New addition to our Garden…Honey Bees!

We were so lucky to receive a bee box from my boyfriend’s mom to keep in our garden this year! I am so excited because honey bees are incredibly beneficial to not only the garden, but the entire ecosystem! Honey bees are vital pollinators, they are very complex organisms that work together in highly complex societies. The more I learn about honey bees (and I am definitely a complete newbie on this subject) the more I am amazed at their incredible, intricate organization and complexity, and I now appreciate the sweet taste of honey so much more!

Bee BoxOur bee journal is starting today, well yesterday actually. First we moved our box to a more shaded and protected area. We wanted to make sure the entrance to the hive would be pointing away from the west where most of our weather comes from. We also wanted the hive away from normal day to day disturbances like lawn mowing, animals, and… Clementine. It is also important to keep hives away from fields that are sprayed with pesticides or insecticides, but we don’t have to worry too much about that here.

AddingBeesThe next step for our hive was to receive a Nuc, pronounced nuke, is a nuclear hive. It was taken from their hive and consisted of eight frames. It is considered the nucleus of the hive because it contains the queen. The worker bees are loyal to their queen and working well together before they are removed from the other hive. The frames also include honey, pollen, and larvae. You can see the capped larvae, and pollen in this picture. There were also some exposed “c” shaped larvae in the hive!Hive

But the most important part of the hive, is the Queen! She keeps all of the worker bees (which are also all female) together and working efficiently. She also lays all of the eggs, some of which are the drones, or male bees. The strong pheromone of the queen, called the Queen mandibular pheromone is extremely important, this pheromone inhibits other female bees ovaries, and keeps them from being apple to lay eggs. The Queen’s pheromone also promotes stability of the hive- it has a “calming” effect on the hive! The queen also promotes efficiency, mating, and maintenance of the hive. The Queen was spotted in our hive, she’s the one with the extra large bum!QueenBee

You can call me Queen Bee!

Bee FactsSo, we moved the 8 frames from the nuc box into our hive. We knew the Queen came along too because we spotted her! I actually suited up and helped move the frames! It was so awesome. The sounds of the bees buzzing is incredible. They are such crazy creatures.IMG_7045

Next we puffed a bit of smoke on top of the frames so that the bees on top went down into the hive so we could place the top on the hive. Next, Vince, The master beekeeper! knocked the nuc box on a rock slightly so that the bees marched into the hive, following the smell of their queen.
Bee Smoke

And now we have a happy hive, hopefully they love their new home!  Bees also need a source of freshwater within a 1/4 mile. Even setting out a small dish of water is enough, but make sure it is filled and clean, and the bees have a place to land. MeandtheBeesWe placed the inner and outer cover on the ‘super deep’. In a couple of weeks we will place the ‘supers’ on top. The supers on top is what the honey bees will fill with nectar…or honey to us! I planted some snap dragons and lavender around the hive! Hopefully they will love it here.BeeHive

What do you think about honey bees? Would you ever add them to your garden?

Top 5 Benefits of Scuba Diving

As I reach the halfway point of my divemaster internship with Rocket Frog Divers in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I thought I should update my blog a bit. It hasn’t been wanting to load while I have been here, but I’m hoping writing it on windows livewriter and then just posting it will work. Anyway! I have been super busy diving almost every single day (I have already doubled my number of dives since arriving three weeks ago. I have also learned valuable lessons at the air compressor, whipping tanks onto the truck and holding down the dive shop. Thank god I did CrossFit before I came here or I would be even more exhausted than I already am every single night. (I have been known to go to sleep before 8:30pm, and yes I realize that makes me seem like an 84 year old…) Scuba diving everyday is hard work! It is so rewarding, the biodiversity here is absolutely amazing. Every single dive is something new, and I am always amazed at the variety and abundance of sea life. My top favorite sightings so far are a glimpse at a Giant Pacific Manta, a pacific sea horse, and a fever of about 40 rays. It has been amazing. I am loving everything about Costa Rica. I am going to do a day in the life post as soon as I take some more pictures, and get back in the water after this stupid ear infection…yuck. For now, the benefits of scuba diving Smile

Scuba Diving Benefits1. 1. Full Body Workout (without feeling like one)! Because water has much greater resistance than air every movement done underwater requires more effort than that same movement would on land. Since the entire body is submerged, unlike when swimming laps at the surface, every muscle in the body is working against the water resistance. Most people know the expansive list of benefits swimming at the surface provides- a high calorie burn with little impact. Swimming fully submerged is all of that, and more! The best part is, scuba diving doesn’t usually feel like hard work! You can enjoy the incredible scenery and take in the underwater wonders and not feel at all like you are “working out”. I think it beats running on the treadmill anyday!

