Gifts of the Human Kind

This week has been a bit of a challenge in many ways.

Perhaps it’s the damp and dreary weather causing people to appear unenthusiastic, tired, over-worked, and just down right grumpy.

After weeks of beautiful sunny days with luxurious brilliant foliage surrounding us, a few days of cold temperatures, rain, and darkness can be disappointing. Many are surely thinking about the long winter ahead, with feet of snow to move, or wade through, and lots and lots of fuel bills.

Tuesday morning at work, the first three people I saw and said “Good Morning” to in my cheeriest 7:00 am voice, totally didn’t respond. They just slumped on by, giving me pause. Tuesday was a 14 hour work day.

Wednesday I was still tired from Tuesday’s long day, it was still dark out when I went to work and nearly dark when I returned home. Uggh.

However, on Wednesday there was a high moment in my day when author, Tanya Sousa came to my classroom and talked about her work, her writing, her passions, and her recent book, The Starling God.

StarlingGodCover2__90155.1405411531.1280.1280

Right on par with the rest of the week, only about half my students were present when Tanya arrived, and a half dozen of them drifted in over the first 10 minutes of her presentation, pink slips in hand. Tanya was unfazed and carried on, her passion for her work evident as she shard her stories with the class.

Tanya 1

What she may not know, but I do, is that while the students were not enthusiastic, they were, in their own way, enthralled. It was a subdued kind of captivation, but it was evident to one who has spent many hours with the group. In the ensuing days I will gush my enthusiasm all over the classroom, oozing the value of having the author so available to us to learn from, and hope that some of that enthusiasm sticks to one or two, who will then seek out other opportunities that will enrich their lives.

It’s a great challenge for adults to get across the incredible value of seeking out ways to enhance ones own life to a fifteen-year-old. That doesn’t stop me from trying, however. Like Tanya’s book, which gives humanity a new way of looking at and thinking about our feathered cohabitants of the earth, I strive to give my students new ways of looking at themselves and the world around them every day.

Since I’ve met Tanya, read her book, begun to think about birds in new ways, and learned of murmurations, I have had the experience of seeing flocks of birds murmurate, and have made new friends who will continue to lead me in new directions; all of which has tightened the circle of humanity.

As a person, I thrive on these new experiences, one leading to the next, and the next, and the next. As an educator, I understand the importance of relying on one other and that it truly does take a village to raise, and educate, a child.

Earlier this year, as I gushed my passion for books all over the classroom, one student said, “A book could never change a person’s life.” Since that day I think continually of ways to help this student understand that books, even a single one, can change a life. What that young man does not yet understand is that books can lead us to many other things. As the catalyst for what can be a long line of learning, books, or people, or experiences indeed have the power to change a person’s life.

Thank you Tanya, for the new opportunities you’ve brought to my students and myself by sharing your stories with us this week. As you know,

“There is greatness in sharing what we were born to tell.” ~Tanya Sousa

Tanya 2

Fall Bee Check

Once again, it was time to check on the bees. Dave has been feeding them sugar water for a few weeks, since the floral life has dwindled away. Between the two hives they were fed about 37 pounds of sugar over four weeks.

We looked at Hive A first and it seems to be doing well – there were frames of eggs and larvae:

Eggs and Larvae

Eggs and Larvae

This is the hive that we introduced the new queen to earlier in the summer and she seems to be doing well, though the population is still relatively small. While they have been producing honey, there does not seem to be enough in the hive to get them through the winter.

When learning more about bees Dave learned of the Varroa mite, which can devastate a hive. The mites feed on the blood of the honey bee, by making cuts that may later become infected. Dave created a system of checking to see if the hives had mites and did discover a few. After researching several treatment methods he decided to go with the Miteaway Quick Strips.

