Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1st storm of the winter

The day before Thanksgiving and the weather has turned bad.  Earlier in the week it was into the 70's and the bees were out in great numbers collecting water for the winter.  All three hives buzzing up a storm.  Maybe that's what happened.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hives winter ready

Completed the last of the insulation today.  It is only 40 degrees and the bees are so toasty warm, they came out to forage but decided against it and went back in.

Late fall harvest

Today the temp is 45 and the bees in all three hives are active.  See no pollen coming in so I think they are storing up on water.  Insulation complete.  Had Bee Meetup last night, small turn-out and everyone is hoping for a surviving winter.  Got and gave several tips which will be useful.  A couple harvested to much honey, as when I said that the Langstroph hive needs at least 75 lbs. to winter over, several said they didn't leave that much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter readiness

Today I began insulating the hives in prep for winter, which is suppose to be bad again this year.  I wrap them in 1" closed cell foam board from HD,   The bee's are very active, except the middle hive which is shaded by the Lilac bushes this time of year.  Will have to insulate that one next.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bee Dance

For those interested, Karl Ritter von Frisch won the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering the Bee Dance, where a bee, finding a great amount of nectar in the field, returns to the hive and creates this dance by doing a gyration of circles that are suppose to tell the other bees where it is located. 

Although not a scientist, I have watched bees returning to the my hives and have seen most of these dances go unnoticed by the other bees. My own hypothesis is: if you know that all the bees inside the hive are actually not gatherers, but really housekeeping bees, is that; a bee, released from her mundane duties of tending to the needs of the hive, is given permission to leave the hive and fly away in search of nectar or pollen or water, but mainly is able to be free at last, to escape. She fly's away wandering, to search and gather the needs of the hive, no care in the world, and upon returning, is so excited about her adventures that she cannot help but be excited about these adventures. Spinning around in circles, I can her her say " holy fuck, what a great day I've had, at one point I almost got hit by a bus, and these huge fucking flying things kept trying to catch and eat me.  Later

Friday, August 8, 2014

Queen-less hive

During my morning check I saw no activity from  (I'll call it my Mexican hive, after the source) so I just completed a thorough investigation and found only a couple hundred bees still alive, no brood and no queen. So it looks as though they killed her upon installation.  If there had been more bees, I would have taken some eggs from my Nuc hive and transplanted them, but, short of bees, I decided to move the hive over to the nuc hive and place it on the bottom.

I was going to harvest some honey from the Nuc hive but when I pulled the outside-most frame I found that the frame itself was full of capped honey, but because it was a frame for a super, it was short of the bottom and they had filled it in with comb and it was solid with capped brood, hardly a cell open.  Will have to watch and make sure they don't leave like last years colonies.  With the addition of 2 8" boxes at the bottom, I'm hoping all will be well with them.  This is the hive that had to make a new queen and today is the day the new fliers are to come out.

So I'm down to 3 very active hives and they all have lots of room so keeping my fingers crossed.  Later

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bees all went home

My best laid plan went array again as last evening, all the bees I had shook into the QC flew back home.  An inspection showed no queen either, Oh well.

The queen I installed in the queen-less hive is of such superior quality as today, 1 day after installation, the young brood were all dancing in front of the hive.   It turns out to be exactly on time for the hive to have re-queened itself.  I'm out $67 dollars but am happy that they re-queened as I think my stock is better as it has survived not only the winter, but every imaginable thing I could have done to kill it.  You say, why did not an inspection show new brood when I checked?  The answer is that I don't open my hives, but just turn them upside down to check how things are going.  Without cutting out some cone I can't always know what state they are in.  As an armchair beekeeper, I tend to let the bees do their own thing (most of the time).  I also have viewing windows to see how things are doing and once in a while I see the queen sneak by.  Later

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Queen Castle

After checking on my queens today, I found that the feral hive from the Mexican bar, as I expected, seems to already have a queen because they are very hostile while trying to free the queen.  More like, trying to kill her.  So I decided to use her in my newly made queen castle.  I prepped everything and then placed her inside.  I then shook several frames from my nuc into it.  So far all is fine as the bees are already adapting to their new environment.  The nuc had been queen-less also (after a slight mishap) but the frames were full of brood, right on schedule, layered heavily in a good tight pattern.  Couldn't fine the queen, but if she was shaken into the Queen Castle, they will have to make another.  She seem to be a good layer, so if I did shake her out, that may not have been a bad thing.

