Years ago, when I first started keeping bees, I woke up to how critically important it is for organic farmers to cut out the middle man. Without the ability to directly market their food at local farmers markets, stores, CSA (community supported agriculture) food boxes and restaurants, they take a huge hit financially.
Farmers are never paid what they are worth. It’s a 6am -10pm kind of seven day work week job— with few benefits and lots of hidden calamities. Weather, pests, seed costs, soil amendments, animal husbandry failures are always waiting to happen. Here in the Southwest, lack of rain and water woes top the list. But organic farmers are as fierce as they come—most of the ones I know are in love with the land, the animals and the schedule that allows them to be their own boss. Kind of why I love beekeeping…
Farm and Table restaurant has created a direct line from the field to the kitchen. Literally, I have sat on their patio overlooking Farmer Ric Murphy’s Sol Harvest fields full of delicious fresh produce. After brunch, we browsed amongst the nice neat rows, admiring his handiwork and collaboration with Mother Nature. The vegetable dishes were exquisite. A nice recent addition are the cows…
Owner Cheri Montoya, took her father’s farm land in the North Valley of Albuquerque, and created a vision to support local farmers on her land—never mind that she was also creating a first class restaurant. On her website, she quotes Aldo Leopold:
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
In the Southwestern high desert, usually known for being a food desert, Cheri has had spectacular success with her model. Instead of shipping all that food in from CA, she has remained stalwart. These days, you need a reservation.
Her collaboration is built upon the following values:
Local Food. We conscientiously design our seasonal menu around locally-sourced ingredients.
Respect. We honor the many individuals that make our experience possible – from the hard-working folks who pick our produce in the field to the person who serves each plate.
Hospitality. We value each and every guest who walks through our door and strive to offer a great experience for all: fresh delicious food, beautiful setting, and great service.
Community. We celebrate our community! Chefs, farmers, artists, musicians, scholars, families, organizations, worthy causes, and lots of creative individuals will come together here at Farm & Table to build a vibrant community hub.
Of course you all probably have your favorite version of Farm to Table restauranteurs in your neck of the woods. Send me a name and what you love about your best locavore foodie place! I want to hear all about it, so on my next cross country tour, I can sample your goodies too.
June is Pollinator month! Bee part of our annual Think Like A Bee swarmfunding campaign. In honor of all good food and the pollinators that make it possible, help fund our ongoing bee advocacy and education work this coming year. Go to this page and click on the DONATE button. You may also send any tax deductible donations made out to PES (our fiscal sponsor) c/o Think Like A Bee, 410 Morningside Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. Thank you!
It seems only fitting, during June as pollinator month, to celebrate food. Food, glorious food. I do love food. Let me qualify that. I love good food.
Sean Brock is a rockstar in the world of food and cheffery. His cuisine is found in Charleston, North Carolina at McCrady’s and Husk. My husband Kenneth is a Georgia peach, so this post honors his stomping grounds and the fabulous food that comes from Southern soils and imaginations. We constantly plot our getaway to Charleston when we visit family in Atlanta, Georgia. “Next time…” we always say. We haven’t made it yet. But after watching PBS “The Mind of a Chef” with Sean Brock, I think we will do it next time.
Jimmy Red Corn, Crispy Pig ears, Beaten Biscuits and Sack sausage are on the menu. Now, I can’t say that this is what lures me in, but Brock is known for taking Southern Cooking to new heights.
