It's not as easy to hold a snake in my right hand, and take photos of my nieces and the snake with my left hand, as you may think. Snakes are wiggly, nieces are wiggly, especially when exposed to creepiness, and my left hand was having a hard time with the cell phone camera, but I still managed to get a few shots of the event. Every little girl deserves photos of their first snake wrangling, right?
Despite uncontrollable squeals, tense shirt gripping, and quite a bit of hopping and jerking, both my nieces bravely touched the baby black rat snake that we found this weekend. Snakes feel neat.
The snake patiently let us handle it for several minutes, then politely let me know it would like to be released by striking at us with it's baby teeth. The photo above caught the snake as it snapped at my youngest niece, who told me later that she doesn't like snakes "because they bite". Knowing snakes bite is important. The key to positive snake relationships is learning not to hold it against them.
My nieces weren't there to help me open up the bee hives on Saturday morning, but I was proud to say that I managed to light the smoker, keep it smoking, and open both hives all by myself. No stings either! The hive in the photo above is in the same location as the hive of bees that died this winter.
I tried my best to take some good photos, but with all my protective gear, I was lucky to get a few blurry shots of the bees. The veil on the hat is made of a stiff dark material that slightly obscures my vision, like looking through a dark window screen. Every time I would lean over to work on the hive, my glasses would slip down my sweaty nose, and I couldn't push them back up because of the veil and my gloves. Only the memory of the pain of my last stings kept me from pulling the veil and gloves off so I could see better. It was sort of frustrating.
Despite these difficulties, I could tell the bees in this hive were doing pretty good. They were making lots of honey, and see the open cells in the center of the photo above that have something whitish in them? Those white things are bee larvae, and I think the capped over cells are also larvae. So, the queen in this hive is doing her job and laying eggs and growing the hive. I didn't see the queen, but I didn't take apart the entire hive to look for her since I'm not confident I know what I'm looking for anyway.
This is hive number two, which is a different area that gets more shade later in the day. This is also the hive where the bees were dropped on the ground during their introduction to the hive. We have been concerned that this hive wasn't as strong as the other.
But, when I opened the hive there were plenty of bees. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any larvae. Hopefully they are there and I just don't know what I'm doing.
While Brandon was giving me a tour of the electrical work he accomplished this week out at the farm house, we got a good look at Carlos, our house snake. Check out the video above, of Carlos's reaction to my friendly touch.
After harassing Carlos, mowing the grass, weeding the asparagus, and helping Brandon work on the bathroom ceiling, I did a quick inspection of my baby fruit trees and found these little brown caterpillars on one of the apple trees. There were six of them, and they were putting a pretty good dent in some of the apple leaves.
My first instinct was to squish them. After all, they are eating my apple tree. But, before I acted on my violent impulse, I decided to see if I could figure out what they were. I like to be an informed bug murderer if I can. If my identification is correct, these are Unicorn Caterpillar Moths (Schizura unicornis). I've read The Once and Future King and Harry Potter, so I know what happens to people who kill unicorns. Thank goodness I didn't make that mistake!