Out of work women

Of Course They’re Pissy

Out of work women

And who wouldn’t be pissy, friends?

Several of my fellow beekeepers have recently complained that their otherwise sweet-tempered honeybees have become “aggressive” this past week or so.

At the end of June, most of Ohio’s yards and fields and farms enter a period of dearth when it comes to nectar flow. From March to late June, even our turf-dense suburban yards are alive with blooms in trees and bushes and little flowering things. But eventually these blossoms disappear to make way for leaves, and once that transformation occurs, because we’ve not made room in our lives for wildflowers, pollinators suddenly face a lack of food.

I mean, this is a ridiculous burden to place on any species…they have bounty for only three months, and suddenly NOTHING. NOTHING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking—you’re thinking that you have all those nice knock-out roses and those daylilies and those hostas in your flower beds, right? You think that you’ve purchased those pretty impatiens and petunias and planted them in your window boxes and that that should help the bees. But it doesn’t.

Bees need wildflowers, my friends. But I’ll save this issue for another post.

I’ve come to think that nectar is to bees as money is to humans. Worker bees head off every day to earn their pay. They feed their colony what they collect. Furthermore, when the nectar flow is on (when flowers are blooming), bees convert that nectar to wax and build their infrastructure comb with it, and they then store any surplus for use in the winter.

But when the nectar flow ends and bees enter a long period of dearth, there’s nothing to show for their foraging work. They head off to work but they can find none. They can no longer convert nectar to wax because there’s no nectar. They can no longer store their surplus…instead, they’re forced to eat into their savings which then risks their winter survival.

Wouldn’t you be cranky?!

You know, the more I think about it, the more I understand why so many humans are currently angry and violent and aggressive and short tempered, too. Many people are living in their own kind of dearth…a dearth in which there’s not enough work, which means there’s not enough money, which means there’s not enough food, and certainly, then, not enough (if any) savings.  We all need work to do, and that work should be enough to provide our families with food and housing without risking our futures.

If we all planted more wildflowers, the bees would not enter such an early dearth and could provide better for themselves. And we can do better by our fellow humans, too. We can do this, friends. We can do this.

Praise of the Bees by Barberini Exultet Scroll circa 1087

Bee Season: I Am Ready, and Yet I Am Never Ready. Which Is Thrilling.

Praise of the Bees by Barberini Exultet Scroll circa 1087

 

Dear Reader, it is Easter time, and in Ohio this means the beginning of bee season.

The colonies that successfully overwintered in my bee yards are bursting at the seams. Which suggests to me that swarm season may come earlier than usual this year…I usually expect my first swarm call on Mothers Day. It’s one of the most exciting calls of the year, and all my nerves are alert for it. Which is why I love this “Praise of the Bees” image. Because it is in every way full on glorious bee.

In this image, beekeepers smoke a swarm and cut the branch on which it hangs. This swarm will then become a happy hive in the beekeeper’s yard. Bees fly in the air, and it seems to me that they’re all over the blooming trees and shrubs and flowers. Another beekeeper cuts comb from a suspended long hive, honey runs through a sieve, and his assistant collects the small amount of honey in a jar. (I like that this is a sustainable practice. They are not taking more than the bees can give and not more than the beekeepers can use.)

For several months each year, I’m this busy. I’m deliriously, exhaustedly busy and I’m happy with that. And who wouldn’t be? It’s so freaking exciting.

So, friends, if you happen to find a swarm hanging sweetly in a tree or on a bush or on a lamp post or wherever, please contact me. I’ll be delighted collect it. I might look tired and dirty when I see you, but I will be happy. And I think it will make you happy, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You Can’t Squeeze Blood from a Turnip

 

Reader, I cannot tell you how often people want to know how many pounds of honey they’ll get from their hive.

Some folks seem to believe that the sheer fact that there are bees means there will be honey. And lots of it. Which is true only so long as there are flowers.

It’s unfair to expect bees to deliver honey for us if we insist on keeping our dull and boring yards weed free and closely mown. Let it go a little bit. Let our lives rewild.

Here’s the bottom line, my dear Reader: Bees can make honey only only only only if bees have access to flowers. The End. The more flowers, the more honey. And I’m talking about wild, native flowers. NOT KNOCKOUT ROSES. NOT DAYLILIES. Not those fancy flowers you pick up at the garden center. Bees need bonafide native wildflowers. And herbs. And vegetable gardens.

Bees need those wonderfully wild things that grow naturally in fence rows and in acres of fallow fields. And if you don’t have a fence row or a fallow field, then perhaps you can create a little pocket of crazy wildflowers wherever you are. See, bees need A LOT of flowers, and if we all plant a little, that equals A LOT. This is true of everything. Which is completely cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Please in Madeira, OH

You Can Buy TwoHoneys Honey at Coffee Please

 

Coffee Please in Madeira, OH

This is my coffee shop. I stop in here almost every morning at 5:30am. And again at 7:15am. Sometimes for lunch. Sometimes for an afternoon cappuccino. The people who work there are my friends. As are many of the regulars who love Coffee Please, too.

Coffee Please is currently the only public place to buy your local TwoHoneys honey. Go there. Buy honey. Enjoy a cappuccino. Look for me.

 

 

Clover

The Glory of Single-Hive Honey

What makes TwoHoneys honey different from almost any (even any local) honey you can find? The answer, dear Reader, is single-hive honey. Let me explain.

