🐝 Beekeeper captures honeybee swarm

Observing honeybee swarm

Jeff Eckel, a beekeeper, was called to the Wyck Historic House and Garden because one the hives he maintains there had swarmed. The queen, likely after having laid eggs that could be nursed to raise a new queen, had emerged from a hive and flown to a low-hanging limb of a nearby apple tree, attracting what Eckel believes, based on its size, upwards of 12,000 worker bees. There they clung together in a large, bulgy triangular shaped clump. A halo of bees circled round.

Eckel placed an empty brood box directly below the hive, donned a beekeeper mask, then, almost nonchalantly, gently scraped the bees at the bottom of the triangle off with a large plant pot. Many toppled below onto the box but many were collected in the pot and Eckel dumped them with one deft shake onto the box. He repeated this a few times and afterwards put a cover with a hole on the top; bees could also continue to enter through a side entrance. The way the bees clung to the box and the way a mass of them on the ground began to start “marching”toward the box led him to believe that the queen was among them. There were still quite a number of bees on the limb and it could be the queen was still there or that the strong pheromone scent she had left on the limb kept many bees attracted to it. Eckel shook the limb vigorously several times causing more to drop down, pausing in between shakes and reassessing. He explained that he didn’t need to use smoke because the bees by nature are calm when they swarm. But after a couple surprise stings and a fair number still on the branch, he brought out a bee smoker and, still without a beekeeping suit, alternated misting and shaking most of the remaining ones down onto the box.

Eckel, who also works as a Pennsylvania beehive inspector describes honeybees as “agricultural livestock.” He was planning to take the new hive to another of the locations he maintains in the area. Left unattended, he said, the swarm might have conveniently but undesirably relocated itself to someone’s house.

As it was a farm club afternoon at Wyck, several volunteers, your correspondent among them, observed Eckel’s bee removal operation and Eckel cordially shared his knowledge about honeybee behavior, problems such as mites and colony collapse disorder, and the economics of beekeeping

This was the second time this season Eckel had been called to remove a swarm and, as it turned out, after this latest visit he would be called another two times to capture swarms.

To see Eckel collect the honeybee swarm, click here.

To see all the photos in the album, click here.

Scraping honeybees

Observing honeybee swarm
Observing honeybee swarm

 


Playing online game, she attacks Russian web servers

Play for ukraine attack russian army
A woman waiting in line at the bake sale at St. Martin the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jenkintown, PA on Saturday March 19, 2022 was intently swiping away at a “2048”type of online game called “Play for Ukraine” on her smart phone. The event, attended by several hundred, if not more than a thousand, people waiting in a long line to purchase pierogis, borscht, sausage, roasted potatoes, sauerkraut, cakes and pastries was raising money for medical supplies and also for equipment for the Ukrainian military. Five stations inside the social building accommodated the patient crowd. Outside, re-enactors dressed in 17th century costumes had a tent display and talked about the close historical and geo-political ties Ukraine has had with neighbors such as Poland. More photos of the event are here.

“It’s a serious game” the woman said and pointed out how many attacks the game notified her she had made on the Russian military. She had accessed the game through the official Ukrainian Facebook site. According to several news reports, the game is part of Ukraine’s effort to recruit the vibrant Ukrainian crypto community into a volunteer IT army. Reports say nearly 300,000 volunteers have been organized through the Telegram messaging app and, using VPN,and are tasked with different missions.

“It doesn’t matter whether I win or no,” the woman said as she busily doubled 2s to 4s, 4s to 8s, etc. According to media source Fast Company, each move a player makes effects a DDOS (Dedicated Denial of Services) attacks on a targeted Russian website.

Watch the video interview of the woman playing online game to defeat Russian Army here.


New construction will shadow historic Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery


Neighbor of chestnut hill baptist church cemetery

Chestnut hill baptist church and graveyardA man who lives in the house alongside the historic cemetery behind the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church regularly clears the flat and worn gravestones of leaves and other debris.

He gave your correspondent and buddy an impromptu tour. Pointing out different graves, “He was at Gettysburg. The fella over here was at the battle of Little Round Top. You can see it by the 20th Volunteers Main. The 20th Main was the line Chamberlain and his men did that right handed [ ] like a swinging door move to stop the Confederates from getting the hill; it won the day....This gentleman here is a veteran of the War of 1812.” He pointed out headstones for the Sands family which he believes was prominent in the early days of the church.