Raised in the Appalachian mountains, a coal-field town of rural Virginia, he grew up tending seeds, cooking food and preserving stuff in his grandmother’s kitchen. Since there were no restaurants or stoplights, everyone ate what came out of their garden or cellar. Seeing food in it’s true form left an impression on Brock. He left to become a chef, settling eventually in Charleston. Purchasing a 2.5 acre farm, he began to dabble in raising near extinct crops from a pre-Civil war era and exploring ante-bellum cuisine. Saving seeds and heirloom foods became a passion—including James Island Red Corn (aka “Jimmy Red”), from which he makes grits, Flint Corn, Benne Seed, Rice Peas, Sea Island Red Peas, and several varieties of Farro. Caring deeply about how farm animals are treated, Brock also raises his own herd of pigs, overseeing and ensuring ethical treatment of his heritage breeds. (http://huskrestaurant.com/sean-brock-2/)
Sean Brock is perhaps the best-known spokesperson for both expanding and preserving the integrity of traditional Southern food ways. His cuisine shines a spotlight on the untold varieties of rice, beans and grains which once made America the envy of the world. Brock’s obsessive and ever-growing collection of seeds and recipes, along with countless hours of research, help to ensure that these long-forgotten heritage varieties are resurrected. (“Mind of a Chef”, exec. producer Anthony Bourdain, PBS series, season 2, 2013)
But don’t take my word for it. Check it out here.
Who knows, you might even beat Kenneth and me to it.
Thank you Sean Brock, for bringing integrity back into our food again, and honoring the pollinators and eco-systems that make it possible to eat well.
June is Pollinator month. Bee part of our annual Think Like A Bee swarmfunding campaign. In honor of all good food and the pollinators that make it possible, help fund our ongoing bee advocacy and education work this coming year. Go to this page and click on the DONATE button. You may also send any tax deductible donations made out to PES (our fiscal sponsor) c/o Think Like A Bee, 410 Morningside Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108.
Dear Bee Friends and Protectors,
June is Pollinator month. We celebrate all pollinators for our food and the sheer beauty of flowers that grace our days. Think Like A Bee is doing a Swarm funding event through the month of June 2017 (aka crowdfunding in bee language). In order to help fund our ongoing work this coming year Go to this page and click on the DONATE button. Bee part of our swarmfunding campaign this year. You may also send any tax deductible donations made out to PES (our fiscal sponsor) c/o Think Like A Bee, 410 Morningside Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108.
This year your donation will fund a City wide Pollination Celebration, with a special ceremony to honor our new Burque Bee City status!
Our bee and farm summer internship is up and running. This year our youth come from the South Valley, and from Africa (Cameroon and Chad). In addition to beekeeping and native plants, they will learn skills of seed selection, composting, irrigation, harvesting and marketing— farm to table. They are also learning healthy lifestyle choices with “Food As Medicine”. Your donations will help provide:
- food for lunches
2018 will bring ongoing advocacy and education in neighborhoods about pollinator protection. It will entail calls and visits to city hall and municipal officials for pesticide free communities. It will also give us a jump start on preparing 2018 BURQUE BEE CITY BASH and next summer’s youth intern program.
Like the swarming bees, Think Like A Bee’s work has been dividing exponentially this past year. We need your help to sustain us for the coming year, so half of what we dream of doing doesn’t go away!
Thank you for all the ways you support pollinators in the world. That’s how a democracy works—even if you don’t necessarily receive a direct benefit, you contribute to the whole to make our society a better place to live. It takes a village to raise bee awareness and bee a protector! We all benefit from bee’s free pollination services and multitudinous foods that they give us — avocados, cherries, blueberries, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, papaya, to name a few…
Even if you don’t have a hive in your backyard, don’t have a place to plant flowers, don’t even like bees or (gasp) honey, your contributions count.
All donations over $50 will be entered into a sweepstakes drawing for a “bee basket” full of goodies that honor our bee friends and are mighty delightful to humans!
In a time where we need to support our values more than ever with our time, money and energy, Think Like A Bee is grateful for your generosity.
Pass it on…#Swarmfunding
We as a human community are trying to figure out these days what it means to live together. The ancient ones, honeybees also known as apis mellifera, figured that out many, many moons ago. To go into a beehive is to learn a lesson about taking care of the common good. The 80,000 workers living together, often on top of one another in a hive community, aren’t trying to figure out how they can individually reap the most for their money. “Hive mind”means that everyone is trying to think as one for the best of the whole. Out of this amazing collaboration comes the prized elixir of honey.
