Honeybees Are **Really** Back!

I’m taking you with me to feed the bees. Shhh…it’s early in the morning. The world seems new and clean. Does it seem that way everywhere or only here?

Wet Morning In Mendota

I added Honey B Healthy to the 1:1 sugar water I’m feeding my two bee hives. Beekeeping is not cheap. This little bottle of Honey B Healthy is $24.95, and I am lucky enough to live near Poor Valley Bees so I don’t have to pay shipping.

Honey Bee Healthy

Just takes a teaspoon per quart jar of sugar water…they love it. Lemon oil, spearmint oil…all things bees like and need.

Honey Bee Healthy Teaspoon

At the hive, which is blissfully near the house, I look in and see an empty jar. They are drinking one quart every 24-36 hours. This means they are alive so this is a good thing for me.

Empty Jars

So I swapped them out. It was so easy since the bees were in the hive due to the early hour. This afternoon I visited the hive again…it was reassuring as I could see the bees coming in and taking off. The ones that were coming in had their little hind leg baskets filled with pollen. Not much of the sugar water is gone — maybe they are all foraging and just using it as a “bar” where they go for a drink at night???

Hive 1

They are working hard. I’m going to work hard, too — I’m going to go outside and work on my garage organization and plant some tomatoes!! But before I go, I was a little concerned that my super duper potatoes might be all potato vine and no potato…so while walking back from my little apiary, I reached down in the raised bed and felt around and pulled out this! Taterhead rules!!

Tater Today


The Bees

Not too long ago…just a few months ago…it was this.

lots of bees

Tonight, there are nine hives near our house that have not one single bee that is alive.

Depressed? You bet. There is a great deal of money and heart in our bees. However, we’re on the search for new bees. We’re hoping to get bees that have wintered in Virginia.

While we’ve talked to people in Roanoke whose bees survived, we’ve been told that our story is not uncommon throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. We need our bees. When we get them, we’re moving them closer to the house in a spot that we think will be better with morning sun, evening shade and a wind barrier. If this doesn’t work….I don’t even want to think about that.


Mendota Daily September 26

We’re in about the 4th day of fall, and the nights are getting very cool here in Mendota. I love sleeping in on these cold mornings.

Tomorrow I will not be sleeping in. As I mentioned in the post earlier this week, Sam the Cat has a lump on his little neck/jaw area. I did not think it was bothering him. I just found the lump on Monday while petting him, so I made an appointment for next Monday. Sam is a challenge to drive to the vet, and I wanted to be the one to drive him. Since I’m working on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, I felt Monday was best since he did not appear to be in any discomfort and was eating normally. Now, however, he is in pain, and I’ve left my vet a message that he’ll have to see Sam tomorrow. Sam was abused as a kitten and he’s really a mean cat. He’ll have to be sedated before the vet will even be able to touch him. He also gets car sick. Poop pee puke. You get the picture.    I hope you weren’t eating when you read that!

We’re still working on projects and getting ready for winter. This weekend, I worked on the beehives.   I worked and took these pictures just as it became daylight as I wanted the bees to be inside their hives and not hanging around the entry way as they do during the day. 

Here’s Hive #2. If you look  at the base of the hive, you’ll see an opening going across the width of the structure. We leave that open during the “honey flow” so the bees can get in and out easily. If all is well, these hives have many thousands of bees bringing in pollen and nectar, and traffic can get quite congested. It reminds me of Federal Express in Memphis during take offs and landings.   Quite fun to watch as they zoom in with their little pockets full of pollen. 

As the weather cools and the bees become less active, we close this off. We do this to keep out cold and pests such as mice.

Here’s a picture of the same hive after I inserted a spacer.  Look at the bottom now…

When it gets much colder, we’ll close this off to a very tiny opening which is much smaller than what you see in the picture above. I’m very worried about my bees and how they’ll do this winter. They are positioned so that they don’t get strong wind, but they also are in the shade.   I’d really like for them to get the morning sun and the evening shade but it’s reversed.  If we know in advance that there is extreme cold this winter, we may bubble wrap the hives to help hold in warmth. The bees will cluster around the queen and keep her at about 85 degrees.  In summer,  they fan her  to keep her cool.

