Fleas and Bees

What do you say to a friend that comes up to you after church grinning like a possum, asking if you want to go to the Pickens County Flea Market? YES! Of course!So here we are….at the Pickens County Flea Market, which by the way is only open on Wednesdays. We wondered "Why Wednesday's?" Well, from what we gathered it is such a special place, that you can park your RV right there and start looking at 5:30 AM! We think, those early risers are actually buying stuff for themselves to sell at their own table at a Saturday morning Flea Market.We pulled up around 10:00 in the morning and were astounded at the number of buildings, cars and people there were! Oh My! Now let me just clarify something here….this is not the HGTV Flea Market where there are tables of antiques ready for beautiful transformations and booths with amazing artisans. The majority of the tables were selling socks, soaps, crap and more crap. Unless of course salt and pepper shakers held by various animals is your thing.For you wine connoisseurs out there, I found a bottle cover. The tag says it is a vintage crochet poodle cover that could be yours for only $2! I do have to say, this vender has the right idea with his groupings of items.Now if during your shopping experience you needed a little snack, this guy picking his teeth sells The Best Boiled Peanuts amongst the onions, deodorant and Tylenol. His lighted candle helped with the whole ambiance that was happening here.All joking aside, there was some cool stuff happening, like these musicians who just gather to pick and sing. I wish I had been able to talk to some of the old timers. I bet this is the highlight of their week, to come here and make music.I really wanted a picture of this guy in the overalls playing the…barrel bass(?) But the doofus in the red shirt kept moving in my way! At first I didn't know if he was like the overall guy's guard or something, but no he was just a doofus. I guess I could have asked him to move, but I thought I was obvious.Need some beads? Oh my goodness! Angie found herself quite a beauty! And Charlie found some great deals on art supplies. Honestly, for non-perishables, there were some deals. I bought several sewing machine needles for cheap.And there were some gems among the weeds. There were several colorful produce stands which looked delicious.As crazy as these roosters may look to some of you, I actually have one 4 times bigger in my yard. Hmm…maybe this Flea Market is more in line with my tastes than I first thought.Out of the hundreds and hundreds of tables, I think we saw maybe 5 or six that had handcrafted items. I think these cutting boards are beautiful.I spied this artisan and had to look. She was such a delight to talk to. As I was admiring her jewelry, she said "I think you and I could be friends." Yeah I think we could. She appreciated me taking the time to ask about her craft. I fell in love with these earrings. She crafted every part of them with her hands. She is not in the right market place. She is not getting the proper recognition selling between the sock man and Miss 2005 Belk ornament lady.As the Flea Market was coming to a close, venders started packing their vans around noon, and we were starting to get a bit hungry. Yoder's Concessions was open for lunch. We could get a hotdog and eat it at a folding table in the 110 degree heat….or not.

Angie, Charlie and I decided that we needed to go to the big town of Pickens and have lunch. But FIRST, we had to drive around the corner and up the road a short bit to see this fabulous young man Zane! This is Angie's son who is working as a camp counselor-activities guide for the Clemson camps in upper state SC. I know exactly how it feels to see your sweet boy after time away…YAY!! We gave him our best loving (embarrassing) hello. We rolled our windows down and hung out the windows waving and yelling "Zanie!!!" Ok, so maybe that was just me, but we were all glad to see him.The next surprise stop was at a bee supply store. We had no idea one was on the way to the Flea Market, so we had to stop in for a look-see. We are standing in front of an educational viewing box full of bees. This store, The Bee Well Honey Farm, partners with schools by putting in these types of hives in schools to educate children of the importance of honey bees.It was fun sharing my new love of beekeeping with friends. I was able to ask a bunch of questions and chat with the owner and purchased some needed supplies. Angie, Charlie and I all decided that we could check the Pickens County Flea Market off our bucket list. But sharing a fun, laugh filled day with these girls will happen again. We are all up for the next adventure.

Thanks for dropping by!

