Fashionista Bees

This little fashionista bee, which was also yummy by the way (thank you Jessie!), represents my feelings exactly. After a stunningly easy pass through of the Burque Bee City USA Resolution (“it was a love fest” as my friend Lynne so aptly put it), we are on our way. Likely the harder work lies ahead, of where the rubber actually  meets the road…even as I write this, I am aware of communities and Beekeepers in Albuquerque who are seeking to work with City officials, to ensure that the public space around them isn’t devastating their pollinator habitat and bee communities. We will all need to continue to be vigilant about habitat and chemicals going forward.

The other news that hit while I was in the throes of City Council and Bee City was the report from the New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture and New Mexico State University Entymology researchers. After examining my fallout of dead bees and a sample of comb, they determined that their were no neonicitinoids involved.

When I sampled that very hive for varroa mites, I was pleased to find that they did not test positive for mites either.

It’s a mystery. Hallelujah. That’s all I have to say about that.

In 10 short days I will be driving to Minnesota for a change of seasons and a Writing Fellowship/Residency Fall 2016.

My girls will be put to bed before I leave. It’s been a good season for honey, for learning, for a full return to health in all my backyard hives. I entrust them to Providence and will see them in the New Year!

Stay tuned for all the bee news that’s fit to print from Minnesota….

We Did It!

BURQUE BEE CITY is a reality! Over a year later, after a rather amazing cast of volunteers called on City Councilors,  spoke at Neighborhood Coalition meetings, tabled at public markets, talked with nurseries, we finally have a Resolution in place that is law. It not only raises awareness about pollinators, but opens the door for ongoing collaboration between our beekeeper associations and the city ——for increased and diverse bee habitat, reduced or pesticide free zones, bee designation signs and ongoing education and advocacy.

This is only the bee-ginning!IMG_5059(1)

We are especially  grateful to the two offices that sponsored this—Winters and Benton and their hardworking staff, Rebekkah Burt and Diane Dolan.

Councilor Benton thanked the bee community for all their work on behalf of pollinators. It was notable that Councilor Winters had no idea the bee community was so active and strong! It was fun to hear President Lewis say he wished he’d co-sponsored the bill, such bi-partisan support it enjoyed. It was a nice surprise to hear Councilor Trudy Jones say she had planted pollinator habitat in her yard, after our visit with her office.

So to all of you  who took the time to come out to City Council tonight(see photo above), who sent us good wishes, who spent countless hours volunteering, who will continue to care for your own bees, who are dedicated to planting gardens for all pollinator’s, THANK YOU!

This is a triumph for all of us in the bee community, for pollinator’s everywhere and for the Big Burque!

Honey Time

It’s harvest time.. I’ve been awaiting this and dreading it for a few months now, knowing that processing honey without a machine is going to be, well, let’s just say time-consuming and sticky.

But I am feeling a little bit giddy now that I’ve actually done the deed—pulling out about 8 bars of honey from my girls. Thick as Amber molasses and gooey as taffy, I can already taste it melting in my mouth. My bees don’t make light, floral tasting honey. They go for a thick texture and a ripe, raw earthy taste.

I’ve crushed it and now it is just dripping like liquid gold into a big bucket. It will sit like that for a few days, interspersed with some more smooshing down of the wax until it is all squeezed out and melted into the big white bucket.

Meanwhile, if you are near, come on down to the City Council on Monday, August 15, 5pm and support bees and all pollinator’s as we bring the Bee City USA Resolution to the floor to protect pollinator’s in our fair city. Wear white to stand with the Beekeepers.

If you are far away, light a candle and remember us with good thoughts.

Meanwhile, thank you for all your care for birds, bees, bats and anything pollinator!

Due to popular demand, we will keep up our swarmfunding site,  Deposit a Gift until after our Resolution passes…just in case you haven’t had the chance to contribute to ThinkLikeABee’s work!

 

Bee kill and Bee City USA

I just got off the phone with the New Mexico Department of Ag. They will be sending me a bee researcher tomorrow to take a sample of my dying bees.


