Beeing Anointed

I won’t lie: It’s been really hard starting this spring with no bees. This is only the second time in the past eight years that my yard has been without the wonder of honeybees. And I have not felt the sorrow of the loss of all five of my hives in a really obvious way. I tell myself that I understand: bees come, bees go. More will come. And more will go.

Empty and waiting!

I go about my business and tell myself, “it is okay, this is just how it is…” But there is a heaviness in my heart. On a few clear days about a week ago, many scout bees came to explore my hives, so many swirling about the entrances I could almost convince myself that a colony had moved in.

Until nightfall, I could court this hope, and then with the dark, they would all melt away into the evening. Then the clouds and rain returned and the hives have not had a single visitor… (more…)

Time to Get Busy on Our Pollinator Hotels!

When I brought bees home seven years ago, I had not yet begun to fully notice all the insect life in my yard. But with the coming of the bees, my vision expanded. I would search the flowers for my bees, and see all sorts of other pollinating insects I did not know: Hover flies, certain wasps, many native bees and bumble bees, even pollinating beetles!

My pollinator hotel, awaiting new “rooms” for bees and bugs.

(more…)

What Are Beekeepers For?

Our friends at the Natural Beekeeping Trust are spot-on with their good suggestions here about what truly helps bees, and if being a beekeeper is of any value in caring for bees. This is from their Newsletter, and as soon as I read it, I thought “I need to share this!” And the Trust agreed:

“In this post we would like to address a very frequently asked question: How can I help the bees? And if you are known as a beekeeper, you may often be confronted with this question yourself. As more and more people open their hearts to the honeybee, and indeed other pollinators facing great challenges today, we set out briefly how our thinking about ‘helping the bees’ has evolved in recent times.

The Natural Beekeeping Trust was established to provide education on methods of bee husbandry more gentle, more “bee-centered” than those advocated in conventional beekeeping. This was the focus of our work for many years… (more…)

DOWNTOWN BEES!

“There is a bee swarm in downtown Camas, right by the antique store. Do you have time to go gather it? It is up high…” Debby’s voice was hopeful. She is our bee swarm coordinator, and spends her whole summer on the phone talking to people about bees.

“Hmmmm, up really high, huh?” I don’t mind heights. I simply don’t have a ladder that will reach up 20 feet.

 

Where are the bees? Trust me. They are up there. Waaaay up there…

 

“The fire department’s only a few blocks away. Just stop by, batt your eyes and swivel your hips and maybe they will bring their ladder,” she suggested…

(more…)

Log Hives with Matt Somerville

Hi Friends, Susan here: I’ve always loved log hives, loved the notion of them, the look of them, the creation of them. But it was into the second day of our log hive workshop with Matt Somerville that I really “got it.”

Class participant Jenne Johnson said to Matt, “So, if I have, say, ten acres of land, how many of these hives would I need to properly pollinate it?”

Matt replied, “Put up as many as you like and let the bees decide.”

“Let the bees decide…”

Once upon a time, in the pastures of Battle Ground, Washington, there gathered a group of bee friends to make a wondrous palace for bees…

 

I smacked both hands to my head to keep my brains from flying out all over the place. Had those four words ever before been uttered on the North American continent? Not often, I thought… (more…)

The Light of Hum

Susan here: It is with great delight that I am sharing with you something of beauty, depth, and wonder from our good friend, Bee Guardian Corwin Bell. Corwin has taught many programs for us over the years. He is the prime innovator behind all the advances to top bar hives, and runs a bee education program at Backyardhive.com. His work is respectful, balancing science, intuition, and mystery. If you live near Colorado, take his classes. He is a master.

Corwin has a mystic’s eye, a mystic’s ear, and a mystic’s heart. Artist and visionary, Corwin put his talents to a remarkable recording of  chants, music, and bee sounds to create a deep immersion into bee time. His DVD is called “The Light of Hum” and I encourage you to add it to your music library… (more…)

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…

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…