Paul's community website for city of Alameda residents is now open to the public!  Neighboring.com gathers all kinds of online information about Alameda so people can "meet the neighborhood."

The site allows people to browse and subscribe to information...

  • within a few blocks of their home (e.g. police & fire reports, real estate activity, and yard sales).
  • associated with businesses, places, and other organizations near them (e.g. mentions in local news/blogs, Facebook posts, and web reviews).
  • associated with local topics they care about (e.g. political issues, hobbies, kinds of businesses).
  • posted by their neighbors (e.g. items for sale, discussions, and comments).
The best way to learn more is to watch the video below.

The site is in "open beta," which means there's a lot more to come, but it's ready for users and their feedback.  If you live in Alameda, check it out!

The paulandann.org website is featured in the September/October issue of Alameda Magazine.  Welcome if you saw us there!  For others, you can see the article below or in legible font size here (page 22, and be patient as it loads). 

We took the opportunity to spruce up the site a bit, adding a new masthead photo, updating some of our site pages, and catching up on the egg ticker.

In June we noticed a bee swarm had taken temporary residence high up in our plum tree.  Since both of our hives were occupied, we sent word out to the local beekeeper community.  It wasn't a very convenient location for capturing it, though, so no one jumped at it.  It decided to move after not too long, and Paul followed it east on Encinal and tried to give the new hosts a heads up (most people get pretty freaked by bee swarms).

A couple days later, we found either that swarm or a new one in our apple tree, a much more convenient location.  This time our friend John, another local beekeeper, said he wanted to capture it to populate one of his empty hives.  We caught the whole process on videotape.

Swarms are the natural way that bees form new colonies.  When a bee colony begins to run out of room in its current digs, it raises a new queen.  The old queen leaves the hive with half of the other bees.  The bees will find a place to clump together around the queen somewhere while scout bees look for a new location for the colony to live.  The swarm is almost like a liquid glob made of bees and is usually very calm.

The process to capture a swarm is basically to shake it into some container.  In this case, we shake it into a standard hive box which John later (at night, when the bees are most calm) took back to his empty hive.  The shaking is a little more aggressive here than was perhaps necessary... we've seen some swarms practically poured into boxes.

If the transfer works, the queen bee will have made it into the container.  The rest of the bees will eventually follow her.  If she did not make it in, the others will start marching out of the box within ten or fifteen minutes.  In this case, the capture worked, as we confirm that bees are still headed into the hive a while later.

There's a good article on bee swarms here if you want to learn more.  If you come across a swarm, contact your local county's beekeeper association and someone will usually come right out to capture it.

This year's honey harvest netted about 115 pounds (about 38 quarts) of honey.

This is the first year that Madeleine was able to suit up and see the action up close (no, she's not pulling frames out of boxes quite yet). She is very well versed in the vocabulary of beekeeping and she was enthralled earlier this season to see a queen bee up close for the first time.

This harvest is also the first time that we've saved the wax cappings because  Ann wants to try making some beeswax candles.

We've gotten the harvesting process down much smoother now. We did the harvest in 8 hours flat (!), by far our fastest time.   A big part of that has been minimizing the number of people present.  That especially helped in the cleanup process, as more people present means more sticky honey on the bottom of people's feet, the floor, the counters, doorknobs, and every last surface in our neighbors' house where we do the extraction.

Madeleine has been taking "pretend" swim lessons in our living room for about a year now. This summer the timing finally worked out so that she could do the real thing in a real pool. We signed her up for a three week session at the public high school with other 3-5 year olds. Before she began, she'd been in a pool perhaps 3 times in her life.

She loved the water as soon as she entered it for her first lesson, although it took the teacher two or three days to coax her to put her face in the water. For most of each half hour lesson she would be laughing and shrieking with delight so much that she couldn't keep her mouth closed. Consequently, she inadvertently drank a lot of chlorinated water.

Despite a bit of trepidation that first week, by the second week she was regularly jumping off the diving board into the deep pool! The first time she did it, she first had to endure the anxiety of watching a 5 year old boy cry and scream for several minutes as he stood in anguish at the end of the diving board before he made it into the water. As I watched the drama unfold I thought, "No way is she going to jump now." But she climbed up the ladder after him, walked carefully to the end, and without hesitation leapt right off into the teacher's arms. She continued to do it several times each day for the final five lessons. She cried after her last time because she couldn't do it anymore. When Paul took her to one of the lessons, he heard her teacher bragging to a male instructor about her little girls who were jumping off the diving board already while his "big boys" were too scared to do it yet. Another day I watched as one of the male instructors prepared to catch her below the diving board. Someone shouted to him, "Back up! She really jumps!"