  1. When you purchase your honey from the grocery store, you’re probably buying honey shipped in from other countries. That honey is combined with all the other honeys and heated and filtered beyond description in huge vats. Then it’s filtered again and bottled and shipped again and again and again and yada yada you eventually you eat it. And it all tastes the same. And all the good stuff is long gone. The end.
  2. When you purchase your honey from a local beekeeper (and this is indeed a wonderful first step!), you’re purchasing honey gathered from trees and flowers in your own neighborhood. This is healthy and excellent. However, it’s probably NOT single-hive honey. The beekeeper from whom you buy your local honey probably combines all of the frames from many of the hives and runs them all together through a machine we call an “extractor.” This extractor acts as a centrifuge and slings all the honey from all those frames into a common tub. Then, your local beekeeper bottles all that combined honey in jars. You buy it and eat it. But all the honey from all the frames is all combined, so it loses much of its distinct flavor.
  3. When you purchase TwoHoneys honey (you can get some at Coffee Please in Madeira!), you experience the glory of single-hive (and, frankly, it’s really single-frame) honey. In other words, I cut the honey-containing comb from its frame or bar, and I squeeze that honeycomb with a machine called my hand so that the honey from a single frame runs directly through a sieve and into a small bowl. I then immediately pour that honey into a jar. It’s that simple, pure honey that you eat and marvel about.

This is what makes single-frame honey unique: The honey in each frame tastes like whatever was blooming when the bees stored it. For instance, if goldenrod and asters were blooming when the bees stored nectar in that particular frame, then the honey harvested with that frame will taste like goldenrod or aster. Each frame tastes unique to whatever was blooming. The TwoHoneys honey you purchase tastes unique to whatever was blooming where that hive lives that season that year. It’s always a wonderful experience because YOU CAN TASTE THE DIFFERENCE.

We can’t always identify the flower we taste in the honey, but we can certainly taste the uniqueness.

And, like wine, the honey from that hive this year will taste different from the honey from that hive next year. Because the weather differs and different flowers bloom in different strengths. This year, clover bloomed for a long long time. And Queen Anne’s Lace was prolific in the wild countrysides. And right now, the goldenrod is yellowing the universe. So, the early honey we bottled tastes like clover. The mid-season honey like Queen Anne’s Lace, and the dark fall honey like deep-yellow goldenrod. And, Reader, these flowers taste different. And you can experience it.

 

Clover
Queen Anne's Lace
Goldenrod

 

 

 

Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

Local TwoHoneys Honey—Now at Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

Reader, I know you love your coffee. I know you love your coffee in quirky little local coffee shops. And when you drink your wonderful drinks there, you like to add a small bit of local honey to your cup.

I’m here to introduce you to Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop, which is where I often go when I want to write and daydream. Redtree is filled to the brim with local art, which makes it a delightful place to wander. What’s more, Redtree and Brazee Street Studios—the beautiful art studio surrounded by native Ohio prairie flowers and where TwoHoneys maintains a number of beehives—are neighbors. Close neighbors. And now Redtree offers our very own TwoHoneys Bee Co honey…local honey collected by the bees that fly in the neighborhood in which you drink your coffee. And that, my friends, is seriously local.

Go there. Add some honey to your day.

Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

 

 

 

 

 

Beehives in snow

The Bee Carol

THE BEE CAROL
by Carol Ann Duffy

Silently on Christmas Eve,
the turn of midnight’s key;
all the garden locked in ice –
a silver frieze –
except the winter cluster of the bees.

Flightless now and shivering,
around their Queen they cling;
every bee a gift of heat;
she will not freeze
within the winter cluster of the bees.

Bring me for my Christmas gift
a single golden jar;
let me taste the sweetness there,
but honey leave
to feed the winter cluster of the bees.

Come with me on Christmas Eve
to see the silent hive –
trembling stars cloistered above –
and then believe,
bless the winter cluster of the bees.

Beehives in snow

Poetry Sunday: Song

Song
BY H.D. (HILDA DOOLITTLE)

You are as gold
as the half-ripe grain
that merges to gold again,
as white as the white rain
that beats through
the half-opened flowers
of the great flower tufts
thick on the black limbs
of an Illyrian apple bough.

Can honey distill such fragrance
As your bright hair —
For your face is as fair as rain,
yet as rain that lies clear
on white honey-comb,
lends radiance to the white wax,
so your hair on your brow
casts light for a shadow.

Poetry Sunday: Play in Which Darkness Falls

Play in Which Darkness Falls

BY FRANK STANFORD

Raymond Roussel

Two girls runaway from the Home. They have a revolver
in their possession. The Sisters Of Our Lady have given up
looking for them, returning in the night with soft candles.
The sleek clouds have thrown their riders, and the bees
are returning to the honey, the clover at the edge of the
cliff black as eyelids, damp as blue mussels flexing at the moon.
The girls look in the stolen mirror, then throw their shoes
in the sea. They take off one another’s dress, posing
on the rocks that jut out over the faded water of the last days.
The clover beat down from their splendid feet, the clover
quiet like a vault. Nearby in a ship named for early death,
I drink wine like a city. Anchored far off the continent of love.
Strange, but bees do not die in their own honey, and how the dead
are toted off, how the sweet moons are deposited in the catacombs.
The clover at the edge of the sea like a chemise, place
where animals have lain. They help one another with their hair,
their dresses blowing back to land. They look over the
cliff, spit on the beach. Birds I have never seen going by.