Dispatches from the Hives

Our last trip out to the hives was for a pretty simple task: put a strip of MiteAway in each hive. (I’m interlacing pictures from a few of the hives which were treated… just in case the change in hive colors was confusing.)

Okie started by puffing smoke into the entrance of the hive, and then into the top.

Next, he took the lid off of the hive, removed the top module, and again puffed smoke onto the bees.

Notice how the bees just kept working on away on the cover of the hive, and that there isn’t a swarm around us.

There were certainly a change in the buzz of the hive, however, and workers were definitely checking us out… more on that later.

The bins of the main hive were then separated, and the strip was placed inside.

Afterward, Okie strapped the MiteAway container and a hive module (that had been left for the bees to clean out) to the back of the truck, and we headed out.

Because the truck was relatively close to the hives, and with some of the bees still showing an interest in us, we left the suits on longer than usual.

btw, with my new goat skin gloves, and not wearing any lotion on my right arm, I didn’t get stung on this trip.

Dispatches from the Hives

Well, another day out at the hives. This time started with Okie refilling the water bucket just in case the bees got thirsty.

Next, Okie added sugar water to two of the newer hives.

This? Well, this is the flower from an invasive little weed that sours the wheat but produces wonderful nectar.

Anyway, with the watering done, we donned our suites and started going about the business of the day. First, Okie emptied out the full yellow-jacket trap. Nasty little carnivorous things. They swarm around the ground of the hive waiting for bees to drop or be thrown out (story about that later). Sometimes they try to enter the hive itself. When this happens, the bees group around the bees and flap their wings and overheat the yellow jacket.

And, with that done, the smoker was set alight.

The main task of the day was to transfer bees from two nuclear hive (five slots in width) to permanent hives of ten slots in width. Okie had picked-up the hives earlier, and they were still strapped for easy transit.

Oh, before we get too much into this, the pictures at this outing were shot with my D300/14 mm combo, instead of the iPhone 6 used previously. That is to say that I was kinda up close.

Okie began the transfer by lifting the lid on the nuclear hive, and blowing-in a bit of smoke.

Then, it was just a matter of transferring the trays from one hive to the other. One thing to note is that, although the bees were clearly concerned about what was happening, there wasn’t a swarm around us. Most bees just kept on with their assigned tasks during the process.

Here’s another look at one of the trays, with one of the bees taking a look at me.

And, this is getting toward the end of the process. The trays from the old hive are left-out so that the bees can clean them out.

Oh, in this shot, Okie is demonstrating how to get the remaining bees out of a nuclear hive… by wacking it on the top of their new home a couple of times.

One thing I forgot to mention was that Okie first replaced the nuclear hives with the new hives. Some of the bees started coming into the new hives even without any of the old trays having been installed. Seems like they used some sort of GPS.

Introducing Mr Lyle Alzado

Soon after I moved to Beijing, I brought over my cat Clyde. About halfway through my time there, Clyde died. The vet, seeing how distraught I was, gave me one of her personal cats (Xiao Mao). When my family moved back to the US, we brought Xiao Mao with us. Xiao Mao died here in the middle of July. The wife and I decided we were done with cats for awhile.

Then, we saw this:

Which led to this:

And this:

And, well, this:

Lyle is a seven-year-old American short-hair. Although big boned by nature, we’ve got him on a diet. The vet said that he was about 12 pounds when he last came into the shelter (he’s been there a couple of times), but is now around 16 pounds.

We’ve had him for a bit over two weeks, and he’s fitting in just fine. Leo (our Shih Tzu) is now well aware that Lyle outweights him and has claws. Leo actually likes cats, and I think missed having Xiao Mao around.

When they were taking my name for the adoption, they found that I was already in the system… turns out I adobted Blue (Siamese-mix whom I adored) 16 years ago.


Dispatches from the Hives

Okie and I went to another of hive location last week. This one is at Presentation Center, where honey is on display and can be purchased.

It is a smaller installation than that we visited the week before, but still darn pretty.

Since we were going to be opening-up the hives, instead of just adding modules, Okie fired up the smoker, and doused each hive before cracking them open.

Here is the activity on the inside of a lid.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the keeper and the hive. If the hive doesn’t thrive — and the queen isn’t protected — it doesn’t produce honey.

Okie only takes honey from the top module , leaving the rest to the hive. To ensure that the queen doesn’t get into the top module, a metal grating is put between it and the second module.

Here is a closer look at the activity:

This is a slate from the second module of a hive.

Considering that we were opening up their homes and pulling slates out, the bees were quite docile. There were definitely some protestors, but they mostly went around their business.

I did get stung on my right hand. First time since early childhood. Had some redness but no swelling. Typical “puss-pocket” for what was left of the stinger later. Felt relieved to get this out of the way.

This is one of the buildings at the retreat.

