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. Meanwhile, in the many forums I visit, beekeepers are having discussions about which chemicals to put in the hives, what ventilation…

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…

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

Susan here. If you are a bee club member, you already know that we have 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…

Bee Tree Beekeepers

I've had a few bee trees on our farm for the past eight years and I adore watching the colonies live such natural lives. During the Europe trip, I was absolutely tickled to see so many log hive projects going on in different countries. The tree beekeepers (called "Zeidlers") have set up hollow log tree hives all around Europe. CLICK HERE to see some of their tree bee hive projects. CLICK HERE to meet the zeidlers.  

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…

Keeping Faith: To Feed or NOT to Feed

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?). Research seems to indicate that bees do better when they make their own food. And yet we also realize each colony is a unique individual and we treat them that way: as special, precious, and mysterious. This summer, I housed five new colonies in my yard. All were from swarms, mostly early…

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. The Trust will be assembling the videos of the presenters, so we will all be able…

Taking a Reporting Break: Holland Sunday

So much wonder, so little time to report it. Folks, I gave myself the gift of focusing on the conference today and last night. I'll be coming home on Monday, tomorrow. Jacqueline is off to other parts of Europe to share with hungry beekeepers who want to sit at her table. She is quite a celebrity over here, and her celebrity is much deserved. I'm certain she'll be posting along the way. Much, much more to come!! Just a couple brief shots... Here is me schmoozing with Professor Tom Seeley of Cornell University, or, in more informal terms, the King…

Holland on Friday—A Whirlwind Tour

Good morning! I chose these two eggs this morning, to offer a model to my eyeballs on how they ought to look. Mine are at half-mast, and not nearly so bright and sunny It is Saturday morning, and we were up with conference events until around 11pm. The conference started just after noon, and the information poured into us in waves. By the end of the day, I felt as though the top of my head had popped off and a swarm of 60,000 ideas, surprises, confluences, and inspirations was spiraling around my head, all looking for a place to…

Holland Thursday Adventures: Haarlem, Scrubby Pads, and a Pipe!

You are probably all pleased to know that this will be a shorter post today. I don't have to cram two days worth of information in, as yesterday, and it was a blessedly slower day. This morning, as Ferry was loading up the skeps, Sun Hives, and propolis tinctures for the conference that starts tomorrow, Jacqueline, Joseph, and I headed off for a walking excursion in downtown Haarlem. This town center is a huge, ancient plaza, anchored by an exquisite cathedral that I was not willing to spend 2.50 Euro to go see. I'm getting thrifty. Things are expensive here…