New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

Weather is definitely warming…

OSG says don’t trust February, but it’s been generally trending warmer. Mmm. We have seen fishes: Ari and Maddy, Ishida, maybe Grant, and a couple of the orange ones, which we can’t see well enough. We have 11 of them, and they shift about a bit. But they’re staying under cover, near their bottom heater. They don’t look to have dropped much weight, which is good. And we hope they stay torporous (that’s the technical word for what koi do, not quite hibernation, but close) until March. I do recommend our watertop shield for anybody keeping koi in a predator-rich area: so far a raccoon and a blue heron have tried, without any evident success. For those just joining us, it’s a sheet of black sunscreen fabric (garden store) stitched to a ring of lawn sprinker hose (usually buried: that stuff) which is made into a ring by a double-ended hose barb. It floats. A similar though smaller ring will, this spring, contain water hyacinth, which is a great water-scrubber, blooms, through the summer, and moderates the heat in July and August. And it frustrates predators.

Jane’s car is still in the shop. They’ve found why the engine light has been coming on now and again for the last two decades or thereabouts, and possibly what prompted the original owner to sell it. The throttle sensor is faulty. Doesn’t hurt the car, but it does cause that light to come on. She’s having 2 tires replaced: original equipment on a 22 year old car—they’re kindaΒ  cracked…

We’re not skating today: the rink manager/owner warned us they’ve got a school class coming in. That’s a mess. We had a church group yesterday, but they were all good kids, most really, really first-timers, and I don’t mind helping them get moving safely, (put your weight here on your blade, shove sideways, bend your knees, keep your hands low and if you’re going to fall, squat. Fast.) But two days in a row, with a school class, is asking a bit. There’ll be some who can skate, some who think they can skate, some who hope they can skate, and some who’re sure they’re going to die. And it’s a scary mix.

16 comments to Weather is definitely warming…

  • elmore

    CJ, I’m glad you enjoyed Nationals. I know what it’s like going to a big skating competition. My kids were ice dancers in the Southwest Region at one time in the 80’s, when they were in High School. We went to Midwesterns in 1986 when it was in Indianapolis.
    I have just read your blog from November on. I’ve been out of pocket, not keeping up on the internet. I had back surgery just before Thanksgiving and had not been keeping up. I am healing well and now can sit at my computer for longer stretches.
    I’ve purchased all you have available on Closed Circle. I’m looking forward to downloading all to my Kindle so I can read all.
    Good luck with your cars.

  • February is the coldest month (as April is the cruelest month). Air that has been cold all winter, and situated under clear skies at night, gets colder as heat radiates out into space. Then, when some outside weather event causes the cold air to move, that’s when it really hits hard. February is also the time when queen honey bees begin laying for the spring nectar flow. If it gets too warm, she starts laying more eggs, the workers start foraging and get caught out in the cold, and the hive is in danger of collapsing. That’s happened to me in each of the past 2 years. I hope whatever weather happens in Spokane doesn’t affect the pond’s inhabitants, just as I’m keeping fingers crossed for my bees. I’ve already lost one hive this winter, I don’t know how the other hive is doing, and don’t want to risk opening it up and fatally chilling the entire cluster.

    Getting cars fixed right around tax refund time seems to me to be coincidental. I’m not saying that there’s collusion between the manufacturers and the IRS, but why is it that our cars seem to need the most maintenance and repair right about the time that big refund check comes?

  • philospher77

    What do honeybees do over the winter? I live in southern California, and while we don’t get snow, it has been down to freezing a few days, and we have recently gotten our first heavy rains. And yet I still see a few bees out around my camellias. Not the numbers I see in the summer, but a few. I figured that they would be hibernating over winter, but on the other hand the early spring crops are starting to show up (this will be week 4 for strawberries, and those growers are hating our weather this year… last week my favorite farmer told me he lost 80% of the fruit because of a week of rain), and there are some flowers blooming, so maybe they don’t down here?

  • CJ

    Sort of like wintering-over still pretty small koi: we’ve got two heaters going, one submerged, one floating, set just to keep it from freezing. They tend to sleep as it gets cold, warm up, tootle a bit on sunny days, then go back to sleep. Keeping bees chilled down for the winter has to be much harder in a chancy year: there are chillers for fish tanks, but that would be pretty pricey. Big ice blocks and straw? Netting the hive so the workers can’t escape?
    I’m sure in many thousands of years of apiculture, people have got about the best system human ingenuity can figure out.

  • The queen starts laying eggs in September, which are a special set of workers. How she does this is still unknown. These workers are hardier, and can withstand the cooler environment of winters. I’ve read of beekeepers successfully wintering hives in norther Ontario. I live in Ohio, so it’s not as bad. Anyway, the workers cluster around the queen, and use their wing muscles in a kind of shivering action which generates heat. The ambient temperature inside the hive during the winter is around 65F, within the cluster. It can be 15F outside, but as long as the bees have honey, they can generate the heat. As the bees on the outside of the cluster get cold, the move further in towards the center and the bees at the center move outward. The queen remains in the center, where she’s safe and warm, fed and groomed by the workers. What’s disastrous for my hives has been warm spells where the bees fly on their “potty breaks” and then get caught outside when it’s too cold and they can’t fly. Or the queen has started laying the spring eggs and there’s a hard freeze that catches the bees unprotected. It’s a chancy activity, but if you can get the bees through the winter, then most of the problems are easier to handle.

