Posts Tagged ‘Stories’

Bee on the Wing in Blue Rosemary.

Last week began with the discovery of a new obsession–photographing bees on the wing with a macro lens.  The super-narrow depth-of-field of the lens made it difficult to catch a bee in focus, but in this image she is moving too fast for my shutter speed.  Still, after 75 shots, I think this one is a keeper.

Then it was off to pick up package bees on Friday morning.  The second and third week of April should be considered a national holiday, as every beekeeper in the King and Snohomish counties of Washington seemed to be as eager as Rachael and me to pick up their bees.  Our unintentionally extended adventure turned into a beautiful day together.

Rachael Poses with 4 lb. Packages of Bees.

The next morning I was up early and on my way to Onalaska, WA, to pick up Carniolans from Jason and Heather Sherwood.  A lot of people ask me where Onalaska is, and all I can say is it’s rural, southwestern Washington.  I was there at 7:30 and back on the road by 8:30.

Package Bees Awaiting Pick-up at the Sherwood Apiary.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night were dedicated to the introduction of package bees.  We welcome back colonies to the Central District and Capital Hill in Seattle, as well as Smoke Farm.

Throughout the weekend, just when I thought I might take a break and have lunch, my phone would ring.  Hives were swarming!  Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, as well as last night (Thursday 4/22), were filled with swarm catching.  Michael watched one form from his window on Saturday, and together we caught it without any protective gear.  Kelle helped me catch the swarm on their Blue House and temporarily introduce them to a nuc (a small, five-frame hive for rearing queens and keeping a small swarm).  But the swarm story to be told comes from West Seattle, where Rachael and I found a monster-sized swarm:

The Longfellow Creek Community Garden Swarm.

The call came in on Friday from Jayne.  Jayne Simmons, co-founder of Good Food Gardens, plants lavish healthy gardens in your yard, maintains the Longfellow Creek Community Garden, and makes salves, tinctures and infused oils as Sister Sage Herbs.  She and I had spoken earlier in the year about introducing bees to the Longfellow garden and even teaming up to introduce bees to her garden projects, but I just didn’t have the money to prepare the equipment and purchase bees.  The bees, however, had other intentions and came to her.

I asked Rachael if she would like the honor of catching this swarm, introducing it to a hive, and maintaining it at the Longfellow Garden.  Since my Valentine’s Day post, a lot of people have been wondering if I have introduced Rachael to the bees and if they approve of her.  Well, this was the weekend, and the answer is decidedly yes!

Rachael, aka Lady Awesome, Catches Swarm!

Later that evening, Rachael and Jayne introduced the swarm to a beautifully exposed corner of the Longfellow Garden.  This week ends with three new Women of the Swarm, Kelle, Jayne, and Lady Awesome!


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Mr. and Mrs. Colfax were my first two teachers.  She ran a nursery school out of their old farm house in what had become suburban Pompton Lakes, NJ.  When I first arrived there, I looked around the large room of tables and kids, fumbled through the alphabet song, and proceeded to cry.  I cried and cried and cried, until Mrs. Colfax took me by the hand and walked me through the swinging door back into her home.  Mr. Colfax was smoking his pipe and reading the paper at the kitchen table.

“So, you’re not ready to go to school yet?”  I shook my head and then cried a whole lot more.

For the next three days of school, I was taken back to their kitchen and sat with Mr. Colfax while he smoked and read, and every once in a while when my sobbing subsided, he would ask, “Are you ready to join the other kids now?”  To which I shook my head and cried a whole lot more.

But on the third day, just after snack time, he asked me if I was ready, and as the tears didn’t well up inside of me, I nodded.  He took my hand and walked me out into the world.

On one field trip, we went and visited a local beekeeper.  It was an airy, light-overcast day in early spring that promised of warmer days.  He assuaged all our fears, opened up a hive, and invited us closer to look inside, pulling out the frames and showing us honey, brood and pollen.  All of our bare little faces were relaxed and wide-eyed, enchanted by beauty and mystery.

I always give thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Colfax for the supremely human way they let me transition to a larger world, and I don’t think it’s ironic they introduced me to bees as well.

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