Archive for July, 2010

Plight of the Dwindling Honeybee

Dr. Reese

Each spring, during my childhood, I planted trees with my dad and my brother, and the bees always intrigued us. Last year, in late June, I finished “The Incomparable Honeybee;” I was cautiously optimistic that the overall death rate amongst honeybees was trending downward.

Just prior to the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, the overwinter and spring bee survey numbers from across our nation were released. The numbers were startling; our humble honeybees are sicker than ever. Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010

Letters to the Melissae – Storytelling the Bees

In Ancient Greek mythology and religion, the term Melissae sometimes referred to honey nymphs (also called Meliae) and later became a term that also encompassed several sects of priestess, including the Delphic oracle.  Letters to the Melissae is a series of posts on the spiritual, mythological and folkloric legacy of the ancient relationship between honeybees and human beings.

It is high summer in our little porch garden.  The tomatoes are ripening and the peppers are coming in.  The potted rosebushes are still blooming, bless them, and there are hips forming on the Rugosa.  The bees, those Golden Sisters, are busy, and so are we – packing a million and one things into each bright-as-butter day.  When I chance to see them in and amongst the tomato and pepper flowers, or reveling in the heart of spicy white rose, I say hello.  I tell them about my life.  Telling the bees. Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010

Nature is quite forgiving

I walked to the back 40 this morning with my two teenage sons and our very excited family dog to pick blackberries. As I reached into the thorny bush to gently massage a clump of juicy ripe berries, I was struck with the thought of how quickly nature heals herself if we let her.
Several years ago, one of our neighbors had a bulldozer come in and make 3 large piles of logs and brush out of 6 acres of beautiful native forest. I grumbled about it to my wife on more than one occasion and was excited when they wanted to sell. We bought it, and forgot about it. I’m sure our other neighbors grumbled about us not brush hogging it like a responsible land owner does.
This year we have a bumper crop of wild blackberries covering the land. You can’t even see the ground, as the brush is so thick. Where there was once disturbed soil, there is now fertile and productive growth. The microbes and worms in the soil are recovering nicely and the erosion has stopped.
Unless we interfere, over time that area will once again be an old growth forest with tall majestic trees.
What does this have to do with honey bees?
Nature is quite consistent. She never gets discouraged and always recovers.
The honey bees are recovering from our ignorance and interference. There are beekeepers who are prospering. They are the ones who listen to the bees and respond with as little manipulation as possible.
But what about the beekeepers who have been taking the government handout/bailouts? I suspect that if we were to look closer we would find that those beekeepers aren’t working with nature but against her. The irony is… they are being rewarded for over managing or even mismanaging their hives.
At Beelanding were not offering bailouts but rather, information, ideas, workshops, hands-on experience, and a bee friendly bee hive. What we are doing here takes work and experimentation. I’ve been thinking what kind of handout I can offer. Hmmmmm….. seems like the best I can do is to offer you a cool glass of blackberry mead, when you pay us a visit.


07 2010

Oh, for a bee’s experience of clovers and of noon! (A bee poem by Emily Dickinson)

Pollinate. Copyright Mike Holtzinger 2009. Click here to visit her site.

THE BEE by Emily Dickenson

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry

Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms. Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010

Sweet! New videos to buzz about – and share!

Sweet! New videos to buzz about – and share!

Since 2006, more than three million honeybees in the U.S. and billions worldwide have mysteriously died, which affects one in three mouthfuls of food we eat. Get involved. Help us help us raise awareness by sharing our new public service announcement videos.

To share these videos, paste our video link below into an email or instant message, embed them into your web or blog page, or share them on Facebook/MySpace. Also send us your feedback – we especially welcome video responses on YouTube.

Bee Aware. Join the Honeybee movement.

Link to share:

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07 2010

Aesclepias Tuberosa: Bold, Beautiful Butterfly Weed is the Life of the Midsummer Garden Party…

Butterflyweed, North American native Aesclepias tuberosa ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

Oh to be a butterfly! Just imagine fluttering upon this delightful blossom; saturated in golden-orange color and loaded with sweet nectar. What a feast! Why I’d flit from flower to flower, happily sharing precious pollen with hovering hummingbirds and buzzing bees, from sunrise to sunset. Butterflyweed in the garden? Yes, yes – don’t let the ‘weed’ moniker fool you! North American native Aesclepias tuberosa is a wonderful garden plant, forming neat and tidy, mid-sized mounds in the perennial border, where it blooms its pretty little head off on even the hottest of summer days (and boy are we having those right now – 97 degrees in the shade yesterday). Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010

Good Morning America & The Vanishing Bees

Did you see the Monday, July 5th episode on Good Morning America (GMA) titled, “Honeybees in Danger?”  The GMA host says, “”honeybees now in danger of disappearing and along with them things like ice cream and fresh fruit…”


07 2010

Bee News! Revised site, new bloggers, new videos to share…


07 2010

Leave Me the Birds and the Bees, Please

“Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT.  I don’t care about spots on my apples.  Just leave me the birds and the bees, please.” Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell

Did you see this little news item that ran back in May:  “Italy Bans Pesticide for Bee Health”? I honestly thought at the time that it would generate more … um … buzz than it ultimately did in the media and among beekeepers, farmers, gardeners, nature lovers, as well as everyone else who likes to eat.  I’m not surprised, though.  We were likely all distracted by the 24/7 coverage of another end-of-times scenario playing out in slow motion in the Gulf of Mexico.  It has lately been a very intense news cycle, and I guess colony collapse is so very 2006.

In case you missed it, it seems that last year as a “precautionary measure” the Italian Agriculture Department banned the use of nicotine-based pesticides (known as neonicotinoids)  that coat or are infused into crop seeds – in particular corn, sunflower, rapeseed seeds — and their precautionary bet paid off.  Bee populations were restored!  There were no significant bee losses in the apiaries around the corn fields.  In southern Italian citrus groves and vineyards where these neonicotinoids were not banned, bee losses continue unabated.


Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010

Penstemon, Rudbeckia and Veronica: An Easy, Breezy, Flowering Combination for Mid-Summer Meadow Gardens…

A sunny, summertime entry garden at Ferncliff – Design and Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Bees buzzing in the garden, sun-tea brewing on the terrace, and books piled high beside the hammock; sweet summertime is here at last. I love waking up to early morning sunshine playing upon the warm, summery colors in my garden. Read the rest of this entry →


07 2010