Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Hive Visit! {and 8 Lessons Learned...}

Today was the day that I got to go check on our girls!!  It didn't really go like I had been imagining...

I was picturing myself donned in my veil, holding my smoker, slowly and rhythmically inspecting frame by frame.  The reality didn't exactly unfold that way. Here are 8 lessons I learned as a new bee keeper visiting her hives for the first time:

1) Arrange for childcare.  My parents were still out of town and we thought for some reason that Ayden would just look at books in his car seat while we quickly checked to see if the queens had been released and then all head on our merry way.  I suppose he thought we drove into a field and abandoned him because they poor little guy lost his mind!  His crying set me up to be frazzled and stressed before I even got started.

2) If you feel frazzled or stressed already, consider giving your hive checking a rain check.  They will still be there a day or two later and keeping your cool is essential when dealing with buzzing creatures wielding stingers.

3) Practice with your smoker ahead of time.  Also make sure you think to give it a puff every now and then during your inspection to keep it going.  David got it going great for his first time but in the hustle and bustle of the hives, we got caught up in working and didn't give it any puffs.  By the time I opened the second hive, my smoker was out and they were pretty mad by the end of their inspection.

4) Be ready to problem solve on the spot! While I was looking for the queen in the second hive (the one I didn't have enough smoke for), the weight of the bees  made the foundation fall out of one side of the frame (I guess that one wasn't in very tight...).  David had gone to tend to Ayden so I was left alone with a frame full of startled, and therefore defensive bees.  After frantically calling for David's help,  him telling me that he couldn't help and encouraging me to take a deep breath and find a way to slip it back in,  I did just that.  To top it off, the queen cage had fallen to the bottom board and I had to go even further into the angry hive than I had wanted to and got my first sting in the process...)

Through my jacket and everything.  OUCH!
5) A new foundation, full of bees, is pretty heavy.  Consider keeping the frames vertical until the bees have had a chance to pull out the comb and seal the sides with propolis. 

6) Tie your hive tool to your jacket.  I wasted some precious, smokeless moments trying to find where I had absent mindedly put my hive tool. If it were tied to my jacket, like a speaker at bee school had recommended, I wouldn't even have to give it a second thought.

7)  Go in the middle of the day when the foragers will be out foraging.  They say "visiting hours" should be between 10am and 5pm.  We went at 7pm and all the girls were all in for the night.  Granted, the 10,000 bees that are in there right now is nothing compared to the 60,000 the hive will have mid-summer, I think fewer is always better when you are about to open their hive.

8)  Last, and possibly most important, don't be afraid to ask your mentor to come back and help you with your first hive opening.  Even if you aren't afraid of bees, things can get pretty intense pretty fast.  I swear, as the buzzing in the second hive got louder and louder as the became more agitated, it was like I was playing Catch Phrase and the buzzer was about to go off in my hand.  Add the foundation incident and a sting to the mix and you've officially set yourself up for a not-so-pleasant visit.  Having my mentor there would have fixed all of these problems, if not prevented them altogether.

Some lessons are best learned the hard way!  I hope that some other new"bee" beekeepers out there might be able to learn from my experience today.  You better believe that my trusty mentor will come along for the next hive opening!! The good news is that both queens had been released (though I wasn't able to check for evidence that they were alive and working) and the bees seem to have made themselves at home.  They had already drawn out a lot of comb and were coming and going like busy bees do.  I am excited to learn more and for hive inspections to become second nature.  It is definitely a thrilling hobby to have.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Breakfast For Dinner??

We celebrated David's birthday today! The fact that our birthdays are so close was one of the first things we talked about when we were starting our high school sweetheart relationship. We were on AOL Instant Messenger and my screen name was Dancer0426 and his was DL429. Oh high schoolers and their important AOL IM subject matter...

Anyway, Ayden and I went to meet him for lunch again:

And then we came home and did some housework while we waited for the birthday boy to get home from work. We have a family tradition that the birthday person gets to pick what we are having for dinner that night. I chose Donatos pizza and Caramanda's for dessert and David decided he wanted breakfast for dinner, aka: brinner.

David's Birthday Grand Slam Brinner:
Paleo waffles with banana
scrambled eggs
maple sausage
orange juice
and a side of cantaloupe
{Notice the bites? I almost forgot to take pictures...}
We actually used to have brinner more often, back before we were meal planners. It is a great go to meal after a hectic day when you want something easy that's still home cooked. It's also a great solution on those days where you find yourself standing in front of the fridge, uninspired. Most people have a carton of eggs on hand. They cook up so fast and are loaded with nutrients. Pair them with some sort of breakfast meat, a smoothie, a glass of OJ, or all of the above and you have a quick and easy, well balanced meal. Who cares if it's breakfast food! It's better that McDonalds or Donatos any day!!