Recently Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) had a townhall meeting at a local gymnasium. When asked about some of the guts of the new plan particularly in regards to Maternity care, “Blum said he’d voted in favor of legislation that repeals and replaces major parts of the Affordable Care Act to “get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts on […] such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance”
In a response resounding across the country, a 63 year old woman named Barbara Rank, a retired special education teacher sitting in the audience fired off a reply to his dismissive comment, picked up by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
“Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate? Why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read? Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of?”
Rank ended her missive explaining why she did actually believe in people paying for all of those things ― by saying how it was all about “democracy,” “a civil society” and “the greater good.”
Someone posted a photograph of her letter to Reddit over the weekend, and it’s now gone viral, sparking positive reactions across the internet:
Rank said she’d laughed at the response to her letter because it’s “such a silly little piece.” The conclusion to the note, however, was something she “always” ends up saying, she added.
“Every argument I’ve ever had with somebody, friends or relative: Don’t you want to live in a civil society?” she told The Washington Post. “Government is the structure of the country we live in. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be.” (HuffPost, May 16, 2017, Lee Morgan)
Thank you Barbara. You show us how to think like a bee. And a human being.
Bees are not all gentle and sweet smelling of honey, though I do love that about some of my hives. As you heard from my last post, the hive mind can be testy and irritable and pesky towards intruders. But they also visit brutal things upon their own kind. Which in a weird way is comforting, right? We aren’t the only species.
Above is a lovely little queen that one hive recently offed. It came on the heels of a few days of intense buzzing and frenetic activity around the door. Clearly something was going on inside….when I found this little queen dead, outside the door a few days later, I realized that the hive had been living through a duel of sorts between the old queen and the younger queen. Evidently the old queen won. I can imagine the intensity and anxiety of the hive as all this was going on.
Bees like to make new queens for a variety of reasons. If they are crowded and need to split, they’ll make a new queen and take off with her in tow, for a new zipcode. If the old queen becomes aged or failing and stops being a productive egg layer, they will begin to plot against her, building a new queen right under her nose that hatches out and comes back to fight for the throne.
Thankfully our human societies do better than this when people age, but we still do warehouse old people as they move past their productive, generative years.
At the same time, I also noticed the hive next door to the queen drama becoming quite active, throwing out drones all day long. The picture you see below is of the killing fields of drones, the males. It was quite shocking one morning. Males are the genetic DNA of the hive and necessary when it comes to mating in the Spring. But if the hive is running out of room or has few resources to spare, the lounging drones become dead weight for the hive. They are useless when it comes to foraging and food production—or any other work that needs to be done in the hive, quite frankly. They eat through the honey and pollen stores. The girls will cruelly dig them out, chase them down, bite off their wings and attack them, throwing them out the front door. It is shocking and sad.
But when I went in the next day to see what was the matter, I noticed they were getting ready to de-throne their queen too. The girls were tending queen cells that would come out in a few weeks to face down the old queen. I have to trust that the bees know what they are doing. There have been a ton of drone cells in that hive and usually queens will begin overlaying drone eggs when they have run out of fertilized eggs. Alas, for her.
So, clearly the hives have been in a state of flux and transition. It’s Spring after all. Everything is popping, growing, expanding, fruiting. I’m not surprised. Never a dull moment in the beeyard.
However, thinking like a bee, it did made me think about a few things. I realized how much humans are more like the hive mind than not. Often when violence intensifies or escalates in a community, it’s not hard to see the anxiety and fear that it visits on the whole. Feelings intensify. Everyone becomes unsettled. How quickly group think can kick in and things get out of control.