On another note, I pulled the trap today from behind the Mexican bar as it contained few bees.  When I got it home I was going to use the few bees it had in the queen castle, but the bottom of the trap slide open just enough for all to escape into the yard while I was setting up.  Hopefully they will assimilate into the other hives.  Later

The Queen Castle (QC) is a modified 8 frame brood box with shortened frames to fit my octagonal boxes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

False assumptions again

Today My queens arrived for my 2 hives, remember the re-queening the wrong hive indecent?  Well, today I stopped by my trap and found there to be hardly any bees, and no flight bee's.  My thought is that I have already caught the queen, so what to do with the one I just bought? Hive it and hope something happens I guess.

Got a swarm call today, whom the person swore he knew the difference between honey bee's and wasps. Guess what,  another wasted trip.  The wasps were the very small bee wasps, so I can't hold that against him.  I guess the season is over for another year.  Luckily the 2 trap outs and the split gives me 4 hives.  I checked and they are all full of honey for the winter and next years harvest.  Later

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Removed trap hive today

Kind of a nasty day out so I decided to check the trap from the bar and make sure all was well.  I looked inside and it was packed with bees, so I decided to take it down and replace it later with a new box. Everything went well, but was it heavy, kind of scary from atop the little step ladder, but I got it down without incident.  Lots of bees still coming out of the exit tube from the wall, so I have not succeeded in catching the queen yet.

When I got them back home I set up a new base and made ready to place them on it.  Because they were heavily disturbed and new to me, I decided that it would be prudent to suit up, as I never wear gloves, thr thought never occurred to me it would be a problem.  MISTAKE.  When I picked the box up off of the trap the bees came out ready for action and as my hands were the only thing they could get at ( I believe they knew I couldn't let go of the box) they began in earnest to let me know they were not happy.  I watched as my hands slowly (actually quite fast) disappear being covered by bees.  Luckily, only a few stung me, I think, as after the first onslaught, I felt no more pain.  This all happened in about 15 seconds.

Will have to order a new queen for this hive also.  Up to 4 hives now and because of the excellent weather, they are all doing great.  Later

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New foragers dancing in front of the hive

Early this afternoon, the front of the hive I just added the queen to, was buzzing with new forage bees at the threashhold.  This is not good, as the new queen should just be laying and there is no way the brood could have hatched.  This means that either a rouge queen snuck into the hive and began laying, or I put the queen in the wrong hive.  Probably the later.  I now will have to queen that hive.

On another note, I may have killed the queen in my third hive as it fell over while I was nadiring it.  The hive came to a sudden standstill and became very sullen.  I know they can re-queen so I will let them.  Later

Monday, June 30, 2014

Checked on queen today

Checked on the status of the queen this morning and they almost have her out, so I will let them do it.  They were in a nasty mood and one got me on the leg (shorts) and then they chased me to the house, where I put on my suit.  I went back and sprayed the queen with sugar water and a little Honey Bee Healthy and the area around her so they would all smell the same, that settles them down some.  She should be out this PM, hope they don't kill her.

Also checked on the trap out last night.  They have chewed through the foam I sprayed into the brick crevices so today I have to go back and do it right with mortar.

Nadired (placing the new box under the others) another box to the green hive today.  Will add another to the red hive this PM, when they settle down some.   Later

Checked this PM and she's out, picture fuzzy as I was being mobbed without protection.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Queen finally arrives

After waiting 4 days for a 2 day special delivery mailing, my queen finally arrived.  I gave her a shot of sugar water, thinking she may be dehydrated, and then began to put things together for the installation.  I had previously checked the hives for signs of laying and found that the hive I didn't expect her to be in was where the new brood patterns were.  I also decided that as long as I was opening the hive, I might as well remove the super and do a harvest.  All went well and I have a small amount to honey for sale.  Both hives should get back to normal now.

Checking this morning, the hive with the new queen is more active and tomorrow I'll check to see if they have released her.  All is well otherwise.   Later

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hive split

Yesterday I decided to split my hive as I have not received any swarm calls.  Because I do not open the hives, I have no idea which new hive the queen is in.  Today I went to one of the Staten Island beekeepers and looked for queen cells to give to my hives but because it was overcast, her bees were testy, to say the least, so I left them be.  I guess I just have to hope that whichever hive the queen is in, the other has an egg which they can create one.  If it doesn't appear they had one in a couple weeks, I'll buy one on-line.

This morning I checked the hives and the one I moved away had no activity outside the entrance, so I switched places, which allowed the in-active hive to receive all the forage bees.  By mid-day, both hives had good activity at their entrances. 

