I'm Sorry, Honey Bee

The Most-Spoken Word in a Bee Yard

I'm Sorry, Honey Bee

There’s something wonderfully interesting about people who have heard the voice of intuition (or the voice of the universe or God…you know, the voice of something larger than we are) and who have then acted upon that calling by becoming beekeepers.

Beekeeping isn’t a hobby that we simply pick up. I’ve come to think of it as a calling…a calling that requires a commitment we might not initially have anticipated but a commitment that we don’t shy from, and I love that quality in people. But that’s not the point of this post.

Here’s my point: I visit many colonies with numerous beekeepers, and long ago I realized that the most often-spoken word in the bee yard is “Sorry.”  After all these years and all these bees, I still find myself saying “I’m sorry” all the time. I say it without speaking, and I say it aloud.  Everyone I work with says it. A lot. And we don’t wait to express ourselves…we say it right away as we make our many mistakes.

We screw up. We hurt others. We squish bees or unsettle them or drop things or fumble. We’re sorry for that. And expressing that apology for being imperfect, clumsy human beings is a high quality to me…it requires humility, and I will follow humble-yet-confident people to the ends of this earth. It is my favorite quality combination. Pompousness can go jump in a lake.

As beekeepers work to become more confident stewards of our colonies, we’ll make our mistakes. To hear “I’m sorry” mumbled as the bees teach us to become better beekeepers and better people, though, is a sweet experience.

"Quantum physics: 'it is not possible to predict the outcome of any situation. god is the author of nature; nature can be changed.' Ambrose"

Honey-Tongued St. Ambrose and My Easter Ambrosia Salad

Quantum physics: “it is not possible to predict the outcome of any situation. god is the author of nature; nature can be changed.” Ambrose

 

I’ve received a very nice invitation to Easter dinner on Sunday. And I’ve been invited to contribute a fruit salad to the meal. So I’ve been thinking about fruit salads and what makes a good one. I mean, most of them are pretty run-of-the-mill, right, Reader? What on earth can make you excited about a fruit salad?! So you understand my dilemma.

Well, I’ll tell you what can make a special fruit salad…HONEY! And good coconut. And good pecans. And whipped cream. So, my dear Reader, I’ve decided to whip up a wonderfully exuberant Ambrosia. Because Spring is exuberant. And Easter is exuberant. And all the world is exuberant. And the image above is not only exuberant in its colorful Easter-egg-like bees, but embedded in it is a quote from St. Ambrose, the patron saint of bees.

Legend has it that a bee landed on the infant St. Ambrose’s lip; when she flew off, she left a drop of honey on his mouth. When St. Ambrose’s father discovered the honey on his son, he took it as a sign that little Ambrose would grow up to speak gently and smoothly and with a honeyed tongue.

Reader, in this present election season, one in which our attentions have become riveted to hateful speech and vitriol and the power of language to do harm and raise ire, it’s good for us to recall the healing power of speaking gently and with a honeyed tongue. So St. Ambrose is my man this Easter. Therefore, dear Reader, I shall be making Ambrosia, a fruit salad named after our sweet-talking saint—a fruit salad with just a touch of  honey…honey collected from my own bees.

Thanks to Francesca, the young artist who created this very exuberant pastel.

 

 

 

 

Cupid the Honey Thief

There Is No Sweetness Without Pain: Happy Valentine’s Day

Albrect Durer's 1514 "Cupid the Honey Thief:" Pen, ink, and watercolor on paper

I love that, no matter what, Cupid WILL NOT let go of the honey here. :) And that’s Cupid’s unflappable mother, Venus, with him. As you can see, the calmer the person, the calmer the bees. It’s a good reminder not to run flailing around when things get tense in the bee yard. Be like Venus, friends. Though I have to say that I can certainly relate to Cupid. Something similar once happened to me. Years ago, I failed to use my smoker when I opened a hive…I thought I could quickly slip in there without notice. And in the midst of some angry bees on my unveiled face, I swatted my eyeglasses into the bushes near the beehives. I still haven’t found them.

