Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's Happening? *Checking In With the Bees*

What's Happening?

Checking In With The Bees

courtesy of Oct.2008

Like Martha, I have a love and passion for bees. I've always been ever-so-curious about the little honeybee.  From child to adult, this passion grew even stronger in month 8 of my pregnancy with Sarah while taking a soak in tub.  To this day, the bathtub has given me so many "ah ha" moments that I feel forever indebted to the old, pink, cast iron bathtub.  Broken and old, with only one shower door at this point, the tub seems like a desperate housewife in need of a make over.  If only you could get the exterior to match the interior.  Since I don't have a choice (looking past the exterior walls of the tub), I often adorn my throne with tea lights and anoint her with essential oils at least several times per week.  Like a queen bee sitting on her bee throne, the tub represents mine.

The honeybee passion started out something like this.  I had, for the first time ever randomly picked up a MaryJanes Farm magazine.  It happened to be the bee issue.  I learned so much about the little buzzer from that article.  For instance, did you know that every third bite of food that we take was totally a result of the honeybee?  In my home, it's more like every bite. 

courtesy of

As a gardener, I am constantly aware of the vital importance of this ancient, next-to-godly insect.  Every single fruit and vegetable at my farm is totally dependent upon pollination-either from wind or mostly from the bee.  You can't get a fruit without a pollinated flower except in a few cases.  Most of you have already heard about CCD (colony collapse disorder).  I'm also going to bet that quite of few of you have heard pest control companies advertise before. Often, they promise to extinguish awful bugs such as "those nasty bees".  I honestly had to turn my head sideways to make sure I was hearing the commercial correctly.  Just the other day I heard a commerical on the radio about pest control.  A local mom and pop company was promising to come out (for cheap) and extinguish those bees from my yard in no time (it specifically said bees).  Excuse me? What did you say?  If I want to eat, I think I'll keep those bees around!

While I'm briefly on my soapbox, I want to address bee etiquette.  Bee kind to the honeybees.  Not a moment goes by between the hours of 7am and 5pm that If I quiet my mind long enough, I can hear bee wings rapidly creating a symphony while they are at work.  Even bees like to listen to some tunes while working.  Yesterday, as Gabriel and Sarah were playing in a puddle of mud, (barefoot and naked) I made it a point to have them stop and listen to the sound of birds, bees and faint sound of children playing at the nearby elementary school.  It is important to not only stop and smell the roses, but to listen to them too.

Bees are a part of my children's existence.  They have grown up with them here.  Buzzing all around them, they have developed a respect for those in the genus Apis.  Each child (with the exception of Jordan) has been stung once.  Both times it was miscommunication, often on the kids part.  Come to find out, while the bees are drinking the nectar of a pear they do not like to be picked up.  Also, they don't like to be stepped on with bare feet. It is not unusual for the bees to buzz around us, checking us out like a nosey mother in law. They will linger, smell us, and sometimes pester.  Not interested in losing their lives, they move on quickly as if to say "you weren't that interesting". 

Remember, during your next bee encounter, if you are uncomfortable with them checking you out , just quietly move away.  Don't swat the bees or freak out.  Simply move away. Let's be honest.  If you spray a liquid-flower-in-a- bottle on your body, it's going to take those bees a few minutes to figure out that you're an impostor.  Love 'em, respect 'em but don't spray 'em.  Because if you do, come summer, you might be wondering why your garden doesn't look as good as mine.

With the kids in the RadioFlyer wagon, we headed out to check on the hives.

Photo Gallery

Ready to explore

The first cluster of hives

Our small "hike"continues
Tony placed a bee box inside of a tree
The expansive hives

I have been keeping bees here at Paradise Basin for about a year and a half.  Tony, our bee guy is an honest, hardworking father of five.  I've enjoyed hearing his stories about his wife, kids and their farm.  Tony responded to a Craigslist ad that I placed called "Bees In Need". I put the word out that I was willing to help local beekeepers with a place to keep their bees, in exchange for honey and beeswax.  This has proven to be mutually beneficial.  We sell honey and beeswax products, thus promoting the local Placer County honeybee. Since Tony first brought his hives to here, he has seen his hives multiply.  We have seen our garden grow.  I must say that my allergies (very extreme) have subsided.  Local honey is the perfect medicine for any allergy sufferer. 

Notice the sugar water containers on top.  These feed the hives in the winter when food is in short supply.

On our way back, we didn't want to keep it all work and no play.  We decided to crawl back into our secret tree.  Here, the kids love to play and dig for worms under the thick carpet of oak leaves.  Also, they enjoy sitting on the tree limb (with me holding onto them, of course) and looking down at the world.

Thank you bees.  You will be leaving soon to pollinate the  almond orchards here in California, but we will welcome your return in late spring.

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