Working with beekeepers all over the world this new strip formulation of formic acid not only kills adult Varroa mites but also kills 95% of the varroa under the cappings. Treatment consists of simply laying the strips across the frames for only 7 days with the daytime temparatures of 50-92 degrees F. Can be applied during honey flow and leaves no residue. Leave it on the hive for the bees to dispose of or the strips can be removed and composed.

from http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/MiteAway-Quick-Strip/productinfo/194/

Removing the miteaway strips

Removing the miteaway strips

Hive B was busy, busy, busy. It is filled with bees:

Bees, bees, bees

Bees, bees, bees

As Dave lifted each frame from the box you could hear an increasing in the buzzing and the sound of bees being rubbed off the frames on either side as one frame was lifted out. Despite this large number of bees Dave has concerns over not seeing any eggs of larvae in this hive. My feeling with the large number of bees, the large honey production that has occurred, and not a lot of drones being visible means the hive is still healthy. Is it possible the queen has stopped laying eggs because cooler temperatures have arrived?

I did a little research of my own and think this article states it best. In a nutshell a queen may stop laying altogether if there is no natural pollen or nectar coming into the hive. And sometimes she stops laying in October or November when the temperatures fall below 59 degrees.

Plenty of sweet gooeyness

Plenty of sweet gooeyness

There is plenty of honey being produced. . .wishing we could extract some, but know the bees will need it to survive the winter. Maybe next year!

Another interesting event we witnessed as we inspected the hive was a fanning behavior. I took a picture of the fanning going on (should have taken a video), but it’s a little difficult to see, so I circled a couple of the bees whose wings you could really notice as they did their work:

Cooling Things Down

Cooling Things Down

Bees fan for a couple of reasons: to create ventilation inside a busy hive or to evaporate water from nectar until it contains less than 18% water and can be safely stored forever as honey. Because the weather has cooled down, my guess is that the bees were fanning to evaporate water.

As I was searching around for more bee information I came across this great site that has a chart identifying all the different roles the working girls have. I found it interesting so share it with you here. Scroll down the page to the heading “A Hard Worker”.

I also came across another site that has some amazing photographs of bees – up close and personal. Check it out!

So, now the dilemma is trying to figure out the best thing to do to help the bees survive the long winter. Dave is suggesting combining the two hives to give them all a better chance of survival. One option to help the smaller hive with less honey stores is to feed them fondant throughout the winter, but then every time you open up the hive to add more fondant you are putting them at risk.

If we get another warm spell this month we plan to check Hive B once again. . .

I’ll keep you posted!

Dave - busy as a bee

Dave – busy as a bee

The Cat Lady

I went a little crazy taking pictures of the cats this week.

This led my husband to query, “You’re not going to turn into one of those weird old cat ladies, are you?”

Maybe, I thought.

But then, no. I went in search of an appropriate image for what I suspected he was thinking of. This one works:

weird catperson

I have to say, when I search images of weird cat ladies, there were some very disturbing pictures that came up, including one of a woman nursing what appeared to be a full size cat. Oooo, it made me shudder.

Anyway, the point of this post is simply to share the photos I took this week of mostly the kitten, Midge, but also the senior cat, Willow.

Midge (short for Midget), is finally growing a bit and while the two cats are not exactly getting along famously, they are learning to live with one another in disharmony.

Midge loving the out-of-doors

Midge loving the out-of-doors

Curiosity killed the what???

Curiosity killed the what???

Yeah, I like it inside too.

Yeah, I like it inside too.

If I can't see her she doesn't exist.

If I can’t see her she doesn’t exist.

Okay I see her. She does exist.

Okay I see her. She does exist.

And she swings.

And she swings.

And hides under stuff. . .

And hides under stuff. . .

Just to annoy me!

Just to annoy me!

Do not look at me!

Do not look at me!

And DO NOT take my picture!

And DO NOT take my picture!

Havin' some fun!

Havin’ some fun!

And some more fun. . .

And some more fun. . .

. . .and. . .done!

. . .and. . .done!

No. I’m not going to be one of those weird old cat ladies!