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!

... <b>bees</b> for <b>kids</b> – honey <b>bee</b> games for <b>kids</b> – <b>bee</b> stings <b>children</b> (15

 

BURQUE BEES

Dear faithful readers,

This morning I awoke at 3am, anxiety ridden by a mind gone amuck with disaster remediation. I had seen the the official NBA size basket ball clump of bees hanging on the outside of my strongest hive before I went to bed. Our dinner guests, friends visiting from NYC, saw it. Their eyes agog, they gasped in awe at the breadth, width and length of those bees. But I was terrified.

They signaled to me that time was awasting. These girls were getting ready to swarm and take most of my honey and my queen.

So, you can imagine the way the mind spins it’s fear in the middle of the night. I awoke, rehearsing how I could quickly get in and out, splitting the topbars…one for me, one for the girls, one for me, one for the girls…until they were no longer crowded, hot and irritable.

You’d be crabby too if you lived in a house with 80,000 warm bodies. In 96 degree temps. In New Mexico. No central air conditioning.

But that wasn’t the only reason for my trepidation.

Today is my official launch for Think Like A Bee’s BURQUE BEE CITY Deposit a Gift crowdfunding experiment. http://thinklikeabee.mydagsite.com/home

It raises the same kind of stomach churning in me… But I figured out that if each of you who faithfully read my blog, contributed the minimum of $25 each, we’d be well on our way to our $7000 goal! And I wouldn’t have to do this again. Maybe never. I’ve applied for many grants, and we are looking to receive some of that funding later in the year.

Meanwhile, Think Like A Bee needs your help to get the word out about pollinators as  we head towards Bee Awareness Day, June 15 and Pollinator Week, June 20-26, 2016.

Meanwhile, Albuquerque is on the verge of becoming the first BEE CITY USA in the Southwest—if the City Council so moves to put into place this resolution for pollinator protection in the Big Burque!

Meanwhile, the bees need your help. With 44% losses in 2015, again, it’s not just about saving cute fuzzy bees and attractive pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds, it’s about our own existence. Native bees and Honeybees, the workhorses of our food system, pollinate over 80% of what we eat. But they are in trouble. Because of our human habits.This is about a healthy food system for humans and all life on the planet…

Here’s what your tax exempt donations will continue to support:

  • Funding Inner City youth interns and our summer beekeeping/organic farming course
  • BURQUE BEE CITY RESOLUTION grass roots organizing and Education in the local schools, at farmers markets, neighborhood coalition meetings and local civic group
  • Ongoing public advocacy for pollinator protection an Pollinator Collaboration with Wild Friends, Albuquerque Garden Council, New Mexico Acequia Association, Cornelio Candelaria Organics and more..

You might wonder what happened with the hive splitting activity…

Loss of life was minimal. I now have two hives where I had one before. It was as rugged as I imagined. All those bees were very angry at my uninvited presence. I am considered a predator, after all. They were well stocked with honey and I am a threat to their food stores. I have a few well placed welts inside my bee veil to keep a healthy respect in place.

I invite you to Deposit a Gift on behalf of bees today. http://thinklikeabee.mydagsite.com/home
Thank you!