Another thing I realized, coming on the heels of a cabaret workshop recently offered by friends, “Dying to Live”. I realized that all things are in a state of living and dying at any moment. None of us can escape this. Often we don’t fully understand the work we are called to do so we are fully prepared when it shows up on our doorstep—often a series of small deaths daily, with the big ones hitting us like a two by four. The best thing is to prepare and enjoy, seriously savor, every waking moment and imbibe as fully as possible. Cynthia and Stephen sang us the Cabaret Song with their ukelele’s in hand and we belted it out (little did I know this song and show was created during WWII, a time so rife with fear and angst)….
Start by admitting from cradle to tomb
It isn’t that long a stay
Life is a cabaret, old chum!
And I love a cabaret!
I have a hot hive in my backyard. I know I need to take them far away from town, down to the farm in the valley where there are no people. I like to think of myself as a bee whisperer. They remind me that this is hubris. I am freaked out by their kamikaze ways, torpedoing me when I go out to water the plants. I remind them that they are in my yard by my good graces. Perhaps it is because once upon a time (about a month ago) I went into their hive and took their queen and half the hive mind. They were overpopulated. I needed to start a new colony. No problem. They raised up a new queen. I opened them the other day and am pretty sure I spotted her. But the problem is, this queen might have some Africanized or Russian genetics, which tend to be more aggressive, super productive and hyper vigilant.
So, now whenever I go outside to hang laundry, tend another hive or just play in my garden, this beehive sends a “minder”. They hover, and hover, and pester.
Sometimes they get tangled in my hair, or if they are having a bad hair day themselves, they see my black fleece underwear and it plucks their last nerve. They dive bomb into my pants, thinking perhaps it is the fur of a bear too close to the hive for comfort. I have two pretty angry looking bruises emanating from the red bullseye of a sting.
So, a funny story. We have a security system sign for our house alarm in our front yard that says “PROTECTED BY SECURITY USA”. Someone recently penned in magic marker next to the “security” part—”bees”. So now it says, “PROTECTED BY BEES SECURITY USA”. Very funny. I hope they didn’t get stung by a bee from the little terrorist hive in our backyard, radiating minders into the front yard. We haven’t seen angry notes yet, or been sued. My neighbors are amazingly supportive.
So, until I take them away and deal with the “hot” queen, it has given me plenty of food for thought.
I have a rather “hot” Leo the Lion personality —having been born under this sun sign in the fair month of August. Not many days go by that I’m not enraged by something in the news. My urge is to pour all my enthusiastic, persuasive, righteous, fire-y energy into that issue.
Not a good idea.
As two friends have reminded me in the last week alone…it is better to pour that persistence, enthusiasm, passion, that hyper-vigilance, that raging against the “machine” into creative energy for building a new tomorrow on this planet. All the life affirming things I love are awaiting my attention. My daily work in progress is to become more filled up with Love than rage, day by day.
My spiritual director, Cynthia, a wise soul who is further ahead on the path, reminded me that we are all governed by the gravitational pulls of the planets, the lunar cycles, the seasons, though we have run far afield of them in our relentless pursuing and fixation on culture, politics, words, techno toys and screens. The farmers have always known we are indivisible from our planet—thus the Farmer’s Almanac with instructions about weather and when to plant according to the moon.
She told me about her recent visit to the Monterey Aquarium in Northern California. There she was fascinated to learn about octopuses. From Sy Montgomery:
The common octopus has about 130 million neurons in its brain. A human has 100 billion. But this is where things get weird. Three-fifths of an octopus’s neurons are not in the brain; they’re in its arms.
“It is as if each arm has a mind of its own,” says Peter Godfrey-Smith, a diver, professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York…researchers who cut off an octopus’s arm (which the octopus can regrow) discovered that not only does the arm crawl away on its own, but if the arm meets a food item, it seizes it — and tries to pass it to where the mouth would be if the arm were still connected to its body.”