Just have to wait and see now.  In about 28 days I should see new bees doing their entrance dance. Later

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Queen laying strong

Checked the hive yesterday and found they are starting to build comb in the lowest box and the one above has bees covering every frame ( I don't use frames but you get the picture).  Have to pull the super to see if they are storing honey or just building up the hive to swarm.  Have put out a trap just in case.

The apple trees have set fruit for the first time and my apricot tree has fruit also.  looks good so far.  The Russian olive has just come into bloom so I expect the bees will be busy as this end of the island is full of it.  Last years blossoms only lasted 2 days because of the weather, but it looks good for this year.  It makes almost clear honey with a distinctive taste.

I got my first bee call last Friday, but missed it as I was at my annual derm. screening.  Think I will set out the trap today in Mariners Harbor.  Later

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New bees out flying today.

Almost as I had predicted to my wife, the flight bees were out, doing their little dance in front of the hive, gathering in the scent of the hive before venturing forth to do their bee thing.  The number of bees coming from the hive has double today.  I was a little worried as the size of bee mass inside the hive has remained constant for the last couple weeks.  Hope this will be the major turn around for them.

Jean from the Bee Meetup group just lost her hive in February during a warm spell, in which they just all flew away.  Next fall I'm inserting the queen excluder just above the entrance, as I don't expect next winter to be as harsh as this one was, but who knows, maybe we have another ice age coming and as this is the first year my bees didn't do the same thing, maybe I can stop it in its tracks.

Time to get the swarm trap ready and in place, hopefully I can trap the swarms before they all fly away.   Later

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hive doing well

An inspection of the hive from the viewing window shows that the hive is expanding well.  They are now utilizing a new frame and are beginning to clean the next.  The size of the bees has also grown so I know that the queen is laying well, without having to open the hive.  The bees are working hard, bringing in lots of pollen.  The blossoms from the flowers and fruit trees should start to come in soon and I expect the bees to begin to move up into the top box soon.  I have an empty box on top and one on the bottom, left over when I added swarms (with queens) last summer.  All in all I had three thriving colonies in the hive going into winter and but only one small colony coming out this spring.  Can't wait for the swarm season to begin.  1st year without buying a box of bees.  I have modified all the boxes to accept a beetle trap to try and control that problem and am not going to expand the hives like I did last year as I think it caused to much space for them to protect.  Live and learn.  Later

PS:  My previous blog about White Oak apiaries has over 700 hits so far and I want to thank you all for the responses which have all been negative and with the same experiences I went through.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Colony expanding

The colony that suvived the winter was very small, only using about 1.5 outer combs on the south side, where it was warmest.  They now have expanded into the fourth comb, with bees starting to clean the comb making ready for the queen.  It will take a little longer for them to build up but I look forward to seeing a lot more flying in the next couple weeks. 

The honey I salvaged from the upper box is very dark and strong tasting, but still quit good.  The comb I set out for the bees is being eaten quit fast, even with so few bees.  Only six more weeks till the swarm season, can't wait.   Later

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Heather's finally e-mailed

Heathers E-Mail;

I wrote you a nice long email this evening after dinner, went to send it, and 
the email program crashed!

It is currently quite pleasant out. I am wearing just about all my layers minus 
one or two small pieces and am nice and warm. Sarah, one of our RTWers, kindly 
lent me her second pair of Sealskin waterproof socks which have been a godsend 
along with my drysuit. I am always nearly dry when I come off watch minus sweaty 
feet and some condensation around my wrist seals. The poor souls on board who 
are trying to make it in just their Henri Lloyd foulies are mostly miserable as 
the foulies just accumulate water both inside and out and the water temp is 10 
degrees. So a BIG thank you for getting it for me. In fact, Ive written a poem 
about my drysuit that should be up on the crew blog page in the next day or so. 
Not quite Shakespeare, but close enough...

In other news, this leg has been fucking hard. The first ten days it seemed like 
everything that could go wrong did. We had kitemare after kitemare.
Exhaustion set in since we are such limited crew and we kept having to wake each 
other up on our off watches so people started making even more mistakes due to 
fatigue and it seemed like an vicious cycle. But then we couldnt put up 
spinnakers anymore because the sea state got too heavy and the wind angle was 
wrong, and after we blew through a few sheets, everything  settled down and we 
all got a chance to get into a normal routine.

