39th Annual Beekeeping Field Day

Bees on a frame at the VAA Bendigo Branch's 39th Annual Beekeeping Field

Today we attended the 39th Annual Beekeeping Field Day at the Harcourt Leisure Centre, hosted by the Victorian Apiarist Association’s Bendigo Branch.

Why did we go to such an event I hear you ask, we don’t own any bees, nor do we have any current plans to become bee owners… well, our friend Sue has a beehive she has kind of inherited from a former work friend who moved and had to offload a few of the hives he used to keep in his yard. So now Sue and Lana have a happy little hive sitting in their yard in Brunswick, and inner suburb of Melbourne.

The last couple of times Sue’s friend Arton had come over to help with the honey harvest Sue has felt a little like she was relying on him too much to take care of the bees which are now hers. Further, the last harvest only produced about 1kg of honey, from a hive that should probably be doing 5 times that per harvest, so Sue wanted to find out more about why that might be.

Turns out the low harvest is a very common thing this past season. The apiarists on hand said they all had a low yield of the last year due to the dry weather causing plants to not produce as much pollen and nectar, prime requirements for the honey bee. They have however, already seen bumper crops early this season, mostly for those who live near canola fields which have been in full-bloom this year.

At the event there were a lot of people selling different types of hives and lots of gadgets to go with your hive. Honey extractors, cappers, and all manner of accoutrement you might want/need for this form of animal husbandry.

Things I learnt today:

  • Bees store honey AND pollen in their hive cells. The honey is their carbohydrate supply, the pollen is their protein. They return to eat it as required.
  • An amorous queen can decide to make a bunch of male drones that the hive doesn’t really need. Drones don’t do anything other than mate with the queen. Drones are not favoured by the honey producers, because they don’t leave the hive to find food sources, they 
  • There is sometimes occasions where drones are removed from the hive, if there is space the workers will make the drone cells off the brood frames so they can be easily removed. The queen will also do this at times when the hive is too full, it can prompt a swarm, a time when a bunch of bees will move out. The bees gorge themselves on honey and then do a runner looking for a new home.
  • The queen will become fatigued as she gets older, at some point the bees in the hive may “run up” another queen by feeding pupae royal jelly causing a new queen to be born from a pupa that would otherwise have been a worker. They’ll defend the new queen until she is big enough to take out the old queen and the hive will be renewed. You can also revitalise a waning hive by introducing a new queen. The workers and drones apparently aren’t too loyal, they’ll follow whoever is the younger, stronger queen.
  • Don’t do beekeeping without protection of a bee suit and smoke. They made this point a couple of times during the practical demonstrations, I and many of the onlookers were uncovered, some had suited up for the occasion. There were swarms of bees flying around us, the was actually kind of cool, though I imagine if you had an allergy to bees you’d have been in a frightening position. The short story though is, if you’re not doing too much to upset the bees they’ll leave you alone.
  • Beekeeping is a lot of work. You have to check your hive regularly, you have to consider if your hive needs to be split by building a nucleus box, less you have the queen and lots of your bees abandon your hive. You have to harvest your honey regularly to keep the hive ticking over.
  • Kids look super-cute in their bee suits!

While I didn’t learn it yesterday, I think it’s important to remind folks that beehives are a matriarchy. The ladies rule and do all the work. The males, the drones are incidental to the process, in fact, if food becomes scarce, they are the first to be shoved out of the hive, they are far too easily replaceable when times get better again, but ultimately they are lazy, empty mouths to feed, who really don’t contribute much to the hive. So yeah, 99.9999% of bees you see out and about are female bees. Unless there is a swarm, at which point there will be a higher number of male bees, all attempting to mate with the queen, after which they will die, their lifeless bodies will fall to the ground and will never see their new home.

I really would like some bees, maybe it’ll be something for retirement. Watching the hives on display was very cool, I love looking at them and seeing how they all interact and how they make the precious golden goo we all love to eat.

The folks of the VAA Bendigo Branch have already advertised the date for next year will be 13th October 2019. If you’re a keeper of bees, or interested in becoming one, I’d suggest it’s a good event to attend. The folk there were very knowledgeable and very happy to share their learnings with anyone with questions.

We ended our day by stopping in at Malmsbury Baker with Lana and Sue on the way home for a very nice pie down by the lake in the Malmsbury Botanic Garden.

You can see all 73 of the photos I took at the 39th Annual Beekeeping Field Day on my Flickr feed. A small selection of them is shown below.

How Cafés Should Make Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee

We’ve been running our own business for a little over 2 years now, and around the time we started the business, I started to drink coffee… well iced coffee. I can’t stand the taste of hot coffee. The temperature of the coffee definitely affects the taste, as does the copious amount of sugar I tend to add to it.

When I started out, I was making the coffee in a 480ml tumbler with 5 sugars. I’d add 3 ice cubes and then put the tumbler in the freezer until the top started to freeze over, pull it out, and stir the frozen coffee of the edge of the glass into the unfrozen portion and have a slushy coffee.

