Archive for November, 2009

What I knew about bees and honey could be stored on the end of a bee’s nose! What I did know mostly came from the fact that I was allergic to their stings as a child, and that honey on toast is very good to eat. However, today I know considerably more thanks to the November meeting of the Torske Klub.

Harry Patterson with Hive Model

This month’s speaker at the Torske Klub was Harry Patterson, a retired teacher, tennis instructor and beekeeper hobbyist. Mr. Patterson uses his teaching skills to instruct and familiarize listeners in the “life styles of a bee hive.” He gives presentations to various groups and civic organization around the area including school children and garden clubs. In the half hour we give each presenter I learned a lot about bees and honey.
A picture of a Worker Bee

What a Worker Bee looks like.

Did you know ?

The population of a hive is almost completely female? Each hive has three types of bees, Drones (male), Workers (female) and the Queen. A hive may have from 2,000 to 60,000 Workers, with from zero to 500 Drones, and one Queen.

A queen is produced when the workers build a special cell in the hive and feed the larva in the cell with a special food called “royal jelly.”

Because a drone has no use in the winter they are expelled from the hive in the autumn.

Unlike colonies of social wasps and bumble bees, honey bee colonies live year after year. Therefore, most activity in a bee colony is aimed at surviving the next winter. During the winter, bees cluster in a tight ball to concentrate warmth in the hive. In January, the queen starts laying eggs in the center of the hive using stored honey and pollen to feed the larvae.

Honeybees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.

Bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster (regardless of the outside temperature). During the summer months some bees will be put on “fanning duty” to create a constant air flow through the hive, keeping the hive cool even in 150 degree heat.

Mr. Patterson wears his bee keeper's hat.

Mr. Patterson wears his bee keeper's hat.

Now we both can say we do “Know beeswax about bees!”

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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I was talking to Liz, my good friend and fellow committee member of the Chicago Friends of Vesterheim (CFV) a few weeks ago. As usual with friends we start talking about one thing and end up on a completely different topic. Wisconsin weekend getaways became the subject and I was remembering that back “in the day” my family took a lot of trips to Wisconsin with Baraboo and the circus being one of our favorite destinations. The circus was a lot of fun for a kid and I loved the history it had. But a lot of the fun of going to Baraboo was “in the route we took.” We could have taken the interstate all the way, but once past Madison, dad would watch for the Wisconsin 60 turnoff to Lodi and we’d travel Northwest to Lake Wisconsin and the Merrimac Ferry.

The Merrimac Ferry in Wisconsin

The Merrimac Ferry in Wisconsin as seen in November 2009. (photo KJ Nordan)

For those of you not familiar with the ferry at Merrimac, go to the story and history page, but briefly it is Wisconsin’s only free ferry and is run by the D.O.T. of Wisconsin. The ship I remember only carried a dozen cars, so at the height of the summer season cars would be stacked up for an hour waiting to go across. The wait never seamed to be very long however for a little boy that saw Indians behind every tree and marveled at a stone being skipped “FIVE TIMES!!!!” The wait was also enhanced by the ice cream vendors marching back and forth selling “two fisted” ice cream sandwiches and nut covered ice cream cones, “oh baby!” With so many kids running up and down the pier I wonder today how parents got their own kids back in the car before getting on the boat.

Great memories, but how does this fit in with Norway, or a Norwegian experience. Well, part of the trip included a story dad would tell us whenever we crossed on the ferry. His story was about our cousin Marit in Norway, it was a story I never got tired of, even though it never changed. “You see”, he would say, “Cousin Marit lives in Norway, on a little island waaayyy out in the ocean and each day she must take two ferries to go home.” “These ferries are much bigger and the trip is far longer than the one we are taking right now.” “These ferries take cars, and busses, and even trucks, and the ferries are all over Norway.” “Maybe someday we’ll go and see them.” Well I tell you, now I was seeing Vikings behind every tree and wondering if stones skipped in Norway like they did here.

The Fanafjord Ferry - South of Bergen City

Inside the Fanafjord Ferry - South of Bergen City (photo: KJ Nordan)

Thirty years later my father passed away, never taking us to Norway, but the next year my wife and I went together for the first time. He was right, ferries are everywhere, shuttling people, cars, trucks and busses from one place to another. It seems Norwegians did not want to ruin the fjords by building bridges. On that first trip, we must have taken 10 or more ferries. On many of the ferries they had cafeterias where I could buy iskrem (ice cream) and even a hot meal. Kids were running and playing and on one ferry they even had a room just for kids to play. What a joy, it took a lot of restraint to stop me from joining them. At the end of our trip we did go to my cousin’s little øy (island). We crossed several rivers and drove along a marvelous fjord. But the best part of the trip were the two ferries we took. From the ferries we could see stock fish drying in the sun, and eventually we saw Marit, waiting on the shore to take us to her little farm. That day, stones skipped better in Norway, and so did I.

A medium size ferry near Ålesund. (photo: KJ Nordan)

Thought I had a picture of the ferry to my cousin Marit’s island but today I can’t find it.

Contributing Editor
Ken Nordan

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If the Viking Ship in Geneva could talk (sometimes I do think she talks to me when I’m near her) she would say, “Thank you for the attention, it is good to see my friends.“ Members of the Friends of the Viking Ship came out on a nice Saturday to get the ship ready for it’s winter hibernation. Before winter starts the FoVS team make sure that leaves, dust and other accumulated debris on and around the ship is picked up and removed. Even though the ship enjoys a covered “Quonset” like hut, as its home, she is still exposed to the elements and requires some additional cleaning and protection from the wind and blowing snow.


Andrew Woods and David Nordin (photo: P. Straw)


Lorraine Straw and Margaret Selakovick (photo: P. Straw)


Ken Nordan and Bruce Andresen, working on the temporary building. (photo: P. Straw)

Lorraine and Perry Straw brought coffee and scones for our enjoyment and Bruce Andresen brought his building skills and tools. While we worked, the ship had its usual Saturday visitors, a couple were “in the area” riding their motorcycle, and wanted to visit. I know the ship enjoyed the day and is looking forward to next season. Every year more people, including families, travelers and school children visit on advertised open house Saturdays and prearranged weekday visits. This past year several groups from Norway have made special arrangements to stop for a nice tour and history lesson about the ship.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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