It is also time to remove the vents from the top of the hive.  In the picture below, I’ve removed the cover, and I’m getting ready to remove the vent.  The dark brown that you see under the screen are a few hundred bees. 

The vent is very useful in the summer. Just like in your house, the hot air rises and the vent allows the heat to escape. If you have attic vents, it is a similar principle.


In the picture below, I’ve removed the vent and placed the heavy block back on the hive to keep the roof in place.  I left the vent on the side of the hive so that the bees will be able to get back into their hives.   On the day following, I picked up the vents and took them home.  I’ve now got to ask Gerald how I clean them up to store it for winter.  We’ll be using these vents again next summer.

I really enjoy these bees. I was up at the hive this evening swapping around Mason jars of sugar water for these little guys. They’ve got used to my being there every day and are paying little attention when I make the swap. For some reason, one got up my sweatshirt sleeve (I wasn’t wearing the protective clothing). “Yikes,” I thought..”I’m going to get stung.”  Wonder of wonders…I did not!! Thank you little bee (who by the way would have been dead tonight had he or she stung me.)

 There is so much to learn and so much to risk if you do something wrong.

I will be so happy if next spring I have four hives of healthy bees.

To those who buy our honey, we greatly appreciate it.   We are working hard to provide a quality honey and to to our part in restoring honeybees to Southwest Virginia. 


Guest House & Honey Bees

I talk about the “guest house” from time to time on this blog. When we did not live in Mendota year round, someone else lived here and took care of  RiverCliff Cottage.  They did a very good job, and I miss them. They lived in an apartment over the garage. When they left, we put our extra things in, I made window treatments, etc. It became…and still is… a sort of “doll house” for me.   Following that, my girlfriend came for a few weeks and stayed several years.  I miss her, too.   Most recently, I’ve “stuck my foot in the water” in  renting it in a modified bed/breakfast fashion.   I’ve had a measure of success but I’ll have to figure out if I want to do this as a “real” business.   There’s lots to consider–the downside is I get to be the maid as well as the owner.   

We’re currently working on the guesthouse, so I took several pictures before we got started.   Here’s the kitchen…

Mike made the kitchen table. It’s wormy chestnut with an “apron” from a tobacco barn that had fallen on hard times. It has a second chance as my table.  My neighbor gave me the chairs which we spray painted black.     I made the window treatments…I even lined them!

Another view…

Here’s the cooking area of the kitchen, and I think you’ll agree that this will look much better with hardwood. We are currently removing the vinyl which is a tough job. 

The living room is open to the ktichen…here it is…

I’m leaving the carpet in the living room. It’s good carpet and I think the hardwood that will replace the vinyl will tone it down a little bit. I may replace the carpet in a few years, but I like having carpet in this area because the sofa bed could scratch hardwood when we move it about.  Mike made the little coffee table.

On the bannister as you come up the steps, I leave my sister’s quilt to enjoy or snuggle in..I won it during a Mendota Cemetery raffle.  I bought a gazillion  tickets… 

I’ve shown you the bedroom before. I love having the new hardwood in this room because I can  swap around quilts and bedding with little thought to what colors they are. I love linens!

The bathroom is really cute…lots of angles…this chair was a trash to treasure find. It was destined for the landfill but visited Mike’s shop and he put it back together, ran over it, and put it back together again. We recovered it in  cheap inexpensive fabric from Walmart.


Thank you for visiting the guest house apartment and for reading RiverCliff Cottage.   But there’s more…

It’s been a busy day.   We are in the process of getting the last of the 2012 honey flow from our bees.  I want to share a few bee pictures…this is my brother in law, Gerald Booher, armed with a smoker…he’s serious in his defense.   When you “smoke” the bees, they all dive deep into the hive to start eating their honey thinking it might burn.  Anyway, I assume that is what they think.   Gerald has  had quite a few stings in 2012. 

Here’s me…I’m sweating like a PIG in this picture.  I am armed with sugar water which calms the bees.  They are like crack addicts for sugar water.    My bee suit it too big so the helmet falls around all the time.  I wear leggings, shorts and long sleeves under the suit because the suit does not stop an ambitious bee from stinging.   It’s a bit warm. 

 And here is why we suit up so carefully.   

 Good night. 






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