Sunday, June 20, 2010

All the buzz

Today my girlfriend Belynda & I attended a hen party at Rose & Thorn on the edge of Freestone in Sonoma after stopping for bread and sticky buns at the Freestone Bakery.
As you can see we were in the company of stars! These chicks were no less glamorous than their namesakes and definitely had the run of the place.

Earlier in the afternoon we'd had the pleasure of a stop at the Melissa Bee Sanctuary near the Russian River learning about how important bees are to us and how much we can learn from them. All the flowers were planted to attract the bees and help them thrive in a place as free from stress and disease as possible.

The log hive is completely natural and honey is not collected from it. Honey is what bees make to feed future generations and the folks only take honey when their hives have a substantial surplus. One of my favorite hives was made like the ones on Germany with a straw lining and they do not use plastic as it inhibits the queen from being able to produce drones to mate with and it's very important that she does!

It was so amazing to hear how by slowly opening the hives and keeping quiet it was not necessary to wear protective clothing and use smoke - in fact the bees were humming! They only bite if they feel threatened.

We even got to see the Queen make a regal appearance, but she doesn't leave her hive often so she was gently returned as soon as we made her acquaintance.

It's very important to have a water source near your bees but they'll drown if you're not careful so cork is often floated in pools or fountains so they can sip their water through it.

There are many different and extremely original types of hives.

Here Belynda takes a peek - this hive had the most amaziing sweet smell emanating from it.

Here we saw the German type hive carefully opened from the top and the cloth gently rolled back to expose the bees busy in their hive below. Honey is an antibiotic as well as a food and has many other uses.

If you're interested in future tours you may visit their website!

The tour actually began at 10am in Sebastopol at Beekind where they sell local honey for beekeepers as well as their own, beeswax, beekeeping supplies and seeds for flowers and herbs that will attract bees. The owner told us that when he put in his first hive he increased the yield in his vegetable garden by as much as tenfold!

We had a beekeeping 101 class where we learned about the roles of the different bees, mating, hive activity, how important bees are to us and how the planet used to take care of us and now it's our turn to take care of it.

Belynda appears to be fascinated as this comb was brought out for inspection. It's amazing that I think only one person was stung the entire day and she didn't let it hold her back from enjoying the rest of her day.

Here you can see the braver members of our group passing the bees for closer inspection. They (bees) have amazing noses and love to make honey from the same flowers - if for instance one comes back to the hive with sage blossom nectar than he tells his friends and they take a sniff and can follow his directions to go out and find some themselves - it's amazing how complex the hive and the life of the bee really is.

That's all the buzz for now!


corinne said...

Looks like a wonderful field trip... thanks for sharing. We have a hive/nuc in our back yard. It's the second one, since the first didn't make it through the winter. This spring, all the bees that were being shipped here to Vancouver Island died in transit. It's such a hard time for bees right now, with pesticides, cell phone signals, colony collapse... our future depends on the bees! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Most informative and important! We were raised to respect bees. I will have to ask my Mom why as that is most unusual.

Gayle said...

Aaaaaaaahhh sticky buns from Freestone....I'll be back in a minute.....mmmmmm.....

The beekeeper pics are fabulous! We'll be putting one in at our farm this year. We're also going to try growing mushrooms. Thanks for sharing!!

carl auböck architekt said...

this magic is only in america.
i love it- full of peace and spirit..
thank you