Bees & bikes

Orchard mason bee nests

Orchard mason bee nests

Wow! After a slow start, the Orchard Mason Bees have done really well this year. Last week, I shared a video of the bees doing their thing. A few sunny days later and the bee nesting tubes are pretty much full, so full in fact I bought additional tubes to harvest a few more bees. Steve the bee guy will be happy indeed.

Leaf cutter bees and nest

Leaf cutter bees and nest

The Orchard Masons are, however, an early season bee. Someone recommended getting some Leafcutter bees for the mid-season, so I contact Crown Bees, a local bee supplier. The nest tubes are similar to those of the Orchard Mason Bees, but smaller. In the middle, you see the bee cocoons, which are wrapped in leaf cuttings. On the right is the protective bag I’ll keep the cocoons in until they start hatching. Apparently, Leafcutter cocoons are tasty snacks for other insects and need to be protected. They also like heat, so I’m going to keep them in the greenhouse until they start hatching. This is my first attempt to release and harvest bees solo, so wish me luck.

Leaf + bike rack

Leaf + bike rack

On to another Leaf entirely. Last October, I bought a Nissan Leaf. I’ve had the car for a bit over six months now, and I cannot recommend the car highly enough. It’s quiet, smooth, peppy, perfect for around town, and of course it produces zero emissions. With our solar panels and Leaf, I feel really good about our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. What I can’t do, though, is fit the kids’ bikes in the back.

When I had the Volvo, I had a hitch I used to attached a bike rack to haul bikes around. The Nissan didn’t have a hitch. We did, however, find a local company, Torklift Central, that sells a hitch for the Leaf. After picking up the hitch and bringing it home, Derek was having trouble with the install and figured out that Torklift Central had sent him home (about 30 miles away) with an incorrect part. Derek called to ask for a new part and asked them to FedEx it to us. Much to our surprise, they felt so bad about the situation that one of their guys drove the part up to us that say day. Talk about customer service!

The bikes on the rack are another story. Both of the kids needed bigger bikes this year. Our first idea was to see what we could find used on Craigslist. Aside from the fact I didn’t want to pay for new bikes, it always seems a waste to me to buy perfect new bikes for kids. Kids outgrow their bikes quickly. Plus, they can be really hard on bikes.

We so lucked out with bikes for the kids this year. Derek was talking to the dad of one of Lily’s friends and mentioned we were looking for a new bike for her. Lily’s friend had just outgrown her 20″ bike and the dad offered to give us her bike for free. Sweet! In return, we offered to give them a dozen fresh eggs each week this spring and summer.

For Andrew, we kept looking on Craigslist and local used bike shops and we kept coming up empty. Finally, I posted a message on Facebook that we were looking for a used boy’s 20″ bike. A former co-worker offered us one for, yep, free! In trade, we gave him a case of local IPA beer.

In the end, we recycled our bike rack and found two bikes for free, but we threw some barter in the mix to make it fair. We made out really well on the bike front this season and look forward to cruising around to local parks in the Leaf and letting the kids get more mileage out of their recycled bikes.

Roll on!

Sandy

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4 Responses to Bees & bikes

  1. Derek says:

    Actually, it was a half-rack of IPA and a dozen eggs from the ladies…but close enough!

  2. Gustoso says:

    I love the Mason bee nests.

  3. Well, you did the bartering so you would know Derek!

  4. kitsapfg says:

    Good to hear your review of how the Leaf is working for you. Good work on getting the bikes – persistence and ingenuity pay off in the end.

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