Two weeks ago we had our first honey harvest, pulling out something to the tune
of 13lbs. of honey. This was our first and last harvest of the year, being a new
colony and pretty much the end of the foraging season in the Rockies. It is
still plenty warm and the bees are still out and about, but the pickings are
getting slim. We'll be supplementing their food supply soon.
It's remarkable how much honey 13lbs. really is, though we can expect even more
next year since our first colony is established - assuming it survives the
winter, fingers crossed - and we expect to add a second. We found ourselves
filling every jar we could find and still having some left over. It is also
remarkable how fast it goes, because it is so fun to share with friends, family
and neighbors. Still, we have more honey for ourselves than I expect we've ever
consumed in a normal year.
We don't yet have access to a honey extractor, as we haven't yet joined a club
where we might get to borrow one. Because of this, we opted for manual
extraction, where we took the honey and the containing comb off of the frames.
This really just involves cutting the caps from the comb before scraping the
honey and remaining comb wholesale off of the foundations. Having done so, we
can return the frame briefly to the hive for cleaning. The bees are excellent
housekeepers, they will recover any lingering honey and move it downward into
the brood supers. Once they are done, we'll once again remove the frames and
store them for the winter.
Today, we had an especially important chore to perform on behalf of the bees: we
had to treat for Varroa
destructor mites. What a
horrifying name! These pests are ever present in North American bee hives, but
they must be kept under control, particularly when the bees are vulnerable in
the fall, mid-winter and early spring. For us, this is the first treatment.
We've opted to treat using an Oxalic acid vaporizer which was included in the
pile of gear we purchased at the beginning of the season. Oxalic acid is not
harmful to the bees but should do some damage to the nasty mites. Once the
treatment was complete, we returned the to-be-cleaned frames to the hive. We
also had one remaining frame that I'd removed from a brood super as it was heavy
with honey and no brood at all. Being a tall super, the frame would not fit in
the shallow supers we use for honey, so I put it outside several yards from the
A few hours later, I realized my error. The frame left in the open was covered
with bees, and they weren't all ours! There were representatives from every
colony in the area as well as their nastier stripey cousins, such as wasps and
yellow jackets. What's more, it was evident at the entrance to our hive that
attempted robbery was afoot! Our girls were defending their territory admirably,
but having that frame sitting open attracting so much attention was not helping
their cause. I suited back up and knocked off all of the gathered swarm and beat
a hasty retreat, putting the frame away in a tote to be recovered later. Within
an hour the colony had successfully fought off all attackers and life was back
to normal. A healthy colony is more than capable of defending itself, but there
is no reason to cause undue burden. I'll not be open feeding again!
Friday was BSides Denver, our local version of the
community-driven, security focused un-conference. This is the first time have
been able to attend as tickets, though free, tend to go very quickly. This year
was touted to be smaller than usual with fewer tickets offered. Small it was,
surely not more than a couple of hundred attendees all in one room with only
one presentation track. As I've been prone to do lately, I immediatly found
a capture the flag event
to join with my friends and focused the majority of my energy on that pretty
much all day. Though we were slow to start, our team did manage to pull
second place before running out of time.
There's often a period near the end of a conference where I feel a bit sad. I
think this time I've finally realized what this is. I've only been attending
security and hacking events for a couple of years now, starting with the
inaugural Wild West Hackin' Fest, but I
don't know that I can call myself a member of the community. Am I? Perhaps.
However, there are people who put time and effort into the community and they
are rewarded by warm smiles and hugs when they see each other. I think I envy
them this, and there is a part of me that wishes I had similar relationships. I
am fortunate, however, in many other ways such as close friends and family. I
realize everyone's lot is a little different and that I am beyond blessed, but
perhaps I could find some time to give to the hacking community. Like anything,
I'll bet you get out of it what you put in.
All Them Flags
Speaking of capture the flag, I've been a bit obsessed with them lately. Partly,
this is just for fun. I really do enjoy having something like that to do at a
conference when I just can't sit for another presentation. Additionally,
however, I have found the idea of participating in a bug bounty program like
HackerOne appealing. I guess I hope that continued
practice on CTFs will help build my skills enough to do some hunting, perhaps
even joining a red team someday.
There are a few programs of particular interest to me right now:
- Hacker101 CTF - this is a free CTF run by HackerOne
- Over the Wire - in particular the Bandit wargames
- Hack The Box - just getting started here, you need an invitation code to join, and you are encouraged to hack the site to get it.
I've managed to gain some ground in both Hacker101 CTF, which is really about
web hacking in the earlier levels, and Over the Wire which really leans on your
Unix knowledge to progress. I just acquired my Hack The Box invitation today and
haven't set up my environment yet, so I'll have to report back another time.
Ĝis la revido, kaj feliĉa kodumado!