It started about a week ago and it is still going on day by day. Very distressing to watch. Piles of them outside the hive, falling and twitching or doing head spins, their nervous systems shutting down before they died on the hot cement. I cannot say for certain if it is a neonic0tinoid poisoning. Imidacloprid  is the strongest suspect—the most prevalent neonicotinoid ingredient in over the counter bug sprays for backyard enthusiasts these days. It comes packaged by Bayer, Syngenta, DowCorning. This is a bug neurotoxin, destroying the nervous system of any insect. It has been shown to cause memory, orientation and nervous system problems, as well as reproductive decline. Dr. James Nieh, professor of biology at U.C. San Diego has studied the effects on humans. Parkinsonian symptoms and dementia.  It’s all cumulative in our ecosystem.

I hope our Bee City USA resolution at Albuquerque’s City Council meeting on August 15, 5pm will only draw more attention to the plight of honeybees and all insects and mammals impacted by this deadly class of insecticides. All of us as a human family need to begin to examine the things we do to the earth we live upon. I just read today that pesticides have increased over 30% in the last 50 years according to David Pimental, Biologist at Harvard U. Today we are looking at 3.5 pounds of pesticides per person. Likely it’s disproportionately distributed in poorer neighborhoods. But we all breathe the same air and eat the food that’s grown in the soil, with the same water.

encourage any of you to come to the City Council Chambers downtown at the Civic Plaza City Hall, basement floor, 5pm August 15 to raise your voices in support of bees!  WEAR A WHITE SHIRT or your white beekeeping suit if you are a Beekeeper.  This will make the bee supporters in the room very noticeable.

I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Swarmfunding

It was an experiment. One friend called it “swarmfunding” rather than crowdfunding. I like that. My goal was to see what happened. As of today, we have “swarmgathered” over $2,000!  That is a grand success for this first time.

Top 10 Craziest Bee Swarms - Cox's Honey

Thank you one and all for contributing. I am grateful for every single contribution, knowing that each and every dollar was given out of generosity, kindness and on behalf of a healthy future for our planet.

As in the bee world, there is no such thing as a menial contribution to the hive. All are absolutely of worth and necessary in the hive —despite the  division of labor. Whether a nurse bee, janitor, mortician, architect comb builder, honey storer, guard bee and finally, a nectar/pollen gathering field bee, all roles will bring about the health and common good for the colony.

I see the beehive as a small microcosm of a Utopia—especially in the world of so many dystopia novels and Hollywood films. In a swarmfunding kind of world, everyone gives what they can to make the world a better place. I hope I can live up to this. In the hive there is no “me first”, or narcissistic personalities. The bees don’t have time for such nonsense. It would mean certain suicide for the hive and it would fall into anarchy and destruction.

I find, in my journeys these days, that for all the narcissists, there are 10, 100, maybe 10,000 ordinary people going about their splendid lives— creating, serving, loving, not seeking attention or approval. Their reward is in the doing, whether for those they love or simply because of a deep meaning and satisfaction in the good work they are about in the world.

It gives me hope.

So thank you all for your support and vote of confidence in the bees and the work of Think Like A Bee. Every bit counts.

Swarm of bees attack overturned truck on highway | New York Post

Think Like A Bee “swarmfunding’ will be coming to a close July 31.  Deposit a gift here to enter a “bee basket” grand prize drawing July 31. We are a tax exempt organization committed to advocacy and education.

 

The Bat Cave

The world is a violent place. And it is a wondrous place. Still. We live in this tension daily and the challenge is how we respond to suffering and still give daily thanks for such an amazingly graced place to call home.

This past weekend we were in Crestone, truly a village. A population of 127 in southwest Colorado—a post mining region. The mosquitos were out en masse and the jokes in the local paper said that if you weren’t paying attention, you could be borne away on a cloud of these bloodthirsty suckers. Tall tales abounded about the mosquito invasion. They weren’t kidding. It was serious. One didn’t leave home unarmed with DEET, which I abhor applying to my body. The sweet smell, masking the poison, never fails to turn my stomach.