But this is time consuming and a lot of work, certainly not something a café can be expected to do.

I have since refined the process… now I put in only 2½ sugars and I put the glass below the spout of the coffee machine, I stir in the sugar as the coffee pours and quickly put in 3 ice cubes into the glass while the pour continues. Continuing to stir.

When the coffee pour is complete I put in an additional 2 or 3 ice cubes and stir some more. When I can no longer feel heat in the glass, I top it off with some milk and stir once last time.

Now all mixed in, it’s a delicious treat of caffeine goodness.

At a café you’ll typically get a coffee with a bunch ice dropped in, it arrives at your table already cold, often with the milk still separate from the coffee. Trying to add sugar at this point is virtually impossible as a cold liquid doesn’t readily dissolve sugar, so I end up with a bitter tasting concoction,  for which you’re normally charged twice the price of an average coffee for some reason.

Not a big change I’m asking for… but it would save me from just ordering mineral water when everyone else is having coffee.

Muppets and Puppets

I stumbled across Adam Savage’s YouTube channel likely but travelling down a rabbit hole of the Internet one day, and I have fallen in love with the puppet-centric episodes Adam has produced.

A lot of people will know Adam as one-half of the “MythBusters” team. Adam is an avid Muppet fan, as we all of a certain age are likely to be and thankfully he has access to a lot of folks and he brings them to us.

One of his videos is the creation of Adam’s very own puppet at Rick Lyon Puppets.

I LOVE Muppets, Puppets, and Marionettes, I want to make some… watching these videos gets my mind buzzing all the time. I love looking at the different mechs they make, but oh to find the time to make something… I have a couple of ideas, particularly for a couple of simple marionettes that I want to get too soon.

I’ve made a Puppet/Muppet Playlist of YouTube videos that I’ll likely add to.

Diets can be freaking tasty

I’ve tried Lite’n’Easy… sure it works, it’s expensive, and it gets tiresome when the meals are all the same after a while.

I tried the starch diet and that works too… but in a household you have to be able to share the foods you eat and David wasn’t really into just starches so that fell away.

Now we’re doing the CSIRO Total Well Being Diet.

Maybe I’m talking about it too early. Today is only the first day of our second week, but the food in the menu plans is relatively easy to make and tasty. We’ve been enjoying it so far and looking into the weeks ahead there doesn’t seem to be any reason why that trend should not continue.

The other difference with this type of diet, when compared to meal makers who delivery pre-packaged foods, is you’re learning to eat better and you have to do the work. No one is making the food for you.

The other big push for me in particular is using online shopping from our local store. I hate shopping with a passion. I don’t like pushing a trolley around and dealing with other people in the store. I’d rather pay the small overhead to have someone else do it. You’re also then avoiding all the extra aisles that you never want to go down because they are full of processed foods, tasty, tasty, bad food. So it’s best to avoid them.

Below are some of the meals we’ve eaten over the past week. I don’t take photos of all of them, but they are all delicious.

I know I’m overweight because I’m lazy. I’ll eat takeaway before making food myself, and I rarely go out of my way to exercise. In fact since I fell from my bike 5 years ago I haven’t really done any active exercise. And now I work from home I don’t even have the walks from the office to the station to get me moving. So in addition to the healthy delicious food, in small portions, I also have to get my butt moving more.

In the first week I’ve lost 5.3kg. A lot of it is likely water weight. I can’t expect this kind of weight loss every week, but I do have a lot of weight to shift. I hope to lose at least 30kg over the next 6 months, but to get to what the BMI scale feels is healthy for me, I’ll need to lose closer to 60kg. So lots of work to do.

Smashed Avocado Toast, with Cottage Cheese
Smashed Avocado Toast, with Cottage Cheese
Cheddar and Chutney Toasted Sandwich
Cheddar and Chutney Toasted Sandwich
Protein Packed Scrambled Eggs
Protein Packed Scrambled Eggs
High protein bircher muesli
High protein bircher muesli
Pan-Fried Lamb Steaks with Pea Purée
Pan-Fried Lamb Steaks with Pea Purée

Kylie in my ears

Kylie Minogue's Golden

Today’s music is brought to my ears by Kylie Minogue.

“Golden” Kylie’s latest album has taken some getting used to. The twangy sounds of acoustic instruments has taken some getting used to.

But I like that over the years Kylie has played with different sounds. Her album “Kylie Minogue” and followup album “Impossible Princess” were delightful forays into different sounds than those that Stock, Aitken, and Waterman brought to her early sounds.

So we’ll start with “Golden”, then we’ll hit the shuffle and work away while we go through Kylie’s discography, during which, we’ll hear a few big personal favourites, like “Put Yourself in my Place” (I LOVED that video clip), “Jump”, “Your Disco Needs You”, and see many others…

Sammi’s Gold Lamé Gown

Sammi is mum’s spoodle who came to live with us when mum went to live in New Zealand. So far this winter she has been using a coat that is is almost 20 years old and has been handed down through our other doggins to Sammi. So I thought it was time she had something new.