  • People have asked me why i couldn’t put the hives in a heated garage. Um, well, because then the bees would be flying, they wouldn’t be able to get outside unless they found a hole in the wall (plenty of those in my garage!), and then when they did get outside, they’d immediately freeze. The bees stay pretty well clustered all winter long, but on warmer days, they’ll fly out and back. Then I know they’re all right for the moment. But then that last cold snap will inevitably knock them out. It ain’t easy being a beekeeper any more. Mites, Colony Collapse Disorder, small hive beetles, nosema ceranae, Africanized Honey Bees…

  • Well, I’m gonna try it! I just took my first of five class sessions, and will get my bees in April.

  • philospher77

    I’ve thought about having a bee hive in an idle moment or two, but I live in a suburb with very small yards, and think that the neighbors might not be eager to have a hive in the neighborhood. And are there enough flowers in the average suburban neighborhood to support a colony through the year? Most of the beekeepers I hear about hire their hives out and move them to where the crops are, which isn’t the same thing.

  • @philospher. First, check the ordinances in your community. If there are no restriction, you can safely bring a hive into your yard. My recommendation would be that if you have an outbuilding, such as a garage or shed in your yard, and some fairly tall shrubbery, about 5 – 6 feet, about 10 feet or so from the building, you could probably set up the hive between them. Thinks to consider, bees rely more on trees than they do on garden flowers. However, they will go to vegetable and fruit gardens readily. Your neighbors might notice more fruit or vegetables and would never know why. My biggest worry came to fruition one year. I didn’t set out a water supply for the bees, and they went to the neighbors’ porches, where there were water dishes set out for the dogs. I was so upset when the neighbor told me her dogs had been stung, and they were such sweet animals. So, if you have a birdbath or some other shallow container you can set out, make sure there are places the bees can land so they can get to the water. My birdbath has a raised center, so the bees can land on it and get the water without falling in. Once the bees detect a source of water, they’ll behave the same as if it were a rich nectar supply, they’ll go there again and again. I couldn’t “break” my bees of the habit of hitting the dogs’ dishes, so when I gave that hive away, it was with some relief for all of us.

    If you are on Shejidan, PM me and I can send you some references and some links to reliable beekeeping resources, not just equipment sellers, but beekeepers and entymologists, including the USDA, University Extension Officers, etc.

  • @Abigail – hooray for you! May one ask which part of the country/world you are located? We have one of our club’s experienced beekeepers starting a 6 lesson class this month in Ohio. There are never enough classes, it seems, but everyone who attends a class is at least concerned in some way about the bees. Our club met last night for the first time since November and the room was packed. We had something like 13 new members (and spouses, families) attend. That is remarkable for our area, but living in a suburban/rural agricultural area, it’s priceless to have people bringing an interest in beekeeping.

    I’ve often been frustrated, and at times, wonder why I even try. But, the allure of the hive, the sounds of the bees, and the pleasure of helping keep the species alive, changes my mind all of the time.

    I also got a word of advice last night. If you’re ever speaking to a government official, you are NOT a hobbyist beekeeper. You are a beekeeper, period. Bureaucrats don’t particularly care about hobbyists, but if you don’t tell them, they’ll “assume” you’re in it for some other reason, but not necessarily as a commercial enterprise. Why do I say this? There are grants available through the Federal and State governments for beekeeping, but if you say you’re a hobbyist, you’re kind of shunted off to the side. Squeaky wheels and buzzing bees get the attention they want.

  • I am north of Dallas. The Collin County Beekeeper’s Association is a wery active one (next county over from us, and two of it’s members are teaching the course. One retired from Raytheon some 15 years ago, and the other just graduated from high school. He has been in beekeeping since taking the club’s course for youngsters six years ago!

  • smartcat

    If you are going to put up (out?) a hive in a suburban area, you probably want to be aware of what kind of pesticides are used in the neighborhood. πŸ˜€

  • I did forget to add, you really should tell your neighbors, or at least ask them if they mind you having bees.

    I just got back from a planning board meeting for a beekeeping seminar in Ohio. I don’t know if we accomplished much, but it was the first meeting.

    Now I’m off to a Japanese language class. Poor cats, they don’t know what’s become of me. Gone most of Monday, gone all day Tuesday, and in and out of the house on Wednesday. But, happy thing, we still have oil in the tanks, he came today and gave us 200 gallons. But, now I get to tighten the belt for the rest of the month.

  • smartcat

    Good to see that you are up and at the world, joec6nix! πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜†

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