2. Relieve Stress- A wise man told me that he considers scuba diving underwater meditation. Being beneath the waves is relaxing, soothing, and therapeutic as you listen to the sounds of your own breathing. The feeling of weightlessness soothes and relaxes muscles. The tranquility of the underwater world alleviates the daily worries and drag of everyday life. Scuba diving is therapetuic for body and mind. And the mere thought of being able to breathe underwater is unbelievable! 

3. Appreciate a world rarely explored– Many people people do not have the opportunity to explore all there is to see underwater! The biodiversity is astounding. Scuba diving is unlike any activity on land. Being fully surrounded by a new environment is indescribable. Just like the different ecosystems on land there are all types to explore underwater, from coral reefs, to arctic aquatic ecosystems, freshwater lakes to kelp forests.

4. Be unique! The Effiel Tower receives about 7 million visitors each and every year. About 40 million people go to Disney World every year. There is an estimated just 4-6 million certified scuba divers worldwide. (Of course this number is very hard to determine, and the actual number is unknown). But only a very small percentage of the world are scuba divers. Be the less than 1 percent! 

5. Meet amazing people! Scuba divers are exciting people, they have great stories of adventures and things they have seen underwater- and they love to chat! The social aspect of scuba diving is almost as great as the activity itself! Scuba diving offers you the opportunity to explore new places, meet great people, and have the adventure of your life.

For your mind, body, and soul…

10 Healthy Road Trip Snacks!

10 Healthy Road Trip Snacks!monIt can be tempting to purchase junk food at gas stations, or hit the drive-thru, but we all know those aren’t the best options for our body. Here is a list of my favorite road trip snacks, and the ones I will be bringing when we leave for DC today. These are much more nutritious options, they are lower in calories, and will last for quite a while in the car.

1. Dried fruits.

Last night I cut up a banana and arranged some canned organic pineapple in my dehydrator. It is so easy to make your own dried fruits. Most store bought fruits (especially those from a gas station) have added oils and sugar. If you own a dehydrator it is easy to plan ahead, just set out your fruits on the trays the night before and by the time you leave they will be ready to bag up! If you are drying fruit at home the quickest route is to buy canned fruits, just make sure they are not canned in high fructose corn syrup, sugar water, or anything with added sugars. Look for cans with only fruit as the ingredient, or fruit and water.

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2. Nuts!
I love nuts, they are also very convenient to pack. Walnuts, peanuts, cashews, and pistachios are high in monounsaturated fats. Almonds are also a great source of protein. You can easily make a homemade trail mix with your dried fruits, some nuts, and maybe a bit of dark chocolate. Much better than the trail mixes at rest stops with long lists of unnecessary ingredients.

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3. Greek Yogurt. Individual sized yogurt, especially the greek variety, is awesome to take on a road trip. It is low calorie, and very high in protein. Just make sure the flavor you buy doesn’t have too much sugar. Look for below 18 grams per 8oz serving.

4. Celery and Laughing Cow. I used to eat celery with cream cheese when I was younger, but laughing cow is a wonderful alternative to high fat and calorie cream cheese. One wedge of low-fat swiss has only 35 calories. You could try experimenting with other flavors as well, the cinnamon swirl cream cheese spread from laughing cow is delicious with celery and some raisins on top. You could also spread on some homemade peanut butter.

5. Cucumbers and Carrots. Sometimes being in the car just makes you want to eat, even though you may not actually be hungry. Cut up carrots and cucumbers are perfect low calorie snack to munch on instead of a bag of chips.

6. Air-Popped Pop Corn. Also a great snack to prepare the night before. Air popcorn is very low calorie and can satisfy a salty craving. I like to top mine with parmesan cheese and a little sea salt. There a million different flavors you can experiment with!

7. Get up and Go Bars! P1090016 EditedThey will last out of the freezer for a bit without getting mushy. Larabars are also a great alternative. Most granola bars along the road will have unwanted ingredients, so look out! Granola bars are always a better option than candy bars!

8. Cheese and crackers. Whole wheat crackers, like these homemade ones, or some bought from the store are great for a long trip. I like triscuits, they only have three simple ingredients! Pair with any cheese you like!

9. Grapes! Easy Peasy, hmm speaking of peasy I guess you could bring peas…anyway, grapes are very portable. I like to freeze them, they last longer and taste delicious! You can even use the bag as sort of a travel ice pack for your yogurt and cheese.

10. Applesauce. Could get a little messy, but still usually a good bet. The individual sized packs are great for road trips, just watch out for added sugar or coloring. The only ingredient should be apples!

If you run out of snacks or don’t have time to prepare some to bring, some of the above options may be available at a rest stop. Just make sure you read labels! Things that appear healthy can have hidden ingredients, added sugar or sodium. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables are sometimes sold at  stops and are great options for a road trip. Also, make sure you keep hydrated by bringing water! Sugary drinks and soda are not good options. Here is the abbreviated version!

PicMonkey CollageHope this helps, enjoy your trip!

What is your favorite road trip food?!