I found a pattern online for a Small Dog Coat, resized and adapted it for Sammi and was deciding on which material to use when David piped up and suggested I used the gold material that has been floating around the house forever, so I did.

Small dog coat pattern
Small dog coat pattern

I cut out the piece and then decided on a thicker white backing, I probably should have gone for a brown or something that wouldn’t show up the dirt of a dog’s life.

For the inside I don’t have any wadding, so I unpicked an old wool quilt and was grateful to find that inside the quilt was a large piece of intertwined wool that I could cut to shape and fit inside the coat. A little thicker than I may have wanted but it will be sure to keep Sammi warm on the cold winter nights.

Innards of a quilt
Innards of a quilt

I had a few re-sew parts I had to do, particularly at the joining part at the base of the coat, where I left it open to put the innards in.

I’ll likely resew the full edge of this piece and also quilt-sew it for a better look, maybe even add some piping.

We’ll have to wait though, I have no Velcro so at the moment the coat is temporarily using 3M wall hangers. 🤭 When I get the Velcro of it I’ll do the rest of the sewing on the edges and the quilting and see how it goes.

All up though, I’m pretty happy with it so far. I’ve never really sewed beyond straight lines so throwing some curves in has been fun.

Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown
Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown
Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown
Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown
Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown
Sammi in her Gold Lamé Gown

Metricon Mayhem

Metricon are currently working at our neighbour’s old house they had to buy it back from them, with compensation, due to slab heave caused by them cutting too deep into the property and then using the wrong slab.

Slab heave is when your concrete slab actually cracks causing the house to become malformed. The plumbing cracked throughout the house, loosening the steel flange, causing sewerage and other waste water to seep into the foundation.

The outcome of their litigation was the settlement, and the recommendation from an independent body that the only remediation with regard to the house was to tear it down.

That’s not what they are doing, we can hear them carving concrete all around the house, they’ll likely reline the pipes under the house (because that was something they offered to do for the old owner) and then sell the place off.

All this work they are doing now is in addition to the work they have conintuously done over the last seven years the first owner had it, including two times we know of where the owner had to move into temporary accommodation while they worked on the house, one time was to remove all of the interior Gyprock work, including the ceilings, and replace it. We can clearly tell you our process by making a campaign with explainer video services.

We’re strongly considering contacting any agent who is put to selling it to ensure they know about the problems the house has. In the event they don’t let the new owners know and it becomes a problem for the new owners they’ll have recourse with the agent who chose not to disclose during the sales process. I’d hate to think someone bought a house, spending over $400,000 and they get a lemon with no warranties. And of course, we don’t want the poop smell that comes with a neighbour who has cracked pipes and a lake of wastewater under their home.

BillTheDoggin, Work, Photos, and Friends

BillTheDoggin taken with a prism.

Today is Bill’s birthday! Happy birthday BillTheDoggin, today he turned 8… where does the time go, seriously.

My day started out with work, I have a deadline looming for a new site and I am a little behind after some server issues we had at the end of last week and into this week, so I’m in high gear getting that done… more about that when it launches next week. But in short, I’ll be chained to my desk all day Sunday and into Monday… fun times.

I did get away from my desk for a time today. I recently purchased the best travel desk that I can carry around with me. A few weeks back I ran a promoted post on Instagram looking for local folks who wanted to model for us. I got a few responses, one hasn’t gotten back to me after initial contact, another cancelled on the morning of our shoot, but today one came through for us.

Today we met with Zach and his Dad at Carlton Gardens in Melbourne for a shoot. The day was threatening rain early in the morning, the winds were up and it was freezing, I was feeling sorry to be the one to drag Zach out into the cold for a shoot. But thankfully, the sun came out and we ended up with a pleasant 20°C and a mixture of sunshine and shadow throughout our shoot.

Zach is a 16 year old from Williamstown who has been getting into fitness over the last couple of years. His initial inspiration he says came from a comedy podcast he was listening to, something the comedians had to say sparked an interest and sent him on his journey. After a short while he says it became a passion.

His parents are supportive of his interests and it shows as his Dad came along today, at our request, to be around for the shoot. At 16 it was just preferable to have a parent along for the ride.

We made some great photos and I’ll be diving into the edits for those over the coming days but for now, a rushed edit from the day.

Portrait of Zach
Portrait of Zach taken at Carlton Gardens Melbourne.

Following the shoot we stopped in with Sue and Lana for a quick visit. Lana threw together some viennese hotdogs with onion, bacon, and cheese. I certainly left their place full to the gullet.

It was quite the busy day and a fun-filled day for sure, well after I stopped working, oh who am I kidding, I actually like what I’m working on at the moment.