Monday, July 30, 2012

Hive Update: 7-30-12

The traffic continues to pick up at the door of the weak hive. They have been bringing in pollen and nectar, just like their stronger sisters. Tonight I noticed another positive milestone for them, they are starting to hang out on their porch again. My bees have always like to hang out on the veranda when the nights are warm. The weak hive hadn't had enough numbers to do so until recently. I think in another week or 2 the hives will have equalized. They aren't out of the woods, yet. I will go in and check each hive this weekend. If both hives have new eggs, then I'll know for sure that each hive has a queen. Here are the hives as of this evening, just before sundown.


 THE WEAK (but not for long) HIVE:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bee Beauty

You can tell you truly have the heart of a beekeeper when you find yourself dreaming about them. This morning I woke from a dream where I had moved to the house next door and was faced with moving my hives. I was dreaming about all the steps I would need to take to get the hives sealed, fastened together, and transported. Yes, I do have bees on the brain. It's hard not to think about them. Every time I go out into my backyard, there they are. Happily going about their daily routines. Tonight I was taking the trash out to the container when I noticed that my bees were having a feast on the sedum behind my fence. This gave me my dose of beauty for today, which I now share with you.

ETA: If anyone in my area would like some of these sedum starts, let me know. I have plenty. And the bees love them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bee Update 7-25-2012

Yesterday I added 2 more frames of brood, and their nurse bees, to the weak hive. I also moved the brood nest to the bottom, and the honey to the top. This is how it should be, anyway, and I hope it will discourage any robbing having the honey in the top 2 boxes. Any robber bees will have to come into the hive and travel up, past my sentries. I am going to leave both hives alone for a couple of weeks and let them concentrate on raising babies and collecting food. As you can see in this video the weak hive is starting to show more bee activity. My fingers are crossed that things will soon be equalized between the 2 hives. I want them both to be strong and healthy before the winter sets in.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

In My Backyard....7-21-12

Sometimes you have to take beauty where you can find it.

Look! My Hen and Chicks is blooming. (Are blooming?)
 In any event, it has  flowers. 
I have never seen one of these bloom before. 
It must be happy lodged in the Mexican wooden shoe.

And here is a view of the front of my weak hive. This is the one I added the queen to. I secured the queen cage to that frame with the help of 2 blue rubber bands. The bees do not appreciate having strange items (like rubber bands) in their hive. They chewed through them, dragged them down through 3 boxes full of frames, and chucked them out onto the porch.

New Home Model 446

I have a new addition to my sewing machine herd. I have never had one of this brand before. It is a New Home Model 446. I adore the turquoise color. It appears to be from the mid-1960's. Look, it has the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

The machine is covered in dust but is in otherwise pristine condition. No scratches or chips to the finish. Even the cabinet is in great condition.

It came with the manual, accessory box (although I am not sure if all the feet, etc...are in there) and the box of all 27 design cams.

This was a pricey machine back in the day. 
It cost $369.95 when new.

The price is no surprise, given all that this machine can do. It has a built in bottonholer, the feed dogs drop for free motion work, and the needle position can change from left, to middle, to right. Not to mention those 27 design cams. Each of those cams can sew 3 different stitch patterns, just by moving the needle position.

You can also sew these stitch patterns (below) without cams, just by varying the needle position and/or stitch length or width.

Quite a versatile machine for its time. I need to clean, oil and lube it. Based on looks, alone, this one will be staying in the herd for a long while. I think it is beautiful. How much did I pay for it? Not a penny. A lady was giving it away for FREE. There was one lady who asked about it, before me. But when she found out it wasn't a Singer, she turned up her nose. Silly woman.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Wine Labels

Here are the Raspberry Apple and Wassail wines, ready to head to the cellar. It is fun and easy to make your own wine labels. Let's face it, if I didn't label them I'd soon forget what they were. I look around the internet for a suitable picture then build my label around that. Of course, if I were in the wine selling business I would need to come up with my own original artwork. These are for my own personal use. I hope to sell a few jars of my honey and will design my own labels for that.  

Bottled Some Wine

This past Saturday I bottled 3 gallons of my homemade wine. Strawberry Kiwi, Raspberry Apple and Wassail. I get 5 bottles from each gallon. The Strawberry Kiwi bottles look gorgeous. Nothing is prettier than country wines in clear glass bottles.

Unfortunately I am running low on clear bottles so was forced to bottle the other 2 wines in green bottles. Not nearly as pretty. You can tell the wine is clear, but that's about it.

You can't appreciate the colors. Now to apply  labels to the Raspberry Apple and Wassail wines and tuck them away into the wine cellar.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting a Honey Bee Queen Preggers

I have been wondering how they mate the queens and keep the varieties separated. When you purchase a queen she is usually already mated and comes to you as a specific breed. Italian, Carniolan, etc...Since you are paying a good price for the queen and you are looking to rear a specific breed it stands to reason that they don't just let the queens go out on a mating flight and hook up with any old Tom, Dick or Harry drone. I discovered yesterday that most of the mated queens we purchase are instrumentally (artificially) inseminated. That answered one question but created another. How was this done? I asked on a couple of bee forums but got the usual "no answer". Good old Google to the rescue. Here is an informative Youtube video that shows exactly how it's done. No, I will not be purchasing expensive lab equipment to try my hand at this. I was just curious.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Singer 301A

Behold the Revolutionary Singer Model 301A.
Said by some to be "The Best Sewing Machine Ever Made."

