Gray Miscellany

Root Simple has a large, virtual dust bin full of news and notions not quite worthy of a full blog post. I thought I’d sweep a few of them into a brief missive.

Grey vs. Gray
In the great greywater vs. graywater debate I neglected to note a somewhat irrelevant factoid: Sherwin-Williams sells a paint color named after the actor/monologist Spalding Gray. When will Werner Herzog get a paint color?

OED Access
I couldn’t find my library’s online Oxford English Dictionary access. Then I did some digging and discovered it. For those of you in Los Angeles you can access the OED with your library card number here.

While you’re on the LA Library’s website, take a look at their scanned collection of vintage menus, including the Brown Derby and Cocoanut Grove.

America’s Hippest Neighborhood
The part of Los Angeles we live in or on the border of (the border region is disputed) is Silver Lake. Silver Lake is two words my brothers and sisters. If I downed a matcha latte for every time I’ve seen “Silverlake” I’d be a wealthy, if green tinted man. FYI, Silver Lake is named after Herman Silver, a water commissioner and city councilman from the early 1900s.  Perhaps we should rename our lake and community after Spalding Gray. Welcome to Gray Lake! But then, I suppose, we’d have the grey vs. gray problem.

While we’re on the topic of local news, the band Yacht, in their latest video, has included the beloved “happy foot/sad foot” characters from the rotating podiatrist’s sign that defines and delineates us from greater Silver Lake.

Have a great weekend and please enjoy this chicken playing Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro“:

This is why we have the internets.

115 Inventing a New Word: Apisoir



Wine writer Micheal Alberty was thinking of a way to promote the “terroir” of local honey so, naturally, he coined a new word, “apisoir.” Find out what happened when he tried to get this word into Wikipedia as well as the reasons he thinks we should support local honey. You heard it first on Root Simple! During the podcast Michael mentions:

You can reach Michael via his Facebook page and his email is [email protected] Apisoir, apisoir, apisoir!

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

A Spidery Christmas

Ukrainian Christmas ornament. Image: Wikipedia

Monday’s spider post prompted Root Simple pal and patron Michael W. to tip me off to a the unlikely Ukrainian combination of spiders and Christmas. In an article in the Ukrainian Weekly Orysia Paszczak Tracz explains,

The spider-web-covered “yalynka” (Christmas tree) is now a standard Ukrainian Christmas story. It comes in many versions, and has appeared in a number of contemporary children’s books. Basically, a poor family has nothing with which to decorate their yalynka and, hearing this, a spider overnight spins its web all over the tree, making the spiderweb sparkle and glitter in the morning sunlight. This explains the tradition of tinsel on the Christmas tree.

The various embellishments of the story depend upon the teller and the tale. Another version has the Holy Family hiding in a cave during their flight to Egypt. The benevolent spiders spin webs and cover the whole entrance to the cave. When Herod’s soldiers pass by, they do not bother searching the cave, because obviously it has not been disturbed in a long time – and the Holy Family is safe.

Now, a few things need to be clarified. First of all, the custom of the Christmas tree arrived in Ukraine from Germany in the 19th century. It became a supplement to the Ukrainian “didukh,” the sheaf of wheat and other best grains, which symbolizes Ukrainian Christmas. The spirits of the ancestors come into the home in the didukh for the holy days. They had lived in the fields in the grain helping the bountiful harvest. The didukh is symbolic, the yalynka is decorative.

Here’s what a didukh looks like:

Image: Wikipedia

Being both a fan of spiders and wheat I can only hope that Ukrainian Christmas traditions will make their way west.

113 Open Floor Plans and Dog Sports

On the Root Simple Podcast this week, Kelly and I discuss fire safety problems caused by open floor plans and modern materials and Kelly shares her favorite dog sports (picture above is of our Saluki Ivan in front of a neighbor’s non-open floor plan house). During the podcast we refer to our open floor plan fire safety rant, “Your Open Floor Plan is a Death Trap,” as well as Shigeru Bans’ wall-less house. Then we get to chatting about dog sports including canine nose work, agility, lure coursing, obedience and barn hunting.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

How to Remove Bees From a Tree

Tree cavities are the natural living quarters for honey bees. I occasionally get calls asking if I can remove bees from a tree. I usually say no because the process is labor intensive and dangerous if the bees are up high. I tell people to just leave them. If they aren’t bothering anyone who cares?

My neighbor called with a bee problem. She had a bee colony in a tree at ground level next to a patio. I knew that the job wouldn’t’ be too difficult.  Here’s how I moved the bees from her tree to my apiary:

1. First I told her that when I was done removing the bees she needed to contact a certified arborist. A cavity is often a sign of a disease that could suddenly and unexpectedly cause a huge limb to break off.

2. Back in my workshop I made a simple one-way exit cone out of 1/8 inch hardware cloth.

3. I called up my beekeeping friends Max and Kirk to get some brood comb. Brood comb is comb with bee eggs in it. They gave me a frame of brood comb along with the nurse bees that were hanging on it.

4. I made a platform for a medium box, put the brood comb in it and quickly attached the exit cone to the tree with the end of the comb right next to the bee box. The bees leave the tree through the exit comb but can’t get back in. Instead, they take up residence in the box with the the brood comb (they are attracted to the smell of the brood comb). The workers will use the brood comb to make a new queen or sometimes the queen in the tree will migrate out to the new box. The whole process takes six weeks and requires frequent checks to make sure that the bees haven’t figured out another way out of the tree. At the end of the six weeks I came back and took the box back to my apiary.

In the Facebook live video above you can see the trapout just minutes after I attached the one way exit cone. The bees can be a little cranky for the first few days after the trapout begins.

And this is a good opportunity to warn again about bee removal scammers who promise you that they can do a live removal of bees from a tree quickly by “smoking them out” or some other such nonsense. What they are likely doing is spraying the hive with a product called Bee-Quick that commercial beekeeper use to drive bees out of honey supers. Unfortunately, spraying Bee-Quick into a tree and driving the bees out, with no resources, is really no different than exterminating them. The beekeeper you hire for a tree removal should suggest a trap-out or simply leaving them alone. If the tree is being cut down it’s possible that the section with the bees can simply be relocated or if the hole is large enough to reach into, a cutout can be done.

The bees that I took out of the tree back in June are doing well in my backyard:

The 2×4 is my crude way of making the entrance smaller. When a hive is getting established a smaller entrance is easier to defend against other bee colonies in search of free honey. My new “tree bees” seem healthy and are already expanding into a second box.