We have forgotten we are bodies—more alike all the creatures than not. They have evolved brilliant ways of adapting to and living on earth that we as a fairly young species—the last to be exact— could really benefit from in this time when our survival is so interconnected. My bees, and particularly the hive mind, draw me back to remember this on a regular basis. I am in relationship with them. They are showing me lessons, some simple and practical, some existential and profound, on a daily level. They remind me of the world in which I live in so many ways….teaching me how to navigate it.
For instance, the gentle “herding” instinct to keep me away from their hive, the daily persistent, needling, buzzing presence—with the occasional stings— remind me to stay awake, stay away and be respectful. It is also a model of how to show up in the world when my things or those of all that I love are threatened. Persist. Resist. Sometimes with a sting, but mostly just with vigilant “hovering”.
And so, on this day, instead of manipulating my universe, I slow down and listen up. I reflect on the body wisdom of the created universe. What is it telling me these days? It would be wiser for us to remember that we are part of a much large universal story that is unfolding, of which we are only a minute part in this dot of a time in her/history. There are successful ways of living that Indigenous people can show us as our western industrial civilization is coming up short.
It is time for us to set our clocks with the wisdom of the elders. The earth speaks, and since we are part of the earth, our bodies deeply intertwined, it would behoove us to slow down and pay attention.
…not the psychedelic kind, but the fungi kind.
Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, has been studying mushrooms for decades. His love affair with mushrooms was inspired by his brother who traveled south to Mexico and Colombia in the 1970’s looking for the “magic mushrooms”. You know. The kind that make you happy.
Paul became a mycologist. A mushroom pioneer. Knowing my passion for bees, I understand how it can drive one’s life in a certain direction.
He began studying the amazing anti-viral properties of mushrooms for health. But he soon found out that not only can certain mushrooms enhance our immune system and kill cancer cells, but other kinds of mushrooms can clean up toxic spills and pollution in the soil. They can repel certain pests in agriculture. Digging deeper, he began to study the relationship between bees and mushrooms. He found bees feeding on certain kinds of mushrooms growing in his garden which then became resistant to the dreaded varroa mite—the ones that disfigure and eventually suck the life out of bees.
Bees were attracted to the fungi, which in turn strengthened their immunities against disease and mites. In October 2016, Stamets created the U.S. Patent # 9,474,776, “Integrative Fungal Solutions for Protecting Bees”.
A recent article about Stamets revealed that Monsanto, poison giant of the world, might just be getting worried about what’s happening in Stamets’ little corner of the world—where he plies his mushroom passion, not for profit or the bottom line, but for the love of it— sharing his fascinating finds with the world. He has created a patent to resist agricultural pests without spraying pesticides—the kiss of death for bees and pollinators.
In 2006, a patent was granted to a man named Paul Stamets. Though Paul is the world’s leading mycologist, his patent has received very little attention and exposure. Why is that? Stated by executives in the pesticide industry, this patent represents “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.” And when the executives say disruptive, they are referring to it being disruptive to the chemical pesticides industry.
What has Paul discovered? The mycologist has figured out how to use mother nature’s own creations to keep insects from destroying crops. It’s what is being called SMART pesticides. These pesticides provide safe & nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms. Paul does this by taking entomopathogenic Fungi (fungi that destroys insects) and morphs it so it does not produce spores. In turn, this actually attracts the insects who then eat and turn into fungi from the inside out!
As the article states, “To tolerate the use of pesticides in modern agriculture is to deny evidence proving its detrimental effects against the environment. Such ignorance really can no longer be tolerated. For example, can you imagine a world without bees?”
Evidently Mother Nature’s fierce wisdom and recurring ability to heal herself and humans is a threat to the corporate powers that be. Stamets’ patents could prove to be bad for Monsanto’s bottom line. Poisons pay in this world, after all. And the humble little mushroom stands in the face of this insanity and says, “hey, you can do this without sickening people and the planet.”
In today’s world, it is immoral, unethical and irresponsible to continue to poison and pollute the planet. It is robbing future generations of their right to life.
