Missing Three Friends

As General Conference continues this weekend, I am missing more and more the voices of three beloved friends: President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry, and Elder Richard G. Scott. I miss the wisdom and spirit and calmness they brought with them, the rich emotional tenor of Elder Scott, the sly smile of Elder Perry, and the humble consistency of President Packer.

I find myself waiting for them to just still be there, and while I’m excited and eager for the three newly called Apostles of Jesus Christ, there’s still that lack.

I’ve had the extreme good fortune of meeting Perry and Scott in person, and my memories are rich and full. Both visited my mission while I was serving in Brazil, and both left a lasting impression on me. Perry’s enthusiasm for missionary work and the gospel was contagious. Scott’s sobriety and commitment was palpable. He invited all of (four missions or ~800 people) to come one-by-one to shake his hand. I remember his size. He was tiny, and as he was so capable of doing, he seemed to look through our souls. He and Elder Christofferson (then of the Seventy) spent the next six hours pouring truth, light, and knowledge on us in a never-ending flood of teaching. It was then and remains now one of the deepest and richest experiences of my life.

And while I never met President Packer in person, I’ve long lived his unalterable consistency in testimony and faith. Surely few other apostles of the modern era have faced such constant criticism for the stances he took on marriage, family, and the gospel, and I loved him for it.

So as conference continues, I find my ears perking for that country drawl, the guttural rumblings, and the oddly paced potency of three beloved friends. I miss them.

P.S. As I listened to parts of Elder Scott’s funeral services, I had the clearest image of the reunion between him and his beloved wife, Janeen on the other side. My missing these three can’t compare in any measure to the reunion that just occurred!

Honey Harvest 2015!

I harvested today, and as is usual, I vastly overestimated what I would get. I left a lot more on the hive than I thought I would as well (at least a full medium). Here’s the report.

Insides Hive

I got 14 frames of mostly harvestable honey. This hive had another full medium on it that I could take PLUS honey throughout the frames. I left it all, however, because it’s better to guarantee survival than lose the hive. This hive is having a touch of varroa issues right now, and I’m a little worried that they’re going to succumb to the little pests this winter. While harvesting, I found six newly hatched bees with ruined wings on a single side of one frame. Not a good sign.

I haven’t medicated since year 1, and my nearest supplier is a good 50-minute drive away. Sigh…. I don’t like medicating, but I might have to. I’m also debating doing a powdered sugar treatment as well, though I hate using sugar in my hives as well. Then again, if the alternative is losing the hive I’d rather save it.

Outside Hive

Not as big as I had hoped. They’ve made almost no progress in the last few weeks. I didn’t get a drop off this hive (I was hoping for a medium at best), and I ended up putting the wet frames on this hive to give them just that much more. After putting the wets on top, I noticed that there was a flurry of busy fighting at the entrance. Sigh…. Not my best beekeeping day.

I put the entrance reducer on, and that seemed to do the trick, but who knows the damage done. I suppose it could have been a few stray bees from another hive who came in with the wets while I had that open. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that’s what happened.

We’ve still got about four or five weeks of solid scavenging for nectar and pollen left on the year, so I have hopes that this hive will build up for the winter. They weren’t too light, just not nearly as heavy as I like it.

All told, I have four gallons draining in the kitchen right now, and I might go back out in a few weeks and try to claim that last medium off the Inside Hive. I’ll almost certainly go back at least once to do a varroa treatment of some kind lest I lose the whole thing.

It was nice to harvest, but I’ll readily admit that it wasn’t magical. It was a chore to be done.

It works.

How I spent my afternoon

I made my annual fall pilgrimage up to the bee store to buy sheets of foundation for gifts. I roll a few hundred sheets into candles each fall and then give those out as Christmas gifts come the holiday season. It’s pricey (about $130 for a box of sheets), but I get up to 30 candles out of it, and that’s about $4 a gift. Not bad.

Kiffen went with me this year as he often does, and to make the trip more interesting for him, I asked if there were anywhere he wanted to stop by. The Lego Store.

This was the result:


It took me most of the afternoon to put it together, and I had a blast. I haven’t played with Legos in years, but apparently I have a new (and rather expensive) hobby. That right there is $140 hard-earned/saved dollars. I was sorely tempted by Slave1 as well, but I held off. That would have been another $200. And then there was the Sydney Opera House ($320), London Bridge ($350), and a pirate ship ($90). We barely escaped with our lives….

And it was completely worth it.

