Oh, For a Bee’s Experience

May 15, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Filed under: Nature Study, Poetry

(Poetry Friday visitors, Miss Dickinson awaits you at the bottom of the post.)

I mentioned I’ve become hooked on beekeeping blogs ever since reading Fruitless Fall. Here are a few of my favorites:

Hive Mind Bee Blog. A backyard beekeeper in Washington. I especially enjoyed his account of a swarm in his neighborhood:

When they’re flying in the air, there’s nothing you can do but watch, but when the queen lands, the rest of the swarm will land around her in a huge, sedate clump that you can put into a bucket or a box and put back into a hive. Julie made a quick call to Dawn of the Puget Sound Beekeeper’s Association, got some info on how to proceed, and we were back in business. I threw on some overalls and my bee shirt, grabbed a bucket and a spatula, and I’s ready for action. First, though, I stopped off at the school across the street where kids and parents were doing landscaping and upkeep on the grounds and let them know that we had a science fair moment, if they were interested. A couple of the moms gathered up a dozen or so 5 – 10 yr olds and they all trooped over to see the bees.

Honey Run Apiaries. Great pictures, thoughtful discussion, wry observations.

I recently read an 1858 book ‘Phelps Bee-Keeper’s Chart‘.  The book is obviously horribly out of date and out of print (though it is available on-line).  Though it is interesting none-the-less for several reasons.  While it does cover a lot about honey bees, much of it is for the purpose of promoting the authors patented ‘Ohio Combination Bee-Hive‘ saying that he expects it to ‘ supersede all others’.  Sadly, while it apparently claimed honors at the Ohio and other state fairs, his book was published 6 years after Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth’s book ‘The Hive and the Honey Bee’, which details the bee hive most of us use today in the US and in other parts of the world.

Fruitless Fall discussed the rise of the Langstroth hive, so that was a neat connection for us. Amusing tidbit at the bottom of that post:

The running joke is that if you ask 5 beekeepers in a room a question, you will receive 6 different answers.  Apparently this is one of the oldest beekeeping jokes on record.  Phelps wrote nearly 150 year ago that ‘there is scarcely any subject on which such a diversity of opinion exists, as on the form and size of bee-hives, and the general management of bees.’

Linda’s Bees might be my favorite beekeeping blog so far. She writes from Atlanta and posts the most incredible pictures, really informative shots that let you see the action inside a hive. Her hives have fun names like Bermuda and Mellona (the Roman goddess of bees). Excellent sidebar full of links we’re exploring as time permits.

We rented this NOVA film about bees: Tales from the Hive. The cinematography was fairly stunning. The corresponding website has video of the different bee dances and an interview with the filmmaker about how he managed the breathtaking closeup shots of bees in flight.

The next step was to find out how I could fly with the bees, because they are fast. I told myself, if I can’t fly with the bee, then the bee has to fly with me—that is, with the camera, directly in front of the lens. It was like the work at a clockmaker’s. We used a pair of tiny tweezers to form a wafer-thin wire. We then tied the bee up with this—very carefully, because we did not want to harm the bee, and we wanted to make sure it had the freedom to move its wings. A special kind of arrangement enabled us to fix the wire to the camera.

The film was made in 2000, before the beginning of bee colony collapse and I think possibly even before the massive varroa infestation that has crippled so many hives in recent years.

My dear daddy sent me some cool links:

How to make a house for mason bees

Pursuit of the perfect pollinator

(Thanks, Dad!)

Since today is Poetry Friday, let me leave you with a little Emily Dickinson.

The Bee

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 she, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
Her feet are shod with gauze,
Her helmet is of gold;
Her breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
Her labor is a chant,
Her idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

beedrinks


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Comments

6 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Lissa — this is SO cool. Maggie (my 9yo) did a bee unit with Kacky at 4H back in the fall and loves all things bees … I’m going to print this out and we’ll try and find some of these resources you mentioned. We so would like to do a hive, but dh is worried about the liability in a populated area … even tho our possible home is out in Orange County ….

    Enjoy the bee experience! and thanks again ….

  2. Bees are such an absorbing subject, aren’t they? My kids have been building mason bee houses with my dad for the last few years, and that’s what my eldest did as a HS science project this year: The Life and Time of the Mason Bee. We learned all sorts of interesting things, like how my penchant for double flowers meant less pollen for the bees! Ack.

    There’s another book you might like: The Forgotten Pollinators. And here’s another website for you: http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/Solitary_Bees/beegarden.htm

  3. What a fun study! I enjoyed the Emily Dickinson poem as well!

  4. I hope you’ve read the Secret Life of Bees. The movie was good. The book was better.

  5. I know a lot of beekeepers!
    We’re planting a bee garden this year. I know it’s not the solution to the bee disappearance, but we feel like we want to do a little something for them.

  6. Another couple of books with bees–The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and the most recent installment in the series, The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King. Highly recommended!