Batbox conversion to Warre: the final frontier

The journey continues …

Once again I set up a warre hive box and baseboard (luckily I had a spare), hauled out the adapter board, and settled the batbox settled on top. I taped up cracks in the batbox, the joins between the batbox and adaptor board.

Now what? I got into this beekeeping game wanting only one beehive, which has already given me 30kgs of honey in their first season, and that far exceeded my (and anyone elses’) expectations. Now I’m at 2.5, shortly to become 3.

On one of the natural beekeeping online groups that I follow, I saw that someone had recently lost their hive. It was quite late in the season (autumn), and their chances of catching a swarm and it surviving the winter were very slim. In the 2015 winter, I knew of 5 late-caught swarms that had failed, generally due to the autumn storms. As an alternative I offered them the batbox 2.5 hive to re-home.

This beekeeper was less of a sook that I was, and after giving it a week with the escape board, had no compunction in pulling the batbox apart (in fact, it “fell apart” on her). Her description of the event:


There wasn’t any brood in the bat box just capped and uncapped honey and a few cells of bee bread. I harvested all the honey because that have almost 2 full boxes and starting on the third. Such a lot of work but fun. We lost about 50 bees who drowned in honey when the comb I was lifting feel breaking open into the box. I shook them onto a cloth, smoked and brushed a lot of them but finally around 7pm they had all gone in!

Batbox bees, rehomed

Phew. Glad that’s over. From this family of bees, I’ve had the original batbox colony (this lot), the inadvertant hive split from when I first tried to convert the batbox to warre, and <a href="http://” target=”_blank”>the swarm from when I was too lazy to actually do any thing about them. Aww, I’m getting the warm fuzzies.

Bat box conversion to Warre

I meant to write about this last week (a year ago). Then… the bees actually swarmed, putting my conversion plans off for a little bit. Then life happened, and this post is gathering dust.

In the warre beekeeping system, you “nadir” by adding extra space in the form of extra warre boxes below the currently occupied beehive box. This mimics what bees do in the wild: they find a tree hollow, and start building a home and the comb by connecting it to the top of the hollow of the tree, and building the comb downwards. This contrasts with the langstroth style in which the beekeeper “supers”, by adding the extra boxes on top of the existing occupied beehive box. So a langstroth style beekeeper makes the bees go upwards, and the warre style beekeeper lets the bees go downwards.

Here’s the bat box:

batbox

As you can see, the roof is hinged, and it slopes. The floor is flat, but the back of the bat box sticks out a bit, so it is not flush with the rest of the floor. This helps with mounting the batbox on a tree (or a post), but is not so good for me. The batbox itself is actually a smaller footprint than the warre box.

My original thought had been to nadir the batbox: that is, stick the smaller footprint batbox on top of a warre box, and let the bees move downwards. But the screws holding the floor up look like they had been painted in.

Then the second thought had been to super the batbox; supposedly this would be easier because there is already a removable lid. But then this would create more challenges, because I would need to work out some way to “hold up” the larger warre box. Would I then be creating yet another rod for my back by first asking the bees to move upwards, and then a month or two later asking them to move downwards? I also had a another problem with how to create a new “temporary” entrance, in between the batbox and the new warre box, once the bees had moved upstairs, but in such a way that I could use the one way bee escape.

So it’s back to the downward path we go.

We unscrewed and then levered off the base of the batbox. It was actually surprisingly easy. I made an adapter board by getting some marine grade plywood, painting one coat of white paint over it, and then drilling two access holes with a circle drill bit.

We then placed the the batbox atop this adaptor board, and then atop a warre beehive and a baseboard. I taped up the circular entrance to force the girls to use the entry downstairs.

Batbox to warre conversion

It took me a week to work out that they were so attached to upstairs, they were using this attachment screwhole as an entry. That got tapped up too, and finally they were using the proper downstairs entrance.

About six weeks later, I put in the excluder between the adaptor board and the warre box. By now, Queenie should be downstairs and laying in the new white honeycomb. The next day, I pulled off the batbox, put it to oneside, and put on a quilt box and gabled roof.

Hurray, we are now at 100% Warre!

100% Warre

Being the lazy something or other, I left the bat box hanging around in the backyard for the next week, rather than tossing it out like any other sensible person.

This was a sight that I didn’t want to see:

New tenants?

Oh dear. Either a swarm has moved into this nice, recently up for lease batbox home, or brood which was left behind has started to hatch.

