adventures in beekeeping 2.0: combining two hives into one

This past weekend we had to admit a sad fact: One of our beehives was just not producing enough bees or bee supplies (i.e. honey) to survive a winter. We installed our two separate hives about 10 weeks ago. The “blue” hive is cranking. They have filled one bottom layer of files and more than half of a second. The “pink hive” has barely filled half of their starter layer. We don’t know what they are doing, but it ain’t much. To help ensure the success of at least one of our two hives, we decided to combine them – which basically means sacrificing the pokey queen for the strong one. It also means that we intentionally created a bee war in our backyard. Why do I keep hearing the Game of Throne’s theme playing in my head? Here’s how it works.

1. Condense the two hives that are to be joined.
In our case that meant simply taking off the top layers (that we just put in a rash of hopefulness). They were mostly empty anyway, though of course there were probably a couple of hundred of bees in each of them.

2. Use smoke to get the “strong” hive to burrow in while you place a layer of newspaper on top.
When bees smell smoke, they think there is a fire, so they run home and eat. (Sensible reaction, don’t you think?). The paper layer is to help the two hives get used to each other. You place the layer over the one five, make some bee-sized holes.

3. Place the second hive on top of the first hive.
The bees will be forced to find their way through the paper. In time, they will chew through it and become one. The paper will serve as slight barrier that will allow the bees to get used to the smell of the other bee so the inevitable “war” isn’t as deadly.

4. Give them some extra food.
We placed a layer of sugar water on top to help them through the moral crisis.

5. Sit back and wait for the bees to learn to cohabitate.

Eventually the weaker hive will submit and become a part of the stronger hive. The weaker queen bee will be history, so to speak.

We’ll report back in a couple of weeks and let you know how it is going. Wish us luck!

From our partners

post off: what kind of office chair do you use?

It’s a sad fact that most of my adult life will be spent in an office chair. I’m lucky that ones I have been provided have mostly been very ergonomically friendly, such as the Herman Miller classic Aeron. But as more and more articles arise about the dangers of a life spent sitting, I’m looking for alternatives. I don’t know if I’m ready to switch to a standing desk — and one of these peddle spinning contraptions is much too much. Perhaps the best alternative is a ball chair. I’ve given into the wonders of a bouncy ball before, specifically when our daughter Isadora was first born. We kept a large yoga ball in bedroom, and in the wee hours in the morning when she was awake and I was zombie-like, I would sit and hold her my arms and bounce, bounce, bounce. It did wonders for her mood, not to mention my thighs. Unfortunately most ball chairs are look like they belong in some kind of hideous man-cave straight out of the eighties. That’s why this fuzzy beauty from Pottery Barn Teen caught my eye. How fun is that? Underneath the shag is an inflatable exercise ball. Ergonomic and chic? I’m worried that I’ll be laughed out of the Time Life Building where I work (remember, it’s where Mad Men is set — very traditional.) For $129 I might just have to give it a try.

What do you think? Do you work in an office all day? What kind of chair do you sit on?

From our partners

finishing off our refinished deck with new furniture

There is one advantage to waiting until the summer season is half over to think about deck furniture: Sales! After seeing how nice our repainted deck looked once that project was finished, we decided it was time to step up our outdoor seating arrangements. Our previous table and chairs consisted of a slightly wobbly one that Chad made (though he gets an A for effort) and some blue plastic chairs from Ikea. Since we were already rocking a “vintage” look on our front porch with this glider, we thought we should steer in a similar direction in the back. (And honestly, I’m a little bored with the ubiquitous chunky teak/wood furniture all the catalogs have been selling this year.) At the oddly names site, we found this nearly perfect round white metal table with matching blue and white chairs on sale for $350. When it arrived, we were a little worried to see how low the table was, but once you sit back in a chair, preferably with an open bottle of craft beer in your hand, it feels just right.

From our partners

squirrels, you’re off my nice list: a new kind of home invasion

We used to have an affinity towards squirrels. We placed them on our Thanksgiving table. We thought they were cute on an office desk. We even decorated our nurseries with them. Sure they would occasionally ruin a flower bed in the garden, but hey, that’s their domain, isn’t it? But now, squirrels, you have gone too far. You are officially on my rats-with-tails list.

You see, the other day we came home to discover this: a hole in our kitchen screen window. No, make that two holes. It seems that a bulb of garlic was just soooooo tempting to one of our yard squirrels that he (or she), gnawed right through our window screen and dragged it outside. Since that wasn’t tasty enough, he returned and nibbled on an apple that was on our counter. A palette cleanser, perhaps?

The next day, we borrowed a no-hurt trap from a neighbor and placed it near the scene of the crime. It took about two seconds to catch squirrel A. We transported him to our nearby woods reservation, and then did a step-and-repeat with his little co-hort.

The screen has yet to be repaired.

Have you had any invasive encounters with squirrels in your home? Share your dramas here!

From our partners

freshening up a funky bathroom: finding the right fixtures

This is a sponsored post.

A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.

Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.

We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.

What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!

From our partners