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Going, going, gone!!!

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Yeah, it’s not the best of pictures, but it’s what I could pull off the website easily.

That, my friends, ist le casa. We offered last Thursday, and the offer was accepted Friday afternoon. We close in two weeks. I’d tell you where and all, but this is NOT a password protected post, and, well….

So let me tell you the story:

I first saw this house on the multiple listing service (MLS) about six weeks ago. I crossed my fingers hoping it’d be on the market when we sold ours and, of course, it wasn’t. Sadness. However, Tuesday night, it came back up. The previous buyer fell through for whatever reason, and we were eager and ready. I called our realtor up to go see it, and he said we could go see it the next Tuesday because he was going out of town. At first we were okay with that, but then I just got that feeling. Go now or lose it.

We had his partner take us the very next night. We were able to meet the sellers while there, and we hammered out a verbal deal standing in their office. Then we went out to the driveway and wrote the offer. It was that impressive of a house.

The house has four beds/three baths and three family rooms (!) plus a living room, dining room, and kitchen. It has massive amounts of storage, a monstro sized deck, a massive backyard (.25 acres) that backs up to a park, and it is on a quiet cul-de-sac in a wonderful, family neighborhood.

If I had a complaint, it would be that the house is spread across five levels. You can see the standard tri-level in the picture, and this house has a basement under the bottom two levels for five levels. But even that I’m okay with because it works well.

Not sure what else to say about it…. The sellers are leaving their nice exercise equipment, all their lawn care equipment, and the hot tub. We will probably sell off a lot of what we don’t need (including the hot tub) and use that to do things that we really want, like get chickens and build my bee yard.

We close on Halloween assuming that everything goes smoothly, and we’ll take the month of November to move in slowly.

We’re really excited!

Getting close to the end for the year…. I’m always very ready for that and simultaneously sad to see it come to an end. Such is life.

Top Bar

May it rest in peace. I went in to the Top Bar today with the intention of harvesting any honey and wax I could find. If there were bees, I was going to dump them. The hive was dead anyway, right? Well, indeed it was. Not a bee in sight. However, there was a small nest of wax moth larvae working their way through the four small combs. How I hate those things!

I emptied the hive of everything and closed it up for the winter. Sad.

Hive 1

Happy! This hive is still going crazy and doing really well. No concerns as they get ready for the winter.

Hive 2 and Hive 3

And… I’m done to two hives! We’ll call this one Hive 2.5 for now because I combined the two into one large hive.

Hive 2 is queenless. Not sure what happened, but very little brood, all of it very late stage. No eggs. I would guess there was no more than 250 total cells of brood in the entire hive. However, they have done a good job getting their weight up in honey. I’d guess close to 40 lbs.

Hive 3 on the other hand is packed full of brood, with very little honey. Maybe 20 lbs. At most. They also have a strong queen, and they seem to have resolved their egg-laying worker problem. I figured that since each hive had half the strength and the strengths were complimentary…. I did a newspaper combine putting Hive 2 (queenless) on top of Hive 3 in Hive 3’s spot making Hive 2.5. That puts a good six feet between Hive 1 and Hive 2.5.

I will go in to this hive at least one last time before the season ends to consolidate the frames down to a smaller hive size. Right now the hive is made up of two deeps and two mediums. I’d like to get rid of at least one deep OR one medium. That should be pretty darn easy.

Hopefully the weather holds.

The last thing I did was I slipped a five-pound feeder filled with honey into the front of this hive. I figure that will give them just enough of a jump in honey stores to make it just fine.

Year-end Reflections

So now that the year is coming to end, it’s reflection time. All in all, this was a good year for beekeeping. I was able to reclaim the hobby as my own and do it for the love of the work and the experience. I found two new assistants who are learning quickly and make the experience fun. I regained the joy I found in doing it alone as well. I had my first experience with wax moths, my first experience with egg-laying workers, and a miserable year in surviving. I lost a nuc and two hives. I did my first top bar, failed miserable at it, and I’m wondering what to do for next year to have better luck. And for once, I feel very confident that I will come into next spring with the same number of hives I started the winter with! Granted, it’s only two, but they are both really strong and should both produce nice splits come spring.

If I can get two splits in the spring, I will try to sell two of them off as nucs ($100+ each). I may try for a third split as well to get my apiary back to three hives since I have the equipment. I’d very much like to NOT have to pay for packages in the spring. They are getting more and more expensive each year ($80 this last year), and since my survival rate this year on my packages was pathetic (1/3), I just don’t want to spend the money.