Three days later we are visiting the Oriental Land Trust, on our way up the steep incline to the caved-in iron ore mine turned bat sanctuary. Here 250,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats migrate every summer. The locals say they can watch the mosquitos reduce before their very eyes. They can tell whether the bats have migrated to full capacity  by the mosquitos or lack there of. After 60% of them have returned the mosquitos and a bugginess in general has receded noticeably. At 100%, humans and animals can take back the night, free of these tiny beasts. It was remarkable to me that this cave—one mountain over from Crestone, could be so clear and free. Like a de-mined swath of land, human and creature alike could return to a semblance of sanity and normalcy. And this bat cave was adjacent to a warm spring where lots of skin was showing all summer long!
Some remarkable factoids that I learned about bats which I already have a bias of fascination for, along with all pollinators, was that a colony of a quarter of a million can consume a Hummer vehicle worth of 2-3 tons of airborne pests a night. They can fly as far as 50 miles in pursuit of bugs and up to 10,000 feet. They navigate completely by echo detection or sonar. Every night around 8:55pm they leave their cave. This group is a bachelor pad, all males.

Click here to watch their flight and learn about them
As the bats soared out like a bat river at precisely 5 minutes til the hour, it was beyond amazing to stand in this batwind. A silent explosion of wings and tiny papery black bodies into the night. It went on for an eternity, continuing even as they were no longer visible to the naked eye. Watch out StellaLuna, here comes your tribe!

As we gingerly hike back down the steep grade, our headlamps glowing, I am grateful for the invisible, silent shield of bats that have our backs in the valley, and all over this planet. A nontoxic pest solution. Better than a fleet of low flying airplanes or trucks spraying cancer causing chemicals.

Sadly, like bees, bats are in trouble. For them it’s the fungal white nose scourge, killing them. Like bees they create an invisible forecefield of health around us—whether pest control or pollination —-unnoticed until they are in trouble. Unfortunately we still eradicate bats and bees like “pests” rather than building a bat house and putting out the welcome mat. We’d rather poison ourselves as humans than deal with the “mess” of living with such brilliant creature in our midst. And I have to admit,that bat bachelor pad was emitting some stinky guano smells.No housekeeper there.

May we all become fascinated before it’s too late, and safeguard all pollinator’s habitat and these tiny but mightily important lives. Besides, they are quite adorable don’t you think?

One more week to support this “swarmfunding’ work of Think Like A Bee for the Month of July! Deposit a gift here to enter a “bee basket” grand prize drawing July 31. We are a tax exempt organization committed to advocacy and education.

The Eyes of Future Beings Are Watching Us

In these times of guns, war, police violence, racism, misogyny and a country burning down from it’s ignorance and fear
I am writing.
I am writing for my life
I am writing to make sense of
I am writing for the lives of those who come after me.
I am writing because I want a more whole world.
I am writing because I struggle to believe that
working for the things I love…
bees, beauty, flowers, children, animals, nature, song, dance, color, words
are enough in a world
so wrecked right now.
I am writing because I want to hope again.
I am writing because, as Terry Tempest Williams wrote, “The Eyes of the Future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.”
 I’ll let her finish…
 “I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

The Hive Mind

It’s bigger than just one bee. It takes a village of bees to build a hive. One honeybee will make only 1/12 teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. It takes 80,000 or more bees to feed a hive and share that beautiful elixir of honey with humans.

Honey bees are under no illusion that they can live without each other. And to this end they have learned phenomenal cooperation and communication in close, crowded living conditions.

They are not conflict adverse or wary of getting close and cozy with one another to solve problems. The hive will survive together or perish together. They are interdependent upon one another in all ways. If you’ve ever seen a hive of bees swarm, you’ll understand the lovely synchronicity they operate within. The elaborate ability to act together. It is like a bee symphony.

rlind_anitaamstutzbees_061215163

 

Human communities are not so different. It is inspiring to see people care for one another in the wake of a disaster. To watch an Amish barn raising. To listen to the Venezuelan children’s symphony featured in Tocar y Luchar.

In this political season here in the U.S., the hive mind could help us understand how to work together for the commonwealth, the common good. The hive mind is the what the best of all three great Abrahamic traditions teach us. How to care for one another. A world in which it’s just about “my” interests becomes splintered and divisive.

Consider the following passages from the 3 World Religion’s holy texts, all descendants of Abraham and Sarah…

Love and Faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss (Ps. 85:10)

Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22.39)

God invites you to the Home of Peace.(Quran-Jonah 10.25)

 

rlind_MomDayBioPark_0512_6

Support the work of Think Like A Bee the Month of July. Deposit a gift here to enter a “bee basket” grand prize drawing July 31. We are a tax exempt organization committed to advocacy and education.

HAPPY POLLINATOR WEEK!

