Archive for July, 2013

Bee Swarm!

Yesterday customer Bill Cox from Casselmonte Farm, came into the store to purchase a hive body.  I started chatting with him and discovered he had found a swarm of bees that morning and captured them.  He let me come and take pictures as they introduced the bees to their new home later that evening. It is a fascinating story that I am delighted to share with you.

Bill and India were taking their dogs on a walk down to the river when India spied a swarm of bees in an apple tree.  They had never captured a swarm before so this quickly became a “learn as you go” experience.  Bill consulted his bee book as to how to and what to do.  He took a large cardboard box and cut a large hole out of the side and stapled screen wire over the hole for ventilation.  While Bill held onto the branch above the swarm of bees, India took a pruner and cut off the branch below the bees and then they carefully and gently laid the apple branch in the box and closed it tight.  (They did not get pictures of this process).


Swarming is  normally a spring  phenomenon (within a 2-3 week time in a particular locale) and  part of the natural perpetuation or reproduction of a colony of bees, however, it can happen during the producing season.   The colony divides with part of it leaving to form a new colony with the old queen. The bees prepare for the swarm by creating a large number of “queen cells or swarm cells”.  Once the cells are sealed,  they exit the hive as a swarm taking up to 60% of the workers with them.  A swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. The remaining workers continue at the original site with the newly emerged and later-mated queen.

Workers are female bees that have not developed their reproductive potential into a queen.

Secondary afterswarms may happen but they are rare.  An afterswarm is smaller and accompanied by one of the virgin queens. 

Usually a swarm attaches itself to a branch, fence post or other near-by object within a few feet of the original hive.  They begin fanning with their scent glands exposed to attact the remainder of the swarm and the queen. Soon a “cluster” or swarm of bees form.

Scout bees will then dance on the cluster to communicate the location of a new homesite. Once one is agreed on, the swarm flies to the new site, guided by the scouting bees.

This is when Bill came to see me.  He said, “I had my list of things to do today and this was not on it!”   After purchasing the hive, he went home to put it together with the promise to call me when he was ready to move the swarm into the hive.

 7 o’clock that evening I hopped into a vehicle with India and Bill, carefully, so as not to distrub the bees more than necessary, drove the pickup with the bees on the back to the newly situated hive.  After suiting up, Bill opened the box and carefully dumped the bees onto a white sheet that he had laid on the ground in front of the hive and stapled to the entrance of the hive-literally laying out the “red carpet” for them!



It was instant bee mayheim!  The air became thick with circling, humming, excited bees.  At first they wanted to go back into the box, clung to Bill’s hat and jacket and formed a cluster on the ground.




Bill wasn’t sure what to do and decided to open the top of the hive and dumped some bees there.  He kept pacing back and forth, trying to figure out ways to help the bees.  He even readjusted the sheet to the hive.


(Notice the bees swarming around Bill’s head)


After maybe 20 minutes, the bees had themselves oriented and we noticed that they were starting to “march” up the sheet and enter the hive. We watched as thousands of bees marched into their new home.  For some strange reason, they all went in the left side of the opening even though the whole entrance was open. We decided they were the “liberal left” bees and Harry Reid was taking the lead!!!!

Before bees swarm, they gorged themselves on honey. This helps to make them to be more docile as they have their bellies full!








India and I sat on the side maybe 20 feet away snapping pictures while mulling over the amazing feat unfolding before our eyes.

  • Which type of bee went into the hive first; scouts, queen?
  • Where did the bees come from?  All of Bill’s hives seemed to be intact.
  • What was happening inside the hive?
  • What were the bees saying to each other?

We watched the other two hives sitting close by and noticed that they were calm and undistrubed by what was happening with the “big move in” at the hive next door!


Finally most of the bees had made there way into the hive and Bill decided to leave the sheet in place until morning.

The amazing thing was we did not get stung.


Next morning followup:  When Bill checked the hive it was empty!   All the bees had moved next door to an already occupied hive and were taking over.  This is trouble and causes chaos in the hives. Intruders have invaded and they are called Robber Bees!  It can cause another swarm to happen. The bees were not happy and had become much more aggressive with Bill getting stung several times.  And so the bee saga continues….


4 days later:  The bees are mixed in with the other two hives but have settled down some-not as aggressive.  He moved the super from one hive over to the new hive hoping that it would encourage them to move back. There is no good solution as  you can’t separate the bees. Just have to let nature take its course and hope for the best.  One of life’s experiences-you live and learn!


2 weeks later: I asked Bill about his bees. He said the two old hives have settled down. He thinks the “swarm bees” left.  One of the mysteries of life!


Comment from a fellow beekeeper:  The hive should have been closed up for several days with sugar water inside.  Then the bees would have accepted the hive.


Websites (and there are many more very interesting sites) where I found the information printed in italics about swarming  bees:

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

What a year for making hay!  No farmer in Powhatan wants to be heard complaining about rain in July.  It has been a wonderful spring and summer and here we are at the end of July with green fields and lush grass. It only happens in a farmer’s dream!  But there is one problem. We haven’t been able to get all the hay made and I am talking about the first cutting of hay!!!