"Happy birthday to Daddy!"
When Ayden gets older, I'll have to plan it on purpose every now and then. I think he'll get a kick out of it. And since we plan on having laying hens within the next year or two, I'm pretty sure eggs will always be well stocked at our house!

Do you ever have breakfast for dinner?? If not, give it a try next time you go to cook a meal and can't find the ingredients or inspiration you need!


PS - we checked on the girls again today.  They seem to be doing well.  I coaxed (or more like banged) the rest of the bees out of the package boxes and brought those back to the house with us.  We'll open them up tomorrow and see whether or not the queens have been released!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sarah's Feel Better "Tea"

I always have gotten a sinus infection this time of year. I'm not sure if it is allergy related (I never had seasonal allergies as a child but tree pollen is CRAZY high right now). In years passed, I would just go to a walk in clinic and get an antibiotic. The year we found out we were pregnant, however, I didn't want to take any medication if I didn't have to (my pregnancy is what started my quest to first *try* natural remedies before resorting to traditional medicine and so far nature has not let us down!). I asked my good friend Google about a natural remedy for sinus infections. The most consistent result was apple cider vinegar. Specifically, Bragg's organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. So I thought I'd give it a try...

Upon further research, I discovered that it is a miracle product!! We use it on Ayden's bum if he has particularly angry redness in his diaper area (1 part vinegar/1 part water), I've used it as a toner for my face (1/4 part vinegar/1 part water), it is apparently a good dandruff treatment, the list goes on and on! But, I digress.

Here is the recipe I use to cure what ails me this time of year.

~8oz hot water
~3Tbsp Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
~a squeeze of lemon (optional)
~honey (of course, HONEY!! - also optional)
It is not {actually} a tea but it is warm and has honey and lemon... That makes it close enough to tea, right?!? I take this concoction twice a day until my symptoms subside. If I am experiencing a particularly nasty infection (green goo taking up residence in my head or chest), I add grapefruit seed extract, garlic powder, vitamin C, echonasia/golden seal and quercitin supplements* for immune boosting support while I let my body do what it does best. Take care of itself! Now that i have this remedy, I start taking it at the first sign of drainage and the green goo never finds me. I will SWEAR by this "tea" of mine.

The vinegar is strong in this concoction. If you find that it burns your throat a bit, just chug it all down at once. Also know that the more honey you add, the better it tastes. The honey also coats your throat a bit which seems to make it go down smoother. David is not a huge fan of apple cider vinegar so he puts his in apple juice and it seems to do the trick while masking the taste of the vinegar.

* Please note that I am in no way a professional here. I am just sharing my own experience so that you can add it to your research as you look to find your own natural remedies.

Before I say goodbye, I wanted to give a bee update! It's been raining here so we figured they hung out inside the hives most of the day on Saturday. We went to check on them today and got to watch a lot of them taking their "orientation" flights. They make circles around the hive, gradually increasing their distance so when they are out foraging (a 6 mile radius), they'll be able to recognize their surroundings and find their way back. Amazing I tell ya, simply amazing! It was so fun to see them in action.

We had a pretty quiet day today filled with house work, cooking and a trip to the mall (David spent his birthday money on a new work outfit). It was a great, low key family day.

Let me know if my feel better tea makes you feel better next time you are under the weather.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

A New Direction

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what direction I want to go with this blog. It started out as a way for me to journal my way through my first year as a mother. A place to document all of Ayden's milestones and a safe place to back up all of the random pictures and videos that I take on my phone everyday. It has also been a great place for me to sort through my thoughts and feelings as a new mother and to share what I have learned along the way in case any of you might encounter the same things during your journeys. I still love using it for all of those things but now I feel compelled to cover more ground.

We have sold our house and moved onto my family's farm. We plan to build a home, debt free. We plan to grow and raise as much of our food as possible. We hope to eventually start a CSA and make a community for the folks in our area that will allow access to wholesome foods as well as provide educational opportunities for preparing those foods. We are pretty passionate about green living and holistic healing. I enjoy being creative and plan to undertake my fair share of DIY projects once we do make it into our new house as well as putting my new sewing machine to work (the one that I got for CHRISTMAS and still haven't even plugged in...).