….and Summer Solstice! June 20-26 is National Pollinator Week. I celebrate these amazing little workhorses who feed us free of charge by their pollinator services.

This summer as I teach Albuquerque Public High School students the art of beekeeping, I am amazed that youth who have trouble attending in the regular classroom or struggle with emotional/behavioral issues are totally mesmerized and engaged in the outdoor classroom by their subjects—apis mellifera. The lowly honeybee.

And why not? Bees are more like us than not. They live in communities or bee colonies. They have complex, organized societies. They have a division and specialization of labor from nurse bees to morticians to guards to architects and field bees. They work together. Things can get ugly and violent at times in the hive when survival is threatened. I won’t lie. They do some brutal things to each other. They get crabby and mean when they are hot, stressed or crowded. They demonstrate what we humans  call ageism and sexism. Not so different from our societies.

We are more alike than different. Perhaps that’s why we are fascinated by honeybees.

Bees will always throw you off. They will mystify you just when you think you’ve got them figured out. I’ve been duly humbled as a beekeeper for the past six years.

Here are some amazing Bee factoids to honor their work and short 30 day lives:

  • There are over 20,000 species of honeybees around the globe
  • There are about 4,000 solitary native bee species in the U.S.A. which I have featured in this article. So beautiful.
  • All the worker bees in the hive are female.
  • The queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day
  • 80% of our food is pollinated by bees
  • The oldest fossil of honeybees found was 100 million years old in the Caucasas region of Russia, by Cornell University researchers. They have been with us a looooong time.
  • Bees must tap up to 2 million flowers to produce only one pound of honey. I bow to their hard work.
  • The average worker bee will make only 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her life

At the beginning of our class, I talked with the students about “mastering” a craft. I thought they would say that “to master” meant “to dominate” “to rule”. But they said exactly what I wanted to teach them. Mastery means to “know” your subject. It means to care about your subject. To gain enough wisdom to teach.

Perfect. I told them that we would be learning about bees. We would observe them. We might know a tiny bit more about bees at the end, but in no way would we be be able to gain mastery. That takes a lifetime. And in one lifetime, I’m pretty sure I won’t have mastery of my subject of honeybees.

Andy Goldsworthy, is an English Earth artist who makes huge installations from natural elements in the great outdoors. Once he built a large rock art installation. It fell apart not long after he created it. Though his pieces are designed to eventually return to the ebb and flow of the natural world, he was surprised this had taken so little time. Clearly there was a flaw in the design. His choice words were, “I guess I haven’t mastered the nature of the stone yet.”

I feel the same way about bees.

Support the work of Think Like A Bee this National Pollinator Week. Deposit a gift here. We are a tax exempt organization committed to advocacy and education.

 

 

Bee School

So, on a lark, last year I dreamed up this idea of collaborating with Cornelio Candelaria Organic Farm in the South Valley and the NM Acequia Association to teach beekeeping and the art of farming to youth.

I wrote a grant. It got funded by Albuquerque Community Foundation and now  we are in business.

Last week we officially began our summer program with the student interns from APS schools. They are a group of young people, handpicked by the inimitable Travis, a dynamic young 28 year old man who is committed to connecting youth with the earth and our food system. He is an amazing musician.

One teen couple has a baby. They are still finishing school.

Another young man plays the saxophone and doesn’t say much at all. He keeps his eyes mostly downcast.

Miguel is interested in the medical field. He goes to a charter school focused on that.

Eva has “emotional problems”. That’s what I hear at least. When she’s at the farm I find her to be highly engaged and incredibly smart. She loves the farm. She feels at home.

It’s a place to let one’s hair down. Doesn’t matter if your feet are muddy or you talk too loud or you don’t have expensive tennis shoes or nice clothes. All are welcome.

Many of the students have never been exposed to bees. So I told them that anyone who doesn’t want to work in the hive or is allergic, is exempt. I want the hive to invoke curiosity and wonder, not fear and resistance. Surprisingly every last one of them raised their hands to go into the hive.

This is one of the programs that Think Like A Bee will continue to fund for the future.

Wednesday, June 15 is the first ever for New Mexico…….BEE AWARENESS DAY!

This will be followed by Pollinator week, June 20-26. Hug a pollinator next week and help keep our momentum for Burque Bee City USA moving forward.  Go fund us at:

http://thinklikeabee.mydagsite.com/

Feel the Buzz!

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