Tags:halloween projects code cats larp bees chickens shellback boatbuilding
17 May 2013 7:24pm | Posted by Alex
Yesterday evening we opened up the hive to take a first look at how they're settling in. It looks good in there. They've begun making use of all 4 of the empty frames they got when we installed them into the hive body. There are healthy looking larva and plenty of capped brood, even on some of the new frames, so the queen has clearly been busy. We haven't seen her yet, but with all the evidence of her activity we're not worried.
This year we interleaved the additional frames with the 5 from the nuc, which isn't what what the books recommend (mostly they say to keep the existing frames in exactly the same pattern that they come in), but seems to be encouraging them to spread throughout the hive body better than last year. They had covered the frames they had densely enough that we added the second hive body. It's frames are just undrawn foundation, but if the spring keeps up like it has so far they should be drawing those out soon.
This afternoon, the weather was perfect and they were, well, busy as bees.
29 April 2013 12:38pm | Posted by Alex
Remember how surprised we were in mid-winter that the bees had made it that long? Well, unsurprisingly they didn't make it all the way to spring. This year we're moving the hive to the other side of the property so they aren't disturbed by the noise and wind of traffic. Between that and giving them a full hive body of drawn comb to start off, we're hoping that our hive will be a pleasant enough place to live that they won't swarm. Here's hoping.
Last night I went over to Merrimack Valley Apiaries in Billerica to pick up a Nuc. We'd ordered one last fall, figuring either we'd need it or we wouldn't mind a second hive. Good choice, as it turns out we sure needed it. Bees are surprisingly calm around dusk and the nuc was in a mesh bag under a sheet, so the car ride was quiet. But they were angry to be opened up just at sunset and moved into the hive. One tenacious little lady in particular followed me around for five or so minutes after I'd finished, repeatedly crashing into my veil, so I wandered around the yard until she got distracted and went home. This morning they're out in full force, busily mapping the neighborhood.
25 April 2013 5:54pm | Posted by Alex
We've not had great luck with the chickens this year. Dotty, the last of the Wyandottes, died a week or so ago. Here she is right before she got sick.
Red, our last remaining chicken, has finished her course of antibiotics, just in case, but she's awfully lonely. She's taken to following Owen around the yard whenever he goes out to play and has nearly followed Joy on walks around the neighborhood. Last night she hung about roosting on the railing of the front stairs just to be close to her "flock".
She'll be less lonely soon though, as her new flock was born yesterday and arrived home today. There are a pair of Golden Comets, a pair of Easter Eggers, and a pair of Speckled Sussex now cheeping in the corner of the office. These guys are active, excited, and hungry. They all figured out the chicken nipple right.
Much like last year, the cats are desperate to get in.
6 April 2013 7:46pm | Posted by Alex
Scarfing the bottom board:
The first plank goes on:
3 April 2013 11:58am | Posted by Alex
Yesterday three very large boxes arrived on the back of an semi-trailer containing the worlds flattest boat. Or at least proto-boat.
It's a kit for a 11' 2" Shellback sailing dinghy, a plywood lapstrake boat designed by Joel White (E. B. White's son, among other things). The kit is CNC routed out of marine grade plywood by Chesapeake Light Craft in Maryland (pics below).
22 February 2013 2:40pm | Posted by Alex
I spend a lot of time on Skype, either on conference calls or calling into meetings. Because noise reduction is imperfect, I try to keep my microphone muted when I'm not talking, so we don't accidentally develop feedback. But as often as not when I go to speak, I miss clicking on the unmute button in Skype and have to start the sentence again, which makes it hard to interject in a timely way. Plus it would be nice if the muting interface was the same even when we use Google Hangouts or other video conferencing software. So to deal with this I put together a simple push to talk switch.
The mac app Shush is a partial solution. It's a master microphone mute that lets you push to talk (or push to mute) by holding down a combination of control keys. But it doesn't quite solve the problem for me, as to save desk space I use a Logitech Easy Switch Keyboard connected to several computers and much of the time I'm on Skype on one and typing on the other, so push to talk from the keyboard doesn't help.
The solution I put together is to use a Teensy 3.0 microcontroller, which is an Arduino compatible board with a micro USB port and built in HID emulation, to make a single button keyboard. The button is a normally open pushbutton with a good action and the case is an old parallel port switch, chosen for its relative heft. The source code is included below.
14 January 2013 2:59pm | Posted by Alex
It's well over 50 degrees today and the bees are stirring!
14 January 2013 8:31am | Posted by Alex
It seems that Whiny (the surviving Wyandotte hen) is now laying as well. This morning we found Red in the process of laying in the corner of the coop behind the feeder (she also had a second egg, probably from yesterday, back there with her) and another egg, slightly paler and a bit more pointy in one of the nest boxes.
4 January 2013 1:12pm | Posted by Alex
The chickens have been cooped up, quite literally since just after Christmas, on account of all the scary white stuff on the ground. They didn't venture out more than to run down the ramp and hide under the coop, where their summer dust bath has frozen into an icy little lake. But today they decided that the white stuff might not be so bad and went exploring. Meanwhile, the squirrels have been at the bird feeders out back, dumping sunflower seeds on the ground, the foraging is good.