I bruised my ribs being an asshole. Then two days ago, I crushed my fingers putting 
a reef in at the mast. Thought I broke at least one but it turns out its mostly just
a little bit of nerve damage from the crushing and probably will lose a fingernail or 
two? Also got a pretty deep gash on my knuckle which I am trying to keep from getting 
infected. Anyway, was down for half a day and there was a question as to whether or not 
Id be able to helm but everything seems okay now and I am back on the old grind! It gave me 
a chance to rest up which is good because I was definitely  feeling overwhelmed. 
Now my head is back in the game and I am ready for the next 10 days to be 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First rain of the spring

It has been raining now for 2 days and is expected for another 24 hrs.  Fed the bees again last week when it was warm as not much in the way of flowers yet, although, as mentioned before, I did have a few Snow Drops and Crocus up, which the Bees found right away.  Not many bees left in the hive from the winter and they are right now staying on the sunny side of the hive for the extra warmth.

I believe my bees made it through the winter because it has been so steadily cold that they couldn't venture out as they have been doing the last three years and then never coming back.  Can't wait to get outside to work the gardens.  Bought some Aconite seeds from London to sow in the back yard, they are the first plants to emerge in the spring, about the same time as the Snow Drops.  They are bright yellow so will brighten up my drab back yard before in greens up.  Also found that I need to plant a lot more Crocus as many of mine died for whatever reason, but that's a fall job.   Later

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bees still here

The last cold spell has past and the bees are doing fine.  My Crocus are up and the bees are busy gathering pollen for the hive.  Today we went to the north end of the island so I stopped at the location I caught two swarms last year and the building had bees everywhere, a good sign that maybe I'll get more bees from them this year.  This is the same colony that my wintered over hive had come from so they have good genetics.  I am getting all the equipment ready for the swarm season to begin.  Each year I seem to get more and more calls.  Debra told me that the swarm I gave her last spring is doing well, it came from this colony also.

Started my springtime flower seed buying spree and actually worked the flower beds today, as the temps almost hit 60.  Snow in the forecast again, "come on spring".  Later

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter is almost over

Today the temp got to a little over 50f and the bees were out looking for nectar and pollen, unfortunately for them, there is nothing up yet.  Worried I might lose them in the last cold snap, it was a relief to see them out en-mass.   Made some repairs to my top feeder ( it began leaking last fall) and filled it with sugar syrup and HoneyBeeHealthy and added some pollen patties out front.  This should last until the flowers finally perk up. I can see the daffodil heads popping out of the ground now but the snow lilies haven't begun to raise their heads.   This will be the first year in 4 that the bees did not fly away in Jan.  Maybe leaving the screened bottom board open helped.  Looks like most of the bees in the Bee Group made it also, I think the cold may have kept them all home.

The beetles were bad last year so I am inserting a beetle blaster in each box this year to help in controlling them, and am also not going to expand the hives as much as I did last year, as one hive had signs of moths in it. Keeping the hives smaller should give them more control over whats inside.  I am even going to try my hand at splitting this summer, I broke down and bought a Langstrop hive for the purpose, we'll see how that goes.

Have more time this year as my camper got smashed by a semi and my boat sank from a drifting ice flow on Valentines day.  Later

PS for those interested, my daughter is 4 days out of Qingdau China sailing in 50 knots winds and 6 meter seas, quite the bumpy ride.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Signs of life in the hive

The weather has finally started to get warm (50's) so today when I checked on the hive I found several dead bodies outside the hive, so I tilted the hive back to check to see if there were many dead on the floor, one bee came out to see what the fuss was all about.  Will have to supplement their food with some fondant to get them through to real spring.

On another note, I checked my pollen patty box to give some away, and found it full of frass.  Looks very similar to powder post beetle residue.  Maybe it is, who knows.  Will have to clean very well before I put some in the hive.  Can't wait for spring to get here, We've had enough snow and cold for this year.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clipper Race Sailing day 10

With so much of the same, the blogs are short, but today's crew blog is interesting at least:

