Drumming the Bees

The swarm began like any other swarm. Just a big, roaring, exaltation of bees, 20,000 strong and taking to the sky in a glittering amber cloud. I couldn’t possibly know in those first exhilarating moments that by days end, the bees from RainTree hive would change my relationship with bees forever.

The morning started out warm and lush, and my attention was on all six of my hives. Four of them were telling me, through false starts and bees plastering themselves by the hundreds all over the faces of their hives, that they were in swarm prep mode.

In a bee swarm, a thriving hive of bees will send out their queen and half of the working force of the hive to “birth” a brand new colony someplace. The bees left behind will raise a new queen from the queen eggs that the old queen left behind. It’s how bees do “the birds and the bees.”… (more…)

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SWARM SPIRIT
Climbing down with my precious bundle...

SWARM SPIRIT

A long, skinny, bundle of hopeful bees

I had almost forgotten. But the second the sound reached my ears, memories flooded in: The sound and the controlled frenzy of thousands of bee bodies in the air, the sight of them moving like an amorphous amber cloud across the yard, then up high, high into the air and down again to settle in my neighbor’s maple tree just a few feet above my head.

The first swarm of the year is not just the bees’ rebirth but mine, too; that precise moment that I step out of a long, cold winter and into the promise of the sun and all that she bestows upon this good, green Earth. Standing before a swarm, my hands tingle, my breath quickens, my eyes flash a little bit of fire. (more…)

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Straw Hives: A New/Old Way to Bee

Primordial, manure-coated Sun Hive

It has been seven months since I brought my bright and beautiful Sun Hive home, and just six months since I escorted a small cast swarm up a wooden ramp and into its dark and enfolding interior. Small the swarm may have been, but the bees took to the woven hive like they had been born to it, building up their comb and their numbers in an explosion of creative energy… (more…)

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Autumn In The Bee Garden
Comings and goings...

Autumn In The Bee Garden

In my morning walkabout in the backyard, I noted the first bronze and peach leaves crowning the top of our old vine maple and the brown heads of the bending goldenrod. Fresh borage plants are poking up happy blue flowers and yet one more small, self-sewn crop of phacelia is blooming.

My computer had assured me of a warm, sunny day and the gray sky was quickly being overtaken by blue, wispy holes. Already my bees were out into the morning, visiting late-blooming false dandelion, borage, and the rounded mounds of dark purple asters and lavender.

Against the conventional grain, I am a bee lover who enters my hives very infrequently, only a few times a year at most, and only when I have a strong reason to break the sacred seal of the hive. Autumn is such a time… (more…)

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