March 5, 2017

Alden and Elliott Fiddling

Alden has been practicing like a champ and really making strong headway with his violin. We thought Elliott might be ready to start about a year ago, because of his earnest interest in what he saw Alden doing. However over the course of the year Elliott proved to be an unreliable practicer, so a couple months back we stopped taking him to lessons and will wait and see how he develops his dedication.

Elliott still likes to noodle around with a violin sometimes, and especially when he sees Alden being silly, like with his practice for an upcoming concert. The Pop Goes The Weasel doesn't showAlden at his best... especially with the silliness, but it is great to see the two kids playing together.

February 26, 2017

Halifax Work-cation

This week is winter vacation for the kids, and with Ilana between jobs, we figured that the family could all go to Halifax Nova Scotia while I attend a conference on festival best-methods.
Halifax from the conference room window
The conference was a terrific event, but the downside (basic reality) was that I could only hang out with the family in the morning and maaaaybe during meals.  I was especially bummed that I couldn't go to the the amazing (only one week old) Discovery Center with Ilana the kids. I was able to walk with them to the building, but then get back to my professional commitments.  The report back was that it was freaking amazing and they only left due to hunger.

Outside the Halifax Discovery Center... or was it disc golf... or a disco.  

Pictures from me are mostly from restaurant booths, since I was either driving the car or attending meetings. But all in all folks had a very good time and we felt rested upon our return. 

Calis Maine Mexican restaurant with lovely service and very New England style Mexican food 

Vietnamese restaurant in Halifax. Very good and Alden had his first Pho 

Vegetarian restaurant in Moncton 

February 20, 2017

Bad News for Bees

 February 19th was a glorious day to get out and engage in some low-level outdoor recreation. It reached about 50 degrees F with sun and no breeze. There was about 2 feet of snow on the ground from the storm a the start of the week, but the roads were clear.  So we could get where we wanted to go and enjoy the paradox of warm winter weather.

We chose to check the bees as our family activity. From a bee-keeping class long ago I remember the rule, "Give the bees something sweet for valentines day" - which is a reminder that on some warm day in February you should check how the colonies are doing and pour sugar on the top of the inner cover in case they are running low on their stored winter honey.

Colony C, The last survivors

... The good news is that not all of the colonies had died... The bad news is there is only one surviving hive remaining. Yep. 

At honey harvest time we had 17 colonies. When we winerized the hives in November we were down to 10. This is an unusual amount of mortality, but five of the colonies were at a new location that we think was a bad place to locate the hives. Looking back at our records, there was a warm day in early January and all was well when we checked then (say, January 2nd). Now we are down to one hive, which is very depressing. 

Reasons bees die in the winter. Things to ponder:
  • Too cold and they freeze to death 
  • Too cold and they cannot move to new food so they starve to death 
  • Bees eat all the food in the hive and starve to death 
  • Moisture in the hive kills the bees
  • Bees weakened before winer by varoa mites and die 
  • Colony too small to make a good bee-ball during winter 
  • Queen dies somehow and rest of colony follows
  • Nosema (dysentery) causes bees to poop everywhere and die
  • Blocked entrance from inside
  • Blocked entrance from outside
  • Mouse infestation 
  • Strong winds create temperature fluctuation
  • Other diseases