We are now over a week out from Brisbane, and are nearing the 1500 mile mark, but the racing is still happening at very close quarters. Last night SwitzerlandGREAT Britain and Old Pulteney kindly kept us company before Mother Nature provided the entertainment, in the form of an epic electrical storm.
For over two hours, sheet lightening exploded to our starboard bow like a laser show. The only downside was that we were going to have to sail through the ensuing storm. There was a an eerie 'calm before the storm', as we bobbed about watching the pyrotechnics and the brooding band of thick black sky, waiting for the wind to pick up. One by one, the lights from boats ahead disappeared into the dark. The worst of the storm passed to our starboard side, but we still had to dance our way through some feisty wind and
horizontal, sheeting rain for about 45 minutes (the shower was much needed - had we not been at a near horizontal angle, I would have been tempted to dash below deck and grab some shampoo). Things were made even more lively by a large cargo ship that wanted to cross our path - so we were not only racing through the storm, but also out of the way of a marine juggernaut!
By sunrise, relative calm was restored; a consistent 20 knots of wind and fairly flat sea are allowing us to make good progress as we head along the Papua New Guinea coast.
If an army marches on its stomach, then as we crew,we should be well set for the rest of the day thanks to chocolate cake with custard at lunch time - a welcome
treat from today's 'mothers' Derek and Suzy - thanks guys - even if it wasn't the ice cream sundaes we've been craving in the scorching tropical heat.
The other theme of the day is 'logs' - not the nautical charting variety (or the toilet humour type) but big, floating, chunks of wood which we have seen on a disturbingly regular basis floating past us. Apparently a collision with a big log is best avoided, so we have set up 'log watch' to avoid any disasters.
Right Here, Right Now. Somewhere in the Solomon Sea. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clipper Race sailing Day 9

Today I thought that I would include a harrowing tale from the good ship Great Britain's Cap't.;

OK, now for those reading at home, brace yourselves but rest assured that by the end of my story all on board are ok and so is the good ship GREAT Britain!
My word of the day for today has absolutely no competition; it just has to be Tornado!
So this would have been a blog about the continuing frustration of wind holes, squalls and sailing to windward against large amounts of current, but today was destined to be something different.
We had been passing by/through a number of squalls during the morning and going through the usual routine of reefing in and reefing out, headsails up and headsails down and all was going well and we were making progress towards our destination.
I was down below and on deck they were starting to put a reef in the mainsail in anticipation of another squall which was fast approaching when I heard a word on board that I had never heard before in 30 years of sailing.
That word was Tornado, and then within a split second we went from about 5 knots of wind to about 100! We were knocked down to 90 degrees, absolutely flat on the water, I was thrown into the engine room and pelted by screw drivers, sockets and pieces of pump the contents of the galley sinks and cupboards were scattered randomly around the saloon and on deck it soon became clear that it was a bit of a mess!
We were probably pinned to the water for about 30 seconds as the Tornado passed and then the boat righted it itself and the wind went back to 5 knots.
A quick head count ensured that all were still safely on board and as we watched the twister first move away from us and then start to circle back at us, we quickly dropped all sail to deck in case it decided to have another pass.
Thankfully this precaution was not necessary and the twister moved off away from us and then started to dissipate, phew!
So the clean-up began. As a precaution we carried out a
rig check to make sure all was in good order and no damage had been caused, during which we noticed that a couple of sliders on the mainsail required attention. So we left the mainsail down and hoisted just the headsails whilst we replaced the webbing on the sliders and now the sliders are repaired the mainsail has just been re-hoisted and we are back on our way.
As I said at the start, most importantly, all crew are un-harmed and the good ship GREAT Britain has come out with nothing but a few minor grazes, so all in all I consider us very lucky and we are back racing. I suspect however our position will have suffered considerably by two hours of bobbing and drifting with what really is rather a strong current, but ho hum, this is ocean racing and we have to be able to deal with anything!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Clipper Race day 8

Experiences from a racing boat in the tropics;

Crew Blog 
Things that you don't realize about ocean racing, until you go ocean racing:
1) Clean clothes and washing really don't matter. I currently sit here in a pair of shorts I've worn for ten days, a Henri Lloyd long sleeve "white" shirt that has been on for seven and no pants as this morning they reached their limit of sweat saturation from us still being in the windless zone near the Equator. The last shower I had was seven days ago, but I have been maintaining the baby wipe showers to take the edge off.In normal company, on land, near "normal people", I would be classed as a tramp. I'd be told to take a shower and sort my act out. On the boat, no one has commented anything, in fact I'm positively clean in comparison to some of the other crew. Tomorrow I'll put on a clean shirt and that's my last.2) Food becomes the most precious commodity in the world. We need to eat over 5000 calories a day with the physical exercise. As this is a new venture for myself, the mental strain is also demanding a calorie intake.  When the tuck box comes out, the crew gather around it like pre-historic dwellers feasting off the hunt that has returned. People squat to eat rather than sit, and grunt rather than converse.

