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.

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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 of Bees (yeah, yeah, I know…no such thing, but if there were….). I told him to pretend he liked me. Photo bomber is Mike Albers, the moderator of the Face Book page, Weaving Bee Skep Hives. He also works very closely with Ferry in their organization, Smart Beeing. Mike is one of the most genuine, fun, and easy-to-be with men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way. PLUS…he taught me a few crafty weaving tips!

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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 cluster. I won’t be able to let them all cluster here, but I’ll let them settle when I get home.

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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 with the exchange rate. Here I am, ready for any kind of weather…

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Holland–Our First Day

Oh, goodness, where to begin, and how to share it all with you! Well, how about I let some pictures paint the image of our day? If there is a better way to spend your day than with bees and gardens—well, is there any such thing? Just let me sit among straw, bees, and skeps, and leave me here until I become a very happy fossil! This is a corner in Ferry’s sweet bee apiary, “Smart Beeing.” It is on the grounds of–oh please help me spell this right—the Vrij Waterland Biodynamisch Onderwijstuin, a huge garden installation next to one of Haarlem’s five Waldorf schools. A children’s garden is part of the project, and the Waldorf students are deeply bedded in nature there. Here, I rest after much walking, looking, exclaiming, and marveling.

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Swarm Crazy

Wing prepares to take flight.

It is swarm season again! Before I had bees, I watched swarm videos, took swarm catching classes, and read bee books about safely gathering swarming bees. Mostly, gathering a swarm is pretty simple. Except when it’s not. Let me share a bit of my last week with you, and you be the judge as to how easy or complex—or both—gathering a swarm of bees can be.

Nine days ago, on the first sunny day we have had for weeks, two of my hives—Wing, and Gobnait—swarmed. I was sitting with a friend in my yard, with my back to the bees when I heard it. I leaped to my feet shouting “Swarm!” before I even turned around to see them tumbling into the air. I have come to know that sound. That awesome sound that like no other kind that floods my heart in a rush of adrenaline.

Wing, my SunHive was in the air for a long time, swaying this way and that in the air, and finally settling inside a large bush in my neighbor’s yard. While the swarm was still gathering itself, I hurried to grab my swarm gear basket, called a bee friend who wanted to help, and rushed back to the yard with gathering buckets of various sizes, plus my skep that I planned to house them in… (more…)

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