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…

Of Logs and Bees

Among the many jaw-dropping things we learned in Holland was a strong push worldwide to study and to support wild bees. Many, many of the attendees were using alternative hive structures, and a lot of attention was placed on homing bees in trees. Not one to sit on my hands, I contacted my local NextDoor email group and asked if anyone had any hollow log rounds they would like to part with. Well, ask and you shall receive! We were contacted by two neighbors who had a maple tree go down, and there were many hollow 2-3-foot sections of stump.…

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…

Holland: Tuesday and Wednesday Adventures

  TUESDAY... Bear with me beeloveds: I worked until midnight again on a lovely post, hit the "publish" button, and it all went out into the cosmos, never to be seen again, so I am needing to put two days of adventures here. This might be a bit long... Tuesday morning I awoke at 6am and darted into Ferry's weaving studio. I was eager to start another skep, because the first coils of a new skep are the most important, and the most challenging. The circles you form are very small, and the grass wants to poke out everywhere and…

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…

Learning from the Bees–Holland

Well, after a full year of planning and anticipating, Jacqueline and I are now in Harlaam, Holland with our bee friend Ferry and his lovely wife, Anna! Yesterday was a whirlwind of plane travel, customs, and more plane travel. I finally figured out how to move my photos to my computer (no small feat for a techno-wimp like me...). So, here we are on a rainy, blustery first day, making plans for bee fun. Today, we plan to visit Ferry's apiaries, which are stashed about town. Ferry has been making woven hives of many kinds, and his work is beautiful.…

Swarm Crazy

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…