I can’t just throw these girls into the bin to make the problem ‘go away’ (for me) and cause a headache for the garbageman. They’re my little fighters!

What would you have done?

Sculpture by the Sea 2016

This year I planned ahead, and booked a day off months in advance to visit the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. We picked a day just after the exhibition had opened to try and avoid the queues. This is very unusual for me. Unfortunately, it also appeared to be the day that all the school groups had chosen to do the work, so the crowds were approaching weekend levels.

The view over Tamarama:

Sculpture by the Sea 2016

104 – Fair Dinkum Offshore Processing (Bronek Kozka):

Fair Dinkum Offshore Processing

Kind of poignant with the ‘tourist’ crowd outside the fence looking in, and this other woman walking away. I’m sure that the placement of this installation on the end of a concrete ramp, closest to the water was a deliberate statement.

100 – Buried Rhino (Gillie and Marc Schattner):

Fwd: Buried Rhino

Against the rules, I tapped the sculpture. I thought it was made of plastic; but no, it’s fibreglass, steel, bronze. Small children really seemed to like playing in the sand mound above the rhino’s “belly”. I suspect this will get the people’s choice award.

87 – Reality TV (Anne Levitch):
Reality TV

This is part of the detail of the reality tv ‘cube’. The detail in the cutting of the steel is amazing. I suspect that a laser cutting machine was used.

84 – Fluid (Norton Flavel):
Fluid//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This one is interesting. If you approach from the Tamarama end, it looks like a big drop of water, particularly as you can see the ocean beyond as you walk up the stairs. If you approach from Bondi, it looks like a big bunch of rusty drums.

82 – Chronic Series No. 1, I(L), 2(L), 8+ 5(L) (Zheng Yuan Lu):

Chronic Series

Upon approach, it looks like a bag of rubbish. Then you see the form taking shape in front of your eyes – oh my god, it looks like a body bag! If you’re at the right angle, you too can spot a photographer tourist, taking a photo of an adjacent sculpture, and posing in the same fashion as the ‘body bag’ in front of you!

67 – Naturally Volatile (Elaine Clocherty)

Naturally Volatile

This was a work in progress as we walked past, made out of a swirly pile of dirt, and a selection of Australian nuts and seed things.

66 – Three vessels – Amphora, Pug and Torpedo (Andrew Burton)

Amphora, Pug, Torpedo

This one is Amphora. It looks like these were made in ‘sections’, and then bolted together. It looks very labour intensive with all those little bricks, and piled here and there, mini chimneys. I like it.

60 – After Party (Sean Cordeiro & Claire Healy)
Fwd: After Party

I now work in projects where earth movers are a little more common. This one made me laugh with the disco ball in the cabin and the bling in the bucket.

57 – Big Intentions (Mikaela Castledine)

Big Intentions

I have done some weaving, and made a teeny tiny basket. Enough to know that this is very labour intensive artwork. Not to say that the others aren’t labour intensive, but I have more of an understanding with this one. There were quite a lot of sculptures this year which had weaving as a theme.

27 – Place of our Dreams – (The Bankstown Koori Elders Group Inc)

Place of our Dreams

This was quite neat, a “portable” version of the cave art and dreamtime storylines that are scattered over the Australian landscape if only you knew where to look, or had been told the stories.

10 – Weave the Reef, Love the Reef (Marion Gamers)

Weave the Reef, Love the Reef

This was a collection of net, wire, beach & urban rubbish; used to reveal a threat to The Great Barrier Reef. This was placed quite pleasing to the eye, making you feel like you are under water on a reef. There were a lot of turtles. These had been crocheted and woven from found materials. Then, opposite, was the very essence of what this artist was protesting about. Plastic rubbish from a ‘temporary’ installation of bright yellow flags and warning tape along the hand rail.

9 – Adaptation (Niharika Hukku):

Adaptation

Glows in the dark! Also in with the ocean theme, but also a little like bleached coral…?

2 – Many Many III (Stephen King):

Many Many III

Many Many IIIb

There were quite a lot of tourists and sightseers having photos taken with themselves at the ‘front’ or face end of this sculpture. Did any of them pause for more than the time to take the photo to actually look at the faces?

The sculpture by the sea outdoor exhibition runs along the Coogee to Bondi coast walk for 20 October – 6 November 2016; and in Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia for 3 to 20 March 2017.

Harvest Monday, 3 October 2016

I’ve been a little quiet on the Monday Harvest posts. Firstly because I’m such a lazy gardener, hardly anything gets planted, thus hardly anything gets harvested.

