Thursday, April 27, 2017

Free Bees

Did I tell you that all five of our colonies died this winter?  That seems to be our pattern- one year several overwinter and make it to spring and the next year, they're all wiped out.  This year, we think we know what happened.  Last spring, we were busy caring for a little baby so we didn't manage the hives as we should've.  They grew too crowded so they raised more queens and swarm after swarm left our bee yard.  We were able to catch a couple of those swarms but mostly this meant that their numbers were depleted so they didn't go into the fall and winter as strong as they should have.  That's our guess anyway.

It wasn't for lack of honey.  Out of those five hives we harvested over 8 gallons of honey in February (we sold most of it).


We were discouraged at the loss of bees and vowed to skip beekeeping for a year.  But then Jamey got the itch and put our name on a waiting list for a new package this spring (they run $130 a piece in our area).

But lo and behold, he got a call from a friend who had a swarm in one of his trees.  Jamey happened to be off work so he ran over and knocked the ball of bees into a small hive box (a nuc) and brought them home.  He then transferred them to one of our hives and we crossed our fingers hoping they'd like their new home and stay.

 unloading bees from the car (only a few escaped on the way home)

The bees had already started clinging to the bars of empty comb in the box so it was a matter of transferring them into the full size hive.

Instead of using smoke, he used a sugar syrup sprayed on the bees- this occupies them as they clean it off themselves and discourages flying off (as does plugging up the entrance with grass).

 Dumping in the remaining bees- if the queen is in the hive, they want to stay with her.

Not only did they stay but a couple days later when Jamey was checking on them, he noticed that another swarm (from who knows where) discovered one of our other empty hives and moved in!

Suffice to say, we didn't buy that package.  And now we're headed into the summer with two healthy colonies already filling their hives with nectar and brood.  What a gift.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oh, How Far We've Come

I felt so much gratitude this morning in what might seem to be such a normal, routine event.  Our little foster boy was sitting, reclined on my lap drinking his first sippy cup of formula of the day.  We recently switched to a new spout and he was intrigued.  He'd take a few gulps, stop and breath due to a stuffy nose, look at the new spout and grin at it, then latch on for another few gulps.  Smiling at his milk is HUGE for this little guy and in that moment I was overwhelmed with how far we've come.

Almost 16 months ago, at about two in the afternoon, I received a call from social services.  There was a preemie baby boy in the hospital, ready for discharge who needed a home.  He was not eating well on his own so he had a gastronomy tube placed in his little tummy a few days before.  "We need you to get him well," is what the social worker said.

In the days and weeks and months that followed, we spent countless hours trying to encourage this little guy to eat.  He did not like his bottle at all- sometimes even putting himself to sleep (a defense mechanism) to avoid it- waking himself up minutes later after the bottle was put away.  So most of his formula went in via the feeding tube.  It took an hour.  Every three hours.  Even through the night.

It took months and months for me to release control of his eating.  I wanted to make him well. Right then.  It was not in his timing, however, so we had to learn patience and to let him lead.  Slowly (painfully slowly) he began to eat more and more- often in increments of milliliters.  Later than normal (due to his issues), we introduced solids and that went slowly as well (he easily gagged and choked).  It seemed as if we'd never "get him well".

Fast forward to today.  Not only is he smiling at his sippy cup, he rarely gags on his solids anymore.  In six days, we've been given permission by his specialist to stop the night-time tube feeds (we were able to drop the day-time feeds months ago).  If he does well and maintains (and gains) weight, we could be looking at removing the g-tube for good.  Tears come at the thought.

So my thankfulness overflows.  Not just from the fact that he's made such strides but in remembering all the people who've helped us- making it possible for us to take care of him.  I think of all the meals our church and close friends brought to us. I think of neighbors who came and held him daily so I could take a shower or do some laundry.  I think of other friends who drove us to the children's hospital weekly for months because I was worried that I was too sleep-deprived to stay awake behind the wheel.  I think of those who watched and cared for our three kids while I went to SO many doctors appointments and family visits.  I think of his home health nurse who came every week to check on him and encourage us.  I think of our two doctor friends who made house calls or let us run him over to their home when we had more urgent questions and concerns.  And all the prayers- so many people prayed for us.

Not everyone is called to foster but those of us who are can't do it alone.  Today I thank God for His protection, guidance and healing.  And I thank Him for prompting the hearts and minds of our friends and family who reached out to lend a hand, an ear and loving arms.

To God be the glory.

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