Some of the graves are partially grown over with grass and there may be others that are totally covered over. See photo album here.

The man says the cemetery is a kind of common ground for the neighborhood. People come through, some walk their dogs, children play. Referring to imminent construction of an apartment complex on the former Sunoco site, adjacent, “They’re going to block it out when they put this building up… I think it’s five stories. It’s a pity, huh? " See article about the new construction here.

More information about the history of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church can be found on the church’s website here The Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s archives are rich with historical information. According to notes attached to a 1945 photo of J.S Jenks school students, children attending Christian Youth Brigade meetings at the church would play in the graveyard. The Conservancy also houses an 86-page, 1898 book by Robert Milville Hunsicker, “Chestnut Hill Baptist Church 1834-1897 Glimpses of Sixty-three Years” and a 2001 publication “ Tombstone inscriptions at two Chestnut Hill church cemeteries: Chestnut Hill Baptist and Chestnut Hill Methodist” by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania listing the churches gravestone inscriptions.  Watch video interview about historic Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery here. A list of those interred follows

Continue reading "New construction will shadow historic Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery" »


Finds from a collapsed dairy barn

Dairy barn farmstand


Chey bouson dairy barnChey Bouson is helping her friends Lexi and Roger rehabilitate a property that was once home to a large dairy farm in Quakertown, PA. In recent years, major storms have badly damaged the barn and the roof has now collapsed so it may have to be taken down. Meanwhile, they are carefully taking out of the barn anything they can find that is unbroken. They have retrieved doors, cabinets and a wagon they’ve since refurbished. These finds populate the eclectic farm stand they’ve set up along the roadside. In addition to the salvage operation, they now have seventy chickens on the property and are considering adding pigs.Her friends explore abandoned places all the time, Bouson says and she’s an explorer, too. Originally from New York, she would regularly travel down to Virginia to scavenge around abandoned asylums and prisons.

Your correspondent came away with a cactus plant and a very long glass milk tube he hadn’t yet figured out what he would do with. Watch video interview here with abandoned place explorer

 

Chey inside barn


SEPTA bus and aerial bucket lift collide; "no major injuries"

Septa bus  aerial lift collision

On October 7, 2021, a SEPTA bus traveling south on Germantown Avenue came into contact with the elbow joint of an aerial lift holding painters doing work on the “One West”midrise complex just above Hartwell Lane. The roof of the SEPTA bus appeared to be badly mangled and a SEPTA employee at the scene said that a “crane” had “fallen on the bus.” Matt Spector, VP of Operations for Bowman Properties, owner of the property, in a statement released later on social media, said that Bowman has owned and operated the lift to do maintenance on its properties for years without incident and that the lift was parked, in contact with the curb, surrounded by safety cones and stationary at the time of impact. “The lift didn’t fall. The bus ran into the elbow joint that was sticking out over the street. I happened upon the scene not long after it occurred, when the lift was still there,” posted a Mount Airy neighbor on social media. “Fortunately there were no major injuries,” added David Hoylman, Director of Leasing for Bowman. Spector declined to share security camera footage of the incident or elaborate about the injuries to Bowman personnel, passengers or driver or about precautions being taken to prevent future, potentially serious injurious, collisions of this kind. A right-to-know request has been filed with SEPTA. See more photos here.

Watch a video of the accident scene shortly after the accident.


3-d paper crafts, fanned book art at Springfield Township Library

Libarian with paper art
3-d paper crafts adorn a reference desk in Paper art animals on counter

the Springfield Township, Montgomery County, Pa Library.

Teen librarian Kris DeLabio leads workshops for children in making these colorful eye-catching sculptures.

The figures are made by printing onto card stock individual patterns that she purchases or finds on websites like Pinterest. The stiff paper is then scored along the lines and the pieces are cut out then glued together to form the three dimensional shapes. DeLabio gave a peek inside a half-finished blue pumpkin to reveal the numbers printed inside each piece and on tab, attached. The number indicates when, in the sequence, the piece goes and the tab, where the subsequent piece gets attached.

Book art mouseIn addition, DeLabio makes folded book art using old library books that have lived out their useful lives as reading material. She recycles them into fanned art through simple folds along many pages. A paper mouse book was keeping company with a hedgehog book at the time of your correspondent’s visit. DeLabio has also made more challenging ones such as a celtic knot and a birdhouse. And a vase she fashioned out of one such old book serves as a pen-holder in the library.

