Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Shake Out Method

Saturday's project was to install a package of bees at home.  It goes much quicker and easier each time. Tuesday my student Josh and I  installed a package in just a matter of minutes, outside my classroom while the rest of the class watched form inside the greenhouse.

 Shake Out Method:

Step 1.  Remove a frame or two  from the center of the hive

Step 2.   Remove the card board top cover from the shipping package with your hive tool or knife (the cardboard cover is there to hold in the can of sugar syrup, not to keep the Bees in place, Bees will not come out when the card board cover is removed)
Step 3Pick the package up and sharply knock it on the ground to knock the Bees off the sides and top
Step 4.  Using a knife or other tool, pry up and remove the can of Sugar Syrup from the Package
Step 5Remove the caged Queen from the package (the Queen cage is shipped with either a strip of aluminum or wire attached to it so that it can be attached to a frame within the hive. DO NOT remove the wire or strip)
 Step 6 Remove the Cork from the end of the Queen Cage and using a bit of marshmallow  to block her in.  The candy which will aid the workers both inside the Queen cage and outside eat through the candy to release the Queen.
Step 7Using duct tape securely attach the Queen Cage to the frame which was previously removed with the mesh screen facing outwards between frames.  Place an empty super on top to contain the bees once you shake them over the Queen
 Step 8.   Wet the bees down again with another application of sugar water.  Turn the package over with the opening directly over the top of the hive. Shake the Bees out of the Shipping Package directly into the frames.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Odd Duck

On my drive out Big Mill Valley I saw a unusual looking white duck on the mill pond my first thought was that it was one of the swans that have been living in the area, but on closer inspection I realized that it was an albino hen mallard.

There aren't species distinguished solely by being albino as a condition of differentiation, but there is inherited albinism in species. It's a rare recessive set of alleles. In examples like albino lab rats or rabbits, it has been selectively breed for and controlled. In the wild, albinism is very rare, like 1:XX thousand.
 Most forms of albinism are the result of the biological inheritance of genetically recessive alleles (genes) passed from both parents of an individual, though some rare forms are inherited from only one parent. There are other genetic mutations which are proven to be associated with albinism.

After the  ornithology it was on to itchyology.
I caught several small brown trout in a matter of a half hour or so exploring along the stream

But, what really made Good Friday a good day was my venture into mycology.  I found three small morals early this morning out in the timber by that tree.  You know the one.  Not much but enough to win the bet.... I'll share.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


There are several shots know as “the shot”. Michael Jordans game winner in the 1988-89 deciding game in Cleveland. Jordan dribbled toward the key and rose up for a jumper from inside the circle. Craig Ehlo, one of Cleveland's top defenders, leaped out to block the shot, but Jordan seemed to hang in the air until Ehlo was out of his way. Then he would release the shot that would be the game winner.

On 19 April 1775, on Lexington Square (Lexington is between Boston and Concord), the British Major John Pitcairn and his six light Infantry companies faced about seventy colonial militiamen. The details of the ensuing skirmish, and critically who fired the first shot, are disputed. What is clear is that this was "the shot heard 'round the world".

By the rude bridge that arched the flood their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattle farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

But there's one more.

It is known, in Jackson County and especially in Bellevue, as "The Shot." It was been replayed in my mind hundreds of times, to the agony of Becker and the ecstasy of Donovan supporters. It was only one rifle shot, yet it played an integral role in the fortunes of not one but two families. Becker was thought to be one of the Buchanan  Counties best young marks men in the late 1970s, with his skills honed at the state BB gun shoot in Bellevue, Using only a simple peep site.

I don't know when the first aperture sight was used, but the 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifle was, I believe, the first military rifle to offer it as an option. In 1884, the Buffington sight was added to the Springfield.

In his way stood the Benard Bullet  a young hot shot named Donovan that was just beginning to mesh into the world of marksmenship.  While pinging cans and poppin squirrels in the hill east of the village near Washington Mills.

“The Shot” was taken on a blustery April afternoon with the wind howling at near 25 knots and as he would so many times in his career, Donovan had the rifle aimed with the whole shooting match on the line. Starting from the right side and adjusting for the cross wind Donovan aimed slightly toward the top of 12 gauge shot gun shell and softly he began to squeeze the trigger.  With that the shell fell dead in its tracks, Donovan pumped his fists in jubilation, completing a video highlight for the ages.  (no video available at this time)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Showers

 Friday's soccer match was canceled because of typical April weather in Iowa.  Rain, sleet and cold.  So, I had some time to cruise  home by way of the top of the World (Roliworld). 

Behind the wheel of this  very rare circa 1880 Horse Drawn Road Grader. This grader  was used to build and maintain the fast growing Jackson County roads. Operated by two men with a team of horses. 

We may think we are the dominant ones on this planet but left to her own devises, nature will always break through our barriers of bricks and mortar and iron to reclaim her land. I have always loved the atmosphere of wild and overgrown places.

