It has gone from an unseasonably cool and rainy Spring here in Southwest Nova Scotia, to bright and sunny and warm. Every Spring Flower and early Summer flower is in full bloom and this gives the honey bees a wonderful nutritious diet to feed themselves, their young and us too!
Do you remember the last day of school when the bell rang at 3pm?——well the bees must be having some similar experience, because they are dashing out of the hives in hordes and racing in the skies like snowflakes in a blizzard! The celebration of the Sun is in full show — how wonderful.
The hives here at Bello Uccello Honey Bee Sanctuary are in good shape.
We have no diseases in our hives and the only pest is the mite. Even
this seems to be losing ground as the bees regress in their size to their more natural size, before the commercialization of the honey bees began and their grooming traits develop to throw the mites out of the hive . The biggest challenge to the honey bee is the actions of man, when we forget about the wisdom Goethe gave to us:
“Nothing happens in living Nature that is not in relation to the whole.”
The way we look at this is as follows: if you can’t eat it for breakfast or bath in it, or fill your lungs with it, don’t be putting it out there in the environment, for eventually we all will be “eating it” and “bathing in it” and “breathing it”. This is definitely the cause of the death of the honey bee hive.
Did you know that honey bees require water? Well that may seem sensible – but did you know they require a lot of water? And this water must be clean . Imagine this: there are approximately 8,000 bees to a single frame in a super, and there are 10 frames in a large super, and Bello Uccello’s Honey Bee Sanctuary has hives which have 3 to 5 supers each. Now that you are imagining thousands and thousands of honey bees in your head, you can perhaps picture that the water supply for these thousands of little Sun Beings must be in somewhat of a continuous supply.
Honey bees require drinking water to help them thin down their honey for brood rearing and also for air conditioning, plus a good sip for themselves. They have a mad obsession with chlorinated water found in swimming pools and with the rain water pooled on the plastic tablecloth covering our picnic table on the deck – yuk! Providing them with a suitable source of clean drinking water is important. Up until now we had a pan filled with rocks and water which we put in the middle of the sanctuary. Did I mention that honey bees also can drown in water very easily, and so the supply must be shallow and have moss or rocks or floating rafts for them to safely land upon to take their drink?
The adventure to create a place of Beauty and Art for the watering source for the honey bees came to me one day as my wish to create an art piece needed to be manifested somewhere. Well as I am spending less and less time in my lovely ocean view art studio in the summer and more and more time watching the Father of the Hive (Klaus) take care of the honey bees, I decided to create a project where I was, namely, in the Sanctuary.
-HEXAGON SHAPE IN THE SANCTUARY
The first project we did in June was to measure out the spacing of the hives in the Sanctuary and then we mowed the grass into a beautiful hexagon shape, which included all of the hives within its bounds. We thought that this formative shape of the hexagon would benefit the bees by reenforcing the “body” in which they dwell. The hive’s skeleton body is made up of wax -hexagon- shaped cells. How beautiful the Sanctuary looked after this project was completed . Pythagorus would be so proud of us:-}!
The next project of Beauty and Art was to create a clean continuous water source for the honey bees. We selected a shady spot 25 feet from the hexagon boundary of the apiary.
It was on the side of a hill, under the maple and spruce trees ,beside our deck. We dug into the soil at an angle so that the improvised 5- gallon- camping water can with a tap would operate by gravity. A large shallow flat-shaped basalt rock was placed below the tap to catch the water as it drip……drip………drips out of the container. Below this was a large perfectly round bowl filled with rocks for rain water and the extra drips to go into. This is a project in progress. So far peppermint, woodruff, lemon balm, chamomile, and thyme have bee planted around this water source. The next step is to bring in a couple moss covered stones to sit around the edge of the basalt rock. When a wooden barrel comes our way we will put that in as the water container, but in the meantime we have hidden the less-than-natural look of the container with bent white birch boughs. If you have a problem getting the bees to “find” your clean water source, just put a few drops of lemon grass on the stone and they will find it for sure!
This is a great project for kindergartens, families,naturalists,gardeners, etc. – use your imagination and create a clean water source for the bees. The bees will be very happy you have and so will our small planet.