Dispatches from the Hives

I road along with Okie yesterday morning as he made is weekly journey out to two sets of his beehives. Here’s the first one:

Pretty much as soon as we got out of the truck, Okie saw that something was wrong with the first hive… there was straw at the entrance to it. Although this was only the second time that he’s seen such a thing in his years of tending hives, he knew it probably meant that a mouse or rat had gotten into the hive and destroyed it.

Sure enough:

He explained that if a hive wasn’t too strong, it couldn’t fight off such an attack. The only thing he could was to open the hive up so other bees could come and recycle whatever was left.

We’d brought with us hive modules from which the honey been extracted.

We put a module on each of the remaining hives (so that the bees could clean them out), and left the others standing-up in the trailer for easy access.

We were then off to a second installation for a general wellness check.

In one hive, Okie was trying to get the bees to build honeycombs directly into jars. Although there was some activity, he thought that it wasn’t going to well, and that he’d probably end-up removing the module from the hive.

The Last Six Months

Some of the milestones from the last six months. Flights are in orange. Sidlaw refers to our home in San Jose.

  • 2015-12-11 18 Hui Xin Xi Jie, Apt E901 Beijing listed for sale (Homelink)
  • 2016-12-27 Contract signed for sale of Apt E901
  • 2016-01-08 Last official day at Oracle
  • 2016-01-08 UA 889 E5T2H2 PEK → SFO Shanshan, Robs
  • 2016-01-11 First day at Nexenta
  • 2016-01-23 UA 888 E5T2H2 SFO → PEK Shanshan, Robs
  • 2016-02-22 Five year wedding anniversary
  • 2016-02-24 Official transfer of Apt E901 starts (five years of ownership reached)
  • 2016-02-29 UA 889 HBZHJK PEK → SFO Robs
    • Robs moved into  Pomeroy, Apt #4. (Met by Emey at SFO)
  • 2016-03-12 UA 273 DMG62W SFO → SEA Robs
    • Picked-up train set in Seattle. Visited Dave & Anna in Portland
    • Spent the night in Ashland
    • Visited Betty, Jim, Steve, and Dianne on the following day
  • 2016-03-17 Ownership transferred to new owner of Apt E901
  • 2016-03-19 UA 888 IVTVB5 SFO → PEK Robs
  • 2016-03-30 UA 889 ITJ1X4 PEK → SFO Shanshan, Chong Chong, Robs
  • 2016-04-01 Chong Chong started attending Yvonne’s Daycare
  • 2016-04-05 Bought Audi allroad
  • 2016-04-12 Made offer on Sidlaw (offer accepted)
  • 2016-05-07 Put down-payment on Escalade
  • 2016-05-21 Attended memorial for Jim (with Stacy)
  • 2016-05-23 Final walk-through of Sidlaw
  • 2016-05-24 Signed closing papers
  • 2016-05-25 House closed
  • 2016-05-26 Recorded / Approved for car loan
  • 2016-05-30 DL 7435 HZPC2R SJC → PIH Robs
    • Pocatello, Idaho to pick-up Escalade
  • 2016-05-31 Arrived at apartment, packed, first night at Sidlaw
  • 2016-06-01 Chong Chong’s first day of school, continued clean-up of apartment
  • 2016-06-02 Finished cleanup of apartment
  • 2016-06-03 Container arrived from Beijing


I’d been with Sun/Oracle for over twenty years. More than that if you count the year I spent as a contractor, and the summer before that as an intern. I had three distinct concentrations during that period; technical writer, quality assurance, and quality engineering. QE was the longest job I’ve ever had… well over ten years.

But, this post isn’t so much about my work history as it is about transitions that I’ve been through. There have been major ones… from joining the Coast Guard and moving to New York, leaving the Coast Guard, leaving New York, getting married, getting divorced, shutting down my life in the US, building it up again here in Beijing, getting married again, having Chong Chong, and into the various milestones associated with leaving my job at Oracle… last day in the office, last day of work, last day of employment.

Most of the transitions I’ve been through have been painful. Or, I’ve gone through them somewhat dazed. Physically there, but part of mind stuck in a what-the-fuck-is-happening-to-me mode.

This time, it is much different. I’m now in a period, which started in January, and will probably go through August, that is chockablock full of transitions. And, they are transitions that are going well. Although things haven’t gone exactly to plan, I’m finding that, well, we’re getting what we need.

Right now, I am laying in my bed after eating dinner prepared by our Ayi, me having just tumbled around with Chong Chong, who is now with Shanshan in the living room calling me (Ba Ba! Chong Chong! I respond. Ba Ba! He yells, and so we go), as fireworks and firecrackers continue to go off during the 15 days of Spring Festival that currently engulfs the country.

By August, if all goes well, Shanshan, Chong Chong, Leo (our dog), and Xiao Mao (our cat) will be living in a house in the San Jose area.

On Wednesday, part of the transition occurs with movers packing-up the things that we’ll be taking to the US and putting them into storage. On the Monday after that, I’ll head back to Santa Clara to work for a month before coming back to move the rest of the family there.

I’ll keep the blog updated as the transitions continue.