3) Sleeping at an angle, in hot or cold, or in extremely loud situations is easy. The only worry we have on board is to make the boat move in the direction the skipper wants it. We pull on 3 lines per sail and steer, job done. All this though is exhausting with shifts over a 24 hour period being up to 14 hours. As soon as you hit the pillow, your mind shuts off and the zeds quickly come.  It's only when you wake do you hear the galley stereo, the people chatting and the winches being worked above your head that you realize if you were looking for a spot to sleep, this would not be one.
4) The ocean is a beautiful place. Like a fire you can watch it for hours.  The endless shapes and periods of waves transfix you into a daze. The sky at night is either blacker than black, bright with the moon, or a picture of a million stars all laid out for your private viewing. You feel it's just for you and you just take it all in.
5) You don't actually know people that well. We are all crammed on this boat with little room to spread out.  We chat and joke, but very rarely do we ask about people’s backgrounds, family, friends etc. There are many stories of funny moments and jokes to be told, but we mainly have banter about the crew and the skipper over open hearted chats about loved ones, maybe that's just my boisterous Starboard Watch though,  which is more lads on tour than the tea and cakes of Port watch!
6) You have to go through a lot of bad moments on board to be rewarded with one amazing one. You are often cold, wet, hungry, tired etc. Lumping sails around, getting told off by the skipper, but then, from no-where, the sun will set beautifully, a pod of dolphins will come and the boat will sing and proceed through the sea like it's on rails.
It's a special place out here, that until you have been, you don't really understand. A mix of danger and fear, backed up by stupidity makes you push the boat and the crew to the limit. The reward is out there, but who knows what it will actually be. A moment, a podium, a friend for life - who knows.
This is the emotional roller coaster of the Clipper Race and I'm enjoying every minute of it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Clipper Race day 7

Heather E-Mailed us yesterday asking for a dry suit for the northern Pacific run.  And she said she is very happy.

Here's are 2 amusing blogs about life aboard the boats;

With such a short stopover in Brisbane and such a long leg to prepare for, I knew there might be a few provisioning issues which are now starting to materialize.  Firstly there was margarine-gate.  A gross over order of margarine has been enthusiastically stowed by the crew in Brisbane in what we discovered to be a haphazard variety of places.  This margarine has a melting point of around 92 degrees and we first noticed the signs that this had been reached when dribbles of yellow liquid started to run out of one of the stowage cupboards in the top of the galley. 

On further inspection a capsized tub had leaked its entire contents into the locker.  “There's more!”  Came a distraught cry from a crew member peering into the locker where the crew laptop was stored.  Like a good Hitchcock movie, by the afternoon every nook and cranny of the boat was oozing yellow gooey liquid.  Complete disaster!  Especially when we used up the last of the washing up liquid trying to combat the yellow grease.  The entire front line crew, wearing Rambo-style kitchen roll bandannas to soak up the sweat were sliding around the boat, covered head to toe in margarine.  “Don't worry”, I reassured them “after the battle is won there will be plenty of Huggies baby wipes for you all to degrease with”.  Victualler#1: “umm, about the huggies...
Blog # 2

Typically on a racing yacht, the conversation of degrees is in reference to physical position of corresponding points of latitude and longitude. But as our degrees of latitude increase and we head towards the Equator, our minds cannot get off of the degrees of heat we have been and will be suffering.

Imagine waking up in a pool of your own sweat.  Now multiply that by four times daily.  Oh yeah, and no cold shower to wake up and refresh.  Morning, midday, evening, it doesn't matter, below deck is an absolute sauna... and not in a relaxing way whatsoever.  While training during the UK winter months,  retreating down below for a cup of tea was a saving grace, but here in the tropics, approaching the doldrums, the least amount of time you spend below... the better.
We've managed to rig a wind scoop in the fore-peak, allowing a steady flow of air to rush down below, and now the former no-go-zone of the boat has become the top sleeping commodity.  Yesterday during our dog watch, we had a proper slumber party in the sail locker with all four bunks unoccupied and essentially dead bodies sprawled across the sails.

We heard from the skippers' blogs that Qingdao reported 32 degrees Celsius below deck at 0400 hours.  There was a conversation about us not having a thermometer, and it probably being a good thing not knowing exactly how hot it is; we can feel it.  Jo has installed small USB plug fans in a majority of the bunks, and I have no shame in clutching it to my chest as I fall asleep.

"You know how to wake up the other watch, just unplug the fans," Jo commented, as John sprung out of bed asking what was going on within two minutes of us briefly unplugging the port side fans to plug in the electric bilge pump.

When you are living in the deepest depths of Hades, high tempers come with high temperatures.  Luckily our crew has tried our best to maintain our cool as we know that crossing the doldrums with hot temps and little to no wind will be a true test of our will and team spirit.

