Drafts, CampNaNo, and Bees (yes, bees)

As you can see, I've got myself a "New Look, Same Great Website!" thing going on. My old host had serious issues with referral spam that was driving me crazy, so I took the site offline for a few days, transferred it, and rebuilt it. Luckily, I exported an old version of my site before doing this, and was able to save some content and blog posts in the process. However, copying-and-pasting x-amount of entries did not seem appealing (or time effective for this little blog no one reads) so I just reposted the entries from 2017. All three of them.

I'm a little flummoxed that it's already May. 2017 is blinking past me at the speed of light, and I'm trying to keep up. I won CampNaNo! I wrote over 50k in a month, although due to my need to edit as I write, not all of it was linear or included in my draft. But I still count that as a win. The draft of my WIP is inching closer and closer to THE END, but this is a crappy draft zero situation that no human eyeballs other than my own shall see. Other than family members who are forced to listen to my writing babble (or make the mistake of asking) just one person knows about this WIP! I'm so happy to have another project almost complete, but I won't celebrate quite yet. I can't help my nature of editing as I write, and I still have many words to put down.

 I didn't find Bigfoot, but I did find some new words.

I didn't find Bigfoot, but I did find some new words.

In other oddball non-writer news, I installed a beehive a week ago. When I was eighteen, my mom and I became beekeepers with our first nucleus colony (an established queenright hive) in our backyard. I helped with the upkeep until I transferred to UC Davis, and during my time there/my MFA years, our colony collapsed. Now that I live near my folks again, I've pestered my mom for a year to bring the bees back! And we have! We picked up our bee package (literally a wooden box filled with bees and the queen in a separate wooden cage inside, see the pics and videos below) from a nearby bee supply store, drove it home, and got to work. The installation was different than a nucleus colony. These bees had been "with" the queen (seperated in her queen cage) for three days, but that was no guarantee they'd accepted her. Starting with a new queen, you run the risk of the workers killing her, the hive then being confused without an established leader, robbing from other hives, etc. AKA: chaos, destruction, death.

 This gif never gets old.

This gif never gets old.

My mom and I suited up, sprayed the bees with a mixture of sugar water and essential oils to weigh them down and calm them, removed the queen cage (my main job was to hold the queen), secured the queen cage to a frame, and then dumped the bees into the hive. Easy, right? It actually was! The only surprise was the candy plug. The queen cage has a cork plug, but when you install her, it's switched with one filled with sugar paste so she can eat her way out/the workers can eat their way in. It gives them a few days for her to establish herself and release her pheromone. My mom assumed the queen cage would have the candy plug already installed. It did not. We followed the instructions, removed the cork with a screw, plugged the hole with our finger, and then plugged the hole with sugar! We checked back two days later. If the queen was still in the cage, we would manually release her, which wasn't going to be fun. We were having trouble with robbing, and the wild honey bees wanted some of that sweet sweet sugar water we had inside the hive. Without a queen, the bees aren't as strong or oriented to their hive. Luckily, our queen was out of the cage when we checked. And now? We wait two weeks for her to lay brood and the workers to pull comb. Hopefully next week, there will be positive growth and progress.

And now a little PSA:

I absolutely love honey bees, but I didn't always. I used to be scared shitless of them. Since I started beekeeping, I've only been stung once. Most people don't know the difference between a honey bee, a bumblebee, and a wasp/hornet/yellow jacket/monsterflyinginsect. Honey bees are extremely docile! If you see a swarm of them, please please please contact a local bee supply store, or follow the instructions here. While a swarm may seem frightening, they're at their most docile. They're in between homes, filled with honey (read: slow and fat), and are usually surrounding their queen, protecting her. Therefore, they aren't going to attack you. Generally, a honey bee never will attack you of their own volition. Why? They die. The only honey bee that can sting multiple times is the queen, but that stinger isn't for humans, and an ordinary honey bee will die if they sting. Their stinger is ripped from their body. I will note, this process releases a pheromone that will alert their hive to "danger" and other bees may attack you. They're avenging their fallen sister. Run. Or remove the stinger ASAP (use something thin and flat, like a credit card) and clean the area with rubbing alcohol. We keep portable antiseptic wipes on hand for this reason. While I suit up to work with bees, it's more for my own comfort rather than necessity. When honey seasons comes, then hell yes, you need a suit. Those bees will be pissed you're taking their honey (and for good reason!) but generally, don't fear the honey bee.

Okay, enough about bees. For now. I'll try and post again before I leave for vacation at the end of the month. In the meantime, here are some pictures of our carniolan bees/the installation process. Videos to come!