I first saw this machine 2 weeks ago, at an estate sale. They were asking $200 for it. Way out of my price range. Still, it was a pretty machine and made an impression on me. Which is why I recognized it when it showed up on Craigslist last week, still priced at $200. I sent the seller an email asking them to keep me in mind if they didn't sell it for their asking price. I was willing to pay $75. I need another "straight stitch only" machine like I need a hole in the head, but the 301's have always appealed to me. Especially in this 2 toned mocha color. As you can see, they accepted my offer and I was able to go pick it up today. It was only about 10 blocks from my home. Sweet! This machine is in very good condition. Probably a grade 8 judging by the rating system on the link I gave you, above. It was built in 1956 in Anderson, South Carolina. Singer stopped producing the 301A in 1958. Not only is mine in lovely condition....

..but it comes with its original trapezoid shaped grass cloth case with Bakelite handle, the accessories in original box, the manual, and a nifty Singer sewing book from the same era.

I am happy to add the 301A to my collection.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Long Live the Queen

I was able to make the trek to the Robbin's Honey Farm today. No easy task as the city was repaving the road and really didn't want to let us down there. But they relented. Once there I was greeted by Harvard's wife. She was able to get me a queen but couldn't tell me if she was an Italian or a Carnelian. She appears to be darker than my other queen so I am betting she is a Carnelian. Not a big deal. They are both good breeds. I made a couple of little videos. It's hard to film and work at the same time and today I was without a helper. But you get the idea.

Her Majesty and her entourage, upon their arrival.

And after I have her placed inside the hive.

When she arrived she was sealed inside the queen cage with a little cork. I removed the cork and replaced it with a tube filled with fondant candy. That is the black tube you see sticking out of the end of the cage. The bees will eat the candy and release the queen. It takes them a few days to do so and that allows them to get used to her. If she was released directly into the hive she would be torn limb from limb. I will check on her on Saturday to see how things are progressing. Check back.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First July Block: Dresden Plate

This is my absolute favorite block thus far. When I think of old fashioned quilts, the Dresden Plate block is one that always comes to mind. I was excited to tackle it and it did not disappoint. I found the June blocks to be rather boring but this one held my interest. It has all the elements: precise cutting and piecing, good use of scrap fabric, lots of color and even some hand sewing if I so wish (and I do). You start by cutting 20 different "blades". I purchased a special EZ Dresden cutting template to aid in their cutting. It was $10 and worth every penny. Here is my stack of blades ready to be sewn.

You fold them in half, right sides together, and sew across the bottom of each piece. If you sew them in a chain, one after the other, it goes very fast and you don't waste thread.

Then you cut them apart, turn them right side out and iron the resulting points. I stacked them as they were finished, to keep them in order. I had already figured out the color placement ahead of time.

Next I sewed the blades together, at the sides, to form a big ring.

The ring was then starched and ironed so it would hold its shape. The finished ring, front and back.

I also sewed a center circle out of the background fabric. The pattern called for a 4" circle but that proved too small to fill in the empty space. I tried a 4.5" circle and that worked perfectly. The ring and circle were then applied to the 12.5" background square, as shown at the beginning of this post. I still have to sew them down using a blind stitch. I know there will be many, many more Dresden Plate Blocks in my future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Second June Block

This one features an Octagon and what better way to pay homage to my love of the UFC and MMA. I picked the manliest of my 30's reproduction print fabric. What? You say this has nothing to do with cage fighting? Look closer. How can you possibly miss these familiar faces?

And, of course, Brock Lesnar.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The First June Quilt Block

The June blocks are pretty basic. This first one used 2 prints and the background color. The focus is on precise cutting and piecing, and sewing a "scant" 1/4" seam. There isn't any margin for error on this blocks as it finishes out to be just barely over 12.5" square. If your seams are too wide the block will not be large enough. Mine was perfect with very little excess to trim off when squaring up. Because the block is rather boring I chose prints that I thought were especially lovely together.

This quilt block pattern is called a Greek Cross and is a very old and traditional quilt block. It is a variation on what is known as a 9 Patch Block, so named because it is made up of 9 squares. I like it because you can use up smaller amounts of prints. I can see myself creating an entire scrappy quilt using this block. Yard sale season is now fully underway. I had to take numerous detours when I went to the grocery store on Friday. It seemed to take forever to travel less than 30 blocks. One of the treasures(?) I drug home was this little child's recliner for $4. I need to sew a slip cover for it, but I thought it was the perfect thing for Reggie. He has a tough time getting up onto the couch but he can jump right up on this. It didn't take long for Singha to test it out. They share, especially since it is currently covered with Singha's favorite blanket.

Doesn't he look ferocious? Not at all. I caught him mid yawn. I leave you with a gratuitous "fresh baked bread" photo. I had gotten out of the habit of baking bread since my illness. This is how I can tell I am almost back to my old self. Now if I could just catch up on the weeding.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

2nd May Quilt Block

This is called a Wonky 5-Sided Log Cabin Square. I wanted it to be super scrappy and incorporate all the colors that I've been using for the previous quilt blocks. I call this one "Scrappy-doo's Dog House". The husbeast said it looks like a crazy house and there are 3 different dog prints used.