Picnics and Bees

A group of my dearest friends and I drove out to Chinook Honey Co. yesterday and shared in a picnic, an educational tour about the life of bees in a colony and a tour of Chinook Arch Meadery.

P1170423The weather was blustery, after four days of challenging weather, but the sun peeked out and our lively conversation and good food made a great start to the day.  I haven’t grabbed permission for any public photographs, but will give some highlights of the day.


2014 retirement picnic. I’m missing an archive of Pat’s to-die-for chocolate cake and fresh berries.

The educational tour was enlightening.  I have become really interested in the life of bees since viewing the film, The Vanishing Bees at the Marda Loop Social Justice film days.  You can access the entire documentary on YouTube.  I learned more specific information about honey bees, their specific hierarchy and the roles of each type of bee in the hive.

Sharing the details that I learned may show my ignorance…but, I’m also pretty excited to be continuing to learn.

I didn’t know that the worker bees are all female.

I didn’t know that the queen bee that emerges first, kills all other prospective royals and even the existing queen (if weak, old and unproductive).

I didn’t know that the life span of any given bee is only six weeks and that the constant production of new bees is paramount to the life of the colony.

I didn’t know that bees prefer to forage canola more than alfalfa.  Alfalfa is structured in such a way that when gathering from the plant, the bee is bopped in the noggin over and over again.  So, if in close proximity (within five kms. of the hive), the bee will prefer to forage canola.  The unfortunate thing, however, is that canola is being genetically modified while the alfalfa farmers seem to have made a commitment to sustain a natural crop.  Once the bees engage in genetically modified plants, there seems to be an issue with pollination success rates.

I was amazed by the size of colonies and the activities within the colonies, in the production of wax and honey.  I am awed by the specifics of the various processes and the overall industry of the hive.

P1170381 P1170383 P1170384 P1170385 P1170386 P1170387 P1170388 P1170391Beekeeping is an art and it was interesting looking at and seeing the specialized purpose for each part of a hive.

From this session, we went on to the meadery and learned about the process of making mead, an art that has been perfected for centuries.  We had opportunity to test from a generous list of mead produced on site.  This was a fun event!

P1170394P1170400 P1170401 P1170402 P1170405 P1170407 P1170408 P1170409 P1170411 P1170412 P1170413 P1170414 P1170415 P1170416 P1170419 P1170420 P1170421 P1170422I’ve posted an archive of the equipment here, just because I think it would be of interest to our family friend, Dave, of Cold Creek Winery’s in Frankford.  A good explanation was given about the process of making mead and the delicate balance that is required, given the ever-changing variables of honey.  It was a yummy treat to then sample the existing list of meads, my favourites being Melissa’s Gold and Bodacious Black Current.

Top the entire day off with a bit of gift shopping and yummy honey and Saskatoon berry icec ream scooped into the cone and it was an excellent day.  I cherish my friends and wish them good health and many adventures on their retirement.

P1170426Here’s a little clip from a British Columbia, Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery, (very well done) just so that my readers can take a look at the equipment, rather than having me write about it.




June 20, 2014 In the Back Yard Garden

The first peony has bloomed. Blooming flowers in the gardens make me so happy, but as one thing stops blooming and another starts, one is reminded again of the passage of time and also the seasons. Anticipating summer, with such enthusiasm this year, causes a sort of hesitation in the gardens.  Beginnings lead to endings…and then new beginnings.  It all moves so fast.

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Oriental Poppies soon to bloom.


Asparagus progressing through a number of years…first harvest, likely next year.


What asparagus looks like as it sprouts from seed…years to establish a strong root system.


Second batch of rhubarb harvested this morning and stewing with strawberries on the stove top right now.


Mary’s strawberry plants blooming…dug four plants up when I attended her funeral in Lethbridge…now have a beautiful patch of plants.


Fresh basil.


The sunshine brought bees to pollinate this morning…a beautiful sight.

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Busy Bees!

I showed the grade four students a couple of Youtube videos about the essential nature of bees to our agriculture.

We talked about the differences between the physical traits of wasps and bees.  We talked about the differences between caricature and realism, along with some examples.

bee KathbeeThe students were dealing with lines of symmetry in math, so I decided to have them choose an imaginary line of symmetry and to create two different compositions, without crossing that line.  I also thought that by creating a sort of frame, we would avoid desk clean-up at the end of day.  I think that the students produced some amazing pieces.  After that, they wrote a poetic/informational or descriptive piece containing things they had learned about bees, honey production or collapse of hives.  Once they peer edited with a friend, they recreated their writings on bright yellow paper.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: May 1, 2013


Who would miss an opportunity to paint on May Day?  Not me!  With a burdened heart, struggling to grab hold of bits of joy that skitter themselves through every ordinary day, I headed out to the Gorilla House.  Determined to continue learning about paint and building on a 2 x 2 series, I was very much influenced by my recent visit to the Bee Kingdom glass blowing and studio open house.

Of the three inspirational concepts offered last evening, I latched on to the idea of close imitation of something and the word, ’emulous’.

The bee, known for its pollination abilities, represents so much to humanity, both as a symbol and as a concrete reality.  Recently, the bee has been in the news as North America responds to the current collapse of hives everywhere.  In my mind, this tragedy is a reflection of our insistence on being consumers above all else and our need for production above the health of our environment and the health of other species.

Conversations flare up whenever I react to these news stories, primarily because I offer no solutions.  I tend to know a little about a whole lot of different environmental crisis…this is because I am constantly being bombarded with the results of poor judgement where big industry is concerned.  Back to the bees.  On this 2 x 2 panel, I wanted to capture an imitation of the beauty I find in bees, what they do and the gift they have been to our species on this planet.  I also want to express my grateful heart.

Embedded in the piece are a few verses from the Acts of the Apostles.  Pentecost falls on May 19, 2013.  It would do us all well to contemplate our personal mission and responsibility.

Thank you to Rosie for her purchase of this piece at auction.

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Sharing a Garden Walk With Mom and Dad

My parents have everything to do with my love for gardening. While I’ve only ever had a very small back yard, I make an effort to create beauty there every summer, in part because of the passion that my Mom and Dad inspired.  They are so far away that it is impossible to share the changing colour and new blooms, the fruits of my labour.   In fact it was via skype that my father informed me that I need to transplant those little strawberry trailers back into the garden.  I’ll do that today!  I love you, Mom and Dad.  Enjoy the walk with me this morning through my little garden.