Gene was able to squeeze a few hay days in here and there and has already made about 100 acres.    Last week the weather was finally “hay making weather” again; hot, very hot, and dry.  Monday and Tuesday he put over 100 acres of hay on the ground in 19 hours. He can cut 5-6 acres per hour.  It was a good week and lots of round bales of hay for his cattle was made. He needs another 10 days of sunshine and heat as he still has  another 130 acres to cut.

Mowing hay



Some of the heavier hay he had to “tetter”.  He uses the tetter (below) to spread the rows of cut hay (above) so that it can dry faster.  Some of the mornings we had a heavy dew and he needed to “help” the hay dry.



After the hay dried they would rake the hay back into rows for baling.


Sam Powell raking hay.


Gene was often in the same field baling right behind the rake.



I saw this turkey feather laying in the hay field.

Why I Like the Farm by Karla and Ryan Hostetter

I asked my grandkids to be guest writers for my blog.  Here is their blog entry.


My Blog of Why I Like the Farm

I like the farm because I like animals. Grandma has tons of animals. She has cows, ducks, chickens, roosters, horses, cats, and one dog. But in the spring & summer another animal comes out. That is mosquitoes. I hate mosquitoes. I do not like mosquitoes because they bite me all the time. So when you come to the farm put on bug spray!

Another thing I like about the farm is the golf cart. I just learned how to drive it. It was scary at first but it became fun because when Ryan, my brother, kept telling me what to do like “Scoot to the left… slow down… now speed up… go back over to the right…” I got annoyed till I heard him say “Go down the middle.” I smiled and giggled. There was this giant puddle in front of us and I went in the middle of that puddle. I splashed Ryan with drops of mud. It was really funny. Hee, hee, hee, hee.

There was also a time when  my cousins, my brother and I were driving the golf cart down the road and we ran out of gas.  We put the golf cart in neutral and my cousins and Ryan pushed the golf cart while I steered.  I was the one driving because I didn’t have any shoes on.  We pushed the golf cart all the way down the driveway to Grandma’s house.  Grandma’s farm is the best farm. (True)

Written By: Karla Hostetter


My Blog of Why I Like the Farm

I like visiting the farm because I love the store.  One time I saw a customer give Grandma a $100 bill.  I was surprised to see Grandma get a $100 bill.  I like pushing the little green kart to help Grandma move the food to the customers.  I also like giving kids a lollipop at the store as they are leaving.

The golf cart is a lot of fun to drive.  You need to have a chance to drive it.  It is amazing.  I like driving my cousins, Emily and Lauren, around.  I like driving to the mailbox and back.

Written By: Ryan Hostetter

The Grandkids

It is always a treat when the grand-kids come for a visit. Karla and Ryan were here from Thursday-Sunday. They had been at the beach all week with the Hostetter side of the family and Obe and Jill dropped them off on their way home. We had a great time and here are a few highlights of our time together.

Ryan did not think he should have to take a bath because he took one every day while they were at the beach. According to the real story from his mom, he took a “rinse” every day under the outside shower when he came back to the cottage from the beach to remove the sand.  No soap and no shampoo!

One day I made chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t know they were going to be such a hit.

Ryan said I should sell them and put a sign on them that says “the grand-kids say these are the best cookies in the world”! And then he said, I should take some cookies and cut them in small pieces so people can have a sample. This kid has an enterprising spirit and is always looking for a way to make money!!!!  He also wants me to be sure and give his mom the recipe because she does not have it!!!!



We took them home today and since we left after Sunday School I packed them a lunch to eat in route.  I put a little bag with two cookies in each of their lunches. Ryan decided to “save” his for his mom.  When we got there he got his cookies  and very careful broke off two very small pieces (maybe the size of a dime) for his mom and then he proceeded to eat the rest.  He said it was a “sample”!


We played quite a few games of Sorry, Checkers, and Memory.  I enjoyed playing Sorry but Memory…let’s just say that Ryan says I have “short-term” memory loss!


The golf cart is the most “favoritertist” thing on the whole farm.  Ryan started driving last summer and he thinks he is now an “expert”  driver. (Those are his words!)  It bugs him that I won’t let him drive yet all by himself.  He is very careful and precise with his driving; avoiding the mud puddles, ruts in the road and following “driving rules” such as driving on the right side of the lane.  Karla finally got brave enough to give it a try and she loved it.  She quickly became comfortable behind the wheel and became my “wild woman”.  She loved to “fly” , hitting the ruts and puddles, and  splashing the water just to irritate her “expert driving instructor”!


Noah came for a visit and he and Karla enjoyed playing together.





Noah and Ryan having a good time “cruising”!


Karla is a writer and she is very creative in her stories and good with expressing her feelings.

 I found the following precious letter on my desk.



I have a friend.

A friend who can bend,

cook great meals and likes to kneel to pray before bed.

I have a friend who can bend.

Grandma, this friend is you that I keep talking about.

Love Karla

Valentine Heart

And I echo the words of a lot of other grandmas…..”There is nothing like a grandchild”!

