right now :: swarm

IMGP1308Wasn’t it just a week ago that I got into my beehives to check on their spring progress? Did I really say that I saw no signs of swarming? Did I really say that? Ha! The joke is on me, for sure! Just goes to show how little I actually know about the nature of bees after fifteen years of keeping them.IMGP1316

Today, my bees issued a giant swirling mass of buzzing bee love. The swarm: a beehive’s way of reproducing itself. Really, swarming is a good thing. Most of the time it shows that a hive is healthy and strong enough to split apart. To the beekeeper, though, it can sometimes be so humbling to watch half of your bees fly off into the wild blue yonder. We have the added bonus of living in a fairly deep hollow, surrounded by fairly large trees. It seems that any swarm that has ever come from the hives I keep down by our house tends to gather at least fifty feet up in a tree (fyi… this is not at all what most beekeeping books say will happen when a hive swarms. ahem.), making them very much out of reach for capture. So even though I said I saw no signs of swarming in my hives, my bees had other plans apparently. IMGP1324

I was just getting on the little tractor to do some mowing around the homestead when Opal came over with the report that my bees were flying everywhere. Time to shift gears, and not those of the tractor! I quickly shut the tractor off and went to watch the party. After what looked like mad chaos (even though I know it wasn’t), the bees gathered together in their swarm way up high in the sugar maple tree that is the centerpiece of our homestead. There was no chance of scooping them up and putting them into a new hive so I did the next best thing I could. I set up a bait hive. I painted some melted beeswax on the interior of the hive to make it alluring to the bees and put it in a location where I once had an empty hive that actually did attract wild honey bees… maybe cosmically, energetically, a good location? Now, its up to the bees. I will have to sit and wait the day or two it takes the bees to consider all their housing options and make their big move. No matter where the bees decide to reside, I wish them well. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed just the same…IMGP1323

birth days

we celebrated the 4th birthday of my youngest this weekend. it is mind boggling how quickly time passes. these milestones offer us a delightful opportunity to reflect. my third child was unexpected, seriously. i had an 8 year old and an 11 year old at the time when i missed my period that lovely fall day in 2010.  i was 43 and convinced it was early menopause. it was a dear friend who suggested the other possibility. ” i am not heading into Rite Aid like a teenager looking for an EPT”  i quickly responded.

positive. what? try again. positive? are you kidding me?

i was not immediately elated. i spent a lot of my early pregnancy reading fiction and contemplating how i would handle sleep deprivation in my forties. i google searched weird topics and discovered statistically there are more unplanned pregnancies with women in their 40’s than in their teens. we settled into our unforeseen life shift and welcomed william on a rainy may day 4 years ago. he is and has always been the love child. the joy that this little guy has brought into our lives is beyond measure. you know there are some gifts so great, you can’t even plan for them.

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we have been closely watching addie, our milk cow, get closer and closer to calving.  her udder kept getting larger and larger and still no calf. we walked her pasture multiple times each day. waiting. watching. wishing. she started to move so slowly, her breath started to shift and still no calf. finally friday it happened. the pull of the growing moon drew her bull calf out. he is a beauty, exhibiting the gorgeous belting of his dutch belted sire.

IMG_1677it is hard to tell what the week ahead will bring. we are in the thick of it here on the farm, truly. another birthday is around the corner, a dance recital is days away, the first CSA delivery is nestled right in there, and the temperature is starting to feel like it’s time to plant summer crops.  life is full and busy, even busier now that each day will start and end with addie. i feel so blessed though amidst this energy, for each birth reminds me of how precious life is, the milking routine steadies my days, and the cycles of life are a beautiful thing.

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