I would write more, but I think you get the point.  Now I need to get on deck quickly before I melt even further from the heat radiating off this computer screen.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Clipper race Heather introduction

Because some of you have never met Heather, I decided to introduce her to you.  She began her sailing debut at the age of 12 days, with a late autumn Columbus Day sail with her parents and 2 of her life aunts on the Hudson river, north of NYC.  Summers were always sailing, although she learned all of her skill through osmosis, as I cannot remember her helping all that much.

She spent many summers with us and our friends sailing up and down Long Island Sound and the east coast. So after getting her masters degree from Columbia, she decided that before embarking on a career, she would continue with the sailing career which she loves and which had supported her through and after grad school. One summer day in 2012, the Clipper race fleet stopped in NYC, I happened to be in NYC that day and wandered down to the docks and talked to them and mention this to Heather, she contacted them and got the bug to join the 2013-14 race. So she scrimped and saved (this race is expensive) and joined the ranks in Brisbane Australia, where her portion of the race, and probably a new life, began.

You can follow the trials and tribulation through this site.  If you want to see what the experience would be like, see my clipped together video on YouTube:    Http://

Clipper Race day 6

Sailing day 6, 7th place with 3109 mile to go: Saturday today so I’m adding a crew member blog on life aboard the Henri Lloyd.

"Cooking in the oven" 
The temperature below deck has been increasing for days, and with each day I was dreading my upcoming mother duty. It was getting so hot below that even sitting on deck in the direct blazing sunlight was a relief from the sauna below. When you are on mother duty, you physically are cooking alongside the food. If the mothers start with any clothes on, pretty much all end up nearly nude by the end of the day and completely drenched in sweat. My mother partner and I looked like we had just run a marathon at the end of our day, dripping sweat, shirtless and damn exhausted. But the one thing that kept us going all day was that we knew on mother duty, we were allowed a proper shower... something that was absolutely necessary by the end of our day. Morgen made the mistake of taking a shower before our job was completely done. After showering on the stern with our solar showers, he came back to realize that we still had to move sails in the forepeak to unearth our powdered milk supply. Within minutes, he was drenched in sweat again. I waited until I was absolutely done with my job, but it was hell getting to that point. I decided to make coconut almond muffins, which were great in theory, but I always forget how much effort it is to cook anything in our oven. The burners run against the back of the oven, with no fan to move the heat around. So essentially everything towards the back burns while the front barely cooks. Thus leaving me to sit in front of the oven for an hour flipping and rotating two racks of muffins every fifteen minutes, opening up the gates of hell to pour out even more heat as I struggle to juggle flimsy silicon muffin trays. But boy did that shower feel good once I finally got around to it. Luckily we were on a proper tack for me to shower down below. The reason why the tack matters is that on a port tack the water (and very likely you yourself) will fall onto the curtain and run into the saloon area. I opted out of the solar shower on the stern simply because I wanted, and needed, to strip nude and have a full rinse off. For the past week, we have been sitting in salty water and clothes, which our bums are not appreciating. I'd tell to you what happens when your bum lives in salt water, but maybe that's better left for another post or really not described at all.
Meg Riley, Round the world crew member

Clipper race day 5

Sailing day five, Seventh place 22 miles behind: Seems the heat and squalls of the Solomon sea are taking their toll with lots of mental mistakes. Lots of wind and rain so life down below is hot and humid as they still can't open any ports. It does provide the opportunity to get a quick shower in the rain, which they say is welcome after five days. Imagine working in those suits when it’s over 100 degrees outside and then have to go below and survive in 100 degrees and 100% humidity. As one person said, " modesty is not allowed." Capt. quote of the day:
” As we are now in pirate Stealth Mode we have turned off our AIS (Automatic Identification System) and an approaching cargo ship used some very colorful language while trying to avoid our extremely erratic course. It seemed the captain knows my mother as he kept referring to her animatedly. What a small world.”

Clipper race day 4

Sailing day 4,  No blog from the Cap't today, probably because he made a tactical error and went from 1st to 6th place, so I'll tell you about the race instead. 