Right now, I have been “harvesting” bindi. You have to admire the tenacity of the weed. The seeds have a seven year life, and if you accidentally let them get to maturity, the 10+ seeds scatter if you try and dig them out, or they attach themselves to the bottom of your bike tyre/shoe/foot, resulting in the “bindi dance”, as you leap from one ouch to another.

So actual edibles harvest harvest. Mulberries:

Mulberries

Foraged/scrumped from a tree down the road. This brings back memories of turning up late to early morning uni (college) lectures, because I had detoured past the ripening mulberry tree. My hands, of course, were dyed purple as evidence of my dalliance with the fruit tree.

About 4 spears of asparagus.

Parsley and mint. I have a lot of parsley, from when it seeded a few years ago. I have been using a lot of fresh parsley and mint in salads. I have a parsley “lawn”, and every time he trims the lawn, we get tabouli.

Honey!!

Honeycomb

This is the first honey of the season. I only managed to harvest one frame from the batbox bee hive, and this yielded about 5 boxes of honey comb (approx 2.4kg) and one jar of honey with “bits” (approx 500g). This was taken in early September, and only today did I cut the honeycomb up and place it into boxes, mainly to get the plastic crate holding the one frame of honey out of the kitchen.

Planted.
Pepino Melon. Got this one from a cutting during the sustainable house day event at Moss House. Silly me didn’t plant this for about a week after I got it (refer lazy gardener above), and then I chucked it into the south facing bed and forgot to water it.

Sweet pea. It’s getting a bit late in the season for peas, but I had to try. These went into the sunny (relocated) garden bed, with the brussels sprouts and potatoes that I can’t get rid of. A young lady was selling plants at the Moss House open garden to help get herself to Vietnam for some volunteerism (volunteer tourism), and a punnet of pea seedlings was my contribution.

Kohlrabi. My neighbour gave me some seedlings at the beginning of winter. I waited until the end of winter to plant about half of them. I really need to make more time for this gardening business

Native Australian Raspberry.
Probably Rubus rosafolius or maybe Rubus moluccanus. I got this from a crop and swap group, where I swapped a jar of honey, and got some native raspberry canes. I again didn’t plant for a few days. And then didn’t read the instructions about planting with stinky manure in the bottom of the trench. Whoops. I planted it along a north facing metal fence, where the rosebush, oregano, asparagus and rhubarb live.

Battled:

Aphids, aphids, aphids. I got them in my brussels sprouts, kale (cavolo nero), rosebushes and spring onions (scallions). It’s horrendous. I’ve been trying to battle them by squashing them, but the ants keep putting them back. It’s also really hard with the brussels sprouts trying to develop, but I’m tearing the young nodules apart trying to get to the aphids which are hiding inside. I don’t think I’m going to be getting brussels sprouts this year.

Petaling Street Malaysian, Haymarket

When Petaling Street (Pe-TAH-ling) first opened, I remember seeing queues up to 10 deep waiting outside the store to get in. Time has moved on, there are still queues outside Mamak a few blocks away (I can’t understand why), but people have moved on from Petaling Street. This is a shame, because when I final got my act into gear to go and visit, there is an extensive menu of Malaysian dishes, including hawker/street food, roti and teh tahrik.

Kopi ice ($3.80):

Kopi Ice
I have missed out on my usual morning coffee today, so I order Malaysian style coffee with ice. It is also served in a hot version, but I decide on the cold in anticipation of the chilli heat that I will be soon consuming. This has both condensed milk and evaporated milks in the mixture. I’m sure a similar effect can be had by adding a packet of three-in-one coffee mixture and ice, but it is refreshing nonetheless.

Perusing the menu outside, I have picked out the items that I wouldn’t mind trying if only I had several stomachs available. Nasi Lemak, Rotis (both savoury and sweet), as well as my stalwart, Assam Laksa.

Hainanese Chicken ($11.50):

Hainan Chicken

My dining companion picks this dish because it comes with the most amazing chilli sauce – both red and green. I remember seeing these lying innocently in little dishes as we walked in through the entrance. The chicken itself is served with a bowl of rice flavoured with chicken broth.

Assam Laksa ($11.80):

Assam Laksa

Waah. This dish is so very very yellow. I have never seen such a yellow coloured assam laksa, it must be the turmeric. There is a good stash of sliced galangal, mint and chilli piled on top. I carefully take the chillis and put them aside. That way lies madness. Instead of sardines out of a tin, we have just cooked sardine fillets. The pineapple is sliced thinly into strips. The rice noodles are fat and unctuous, and continue to fatten in size and contribute to the thickness of the broth the longer that it takes me to eat.

