We brought two new packages of bees home -- they're Carniolians, just up from the almond pollination in California, so now we have three hives on the Bee Pavilion.
The quotations are from a bee book that Dierdre gave me (the origin of bees is from Paradise), Emily Dickenson, and W.B. Yeats. The bees are happily exploring their new world. Bees are such a responsibility -- it's exciting to have them and one worries about them too. Worry about the bees serves as a proxy for the big worries (the earth, climate change, the Pacific Garbage gyre, and the whole nightmare of western civ). But the bees are industrious, productive, single-minded, and determined, setting a good example of perseverance. That's why I love the Yeats poem so much -- the bees continuing, bringing sweetness even during a civil war...
The bees build in the crevices Of loosening masonry, and there The mother bird brings grubs and flies. My wall is loosening; honey-bees, Come build in the empty house of the stare.
Spring is coming! We lost our big purple hive over the winter. Now the pink/blue hive, which seemed less impressive last summer, is getting into gear, bringing in alder and dandelion pollen for the young bees.
Bob designed, and Alistair built, this amazing bee pavilion.
At left, the hive with the old roofshed -- the little roof helps keep the entrance dry and reduces moisture inside the hive, which seems to help keep the hive healthy in our wet winter climate. At right, the new bee pavilion, with room for 6 or more hives on the low stand, and a roof over all.
Here's a detail of the construction. The base of both stand and roof is concrete blocks; there's no foundation.
It's since been painted, and bee-friendly plants will be added around the stand. More pictures when the rain quits.
"...what Darwin had done was to relieve God of the awful burden of making the world: of shaping every leaf and snail shell, squeezing out every litter of kittens and every pupating butterfly, building every snowstorm; relieved him both of the labor and the guilt. He had chosen an assistant to do that work, and the assistant was Chance."
call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.
secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America.
military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle
lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex;
from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick —
come home, America.
home to the affirmation that we have a dream.
home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
Thanks to these gals, we got over 5 gallons of honey -- most of it off the big purple hive.
The bees are put to bed for the autumn, with boards under the bottom screens and the extra entrances closed up. I've been feeding them, and pink hive has has been enthusiastic about taking syrup, while purple hive mostly ignores it. Both hives have a full box of honey up top, some honey in the brood boxes, and pollen with a little honey in the bottom box or two... these are big hives and we haven't been able to take much out. They've been bringing in pollen up through last week, though I doubt they're finding nectar so dry and so late in the year. They worked the oregano and hyssop and mint and SEDUM as long as they were in bloom.
I still haven't treated for varroa mites, though Gunther Hauk says that formic acid (sold commercially as mite-away) is nontoxic. Maybe in the spring. The pink hive is Carniolian, the purple is the Russian-wild survivor mix from Olympic Apiaries; both seem fairly mite-tolerant.
The new Dark Mountain, Issue 3, is loaded with interesting ideas, writers, and art & I'm excited to have 3 poems in it. The art of holding conflicting ideas in the mind: unfortunately civilization is headed for a crack-up of epic proportions, but on the other hand, poems in print!
In Chicago last week I walked around the Armitage-Fullerton-Lincoln Park triangle taking pictures and admiring the beautiful houses and growing garden culture. The sedums and sages in the formal garden by the conservatory have honey bees all over them -- who's keeping bees? I want to talk to them!
The "blue angels" military air show raged overhead, burning jet fuel, making a huge noise, causing dogs to howl and babies to burst into tears. How can you not love this civilization of fountains, conservatories, gardens, diverse people taking picnics to the park? How not be horrified by our wastefulness -- wasting jet fuel, enticing young people to the military, and creating sonic booms -- as entertainment?
Bookman's Alley in Evanston was the greatest bookstore around Chicago... on trips to the midwest I always made a trip up there to browse the vast stacks and inhale the special aroma of literature, local history, printing press, wool blanket, and bison skull that permeated the place. The owner had announced that he was selling off his inventory and closing up shop in the spring, and it seemed the time to visit had passed. When I was in Evanston on Monday for lunch we stopped by Bookman's Alley and found it locked up, but the young woman working in the frame shop opposite told us that he had been open over the weekend. It seems like it's still possible to visit, though I don't know how much of the inventory is left. Well worth a trip, last chance to see, carpe diem!
My best find there was an old copy of H.L. Mencken's The American Language. A treasure.
We are requeening our hives using Steve R's no-kill method. On the right, the Big Purple hive and the new purple nucleus hive. The nuc. hive contains the new Russian queen from Olympic Apiaries, along with ready-to-hatch brood and a lot of young workers from the Purple hive, and honey. Later in the summer we'll combine the two hives, with the nuc. hive and young queen on top.
On the left, the combined Blue swarm hive and the Pink hive from which it originally came.We are recombining the two so that the young queen in Pink can be the queen of the whole colony. Right now there's a double-screen board between the two colonies, but in 2 weeks we'll remove it and spray with syrup and Honey-B-Healthy to make them all smell the same (yummy) and stimulate feeding, grooming, and good vibes.
This method allows you to requeen without killing the old queen, or even finding her. Putting the new queen on top and making sure she has lots of workers and a strong colony on her side seems to be the trick.