After the tour down the hill past chappy land i did stop to fish in the April shower,  no fish again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


If you don't go fishing, you can't tell fishing stories, good, bad  or otherwise.

With soccer in full swing right now I seem to be burning the candle at both ends.  Two weeks of three matches a week is a lot of games and late nights.

So, I took off for school a little earlier this morning just to wet a line and that's about all I did.  But, none the less I did get out and gave it a try.  With my fathers old fly rod, rigged with a small jig with a twister tail I was able to pitch this little stretch of trout stream.  Just two small strikes then back in the car.  The early morning drive out Big Mill Valley did provide some good wildlife viewing opportunities:  Tom turkeys in strut,  various water foul like a pair of trumpeter swans, canadian geese, mallards, wood ducks and mud hens.  The fishing is always good but today the catching was a little slow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Workout

40+ reps with the post hole digger per hole, about 38" deep.

over 100 squats removing bricks and limestone slabs

 20+ wheelbarrows of lime/sand fill.

All part of my spring work out as I rebuild out southern entryway arbor with a green-roof.

Hawkeye Herman Tonight!

ImageLast Sunday evening we had the opportunity to relax with some good friend and share a few stories.  A friend of ours from back in the day when Potters Mill was a hub for musicians traveling through the area, was back in Iowa.
Michael Hawkeye Herman, 2004, Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Inductee was in town before his week as the artist in residence down in the Quad Cities 
  Hawkeye is both a great story teller and a guitar player.  Playing both fingerpick and slide guitar, Herman's licks are clean, yet spare..., his vocals are direct and straightforward, but full of emotion... 

During the week of April 11-15, Hawkeye will go into science, math, English, social studies, ESL, and alternative high school classrooms of four area schools. This is a new approach for BITS in the Quad-Cities, but not for Hawkeye, who has been conducting cross-curricular blues workshops all over the world. Because teaching at the classroom level is more intense in both preparation and execution than the usual performing for school assemblies, Hawkeye will be presenting only one open-to-the-public event on Wednesday April 13 at Mojo’s in the River Music Experience (2nd and Main Streets in Davenport) beginning at 7:00 p.m.


Monday, April 11, 2011


 This is a shot of Steelbelly chunking up a large hickory which contains a wild swarm of bees.  We were successfully able to rob the honey but we weren't able to save the bees.

With temperatures in the low 80's my bees that I captured last May were very active.  Because the swarm I captured last spring was small it hadn't build up large enough colony numbers to keep its self warm through the winter.

  So, late last fall I moved the hive body to the protected area inside the stone sauna to overwinter.  Thus, the sod roofed sauna was out of commission last winter and Susie wanted to get on the roof for some spring time weeding of the succulents and moss roses but the bees had to go.  At dusk when most of the bees have returned form gathering pollen from the nearby pussy willow and crocus blooms, I closed up the opening of the 30 lb. hive body and lifted loaded it onto the wheelbarrow for the move to the lower end of our 1 acre garden near the orchard.  Honey bees have become the primary source of pollination for approximately one-fourth of all crops produced in the United States and some other countries. The value of the crops that rely on such pollination has been estimated as high as $10 billion annually in the United States. Examples of fruit crops that rely on honey bees are almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, pears, raspberries, strawberries and watermelons. The seeds of many vegetables are also produced with honey bee pollination; examples include alfalfa, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, clover, cotton, cucumbers, onions, radishes, squash, sweet clover, and turnips.
Many species of wild pollinators have disappeared from the land as their habitats have been destroyed or altered by humans. The honey bee has taken over as pollinator of many of the wild plants that remain; its ecological value in this regard is tremendous.
Honey bees are the sole source of honey and beeswax, a fine wax with unusual qualities. Honey bees also produce propolis, a gummy substance made from tree sap that has antibacterial properties, and royal jelly and pollen for human consumption. Honey bee venom is extracted for the production of antivenom therapy and is being investigated as a treatment for several serious diseases of the muscles, connective tissue, and immune system, including multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Looking forward to taking off some early honey in late June.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Quick snap shot of some minor flooding of the Mississippi river north of town.  Small glaciers remain on the ski slopes of Chestnut mountain just across the river.

Trailer for new movie on theVW Bus

Unofficial trailer for "The Bus," a feature-length documentary film currently in production. "The Bus" is a celebration of the most iconic and beloved vehicle ever produced. It explores the history, culture and evolution of the Volkswagen Transporter from its Nazi heritage to its modern-day cult-like following and status; the film celebrates the 60th anniversary of the VW Bus and its vibrant and resonant place in modern culture. The film will be released in late 2011.

 From Solar Burrito:

I had a 85 VW automatic,  Westphalia, with a  for about several years before I blew the engine. It had a plywood fold-up bed, table, frig, closet.  We took many local trips and one memorable road trip to Denver Colorado and returned home by way of the Black hills.