Although I have been told that the assam laksa at Petaling Street is one of the best in the world, it doesn’t quite float my boat. My usual complaint of ‘sameyness’ throughout the dish means that towards the end, I just can’t finish it. The broth is very good, and I think that I have drunk most of it. I will have to return another day to try the other dishes on offer.

Petaling Street Malaysian Food
street: 760 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000
Phone: +61-2-9280 1006

Mon-Fri, Sat Sun: 1100-2300.

What the?

See this papaya?

Papaya

See the little sticker?

What on earth does “Irradiated to protect the environment” even *mean*?

Why was my fruit subjected to radiation? Was it to kill any fruit fly larvae? Was it to speed up the ripening process?

Bistrode CBD

It was lucky we had booked early, as there was a large party scheduled shortly after our arrival. We arrived armed with an entertainment card, giving us a little bit of a discount for the night’s dinner.

Bread & butter:

bread & butter

The sourdough on the left is from Iggy’s. The rye is from grain bakery in Alexandria. Really a rye? Perhaps a half rye, half white mix. The butter was an adorable looking pattie from Pepe Saya. It’s not individually wrapped, but there is a little sticker on top. On Mondays there is no bread delivery from Iggy’s, thereby answering the little question I had whilst eating at Three Blue Ducks.

I was tempted by the corned beef ($36.50), which came with kipfler potato salad & English Condiments – ooh a chance for cumberland sauce? I have had corned beef twice in my life. Once at a friend’s place, and she had home cooked I, and I found it a bit meh. The second time as a random occurrence when we were out at a remote National Park near Broken Hill, and were invited by a local aboriginal family to have lunch (Christmas leftovers), back at their place. Oh my god. That was the best tasting meat I have ever tasted. Perhaps I was lacking in salt, being out in 30 deg C + temperatures daily, but my word it was delicious.

I was talked out of this by my mum, who insisted that I get “fresh meat”, rather than pickled meat. So I went full pescetarian.

Gold Band Snapper with roof top cherry tomatoes and Marjoram ($36):

Gold Band Snapper

The cherry tomatoes are indeed from this very roof at 52 King Street, and not from one of the other Merivale properties. There is a combination of red cherry, yellow cherry and some other full sized tomatoes chopped into segments. The fish had nice crispy skin, and I really enjoyed the accompanying ‘tomato’ juices which were mopped up very nicely with the leftover bread. I thought the marjoram tasted like oregano – later research told me that they’re in the same family, and in some middle eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano!

Rump steak ($38):

Rump Steak

There was a “parsley and caper” salad, dressed with lemon juice, quite tart/salty in taste.. We had asked for the parsley and garlic butter to be served separate (rather than dripping onto the steak). Perhaps we missed out on some of the flavor by doing it this way…? The steak is perfect at medium rare with a nice crisp edge and red on the inside. It is a nice steak.

Kurobuta Pork Cutlet, Apple Slaw ($38.50):

Kurobota Pork

Kurobuta pork comes from black berkshire pigs, the source of the most delicious (and expensive) ham. I found this pork a tad dry, but there was a little bit of brown juice you could swirl your meat into, as well as a nice peach based relish. The slaw however – radish, apple, spring onion – all fine. But the mayo that it was combined with I found too thick and cloying for my tastes. Perhaps I am too used to my own version of slaw, in which I use yoghurt as the combining ingredient.

Dessert. Can I fit this in?

The honey tart comes highly recommended, as does the brioche french toast. This is the first time that I have seen a book for sale on the dessert menu.

After poking and prodding of our stomachs, we declare that we can possibly share a dessert.

Goats Cheese Cake ($18):

Goats curd cheesecake

This comes with fresh figs, cured figs, fresh raspberries (1 each), and raspberry puree. This is more like a whipped goat cheese log, rolled in crispy biscuit crumbs. I believe that the goats cheese is from Willowbrae, one of my favourite producers at my farmers markets. The ‘cheese’ feels really light and airy, I could keep eating all day. The cured figs have us intrigued because it isn’t just a simple dried fig, it has been marinated in something else that we can’t quite place our finger on. Our waitress just gives us the hint that the curing process is really involved, and involves balsamic vinegar. Oooh!