And ew… gross.

The season is turning to fall, and I figured I’d get out for a quick Labor Day hive inspection. While I’m glad I did, I’m grossed out. See, I had a problem….


So if you’ve kept bees, you know what those are. If you don’t, might I introduce a truly disgusting creature: Wax Moths.

Wax moths are one of those truly horrible pests that comes with beekeepers. A strong hive is quit capable of controlling wax moths on their own, but a week hive quickly falls. Momma moth sneaks in, gets past the guards, and lays her eggs in the wax. When the eggs hatch and begin their change into larvae, they borrow into the comb leaving a sticky web-like mess, droppings, and disaster in their wake.

I despise these things!

Last year, wax moths were the death of both my nuc and my top bar hive, though admittedly the top bar was probably doomed no matter what. It just never got going, and then it suffered a round of swarming that took whatever strength it had.

But back to today. It’s terrible to open a hive and find an infestation of wax moths. Know what’s worse? Opening your beekeeping jacket and finding it full of the nasty things. One of my old supers was sitting on a shelf in my shed, and I kept my jacket next to it. Sometime between now and my last visit, a wax moth got in and went crazy. Thousands (literally) of the little worms all over that box. When the box filled, they migrated to the next cool, dark place they could find, which happened to be my jacket. I spent over an hour pulling the filthy things out of my jacket, and it’s still covered in webbings, castings (worm pooh), and their guts when they got squished. It was horrifying.


Still, I think I single-handedly just depopulated the county of wax moths. That’s a good thing.

And fortunately, I had a spare suit that I wore.

Hive Outside

This has been the most pleasant year of beekeeping for me ever. I could have gone veil-less again (I was tempted). This hive is still only 1 deep and 1 medium big. I have a second deep on top in the hopes that they get moving. The queen is still there and laying, but it just isn’t getting that big, and with winter approaching, I admit my doubts. Fortunately, we have one last nectar flow if normal weather holds. I’m also debating taking some honey from my other hive to supplement. I want to come into spring with two so that I can split off a nuc or two and sell them.

Hive Inside

I love this hive, and today was no exception. They’ve still got some expansion room, and I thought about taking my first medium of honey today. I’m glad I didn’t–It’s been a very busy day filled with lots of projects around the house. Adding a honey harvest to that would leave me feeling grumpy.

Lots of eggs, thick brood nest, and they are working on their third medium of honey with stores down below. I’d guess about 70 lbs of honey below and then whatever is up top. I’m still thinking I should get about 10 gallons off this hive, but I’m realizing I’m a horrible guesser when it comes to harvests. We’ve been out of our honey since about May this last year, and I miss it. Store-bought honey just isn’t the same.

Oh, and don’t tell Courtney I put my suit in her new washing machine…. Let’s just keep that a secret.

I’ll be honest; I have no clue what day this was. I think it might have been… Nope, sorry. I really don’t remember. Wasn’t last Saturday.

I finally got in to my hives again a few weeks ago. I’ve trying two new strategies this year:

  • Rose hive, which I can say appears to work quite well at least on the one hive I’m experimenting with.
  • Fewer visits. I used to go out every two weeks like clock work, and this year I’ve gone out only a handful of times total. I like it.

I’m not sure that the fewer visits is increasing production (anecdotally, there are plenty of beekeepers who say it will), but I’ve found that I enjoy each individual visit more. It’s less “work” and more “play.” I guess it also gives me less chance of getting stung, which isn’t preferred for me. I want to get stung. :-) Okay, maybe want isn’t the best word…. I think it’s important to get stung on a semi-regular basis for a couple reasons. First, it keeps me honest in my beekeeping. Keeps me careful and aware. If I go a long time without a sting, I get a bit lazy and casual, and I make mistakes. Second, I’ve found that frequent stings tend to help my reaction to stings. I go a long time, and I feel like I’m starting off from square 1. That first sting of the year is always the worst in terms of reaction and swelling, but if I have a particularly bad year for stings, by August, I barely react at all. I hate losing that.

But back to the hives….

Outside Hive

I’m changing the names of the hives to inside and outside, meaning inside the apiary and outside. If you remember, I created an accidental split back in June when I tried to move my one survivor hive into the apiary. Well, this hive is doing okay. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. It’s currently a deep and a medium in size with a deep honey super on top. If they fill that up, I’m feeling great about their chances in the winter, but they hadn’t done much when I was out there. Of course, late June through August is our dry/dearth season, so no big surprise. We get a relatively big nectar flow in the fall with the late bloomers, squash, and cooler weather (the dandelions try to make another run of it), so I think they’ll be fine. Probably no harvest, but survival is better.

