Archive | March, 2009

The Pollen Files: Three-Leaf Sumac

28 Mar

Spring is a fickle vixen in the high desert of Albuquerque. Three weeks ago, the girls were feisty and fixin’ to swarm. Last night, the water in their bird bath was frozen.

Never you mind, though, because the pollen rush continues.

Gathering nectar and pollen from three-leaf sumac

Gathering nectar and pollen from three-leaf sumac

Walking past a nondescript bush this afternoon, I noticed it vibrating with activity like a bowling alley on league night. It’s three-leaf sumac (Rhus trilobata), a desert shrub whose glory days come each fall when the leaves turn bright, bright red.

But my honey bees love it now. As it blooms in early spring from tiny pale catkins, they swarm it like the high school wallflower turned ravishing beauty at their 10 year reunion. Rhus trilobata is in its prime.


Michelle Obama on Bees at the White House

21 Mar

In this BBC video, Michelle Obama talks bees with a group of school children helping her dig the new White House garden:

“We’re going to also have a beehive, because one of gardeners here…I’m glad you’re excited because my kids aren’t very excited about the beehive… But we’re gonna try to make our own honey here.”

The announcement of a White House beehive, bliss for beekeepers lobbying to raise the profile of nature’s most effective pollinator, was overlooked by most news outlets in favor of garden-pretty photos and plans for a potager on the White House lawn.

Michelle Obama rakes with the raking action

Michelle Obama rakes with the raking action

Not that a kitchen garden at the White House isn’t exciting enough but somebody’s gotta pollinate all that garden goodness.

The Honey Bee Conservancy shares the full scoop on the White House bee hive.

The Pollen Files: Gopher Spurge

19 Mar

Otherwise oblivious to my surroundings, keeping bees has forced this big city girl to slow the hell down and smell the pollen.

Hardly a captivating show, gopher spurge is one of the earliest bloomers in Albuquerque but my girls found it immediately. Not only does gopher spurge give up a juicy load of nectar but it produces pollen too, with a coral, almost red color.

Honeybee collecting pollen from gopher spurge

Honeybee collecting pollen and nectar from gopher spurge

The last bee bears the coral-red pollen from gopher spurge

The last bee bears the coral-red pollen from gopher spurge

Hive Art

13 Mar

It’s a rainy day in Albuquerque so the girls and I are homebound, musing upon less pragmatic concerns such as this. A beautiful artistic collaboration between human and honeybee.

Hive art by Hilary Berseth and his bees

Hive art by Hilary Berseth and his bees

Via the Programmed Hive
Original story and slideshow at NY Magazine

Swarming Action?

9 Mar

Le bons temps roulant unseasonably early this year and my new girls have issued a license to swarm.

Here’s the scene at the Kerry hive around midday yesterday:

We opened the hive yesterday for the first time since Bill closed ’em up last Fall and removed some honey to curb their enthusiasm for swarming. Perhaps that wee bit o robbing and some rain today will check their wayward inclinations.