On this Earth Day weekend, the invitation is to work on behalf of all that is life affirming, spreading the good news—such as Paul Stamets’ work. Human ingenuity and imagination partnering with the brilliance of the planet is creating a different dream for our future. We can choose this over the nihilistic, death dealing vision we are being handed.
I have no doubt that Monsanto could shut Stamets down. That’s what they do. Their resume is stocked with stories of bullying, threats, suppression of information, pay offs, and lawsuits against ordinary farmers, people and organizations. The goal is to silence dissent. Make them go away.
But I also believe, as the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) said, that humanity can change our collision course with disaster. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Happy Earth Day!
These lovely little signs for your garden and yard are available at the Albuquerque Garden Center. 10120 Lomas Blvd. NE, open 9:30-2:30 M-F. Call them for more information @ 505-296-6020.
Like any child, it takes a village or a whole bee hive to raise up any baby bee-ing properly. Burque Bee City is in that toddler stage. We need lots of help! We need you!
We will need pollinator protectors in every neighborhood, co-op, city hall, household, school and congregation to make it a reality. Here’s a few things you can do to make this happen:
- Become a pollinator friendly Neighborhood! Call CABQ Dalaina Carmona @ 924-3914 to find out your city neighborhood district and President. In our city you have the power to create pesticide free and pollinator habitat zones in your neighborhood. Call CABQ #311 and request a spray free zone around your house. Here’s what the Burque Bee City resolution says:
Whereas, communities have the opportunity to support bees and other pollinators on both public and private land through pesticide free zones; working in collaboration with city officials to manage and increase healthy native habitat for pollinators—including, but not limited to roadsides, medians, open spaces and parks.
- Start a pollinator garden in your neighborhood. Let us know so we can post it on our new website! https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/open-space/bee-city-usa We want to collect your stories and toot your horn!
- Mark your calendars for Father’s Day to come out to the first citywide celebration of Burque Bee City. It will be held in conjunction with City of Albuquerque at Open Space, 6500 Coors Blvd. NW, June 18, 2017, 9am-2pm. Enjoy all things pollinator-friendly, which include moths, bees, butterflies, bats and birds as pollinators. Games and activities for children, music for the family, cutting the ribbon for Burque Bee City.
- *like* us on Facebook. Go to Burque Bee City or Think Like A Bee and begin to follow us to learn more about the ways you can get involved and all things bees happening right here in Albuquerque.
We have the opportunity to make New Mexico unique with Burque Bee City. It is a first of its kind in the southwest—a New Mexico True event! We have the power to create the kinds of neighborhoods we want to live in—communities that celebrate pollinator health and create the kind of planet we want for our children and grandchildren.
For more information contact Anita @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Some weeks are harder than others.
Even as the night temperatures plunge towards freezing again,
my bees thrive and expand.
For me, nature in all her resilient generosity and reciprocity
is a testament to life.
Even when the powers of the world seem hell bent
on destroying all that we cherish as life.
Even as beauty, goodness and truth are offered up daily
on the altars of war and profiteering.
I offer a bee poem and prayer for times such as these….
(I have taken the liberty of using bees instead of birds for the first poem. I hope the authors will forgive me.)
I love to watch how bees
soar on the wind.
There appears to be such
little effort, yet such joy.
I want to become like a bee
and let my spirit soar
on the winds that are blowing through my life.
I will not be crushed against the rocks!
I will sense the rhythm, the
flow, and react accordingly.
I will trust my inner guide.
—Judith Garrett Garrison and Scott Shepherd, Prayers for Healing, ed. Maggie Oman(Berkeley, CA: Conan Press, 1977)226.
Mother of all beginnings
With the honey-nectar
from the hive.
I will sing
The long-forgotten threnody
Of praise to thee.
—Anne Baring, Prayers for Healing, ed. Maggie Oman(Conari Press, Berkeley, CA, 1977)108.