My Morning at the Bee Hives

Sam and I headed over to the farm early this morning to check on my bees. With temperatures hitting close to 100, we needed to get there early.One of the first things I do when I get to the farm is start my smoker. I have not mastered this skill yet. The goal is to get the smoker burning quick, then allow it to sit in order to come to a smolder where there is cool white smoke. You don't want to burn the bees with hot smoke. I can get it flaming with pine needles and sticks, but I don't know how to keep it going for the whole time I'm at the hives. /As the smoker begins to cool down, I put on my suit and start taking supplies to the hives. I really need a wagon so I don't have to take two trips from the barn to the hives. When I approach the hives, I take a minute to see how the bees are acting. Is there activity at the entrance? Are the girls agitated or calm? I enjoy watching them come in and out of the hive. Do you see the bees with large yellow and orange sacks? Those bees are coming back from foraging and those are pockets filled with pollen! The bees land on a flower and cover their furry little head with pollen. Then they take their front legs to scrape the pollen into those sacks. Looking at the different colors, I wonder what flowers they went to.
When I take the top cover off, I look for any critters that shouldn't be there, like these hive beetles. They are such a nuisance! These little pests have a hard shell and are able to skitter away from the bees who are trying to kill them. This is a view of the bottom of the feeding tray. The beetles run out of the light to any crevice or corner they can find. The problem is that they make a huge mess defecting and disturbing the hygienics of the hive. They can cause a whole colony to collapse.So as a good beekeeper, I have put in chemical free traps. The top one is a 5X5 inch sheet that the bees sort of fluff up and then the beetles become entrapped. The bottom pic shows a trap with vegetable oil in it. It hangs on the frame, so when the bees chase the beetles, hopefully the beetles will fall through the opening into the oil. Neither of these are actually stopping the beetles from entering in the first place, but they are getting a few who get in my hives. This shows the traps in action.And when I see any running around I try to smoosh them with my hive tool!A hive tool is a beek's best friend. ("Beek" is short for beekeeper.😊) So now I want to look at some frames and make sure eggs are being laid and honey is being made. The supers or boxes become glued together by propolis and must be pried open. I use my handy dandy hive tool! Look how pretty they are!The reddish-orange stuff above is propolis, not to be confused with beeswax. The bees use this sticky substance to fill in any holes or gaps. The girls are amazing housekeepers. They keep their hive nice and tidy. If there is a space where an intruder can get in, they will seal it up!The top super is filled with honey…glorious, beautiful honey. This will be the hive's food for the winter, so I won't harvest any of this liquid gold. Do you see in the upper portion of the frame where they are capping the honey cells? This will keep the honey from dripping out until they already to use it.Here is a frame from the bottom box, called the brood box. This is where the queen lays all of her eggs. Do you see inside those cells in the bottom right? Those are the larva. The workers will feed them and then place a cap over their cell. When the babies are ready to hatch, they will break out of the cell and then immediately begin working! As a beekeeper, you want to do as little to intrude on the hive as possible. But as I was about to put the last super on the hive, I wanted to hold a few barehanded. Honeybees are very docile and not prone to attack. Of course here are those that are swarming or have been agitated by something and want to protect their hive, but today my girls were very calm. I had a good feeling about them, so I took off my gloves and gently picked a few up. It was so cool.Ok, ok, enough playing around. It's time to close things up. The last thing I do is fill the feeding tray with sugar water. Many have asked me why I do this. Doesn't this make the bees dependent on you? Can't they take care of themselves without your help?
Well, yes and no. You see, when I decided to become a beekeeper, I chose to take care of my bees the best way I know how. Yes, the bees find the pollen and make their own honey. But I have a young hive. It has been working very hard to build its home from scratch. It takes so much energy to build the comb for the eggs, larvae and honey. The summer can be a time of dearth, which is when there is a lack of food sources for the bees. So that's where I come in to help them out. I won't have to do this forever. It's just to help them out. A strong hive is able to combat infestations and diseases better than a struggling, weak colony.So there you go! I'm a big hot sweaty mess and I LOVE IT! ❤️🐝🐝🐝

Thanks for buzzing by!