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.…

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…

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…

April Bee Club: Bait Hives!

April Bee Club!

Mark your calendars for April 7. From 10am to noon, we’ll be gathering at the Camas Library at 625 NE 4th Ave. in Camas, in the upstairs meeting rooms. There will be a $10.00 materials fee, and you may make more than one, if you wish.

We’ll be having a “crafty” bee meeting, making bait hives for catching swarms this spring! We’ve purchased two cases of recycled paper plant pots that are light-weight and sturdy enough for a season of “hunting” for bees.

I’ll be bringing propolis water to spray the interiors with, plus lots of old comb for you to place inside (bees love to be where other bees have been before. I think they like the smell of old comb as much as we do…).

I’ll also bring my lemongrass essential oil, to mimic the queen smell. Oh, and zip ties to fasten the pots together. You’ll go home with a bait hive to hang, and we expect your reports on whether bees found them enticing over the next couple of months!… (more…)

Straw Hives: A New/Old Way to Bee

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... Some days, I would lay beneath the hive and look up at this precious, new kind of cosmos, populated with amber, swirling, sun-lit bee stars and the welcoming dark…