Virginia Beach.  I did manage to keep a rather hearty Cherry Tomato plant going, well up until this week.  I didn’t think it was going to bear fruit at all until I noticed yellow-flowers rather late in the season.  I was skeptical but I kept an eye on it.  The Farmer’s Almanac had suggested Dill and Marigolds to keep the Horned Tomato Worm at bay.  That was working out great until the last plant finally died off in the hot summer sun, the weather here has turrets.  Bam, immediately I was inundated with these little bastards.  Best way to get rid of them and save what you’ve grown is to hand-pick them off.  Still, latent larvae will hang out in the soil.  The plant was top-heavy and even with stakes and a Tomato cage, thing toppled over.  I picked as many as I thought would ripen to eat.  The rest will most likely be eaten by the worms.   Attack of the Killer Tomato Worms!

Satan is the poetry of the world and nature is its church.

That’s the tag-line for one of my Photo Albums.  It’s like that.  Maybe this gardening thing comes easy to some people, it never has been for me. I don’t know if I’m suffering  fish-out-of-water syndrome or I’m just failing at life.  It’s not like I don’t read up, take advice from locals or experiment with technique.  I do that plenty.  Each season I’m lucky if I can get some tomatoes and peppers to the finish line to harvest.  I’m not frustrated, I’m just being pragmatic about the whole thing.  Most of the time, I have a good laugh about it.

Attack of the killer Tomato Worms

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It’s the end of the Summer season so I’ve been clearing the yard of items that may get weathered or become projectiles during hurricane season.  Upon posting some of these photos, the small table in the background became a point of focus.  Is it an altar?  No, really this one isn’t.  I had gathered up some of the brass trays from outside and placed them on the table stand for my brass table.  Add a couple of small faux bonzai apple trees, bam. Insta-altar, apparently.  Here’s a photo of the set-up of the actual yard altar.  It’s really an aesthetic and vanity thing for me.  If I’m going to sit outside and enjoy the space, why not decorate?  There’s always a mirror, if that gives you any clue. I’m a Narcissist, for fuck sake.  I do light candles and incense but beyond that, I’m not entirely sure what people think this altar is for.    Just one of many masks I wear I suppose.  The stone-face I’ve made present there may bring that into perspective.

yard altar

This morning I received a message on my website by a rather angry ‘Alchemist’, I should stop fucking around, stop preScary Face Guytending to do powerful magics!  I’m nothing more than a poser and New Ager!  Ok?  Yet, whatever my photos present apparently led this person to believe I’m into the Supernatural.  Tada!  That’s magic isn’t it?  I always find it amusing when people claim ownership of symbols and an aesthetic.  Ok tough guy, go on and stop me from apprehension and use.  Like this recent photo of my garage studio.  I’ve cleaned it up a bit to make room for my new dance pole.  Here I am popping off a shot of my pole and all people see is an altar.   Never mind all my vending crap in the background, or my work bench where I make stuff.  Nothing to see there.  Just a typical Satanist and her meg-shift altar to summon demonz!  Shit, maybe they can help me do some gardening, I should get right on that!

Pole dancer

Meanwhile, back at the funny farm, James Jackson is experiencing a bit of head trauma.  Me and my Satanic Brethren are plotting to take over the world. Muhahahaha, I have tomatoes, who’s bringing the beer?

SIN JONES