So there will be at least one more visit. But unless there’s a major surprise, here’s to the end of the bee year!

Bring on Christmas!

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I got home yesterday to find that our shed in the backyard was overflowing with bees, enough so that I honestly wondered if a swarm had moved in even though it is much too late for swarming.

To add to the situation, all my beekeeping gear is in there and that shed is the dividing line between our parking area and our neighbor’s area. The bees were all over their cars and generally swarming the area. It was bad enough that I would not have blamed them if they had made a few calls to the “authorities.”

So I stood outside the shed staring at it and the thousands of bees swarming around it wondering what to do. It was about this time that Courtney came up behind me. I don’t remember what she said, but it had the basic feel of “better you than me.” With that she retreated to the far corner of the yard to watch….

I spent a few minutes watching the bees to see if I could notice anything that would clue me in on what was happening. I began to notice a definite drift of bees from the shed to the hives and back. With that, I assumed they had found something in there and were robbing it out. Robbers/foragers aren’t stingers (generally), so I opened up the shed and walked in to a cloud of a few thousand bees without a shred of protective gear.

And it was…

… magical.

I love those bees. :-)

It was wonderful to stand in that shed with the rich buzz of their wings and the near constant brush of their bodies on my arms, face, and head. I took the first few minutes and just soaked it in. If you could climb inside a hive and just watch, I’m guessing it would be something similar to that.

I eventually found what they were going after: a medium box of old comb with, apparently, a touch of honey still in it. This was a super I had pulled over a year ago and set aside after the first freeze. There wasn’t enough in it to worry about harvesting, and the comb was full of pollen anyway, which is hard to deal with sometimes. I forgot about this year, and it spent the summer sitting in the shed unnoticed until yesterday. I’m not sure how they finally found it.

I pulled that super out of the shed and set it outside near the hives, and the swarm moved almost immediately from the shed to the super. Looking at it, it looks like wax moths went crazy on the comb/honey left in there. I should have known that would happen.

If the weather holds this Saturday, I’ll go through that super and clean everything up. And this time when it goes back in the shed, I’ll wrap it in plastic to protect it.

I can’t imagine what would have happened had we been out of town! Our neighbors are very understanding, but I imagine I’m one of a relatively small number who found the experience of standing in the middle of a swarm exciting.

Death to the Car!

Last summer I had a car accident. While it didn’t kill our car, it prompted us to move on to a minivan, something we had always intended to do with #4 on the way.

We went Dave Ramsey crazy on the car, and today we paid it off only 14 months into a 72-month loan. Grand total savings on interest: $1,491.42.

So this has me thinking… When we first embarked on the Dave Ramsey path about 6.5 years ago, we went crazy on debt to the tune of roughly $12,000 a year, and we did that for about four years. Then we got tired. We burned out. We fried….

We changed our budget dramatically to focus on frugality but also living now. At the time it seemed right, and we did that for a year. We had fun with it and enjoyed ourselves. When we got the car, we almost naturally went back to killing the debt. In fact, in the last 9 months we paid down over $22,000 on the car alone. Add in the mortgage, and we’re looking at paying off over $25,000 in debt by the end of the year.

And it wasn’t that hard.

Now, granted we had a lot of one-time things that came through this year that wouldn’t happen normally, but pull those things out, and there’s no reason we still couldn’t hit $15,000 a year by simply tightening our belts and going back to the crazy side. And that’s where we start dreaming….

Our Idaho friends have paid off debt like maniacs since heading that way three years ago. They are on track to being debt free (house and all) in six or seven more years. As we look at our debts, we’re not that far behind! The funny thing is that we’ve been seven years away for the last three years!!! That’s what getting burned out does to you.

But now that the van is paid off, I’m feeling a lot of energy to go get this done. We only have student loans and the house left, and I’m already thinking of how to kill off the student loans.

What worked for us this last year was having a hard goal and then keeping it there in our minds. When we started the year, we had the goal of paying off the van. We didn’t think it’d be even close to possible, but it drove our conversations and decisions. We would talk frequently about our status and how each decision impacted that long-term goal and when we made a good choice, we took that money and threw it at the van. Little bits here and there made a real difference in the long run!

By my guess, if we maintain the energy, we can finish off the student loan by March. Maybe April.

Then we’ll see if we can make seven years actually start to count down….

I just told Jeff up in Idaho that we’re racing them. They’ve got a good head start in both amount and attitude, but we can catch them. Either way, how wonderful it would be to be in my early 40s and… debt free.

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