I suppose what I am tying to say is that this blog is titled "Life With the Ladniers" and our lives have got a lot more going on now than they did 15 months ago. I want to write about it ALL! I never knew when I started this blog that I would enjoy it as much as I do. Along with posts about Ayden and his development, I want to start including posts about our bees (which I've started doing already) and other farmstead related fun. I want to write about the purging and organizing processes while we work to simplify our lives. I want to share recipes, craft projects and our DIY home decorating adventures. I want to write about... Our lives! Everything that makes our little family what it is.

I know that most of you started reading when this was "a daily diary of a stay at home mom" and I hope you'll continue to follow us during this next chapter of our lives. We have a pretty long but exciting road ahead and I'd love to take you along.

Thank you so much for reading along here at Life With the Ladniers. Leave a comment below letting me know what you think! I read and enjoy each and every comment (and want to get better about responding!). Any post topic requests?? I am so excited about the changes ahead. For this little blog and in our lives!!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Hap"bee" Birthday To Me!! - Bee Installation Day!

Today was totally awesome!! 
{prepare yourselves for a plethora of pictures...}

Woke up to a beautifully sunny day.
Made banana pancakes and bacon for breakfast.
Ayden got the lid off of his smoothie.
He proceeded to drink what he didn't spill like a big boy.
We went and met David for lunch... but somehow, I forgot to take a picture.

Went to pick up the girls!!
Two 3lb packages of bees.  Each package has around 10,000 bees in it.
Made a little friend while I was there.
Came home and prepared for the big bee installation!
Removing the cover.  Let's do this!!
Jackets, veils and gloves on.  We're ready!

Removing the can of sugar syrup.
Taking out the queen cage.
Checking on the queens.
Both were alive and well!
Shaking the bees into their new home.
Ready to add the queen cage.
It hangs between the middle frames.
The bees slowly eat a candy plug that releases her after a couple of days.
It gives them all a chance to get to know her so they don't kill her.
Replacing the frames
Leaving sugar syrup for them to eat on until the nectar starts to flow.
Cheesing with our newly inhabited HIVES!!
I had a night off from cooking and kitchen clean up!
Had a very non Paleo celebration dinner and dessert.
Danatos pepparoni and pineapple pizza
followed by a Caramanda's cupcake and  REAL ice cream!
Ayden ate chicken, avocado, strawberries and kale chips while we had our pizza...
Sorry for the  picture overload. I had such an exciting, fun filled birthday and had to share all the fun!  I have a headache from all the sugar which makes me feel like it will be easy to continue to limit these special treats to just a few times a year.  Probably my birthday, a special dessert around Christmas and a S'more at my family reunion in July.  That should suffice :).  I'm gonna drink lots of water to help my blood sugar levels get back to normal so my head will feel better.  It was fun and worth it but I don't think I'll have anymore sugar any time soon. 

We will go back to see if the queen was released on Tuesday.  Hopefully she'll be out laying eggs and they'll be happy and settled in their new homes. 

Tomorrow, we have a couple's massage for our birthdays (David's is on Monday).  Woohoo!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Little Man

Since the day he was born, people have always commented on how Ayden is such a "little man." I actually thought he looked a little like Mr. Magoo in his early days (the cutest Mr. Magoo I had ever seen, of course). This past week, the changes and developments that we have observed really do make him seem like such a little man!

He is starting to attempt to repeat what we say all the time. If we say, "1,2,3!" he'll say, "Dee, dee, dee!" while mimicking the same tone and cadence of our voices. He does the same thing with, "The End" after we read a book, "I love you" etc.

He is such a helper when it comes to throwing things in the trash can. He is also a bit of an over achiever. Along with any trash, he also enjoys throwing away books, shoes, kitchen utensils, make up brushes. You name it, Ayden thinks the trash seems like a great place to keep it.

When we were reading one of his favorite books yesterday, we got to a page where a goat is eating a sock. The farmer's wife is running up the hill, wearing a worried expression on her face with her arms out. We spent a good 15 minutes discussing how she's probably yelling, "No, no, no! No Thank you! Don't eat my socks!" (we say no thank you to him). Ayden would point to the sock and point to his foot, shake his head and say, "no, no, no" while making the all done sign with his hands. He totally gets that eating socks is not the best idea.

Speaking of books, that particular book is a pop up book and when he found it after we accidentally left it in his reach, he just sat quietly flipping through the pages like it was any other book. Where did my baby who always tried to tear out the pop ups go?

Ayden has discovered that he can carry my mom's little black step stool wherever he wants. I was prepping some kale for kale chips when we got home from the grocery today. He pulled his stool up and was ready to help. So. Cute.

David walked out of the closet wearing his gardening jeans that have a hole in the knee. Ayden pointed to the hole and said, "Oh, oh!" which is his way of saying, "Oh no!" Where did he learn that holes are not allowed in clothes? David and I cracked up.

