Donner Party Kitchen Staff -- Cookin' up something different...
My day off 
Saturday, November 29, 2008, 19:18 - Misc
Posted by Administrator

Spent some quality time laying tile at my brother Larry's house. As much as I tried to forget that I knew how to lay tile, I still got sucked in.
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Breakfast time 
Friday, November 28, 2008, 20:49 - Funny
Posted by Administrator
We keep a cat at the honey house to help control rats & mice. So far it's survived without becoming coyote bait, this is a smart cat.

When I walked in this morning I noticed she was eating something. This was strange, as her food dish is on the other side of the building. A closer look revealed that she was chowing down on the back half of a squirrel.

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Naked Beekeeping 
Saturday, November 22, 2008, 1:35 - Funny, News
Posted by Administrator

Sorry about not posting for a while. I've been having some serious problems getting online. :evil: It looks like I've engineered a solution. :D
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Feeding bees 
Saturday, November 22, 2008, 0:24 - Misc, Stuff
Posted by Administrator
Now that I'm able to get back online, I've got a lot of stuff to post.

It's late in the season and the nectar flow has ended. The bees, especially because the colonies are concentrated in apiaries, can not forage enough food to keep the colony alive. As a result we must feed a pollen substitute (protein food) & sugar syrup (ProSweet 77) (carbohydrate food) to the bees. The syrup we are using right now is blue because we've added Fumagilin-B to prevent Nosema (bee dysentery). The tank behind me holds 335 gallons, the one you can't see on the end of the truck holds 300. That's about 7334 Lbs of syrup. Filling 1 gallon feeders inserted into each hive, 2 guys will go through most of this in one day.

Every two weeks we have been giving each colony about a 3 Lb patty of pollen substitute. With around 4000 colonies, that's a big job for 5 guys! :shock:

The secret recipe:
90 Lbs Soy flour
90 Lbs Dried brewers yeast
50 Lbs Granulated sugar
40 Lbs Pollen granules
30 Gallons Sugar syrup
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Saturday, November 22, 2008, 0:02 - Misc, Stuff
Posted by Administrator

This colony is being robbed. Bees from other colonies are trying to find any way possible to get in and steal the honey they smell inside. You can see dead bees littering the ground around the hive.

It's not always clear what causes bee's robbing instinct to kick in, but once it starts, it can destroy a colony. Bees in the colony being robbed will defend the hive to the death.
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New Rebekah & Samantha Pictures 
Friday, November 21, 2008, 23:50 - Rebekah, Samantha
Posted by Administrator
I can never have too many pictures of my nieces. :mrgreen::mrgreen:

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Friday, November 21, 2008, 23:48 - Misc, Stuff
Posted by Administrator

Bees are very hygienic creatures. The inside of a beehive is one of the most sterile environments to be found in nature. When conditions are such that the bees are unable to keep their hive clean, the colony will sometimes abscond from the hive.

This is a colony from a bee yard (or apiary) that we have been having a major problem with ants at. The colony got fed up and settled on a nearby branch. They are building a new hive out in the open.
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Mean Colony 
Friday, November 21, 2008, 23:32 - Funny
Posted by Administrator

The vast majority of bee colonies are pretty docile most of the time. Occasionally we run into a colony that has become aggressive. :shock: When we find one of these mean colonies we mark it with a big M so the other guys will know to treat it with special care. Some beekeepers add a little extra detail. :P
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All Done 
Saturday, September 27, 2008, 13:12 - Stuff
Posted by Administrator
Just as the temperatures were becoming bearable, we moved the last of our bees out of The Valley. It was an education in how not to get stung up. Bees navigate by the sun. At night, when they can't see the sun, they get very aggressive. Bees are moved at night because that is when the field bees return to the hive and they don't fly at night (except at Border Patrol checkpoints) :?.

I got stung up several dozen times my first night moving bees. My partner knocking a hive off the pallet didn't help. :shock::shock::shock: It was a bad night. The last move I did, I got stung once.