I’ll also admit that after I slung my glasses into the woods, I ripped off my shirt and swatted it wildly around my head as I attempted to outrun the bees. It was an ugly event.

I do, however, love the reminder that if bees didn’t sting, it would be like keeping a box full of flies…and what on earth fun is that?!

Dear Reader, no doubt you know by now—now that you are where you are in your life—that there is no sweetness without pain. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Plant these for the bees. :)

Reader, even though it snowed like crazy last night, it’s not too early to think of bees happily flying in the sun and foraging on beautiful flowers. So, in the spirit of the spring that will surely cometh, please enjoy this poster. And use it to plant something in your yard that the bees will love.

(And if you’d like to own this Hannah-Rosengren-designed poster yourself, go here. I ordered two, and they arrived within only a day or two.)

 

Hannah Rosengren poster

 

 

Christopher Daniels

Brazee Bees and Blue Hell Studios

I discovered Brazee Street Studios and its owner Sandy Gross through my friend and teacher Christopher Daniel, owner of Blue Hell Studios and a wonderful metal artist…he’s teaching me to blacksmith and weld and how to fix beehives…I’d say Christopher teaches me how to think of possibilities. And how to simply try my hand at something and see what happens. And then he always finds something positive to notice in my efforts. In my book, this makes for a terrific teacher.

Christopher sees a problem and his brain goes about solving it. My brain sees a problem and it calls Christopher.

Christopher Daniels of Blue Hell Studios

Fortunately, Christopher found me sitting out in the prairie strapping the beehives with those bungee cords, and he very sweetly began problem solving. And then he guided me in fabricating a fancy-dancy, metal-artsy contraption that has now replaced the bungee cords. This sweet solution solves all the problems: It simultaneously holds the lid on and the hive down; it allows the beekeeper to easily remove the lid and inspect the bees; it’s low profile and yet it shows an artist’s hand at work.

And all we had to do was:

  1. cut a lot of metal into exact little pieces
  2. grind out all the burrs and rough spots
  3. measure and mark and punch
  4. drill and drill and drill and drill
  5. smooth all the rough spots
  6. (I kept saying, “Christopher, these are for BEEHIVES. It doesn’t have to be perfect!” He looked at me over his goggles in silence, so I continued on with the angle grinder and the sparks.)
  7. Weld and weld and weld and weld
  8. (I love those awesome green welding jackets. They feel great, and I want one.)
  9. Sand smooth all the rough weld spots…of which there were many because I am not yet a good welder.
  10. Apparently welding involves more than permanently joining two pieces of metal together. It also involves looking as if there has never been a welder on the scene…as if these piece had been born joined together like this. Which involves smooth.
  11. I’m like, “Seriously? You want me to sand all of that smooth?” Again with the silent look over the goggles. Apparently so.

And that’s where I left it because it was getting late. Christopher offered to finish the as-yet-to-be-named brilliant solution and install it himself, which I think is a wonderfully sweet gesture. Artists are very particular about how things are installed, you know. :)  I’m eager to see how it turns out when I go visit Blue Hell Studio’s open house tonight.

Oh, and then there’s the matter of rust prevention. We decided to leave the rust-prevention decision up to Sandy. See? Artists think of every detail, don’t they? And, let me tell you, Reader, Christopher and Sandy have a vision of how to either let something rust or how to prevent its rusting, and there’s really no way you nor I can predict what they see in their imaginations. And when we see the final result, we’ll say, “Oh my gosh…of course. That’s it! Why didn’t I think of that?”

So, keep visiting the bees at Brazee Street Studios…because it seems as if things out there evolve every single day. (There’s an open house there tonight, April 13th from 6-9PM.)

Oh. Someone at Brazee Street is hand-painting a sign that says “Bee Hives.” And there’s talk of a collaborative bee sculpture.

Paint and Primary Colors

Plus

Equals

And

Plus

Plus

Equals

And

Plus

Equals

There’s only one small problem here—I hate those colors. So I repainted with the colors I like. And now here is our newest 8-frame, medium-depth hive.