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Chris on February 24th, 2013

Agtually… One of the most common questions we have recently been receiving about our bees is “What do they do in the winter?”

When bees are clustered and confined to their hive, they retain their feces. On days that temperatures reach 57°F, the bees will leave the cluster for “clensing” flights.

During the late fall and winter, honey bees do not “hibernate” but instead form a cluster in the hive when the air temperature drops below 57°F.  The cluster consists of the queen at the center surrounded by a group of bees that will “shiver” by contracting their wing muscles to generate heat.  The remainder of the bees in the hive will form the outer layers of the cluster and will serve as the clusters insulation.  As the air temperatures rise and fall, the cluster will expand and contract in correlation with the temperature.  The amount of heat generated by the cluster will depend upon a number of factors, including whether brood exists.  In general, the bees will maintain a temperature ranging from 57° to 93°F.  This cluster is so effective at generating heat that the bees can survive in air temperate down to -40°F.

During the winter, the bees can consume up to 60 lbs of honey to survive the winter.  The colder the weather and the less active the bees are, the less honey they consume.  Alternately, the warmer the winter, the more honey the bees will consume as they remain active.  Warm winters are the worst scenario for bees and beekeepers. Once the honey stores are consumed, the winter survival of the bees is in jeopardy.  As a beekeeper, our job is to balance the honey we take off the hive vs. what we leave on the hive.  Sufficient honey stores must be left on the hive to make certain the bees can survive the winter.

Hopefully spring and a strong nectar flow are just a few weeks away…

Jennie on February 20th, 2013

Agtually…Chris was out hunting rabbits today.  I get the biggest chuckle this time of year because I always picture Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny.  I know, I have a strange imagination…what can I say, ha!!

Each and every time Chris tells me he’s going rabbit hunting I decide that it is a necessity for me to drink out of my Elmer Fudd cup for the remainder of the day.  Yes, it’s a way to taunt him and laugh at him at the same time. 

 

I love, love, love my husband for giving me a reason to pick on him.  It is too much fun, ha!

I am quite glad that though the group of hunters managed to get seven rabbits, Chris was smart enough to not bring any of them home for me to stare at each time I opened the freezer.  I may need to figure out how to cook rabbit one day but in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day!” For now, I’ll leave the rabbit hunting to Chris and the rabbit cooking to his hunting buddies.

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Jennie on February 18th, 2013

Agtually…I survived my first official beekeeping class!  I have to admit that it was a little more “introductory” than I expected as Chris and I already knew the things discussed.  This class was mostly about basic hive equipment and protective gear.  I was quite proud that I already have my full suit and my youth size gloves.  Chris has all of the recommend equipment and then some, ha!

With the discussion of new hives we’ve reverted to a feeling of déjà vu as we’re going through the “construction” steps again…

We’ll continue the process of a few more classes, another box of frames and another coat of paint.  At least I was able to pick out a normal size brush this year, ha!  We should finish both up just in time for the new bees to arrive soon too.

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Jennie on February 17th, 2013

Agtually…Creamy Pasta Bake is a spin off on a recipe shared with me by my diet leader last year.  I love knowing that I can still eat a hearty serving of pasta that is very cheesy and full of flavor while trying to lose weight.  Chris can be a picky eater at times and this dish is one that he seems to like every time I make it, even with my multiple variations.  That’s the beauty of this dish though, once you have the base you can combine different ingredients depending on the seasonal produce that’s available.  Enjoy!

 

1 lb box pasta (ziti, rotini and medium shells work well)

1 jar pasta sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

2 Tablespoons Parmesan (best quality, finely grated)

1 onion, diced

1 lb ground burger or venison

Low fat Ricotta cheese

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions, drain and set aside.  Cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until tender.  Add ground burger, cook through.  Drain off grease.  Stir in pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, basil and oregano.  Add cooked pasta, mix to combine.  Spread ½ pasta mixture in greased 9×13 baking dish.  Top with 8 spoonfuls of ricotta cheese.  Sprinkle ½ Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with remaining pasta mixture.  Finish with rest of cheeses.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

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Jennie on February 15th, 2013

Agtually…tomorrow is my first day as an actual beekeeper.  Up to this point I have really been in the background with the camera recording the journey as Chris took care of our bees.  I think of last year as my “redshirt” year, ha!

Tomorrow is our first official beginning beekeeper class.  I am actually excited about the journey we’re starting together.  Up to this point all I have learned about our bees has been word of mouth by Chris or by reading a few pages in a book.  Tomorrow I get to interact with other beginning beekeepers, sharing ideas and fears as we all start our journey with our new hives.

I think Chris is happy about the class….I think.  I’m sure it will be a lot of repetition to him but it will help me take care of hives too.  I’ll be on my own this year as our 10 hives are going to be too much for him to handle and we’re considering establishing some of them away from our home.

I have all the elements of the proper bee suit as well as a full box of earplugs.  I know that sounds like a strange item but I’ll be a lot more comfortable around the bees if I can’t hear them buzzing, ha!!

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