Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Progress in the Building Department

The pace has been quick around here, and the end of summer busy, both on the home front and in all our various travels away from here.  So I suppose it's not surprising that a common comment from neighbors is that we look like ants- or bees- always moving about outside, busy and doing something, what, I don't think they are always entirely sure.  

Some very exciting information came in today.  Massey and Lindsay have been working hard to put together an extensive proposal on the natural building system of light straw clay, in the hopes of being able to get it permitted for use as an insulation system in the granny unit, the building out back we are currently retrofitting.   Today, the news came in from our new friend at the building department.  They are going to give us the permit, and they are interested in watching the building's performance over the next few years, with the idea of creating an ordinance if all goes well.  YEAH!

Otherwise new here?  We finished the earth bag portion of the walls of my pod today, Sasha has rafters on her pod, and a ceiling on part of it, we have a new earthen oven that is about to be fired up for some pizza, and the sound of the dehydrator lulls us all to sleep as we try our best to can, dry and preserve the mountains of food that piling up on the kitchen counters and floor from our garden(tomatoes and more tomatoes) and other places (big apple and pear harvest recently).  

Friday, September 4, 2009

Honey Harvest and Bearding Bees

This week we harvested our first honey from the bees.  They have nearly filled the hive completely with comb, and we wanted to go in and check on their progress, and see if anymore queen cells had been built.  These are larger cells that hang down from the side of the comb where they raise new queens, and it means they are thinking about swarming. Generally we want to reduce the amount they swarm.  We also wanted to make sure all the comb was growing straight down.  A few queen cells were found and removed, and some comb near the end of the hive was curving into a neighboring comb, making the frames difficult to remove.  

We ended up removing an entire frame that was full of capped honey at the top, and nectar on the bottom (not completely dried by the bees yet, or capped) to create some more room, and we cut out the sections that were growing crookedly.  This provided us with about a pint and a half of honey and it is delicious!  Someone had the excellent idea of saving a small amount of it to compare to future harvests and see what different seasons taste like around here.  

Later in the day we were startled to see the bees congregating on their "front porch" (picture above) and were concerned that they might be swarming.  We have since found out that perhaps they were "bearding" which means basically going outside to hang out when the weather is hot and they want more space and ventillation.