On our way out to The Valley we took the back way. Leaving Valley Center, we passed through Pauma Valley on our way up the grade to Palomar Mountain. After skirting the base of Palomar Mountain, home of the Hale Telescope, we passed Lake Henshaw and made a left onto Highway 79. A few miles after passing the Mataguay Boy Scout Reservation, we would make a right onto San Diego County Road S2. S2 would drop us down into the Boreggo Valley, but not without a struggle. We would have to make it through Ranchita, Scissors Crossing, Shelter Valley (Pop. 320), Butterfield Ranch, enter the Anza-Boreggo State Park, Auga Calienti Hot Springs, Sweeney Pass while following the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849(despite the fact that the Overland Mail Route was never known as "Great," the route was not "Southern," and it didnít exist in 1849) The Carizzo Badlands Overlook has a view you will never forget. Ocotillo Wells would signal the only stretch of freeway before...The Valley
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I thought it was a dog... 
Thursday, September 04, 2008, 23:03 - News
Posted by Administrator
The last three days were spent feeding bees with sugar syrup around the county. Today we stopped for lunch under a shady tree in an avocado grove in Valley Center. About the time we were getting back to work I looked up and saw what looked like a medium-sized dog walking towards me. It was about 100 yards down the road. (In an avocado grove, the word 'road' is used loosely :?) It walked out of the shadow of a tree and turned to look to the side of the road. I had never seen a dog so solidly built. It looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, not like a stray dog or coyote. Then I took a closer look. It was the first time I'd seen a mountain lion outside of a zoo. :shock::shock: There was some question as to if it was a bobcat or mountain lion, so I looked up some pictures when I got home. Mountain lion, no question.
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Sunday, August 31, 2008, 2:53 - Stuff
Posted by Administrator
In most hives there are 9 frames in the shallow, 8 frames & a feeder (a container for sugar syrup) in the deep. This is Hermilindo inspecting a frame from one of our colonies in Poway (where I grew up! :mrgreen:).

At the top right you can see where the honey is capped. The cells are full and the moisture has been reduced to less than 17.5%. That is when the bees seal off the cells to store the honey.
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Bee Fog 
Sunday, August 31, 2008, 2:19 - Stuff
Posted by Administrator
Sometimes the bees get so thick it's kinda like a fog. Usually when they are robbing, stealing honey from another colony. The bees are completely ignoring us, all they want is the honey.

This picture is my foreman Jose. He's been working bees for about 18 years. He's standing about 3 feet from the stack of boxes, posing to make it look like he's holding a box. We took this picture as a dare at the honey house.

I could have stood here in a t-shirt & shorts and not been stung. The bees smell the honey under the netting. They don't care about me.

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Bee Yard 
Sunday, August 31, 2008, 1:12 - Stuff
Posted by Administrator
This is a typical bee yard in (cue up ominous music) The Valley, (California's Imperial Valley, 100 - 115 temps, high humidity, no breeze). 15 pallets with 4 colonies each. We have about 2000 colonies in The Valley. We spent Wednesday - Friday for the last two weeks in The Valley feeding & medicating the bees. We medicate the hives with Tylosan (an antibiotic) and a miteicide for Varroa & Tracheal mites. The feed consists of sugar syrup for sugar food & a mixture of brewers yeast, soy flour, pollen & sugar syrup for protein food.

The heat & humidity is beyond description, not to mention the back breaking labor.

In this picture we have already pulled the honey, leaving only the two boxes, a shallow & a deep that are part of the permanent hive. Each stack of boxes is a separate colony, with it's own queen, brood & food stores.

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New living room 
Sunday, August 17, 2008, 20:40 - Misc
Posted by Administrator
When everything I owned was boxed up and thrown into storage a few years ago, my soft furniture was junked. It was pretty beat up & not worth storing. While talking with my former boss at church this morning I mentioned that I didn't have a couch. The former tenant at the building he owns was a sofa retailer. I was able to pick up a brand new, still wrapped in plastic wrap-around sofa for free! :mrgreen: Not my first choice in color, but at that price, what can I say?

My place is still a mess, but it's getting better. I have my radio gear set up, but haven't been on the air much. My antenna tunes up great on 160 (Top Band), 80/75 & 40 meters. Anybody want to try to meet me on the air? (Hi Ronald SM7WDL!)

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Home Sweet Home 
Saturday, July 26, 2008, 0:28 - News
Posted by Administrator
I'm living in the middle of a huge avocado grove. Squirrels everywhere. Quiet, safe, nice neighbors, great landlord. Couldn't ask for more!

I'm renting the first floor of a three story house. It's built into the side of a mountain. My place is essentially a large one-bedroom apartment with it's own entrance, bathroom & kitchenette. I have access to the main house to use the real kitchen and laundry when needed.

Two and a half years ago when I became a long-haul trucker everything I owned was very hurriedly packed into boxes and stuffed into a storage unit. Now I'm trying to undo that mess. It's a slow, sometimes intimidating, process, but it's coming along.
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