A Bee in Catherine Stehlin's window copy

A Bee in Catherine Comello Stehlin’s Window

 

 

 

Catherine Comello Stehlin has died. Some people are simply forces of nature, and when they leave us, they leave gaping holes. That’s the way I feel about Catherine, and I didn’t even know her that well. I wish I had. I loved her from the moment I first spoke with her on the phone, and I grew to love her more through several conversations and by watching her spirit-filled life on Facebook. I won’t go on and on, but I am not usually this crazy about people.

They say that when someone important to us dies, we should tell the bees. Which I have done. They need to know about the shifts in our world.

Anyway, several years ago, photojournalist Emily Maxwell spent some time with a few local beekeepers documenting the plight of the bees and urban beekeepers. Emily recorded Catherine’s voice, and I like hearing it. To hear it for yourself, click on this link and then watch the slideshow titled “The Rise of CCD and Urban Beekeeping in Cincinnati.” There, at about the half-way point, you’ll find images of Catherine and her fire-escape bees. And you can hear her voice as she talks about them.

 

(photo by Emily Maxwell)

 

 

 

 

The Over-the-Rhine Fire-Escape Bees

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Catherine was NOT to be discouraged from keeping bees. The fact that she lives downtown in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and lacks anything resembling a yard didn’t discourage her. The fact that she made her decision late in the season and then had to cobble together her hive and her bees from Nicola and me didn’t discourage her. She pursued us and would not be deterred.

That she had to drive her car with this box full of bees and then haul the hive and the bees up the stairs and out the window and then anchor it to the fire escape to keep the wind from toppling it didn’t seem to faze her.

And I like that about a person. A lot.

Nice work, Catherine. Your bees got a good keeper.

Top Bar Hive

Top-Bar Hives: Keeping It Simple

I’m back from a week on the beach. I’m tan. I’m rested. And now we can visit about top-bar hives, Reader.

To my mind, top-bar hives are the cat’s meow. I think they’re brilliant in their simplicity. They provide a close, calm, wonderful, affordable experience with the bees.

I think they give enough honey.

The hive boxes are low profile, so those of us who live in urban areas can keep a hive or two in our small yards without alarming the neighbors with those tall stacks of white boxes that announce BEEHIVES! Seriously, if you keep your top-bar hive as low as I keep mine, they look like restful little benches.

The hives boxes themselves don’t scream for attention…nor do our backs after our weekly inspections. Or as we harvest a bar or two of honey. These inspections and harvests become less of a production and part of a simple routine. They’re no longer A BIG DEAL. And the bees don’t fill the air and send the neighbors diving for cover as we inspect. This is a seriously low-key affair.

I believe beekeeping can be simple. And top-bar hives are the epitome of simplicity.

Now that I’ve whet your appetite, I’ll tell you more about how my own top-bar hives have evolved in tomorrow’s post.

Top Bar Hive
Queen in the Big Daddy hive

Nice Work, Soapbox Cincinnati!

If you’ve come to TwoHoneys via Elissa Yancey and Summer Genetti‘s wonderful Soapbox Cincinnati feature about Cincinnati’s urban beekeeping, then you may be surprised to find only this blog alive here.

The TwoHoneys Bee Company site is undergoing some changes, and you can’t see it yet (but I invite you to “like” the TwoHoneys Facebook page where you can keep up with our bee stewards until the website is back in action).

Until my beekeeping webmaster returns from his darned honeymoon, most of this site remains unavailable (we gave him a Warre hive as a wedding gift…I can’t wait to see it alive with bees. It came unassembled, and we plan to make a pattern from the various parts so we can construct the next one ourselves…but I digress). When he returns from his cruise and Russia’s White Nights and gets his head back into the game of everyday life, we’ll be back in business, and this blog will become only a small part of the larger scene.

Until then, let’s see if you can find the queen (spotting the queen improves with practice…it will help if you can click on this image to enlarge it):

Queen in the Big Daddy hive
Queen in the Big Daddy hive