There’s no predicting mountain weather, it can change so quickly. The Tatra Mountains near Zakopane, Poland are no exception. What to do when the weather doesn’t cooperate? No need to put the camera away! There are always good shots to be found. Since the cloudy skies and fresh snow cover made the views naturally monochromatic, I decided to work with it and go for a black and white treatment. Not much beats hiking through deep snow in the mountains with a camera and tripod!
Actually, you don’t really have to hunt for them at all. There are some shrubs outside of our building that seem to be a perfect habitat for ladybugs. Armed with a 100mm macro lens, tripod and a collapsible reflector, I tried to get a few photos of the ladies. They don’t move around a whole lot, so they are fairly easy to photograph. I had one shot set up perfectly, but just as I was pressing the shutter, it flew away. The result was a cool photo showing a ladybug like I have never seen before. It’s amazing how those tiny wings fold up so precisely under that fragile little shell.
I followed Danboard into the forest yesterday. He really seems to be in his element among the trees. Maybe it’s because he is made from cardboard which comes from trees. Or maybe it’s because he blends in so nicely. Whatever it is, he appeared to be really enjoying himself. I noticed that he is surprisingly nimble as he hopped onto logs and bravely crossed the streams. Water and cardboard are not a good mix, but that didn’t stop him from exploring his surroundings. The poor little guy did get tired along the way, but he found some soft moss and a pine cone to take a rest on. All in all he had a great time, and I think he’s already planning his next adventure!
I finally got around to editing some footage from our honey harvest back in September. It was a beautiful morning, but we (meaning my wife and our friend Josh) had to work quickly to remove and clean the frames and make it to our extraction appointment on time. It’s much easier to bring the frames to a place that already has all the equipment and knows what they are doing. Plus, they do all the cleanup.
We brought them the frames and they cut off the capped combs and spun out the honey for us. We ended up with about 65 pounds of honey which we took home and bottled ourselves. The honey tasted a little different this year, kind of like apricot and pumpkin. Who knows were those bees had been!
Here is one of our bees hard at work in the garden. When you sit and watch them for a while, you really understand the term “busy bee”. And busy they have been this year! We are on track to harvest a minimum of 80 pounds of honey come this fall, maybe even closer to 100. Not bad for 1 hive! I will keep you posted, maybe even a honey harvest video.
As first year bee keepers, we were pretty excited to harvest our first batch of honey. We were not counting on getting much, if any in the first year. Our busy bees on the other hand had higher hopes. They surprised us with almost 20 pounds of liquid gold!
Our hive consists of basically 3 boxes stacked on top of each other. All of them contain 9 frames that the bees make wax comb into and fill with honey, and/or brood or larvae. The bottom 2 boxes we leave alone so the colony will grow and they will have some honey to eat through the winter. The top shallow box, or “honey super”, contains just comb and honey, and is all for us.
First we had to spray a “fume board” with a smelly liquid that the bees hate. This drives the bees out of the honey super so we could take it off and collect the honey. 6 of the 9 frames were filled with honey. Not bad for the first year. We loaded the honey filled frames in the car and drove to New England Beekeeping Supplies in Tyngsboro, MA. They were super helpful and have all the equipment for extracting the honey from the combs available for rent.
Using a hot knife, the wax caps were sliced off. We saved all the cappings to make some beeswax products later. The frames were then places in the extractor, a large stainless steel cylinder with a motor and a spout at the bottom. As the frames spin faster and faster inside the extractor, the centrifugal force pulls all the honey out of the combs and eventually comes out of the spout below. The fresh honey was strained and filled our bottling bucket.
After we got home and made some whisky drinks with mint and fresh honey, we started bottling. We ended up with 32, 6 oz. jars. The taste is delicious! Much better than anything store bought. It was so exciting to see the whole process from start to finish and be able to enjoy something fresh and natural.
I was enjoying a nice, quiet day in the woods. The winter scenery was crisp and beautiful. The snow was pretty deep, but nothing I couldnt handle. So far my day was going great. That is, until I got lazy and decided to try and cross the river instead of backtracking the way I came in. I was half way across a snowy log bridge when things took a turn for the worse. Into the icy water I went! Fortunately my camera gear stayed dry.