Watch video interview of librarian describing book and paper art projects here.


Freelance designer loves Italy

Freelancer loves Italy
Naomi Adams, a Wyndmoor, PA based freelance designer was hanging out outside the Locals coffee shop with her best friend, Deuce, a friendly, shaggy, black-haired dog. She specializes in knitwear, textiles, dyeing, cut and sew, and alteration She loves to makes skirts, sweaters and dresses. Italian wool is her favorite material. Adams majored in fashion design and minored in textiles as an undergrad at Moore College of Art and Design. At Jefferson University, she earned a Masters in design management finishing her schooling with a memorable five month stay in Milan. She fell in love with Italy and didn’t want to leave but did return home just before Covid. “I have a joy for just living life and being happy and being content in the space I’m in.” Watch here the freelance fashion designer describe her work and love of Italy and life.


Going solar with car and house

Solar for canva

A renewable energy advocate and practitioner, Aaron Stemplewicz showed off both his house and his Tesla Model 3 for the National Solar House Tour on October 3, 2021. On multiple sections on the roof of his house in Wyndmoor, Pa he has a 16 panel, 5 kilowatt hour system. In 2016, he entered a Power Purchase Agreement with Solar City (now part of Tesla.) It cost him nothing to install or maintain. Now he is exercising his contract option to purchase the system outright. He has crunched the data and figures the purchase will make money for him eventually.

Next year, he says, Volkswagen, Hyundai and other manufacturers are introducing electric cars with bidirectional batteries. These big batteries will be able to act as backup power to a house like his . (His current Tesla has only a grid to car battery.) He advises people who are thinking of getting battery backup for their house to wait and buy such an electric car if they can swing it. The upfront cost of an electric car is much greater but Stemplewicz did lifetime analyses of the total cost to maintain an electric car versus a gas-powered vehicle. He deduced that the cost of his Tesla was comparable to that of operating the Subaru Impreza he was driving before.Stemplewicz’ electric cost is based on a time of use scheme. He pays approximately 19 cents per watt at peak time and, the rest of day, about 4 cents. Between midnight and 3 am, it goes down further to 3 cents. He touts the advantage of being able to rely on his own solar power during peak time and, if he generates more energy than he needs, selling back to the grid at 19 cents. By charging his car at night he captures the low rates. “So it will be super cheap to charge the car and I sell back to the grid at 19 cents. Can’t beat it!”

Watch video interview about renewable energy advocate with solar panels on his roof and and electric car.


Men in Kilts wash windows

Men in Kilts wash windows
Chris Sanes wears a kilt for work. He was sitting parked in a sparkling green, plaid-covered “Men in Kilts” van, alongside the Cake restaurant in Chestnut Hill. He was in the neighborhood on a mission to market company’s services and hand out business cards. I wanted to see whether there was truth in advertising and Sanes obliged me by stepping outside -wearing his kilt. The company does exterior house-cleaning, power-washing, and gutter cleaning but their “biggest thing” is window-washing, Sanes says. The story goes that a Scotsman in Canada went to do this kind of work one day wearing his kilt and people took a keen interest. The idea took off and now there are 15 some or franchise operations located in Canada and the U.S. Asked about whether he received any training in Scottish heritage, Sanes related that he grew up thinking he was Irish but a long-lost cousin suggested he might be Scottish. So, after getting the job, he took a DNA test which reported he was 48% Scottish. Now he’s listening to an audio book while he works on Norse and Gaelic history. What is it like working in a kilt? “It’s very liberating, being able to move around. [Our] shirts say 'No Peeking' on them." Some Scottish connection is not a job requirement - and it appears from the “Men in Kilts” website, neither is being a man. Watch video interviewer of kilt wearing window washer here.


Artist draws portraits from photos people upload of themselves on SKTCHY app

CU Eliza Callard SKTCHY sketch

Eliza Callard (left) draws portraits with colored pencil. Many of these are based on photos people have posted of themselves for others to draw on an app named "SKTCHY" She then uploads her artwork for her subjects to see. Some people post multiple photos of themselves on #SKTCHY, she says, and some people are drawn by many artists. Callard looks for something in the eyes, in the expression. This method yields a very diverse range of subjects whose facial expressions are emotive and often curious. “Every time I paint somebody from there. even if at the beginning I’m like ‘I don’t like this’, I always fall in love with the people. Every time. Just drawing them makes me fall in love with them.” Watch video interview of artist who uses SKTCHY app here.