Twelve identical 70' cutter rigged sloops are racing around the world, each with an experienced Cap't. The crews are people like you and me, some never having been on a boat before but who just wanted to experience something awesome in their life. So they pay for the privilege of getting to live with 20 others 24/7, in cramped quarters, in a stripped out racing boat on 4 hr shifts with mother duties (cooking and cleaning for the crew) thrown in at 24 hour shifts on a rotational basis. Oh yes, the bathroom is only separated by a curtain (with no showers) and all this is done on a 30 degree angle. Crew sign up for 1 leg or 2 or 3 or the complete round the world experience so the crews keep changing. The race has 8 major legs, with 15 individual races, points earned from 12 to 1 depend who is first across the line at each race. Total points earned at the end in London is the overall winner. Heather is signed up for 2 of the legs which takes her from Australia, to Singapore, to Quindao China, and ending across the Pacific (winter) in San Francisco sometime in early April. Not all fun and games as in the Southern Ocean they hit storm winds of 130 MPH with 40 foot seas and today they entered the Solomon Sea which is notorious for piracy, so they are practicing their boarding procedures. Want to follow the race???

Clipper race day 3

Sailing day 3. Thought you might enjoy the daily Cap'ts blog. Temps in the 90's.

Sailing with a kite up is so much more fun than reaching along under Yankee. The trade winds were meant to be followed, not crossed. The crew on deck are happy (let's not talk about the sweaty bodies down below) and we are rotating positions around giving them a chance at helming and trimming downwind under kite. We are making the most of the current conditions as within the next 24 hours we will likely be becalmed on an oily flat sea and searing heat. Our only chance of respite is if there is significant squall activity to give us some cooling cloud cover, although that comes with its own set of challenges. What the whole team is most happy about is to be racing again. Australia and our misfortunes there have been left in our wake and we are looking forward to new horizons. Soon we will be rounding the tip of Papua New Guinea and into waters none of us, myself included, have yet sailed.

Clipper race day 2

Day 2 out of Brisbane and just past the Great Barrier reef, unfortunately at night. Temps are getting warmer, 86 right now, and hotter down below as the hatches are closed due to heavy seas. No showers until they slow down in the doldrums, Heather must be in seventh heaven. Picture is prepping the boat in Brisbane.

Clipper race on Henri Lloyd day 1 from Brisbane

I have decided that since its winter that I would start to include in my blog, the daily life adventures of my daughter and crew aboard the Henri Lloyd, who are racing around (some partially) the world on a racing yacht.

Officially day 1 of the race and they are all on their way to Singapore which is 4365 miles away from Brisbane Australia, where this leg and her beginning started. Nothing to fear except searing heat of the tropics, pirates and Mal de Mar ( or as I call it, Chumming).  They call it the green monster.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Still holding on

The snows of early January, along with sub-freezing temps, have now been followed with above normal temps.  So yesterday with the thermometer at 60 degrees, I lifted the cover of the last remaining hive to check on the bees.  I could not see any bees, nor was there any warmth coming from the hive, so I had resigned myself that, again, I had lost my hives.  Four years in a row.  But this was different as the last three years the bee just flew away on a warm day in January.  Now, I supposed they had frozen to death.  I thought that I had prepared for the winter.  Should I have lifted off the top box? as there seemed to be no activity in it for some reason, who knows.

But today with the temps in the upper 40's, I visited the hive to lift it up and check for all the dead bees on the floor board and much to my surprise, the front of the entrance was littered with dead bodies thrown out from spring cleaning and many bees circling the hive.  hurah, I may make it yet this year with my rag-tag bunch.  Keep your fingers crossed.

On another exciting note, my daughter flew to Brisbane to began a 12,000 mile yacht race from Australia
to Singapore to Quindau China and then to San Francisco.  She started off Sunday, and at present is in 1st place. The first leg being 30 days at sea.   Later

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wierd weather

We had 6" of snow over the weekend and today its raining with 50 degrees.  Tonight its suppose to drop 40+ degrees and will freeze everything solid.  Nothing like home tho where its 30+ below zero, they can have it.  That's why I left 45 years ago.  Makes for good ice fishing tho.

Checked on the bees.  I found a few dead bodies outside the entrance, so it looks like they are doing some housekeeping with the above normal temps, that's a good sign, I hope.  Not much else going on because of the heavy rains.   Later

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Today is cold, cold, cold. with snow on the way.  No videos of bees circling the hive on this day, as were from past years.  The bees ate most of the sugar syrup I gave them and now seem to be bundled up with for a long winters nap.

Have been wondering about the bees disappearances.  Could it be from the artificially inseminated queens that are causing this?  The only hive that I have left is a mix of feral bees I caught this spring, which I left all the queens in tact when I mix them in together.  Still not sure how many queens are in there as I refrained from opening the hive last fall.  All the previous hives I had installed new queens and they all flew away in the Jan. thaws.   Later