Inside Hive

My inside hive, also known as redonkulous the beehive, is doing quite well. It too hasn’t grown much in honey stores, but it’s just as big as it’s always been, just as thick with bees, and just as happy. I suspect that they’ll make a strong push for honey with the fall flow, and we’ll end up with at least 10 gallons of harvestable honey here. I wouldn’t be surprised if we inched closer to 15 or 20!

One note in general is that the bees are remarkably calm this summer. Not only have I had no stings, but I have yet to honestly feel like I really needed to use any safety gear. I have yet to have a single bee even headbutt my veil! And it’s not just my hives. When I helped my dad mid-summer with his hives, I didn’t have any gear, and we did a full split of the hive. That’s not a simple, non-invasive task there, and I did it without a viel, hood, gloves, or anything else.

It’s been a great year for beekeeping, and here’s to a wonderfully happy harvest!

I kind of feel like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth these last few weeks. I’m sure we all have that friend who got married and suddenly disappeared, right? Well, that’s how it is with this job. I’ve just disappeared.

And I can’t say this enough… I LOVE what I’m doing!

Why didn’t I make this leap sooner? I am working longer hours than I ever have before with more responsibility, more pressure, and more–I guess–stress, and I generally come home full of energy, recharged, and hungry for more. It’s been awesome, and while I had my doubts about making the jump to the start up life, I’m glad I didn’t listen.

My typical schedule is full days of training Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are a couple hours of training with the majority of the time having the agents on the floor shadowing and practicing. That time is where I build new trainings, attend leadership meetings (I love being on the senior leadership team), and mentor/coach other staff. My boss has turned out to be exactly what I hoped she would be–very down to earth, driven, excellent coach, open, and great to work with. I find myself stretching and scratching professional muscles that I’ve forgotten I had or didn’t know I had, and all the while working in my core strengths. Add in that there is enough variety any given day, and I’m just happy.

Who knew that work could be fun? It certainly hasn’t most of my career!

So for all those who I used to chat with, Skype with, email with, and so much more, I’m sorry. I haven’t forgotten you. I honestly just haven’t had the time in the day to take care of those relationships as much as I would wish. I’m still trying to figure out how to carve out a bit of time to do that.

Oh, and one more thing: I’ve always loved Saturday just for the down time, but it’s amazing how much I cherish Saturdays now and guard them jealously! I find myself feeling grumpy with meetings, events, and other things scheduled for Saturday that aren’t exactly what I want to do. Saturday is family time, me time, and play time.

The new job

I started on Monday, and to say I’m exhausted would be an understatement. That doesn’t come anywhere near what I’m feeling. I’ve been in training all day every day but the thing is that I’m less getting trained than I am giving training. To give you an idea, the guy helping me has put in 30 hours already this week. It’s Tuesday.

Since the launch last week, numbers have easily topped four times expectation. We had expected to need around 300 agents by Christmas. Yesterday that number was bumped to around 600, and there is talk of needing a full 1,000. By Christmas. It has been insane. There’s just no other way to describe what is happening.

And it is awesome!

I’m having the time of my life, but I get home and my brain just oozes out of my ears. I’m remembering why I liked the longer commute of yesteryear, though. I listen the scriptures and conference talks as I drive, and it makes for an enjoyable, calmer drive home. I tend to get home more relaxed (tired, but relaxed).

Right now I’m trying to figure out how we can create a faster, shorter training program that will handle larger numbers of employees. Our current system can maybe do 15 a week if we really push it. That’s simply not good enough. We need to get closer to 30 to hit the lower end goals and maybe as high as 50 if the higher estimates pan out, which–judging by what has happened so far–is not only possible but likely.

I still miss the people from the old job. Good people there. I do not, however, miss the rote and routine. I don’t miss the lack of challenge. I don’t miss the mundane that was so much of what I could do. I don’t miss feeling restrained and held back in my talents. I don’t miss feeling questioned by management and having my thoughts and ideas be rejected. I also, apparently, don’t really have any issue with airing that out now that I’m gone. :-)

It’s one thing to think that I just jumped in on the ground floor of an amazing opportunity (both professionally and financially), and that is certainly true. But it’s even better to sit back after two days and know that I did. Work is suddenly fun again, and that’s wonderful.


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