Middle of the Night Shenanigans

Last night I got up in the middle of the night  and in the process of getting back in bed I did an acrobatic stunt that would rival a spot in the circus!

I am not sure what happened but as I was getting  back in bed- in the dark, I slipped and fell. Me and the lamp on the night stand crashed to the floor.  It startled Gene awake and leaning over my side of the bed he says, “What are you doing?”  I responded, “Just letting you know I am coming  back to bed!”   (I’m not sure where that clever line came from except he likes to accuse me of being noisy when I am up and roaming around!)  We burst into gales of laughter and before I could move, a  leg cramp grabbed the calf of my leg. Gene leaped out of bed and as he did, he slipped and fell. So there we are, me on the floor on my side, sitting on my bum, legs stretched straight out, trying to rub the “charlie horse” away, and Gene on his knees on the floor on his side of the bed. We laughed our fool heads off!

Of course Gene seized the moment to blame it on the sheets!  Several months ago I bought new sheets for the bed.  I always wanted satin sheets and I love them.  They are slick, smooth, cool and just plain luxurious! But they do have a downside.  Because they are so slick, it can be hard to stay in bed!  Sometimes it feels like you are just going to slide out! I told Gene they make me feel like a queen but he says it doesn’t make him feel like a king!

I have no idea what cause my acrobatic feat but it sure made us wide awake at 1:30 a.m.  And this morning…. we are still looking at each other and laughing about the ordeal! Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine…”  I guess I have a good dose of medicine for the day!

A Very Lazy July 4th

Today started with no agenda and no plan for the day.  I was totally unmotivated, lazy, and restless.  I ate breakfast, lunch and supper on the deck enjoying the gentle breeze and bright sunshine.   I had some things to do but could not get interested in any project. I was restless and but couldn’t figure out what to do with the restlessness.

My nephew, Micah Heatwole, came down this morning.  He and Gene spent the morning looking at the herd of beef cows and Micah picked out his starter herd.  There was one heifer Micah had to buy.  It was born the evening we went up to say good-bye to Truman in the hospital the day before he died. Gene had to help the mom have the calf before we could go.  We probably have 400 cows/calves/heifers.  It continually amazes me how Gene remembers things about his livestock and knows which one it is!

I had to go to Food Lion for Mayonnaise and on the way detoured to Keith’s house to see what his women folk were up too.  They also were having a lazy streak and were sitting on the sofa watching TV.  They decided to come over mid-afternoon for tea.

I did manage to defrost one freezer, trim the spent flowers on the rose bushes, and did my chores, otherwise, I have nothing to show for my day.  I am not sure why I think I always have to be doing something but today I had a productive lazy day and I enjoyed it.

 Some pictures from today


My Hostas are in full bloom.


Newborn calf born this afternoon.


The cows have a mud hole from all the rain by the edge of the trees and they are living it up!


Reminded me of a herd of hippos!


Homemade pizza I made for supper.

A few pictures from  yesterday’s rain


This was taken with a tree in the background. That is RAIN, not run-off from a roof!




We have had over 5 inches of rain since Sunday evening.

Parting With Toys

Several months ago our youngest granddaughter, Karla, announced that I needed to get new toys. She didn’t like to play with what I had anymore, she wanted “older” toys!  I mulled it over and couldn’t come up with anything that adolescense age girls played with except  expense electronic gadgets that they already had at home. So I asked her what she would like.  She did not have an answer.  I asked her very specifically, “Are you ready for me to get rid of the kitchen set on the front porch.”  Yes, she was.  But then her mom caught wind that it was going to the church yard sale.  It was kindly suggested that I could move it to another room because I might have company with little girls or Karla might still like to play with it or maybe we will still have another grandchild!!!!   The bottom line…it was not a good idea to part with those toys!


This is the only picture I could find of the girls playing with the kitchen set even though they spent hours and hours cooking and waitressing to all their pretend hungry customers.  We spent hours and hours ordering and eating our pretend food. This is Emily when she was around 2-3 years old. She is now 13.


Noah, who is all boy and almost 3-years old, overheard us talking and said, “That’s my kitchen!”  I had planned to keep all the boy toys; tractors, blocks, Lincoln Logs, Legos, etc. but now he has also laid claim to the kitchen set which I have not even seen him play with!

Yesterday Lauren (who is 11) and I went through all the toys, sorting, washing, tossing, organizing and yes, we kept the kitchen set-for now.  Lauren was good help and only had a few minor attachments to the dishes.  All the bent and broken toys are gone and the kitchen set remains in its spot on the glassed-in front porch.


I was struck again how we treasure our past;  things we did, toys we played with, pictures, the homeplace, a letter we wrote or received, and the list goes on. Somehow they are a part of who we are and who we were and they are treasures.  Sometimes treasures just can’t be parted with!

Homemade Country Vanilla Ice-Cream


This is my custard-based homemade ice-cream recipe that I have really good success with.  (Kendra, this is especially for you!)  It freezes nice and firm and I have never had it fail.  Use your imagination for varieties, I have included some that I have tried and like.

Here is my printable Recipe-Homemade Ice-Cream