So I checked on the bees yesterday. I had a friend over, so we had D watch the kids while we escaped outside for a peaceful quiet bee visit. I try and check on the bees during the middle of the afternoon. We were a little late, about five-ish. It was still very warm and sunny, but the tall spruce and birch on the west side of us were shading the hive area from direct sun. It was the first time since I put the second brood box on, that I'd checked on the bees. At first I was hesitant to get into the bottom box because of all the comb they'd built and filled that was in between the two boxes. I put the second brood box on a little early, before the very outside frames were drawn out. The bees had moved up before filling the bottom box completely- my error for being so eager to add on. I wasn't sure what the proper course of action was. But I decided to replace the outside bare frames with the partially drawn out frames that were filled in the middle of the top box.
Everything else looked good. We found the queen doing her thing. There were just a few capped drone cells. I'm thinking I've got an ok queen but not great, from what I've observed of the population over the last several weeks.
Two brood boxes are mandatory in Interior Alaska - or so we were taught in class. I'm not sure if that is standard elsewhere or not.
When I am looking at the frames, I look for the queen, for eggs and larvae. I look to see how much pollen there is and how much capped sugar water or other stores. I also look to make sure there aren't any queen cells or too many drone cells. This is my favorite part, just pulling frames and checking them out.
And this is right about when I got stung for the first time since keeping bees. I was partially stung a few weeks ago, but the stinger didn't stay in and within minutes there was no pain or swelling. This time it hurt. I got stung on my middle finger on my right hand as I was picking up the frame. It took me a while to get the stinger out. It didn't just brush off like I thought it would.
Trying to get the stinger out without squeezing the sack of venom into my finger.
And time to finish up since my right hand is throbbing.
After closing up the hive I chewed a plantain leaf and put that on my finger. It helped but didn't relieve the symptoms as much as I'd expected. Then I tried some plantain tincture I made up last summer. As long as I kept the cotton ball on my finger it was soothing. Then I dabbed my finger into the honey that had come out of the comb I'd broken off, and the relief was instant and complete. I have reapplied plantain and honey throughout the day today as the tip of my finger is still still red, swollen and throbbing. I'm sure I'll be exploring bee sting remedies more in the future.
For those of you with bee experience, feel free to lend some advice. I'm sure I'll look back on this and laugh at myself. I think it is time to consult with the local bee expert and make sure I'm on track. Regardless, at least there will be honey for us.Our honey pot is empty. I don't feel like I can afford to buy any local honey right now. So maybe I'll just hold out, even though going honeyless for a few months is unthinkable. I do relish a good drought when there is certain to be an upcoming abundance. I'm not buying beets or carrots now, or much vegetables at all. We are eating lots of greens and herbs. I'm enjoying clearing out the freezer. We just ate our last chicken from last year. We are almost out of jam, but still have lots of berries in the freezer, so jam day may be the next rainy day.
We butchered a goat this week, for the first time. I think the subject warrants it's own post, but I will say that it went well. I feel good about it. The meat is great, pleasantly surprised by the goats once more. We've been enjoying having our own red meat for dinner and in the freezer. The last two nights I rubbed sea salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil into assorted cuts; mostly goat chops and a front shoulder roast. Then I threw them on the grill over high heat and cooked them until medium rare, and then let the meat rest. Some bites could have been choice steak, others were a bit chewy - but great flavor. A pot of bone stock and another with goat fat rendering into lard, bubble away on the stove top.
We are just beginning to put food into the freezer. Forty Copper River Red Salmon, check, one full sized fatty goat, check. Oh, and is it officially summer finally - well feels like we are in mid summer here. Happy late solstice everyone.