Bees and ‘Shrooms: A Project!

By Jahn Rise and Susan Knilans

(Note from Susan: Bee Friends, Jahn Rise will be coming to Bee Club in February to talk about a project we may consider involving bees, mushrooms, and bee health. We hope that a group of club members will want to become part of this local experiment. The potential for bees is promising, and PBC certainly encourages innovation. Hopefully, this post will get you excited about the possibilities!)

A few years ago, Paul Stamets (the mushroom guru) discovered bees harvesting dew drops off of mushrooms in his yard. Fast forward: He is now in the process of working with the University of Washington to develop a mushroom solution that would help enhance the immune system of honeybees. This product is not on the market yet, but there is a great deal of interest in it. If you google Paul and the topic, there is much information to be found. (more…)

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Choose Your Words Wisely–and Kindly

Susan here: It is during winter preparation in the bee garden that I realize just how far off the conventional center my beeing has wandered. Winter prep in my bee garden is a slow, sweet time. By late autumn, I’ve tilted all my skeps up just a bit and found them heavy with bees and honey. Soon, I’ll be plugging upper entrances on the hives and leaving their lower openings clear. And that—blessedly—is the whole of my winter prep. (more…)

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Emergency Food

When our bees need food, we provide it for them, in the form of honey: honey in combs, in bowls with sticks and straw to prevent the bees from drowning, or in a small chick-waterer with stones in the mote. We avoid feeding sugar because it is not a good, nourishing food for bees. It can cause gut problems, moisture problems in the hive, and is simply not bee food.

But there are times when an emergency strikes and there is no honey to be found. So, in cases of extreme need, we are sharing this sugar food recipe from the Natural Beekeeping Trust to get your bees through in a tight pinch: (more…)

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Rescue of a Small, Open-Air Colony

“Can anything be done to help these bees?” The query came across my Face Book page, along with a photo of white honeycombs hanging from an exposed tree limb.

Sometimes, bees do not manage to find a safe nest, and they begin making a home wherever they have landed. Now, if the bees are in warm country, and have built out beneath a rock ledge, this works pretty well, but bees here in the Northwest will not survive the winter exposed to our long, cold rainy seasons.

It looks like all these combs once housed bees. The small group between the two combs was all that remained…

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Ventilation…Insulation? We’ve Found an Intriguing Solution!

Susan here. If you are a bee club member, you already know that PBC has been talking about hive insulation all this past year. How do we with wooden hives get these flimsy-walled things to be good for bees? Some of us can’t afford new hives whenever we learn of new innovations that are healthy for bees, so is there a way for us to “modify?”

We’ve been looking at this issue from the outside of the hive, mostly. There are foam and also bubble insulation wraps available, and all require basically encasing your hive box top to bottom with these panels.

Some of us are adding another layer of wood, tacked to the outside of the hive. we’ve discussed encasing our hives in straw bales, which Jacqueline tried—and discovered it is a great way for growing mushrooms between hive and straw.

Then, in Holland, I saw this: a Warre’ hive with a circular interior, packed with plaster, cork chips, and straw. Wowza! Insulate from the inside, instead and solve more problems than just warmth and cooling!

All ready for bees: An insulating interior surround, all set atop a lovely ecofloor full of cut wood rounds to absorb moisture. And an easy-to-defend deep, circular entrance. Bee paradise!

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Wall Beekeeping: An Ancient Craft (who knew??)–Susan’s Bees

Once again, I find myself gloriously behind the times. In this particular case a few thousand years behind the times: I built and maintain a wall beehive—a colony housed in the wall of my bedroom.

I have been calling it my Observation Hive because it has a plexiglas cover on the inside wall, but my ancient ancestors have been keeping such hives—called walled hives—for millennia. I know this now because of a fascinating Bee World article from 1998 by Eva Crane that details wall hives and wall hive beekeeping in some twenty warm-temperate Old World countries, a practice that dates back to at least AD 60.

Guiding a swarm into Valentine Hive. Easy does it!

Bee friend Jenne Johnson is great at finding and sharing such wonderful bee morsels as she wanders along the good bee road, and she managed to find this historical reference to my very new activity. (more…)

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Keeping Faith: To Feed or NOT to Feed
Faith busy "bringin' home the bacon:...er...pollen!

Keeping Faith: To Feed or NOT to Feed

Faith, sitting happily on her hollow-log ecofloor, protected from the elements under a shed roof.

As a rule, we advocate not feeding our bees unless 1) they are from a late swarm and need a hand, 2) it is a very wet spring, and the bees cannot get out to the fresh but soaked forage, or 3) some unforeseen catastrophe (bears, aliens? hurricanes?). (more…)

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Learning from the Bees: Reflections

It’s a drizzly day in Southwest Washington, with much needed blessing of tender rain. My luggage is unpacked (including the start of a rye skep that customs let me keep!), my emails answered, the house cleaned, and the garden tended.

These days since returning from the Natural Beekeeping Trust’s gathering in Holland, “Learning From the Bees,” I’ve been letting myself take the time to absorb, digest, and begin to sort the enormity of the offerings—and the profound implications— of those three very precious days.

Ferry shows us some of his older top bar hives. He’s donated all these to the new Bee Paradise in Haarlem.

(more…)

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