He has a lot of fun practicing his running. If he sees me jog down the hall or across the house, he laughs and chases after me. He runs outside as much as he can but falls a lot because the ground is so uneven. It must sneak up on him. He just gets up and goes again.

A funny thing that happened today: We were in Hobby Lobby and they have artificial grapes out to decorate all of their kitchen decor displays. Ayden kept signing more and saying, "Teese? Teese?" It has to be confusing that he gets free sample grapes at Whole Foods and then isn't offered any grapes at Hobby Lobby, especially since there seemed to be plenty to go around.

Ayden has slept like a champ the past two nights and it makes such a difference. The past two days have been over the top pleasant and I have been more productive too. When it comes down to it, the more sleep we all get, the more human we are!! Now if only I can realize that is what's wrong WHILE it's happening...

I think the biggest change that lead to all of the fun listed above is a leap in his receptive communication skills. He is understanding SOO much.

Tomorrow is the big day! It is my 29th birthday and the day we get our bees. It is the first big step, besides the garden of course, towards our new adventure and we are so excited!

We are ready for our girls!
{can you guess whose is whose? haha}

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How To: Paint A Happy Little Bee Hive

We decided to start out on our beekeeping journey with two hives for two reasons.
1) Two hives won't be too much to manage during this first year of learning as we go.


2) Having a second hive is good for comparison purposes. It gives you a gauge for how strong a hive is and helps you see red flags before they are too serious to deal with.

We also decided to have "his and hers" hives. We'll let you be the judge as to whose is whose once they are out in the field side by side.

When I saw the adorably painted hives that were being auctioned off at bee school, I knew that I wanted to turn my hive into a craft project. I really *LOVE* being crafty and really don't do it enough these days. In preparation for painting, I scoured the Internet for inspiration and to answer the questions I had like, "What KIND of paint is best?"

There were a decent amount of artistically adorned hives out there.

But none of the websiters talked about the process of painting them. I did finally find out that any latex exterior paint will work just fine as the base coat and that a lot of folks just buy the cheap mis-tints at Lowes or Hime Depot. I am no artist, though, so I had no prior knowledge of all the different kinds of paints available out there.

Once I had my vision, and we had purchased our latex exterior paint, we headed to Michael's in hopes to have my questions answered. I knew that we needed some sort of outdoor mural paint.  I had discovered and used acrylic craft paint for all of our Homemade Christmas gifts so that is where I headed first and...JACKPOT!

OUTDOOR acrylic craft paint...
So along with my newly discovered outdoor acrylic paint and a package of assorted paintbrushes that I purchased at Hobby Lobby for our Homemade Christmas, I got to work.

The paint was relatively easy to work with and the brushes I had worked out okay. I did wish I had a brush with super short, stiff bristles for outlining and getting more of a controlled, thin line but I managed! Here are some pictures of the process:

I used a lighter green for most of the grass.
Then I sponge painted a little bit of dark green for depth and texture.
I used a thin brush for the individual blades of grass.
I also found an angled brush to be helpful for the flower petals.
(though the one pictured is the thin one from the grass...)
All four sides completed!
It is such a happy little hive! Even if I don't go all out to decorate every hive we get, my first one will always be special.

{inspiration hive}

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bee Count Down

My parents left early this morning for a vacation in San Juan so we have the house to ourselves for the week. I'm pretty sure that the fewer people you have around to talk to during the day, the easier it is to get things done. I had such an effortlessly productive day today. Ayden slept *better* last night (better as in, he didn't wake quite as much and when he did, he'd go back to sleep. Never the less, we slept in until 10am which is pretty late for our little man. He must have needed it, and I certainly did too!

We started the day off with an egg scramble filled with spinach, mushrooms, green onion and smoked salmon with a side of green juice. Ayden wasn't a huge fan of the salmon but he ate like a champ. I am taking an increase in appetite as a good sign that he's feeling better too.

After breakfast, my little assistant and I ran a few errands, came home and did some housework and prepped dinner.

When David got home, we ate and then prepared a home for our bee hives!!

Here is the view from their front "patio"

They'll be here in just a few days!! All I have to do now is put out a little bird bath as a nearby water source, make up some simple syrup for feeding them in those first several weeks along with a few other odds and ends. I contacted a mentor that I touched base with at the last bee keeper's association meeting today and he's going to come assist us with hiving the bees. I go pick them up at 12:30pm on Friday and he's planning to come around 5:45 so David can be here for it too. Other than the garden, this is our first step toward homesteading and it is so exciting!!