Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Stella

The brains (I'm the brawn) behind Too Busy Bees adds another candle on her birthday cake today.

Her grandson Jason and I came up with a plan to paint and hang a barn quilt on her cute little shed. I researched quilt patterns and there is indeed a honey bee quilt. It looks something like this.

The middle is usually a nine patch square, but I changed it to a white "hive" and added some "honey comb". The pink "flower" was an attempt to add a. some color and b. give credit to the hard working flowers who feed the hard working bees who live in front of the hard working beekeeper's shed.

I wish I could say I planned it this way, but alas, it was (as usual) dumb luck/complete coincidence/divine intervention that the pink perfectly matches the flowers she has planted near the hives.

Saint Tim and Jason snuck up in the dark last night to hang it. They had to walk up through our back fields so she wouldn't see or hear them coming up the driveway. I was dying to go (always up for covert operations!), but have hurt my heel and couldn't walk that far without crying like a girl. My first thought when I saw it this morning was "Geez, guys, you couldn't have carried a heavy ladder all the way up there?"

Turns out if they'd hung it at the top, she would not be able to see it from the house. As it was she had to go trim the lower branches of one of her trees (which she had done before 8:30) to see it down low. Another bit of dumb luck :-).

I snapped some pictures of our favorite hive - The Audrey Hive. They swarmed and swarmed this spring to the point they were so low in numbers that they should never have survived. But they probably shouldn't have survived in the very beginning.

The old saying goes "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay. A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon. A swarm in July, let it fly by." That was a fun pick up though (go watch the video) and became Stella's first hive.

Bees need a certain amount of honey stash and a certain number of bees inside to keep the queen warm. It was a tiny group of bees heading into winter and I really worried they'd not make it. Stella had fed them sugar syrup religiously all summer and fall. They made it.

Back to this summer. While we were happy to add a couple new hives from this hard working group's genetics, we really hated the thought of losing our favorite hive. She noticed the other bees had started trying to rob the honey from this hive and with their numbers so low they couldn't defend themselves.

Most beekeepers would probably have combined this hive with another, but since they were still trying to work and still trying to defend their hive, we played around with a couple things to give them a chance.

First we stuck an entrance reducer in their "front door" and since it was a short one (to allow for a front syrup feeder if necessary) we added some dry grass to block off some more. This gave them less area to defend.

Then we made a screen to cover the ventilation gap at the top to keep bees from trying to come in that way. I don't have a picture of that because it worked so well that this tough hive has recovered and is in good shape heading into fall.

Stella is a good beekeeper, a good neighbor and a great friend.

Happy Birthday!


Jan baby said...

yeah ! ! ! Happy b'day Stella ! ! ! !
What a wonderful gift, of time, service, and appreciation of a lovely partner in "crime".

Francoise said...

What a great Birthday present. I don't know you Stella, but you are lucky to have such a great grandson, and a good friend. Happy birthday!

Terry and Linda said...

Happy Birthday, Stella! Great present, by the way! And wonderful keepers of the bees, the both of you are!


Christine said...

Two thumbs up!

flowerweaver said...

Happy Birthday Stella! The shed quilt turned out beautifully!

Lori Skoog said...

Birthday greetings to Stella. She and Finn can celebrate on the same day. Love the barn quilt! As usual, you were being your thoughtful self.

Sheepmom said...

Happy Bday Stella! Many happy returns of the day! WHEN Stella gets email she can call herself Beemom!

And hugs to the SheepLady for being such a fun and thoughtful friend.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

Lovely! Happy Birthday, Stella....and wishes for many, many more.

(Good job, as always, Sara)

thecrazysheeplady said...

Stella HAS email! She's learned to use the computer so she can look stuff up about her bees and get all the notices about local and state meetings...

Alice said...

What a SWEET birthday surprise for Stella. I'm glad the boys didn't hang the quilt any higher because Stella is such a tiny mite herself. Stella.....you are the Queen Bee for the Day!!! Enjoy it!

Dreaming said...

The quilt is stunning! What a wonderful tribute for Stella and the bees. What fun to present it as a surprise.

Ed said...

What a great b-day present, you guys are the best. Happy b-day Stella..:-)

Terry said...

Way cool!

June said...

Happy Birthday, Stella!! Love the quilt block for the barn! I made a Honey Bee quilt once, but donated it to an older couple after a fire took their home. It was a fun quilt to make, but never got around to making another one.

Anonymous said...

Great job Sarah and what a wonderful friend. Stella has taught us to be good stewards to our bees. She is a bee keeper and not a bee "haver". The quilt is a gift that will continue to give her present everyday, when the looks out to see her bees and the work of a great friend.

Peacecat said...

I don't know Stella but sure wish I did. Happy Birthday Stella!

Sara what a good friend you are, and what a thoughtful, heartful gift. By the way...

my birthday is Dec 1.


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