Monday, September 15, 2008

honey bees and baths

This morning after feeding, mucking, and giving full baths to Keil Bay and Salina, I went dripping down to the labyrinth path with the loaded wheelbarrow, tired but hoping the outer loop would energize me.

My husband went down yesterday and did some weed-eating to make the path passable again, and as I went down the hill through the woods (passing an assortment of mushrooms I've never seen before in my lifetime) and walked out into the sunlight and the path, I was completely taken aback by the 8-foot tall yellow wildflowers swaying in the breeze.

It was like walking into the color yellow. Dazzling.

I walked onto the outer loop and realized suddenly that the flowers were full of honey bees - it's the first time in over a year (other than my time at the writing residency) that I've seen honey bees in the wild.

I'm absolutely thrilled that they're out there, and although I was hoping to take the geldings down one at a time to walk the outer loop, I've decided it's a better idea to let the bees have the labyrinth undisturbed until the blooms are done. They were so focused on their work. They're so important to the earth.

As this is the last in a string of warm days for at least the rest of this week, I'm giving horse baths. Keil Bay got soaped up from head to hoof, as did Salina. This afternoon we'll do Cody and the pony. Rafer Johnson would probably enjoy a good dust bath, so perhaps I'll get a few handfuls and rub it into his fur for him. He can lie down, but he doesn't seem to be able to roll! I'm beginning to see just how important those rolls in the dust are for good donkey hygiene. His fur isn't quite the same as normal since he hasn't been rolling - even though we're brushing him each day.


dorette said...


drawn in to what you say. bees and all. yes, there is a lot of concern to folks overseas too. no bees no fruits and veges.. and more.

this is a link, to a beekeepers forum for slow food and an upcoming discussion at terre madre in italy this october

and on the rafer note. we saw the most incredible wild donkeys and sanctuarys in bonaire.

take care!!

mamie said...

Thrilled about the bee sighting.

billie said...

Me, too, Mamie - I felt like reporting it to the news media or something. Except of course I don't want anyone tramping around back there disturbing them, and this is the sort of news that probably only a few of us would be excited about hearing! To me, it is a wonderful, positive sign of an intact ecosystem, and the perfect pay-off for living with the chiggers throughout the summer.

Victoria Cummings said...

That's really exciting- Maybe you should start a hive. I've got a friend who is a bee-keeper, and the honey is out of this world. And I always think that people look so cool in those outfits with the mesh around their hats.

billie said...

dorette, thanks for the wonderful links!

billie said...

Victoria, I have *almost* signed up for a beekeeping class several times since moving here.

We have a local beekeeper who makes wonderful honey that we buy at the feed store. They're also at the farmer's market, and my son was absolutely thrilled the first time we went b/c they had bars of bees' wax he'd been wanting for his woodworking.

Twinville said...

Mmmm. I love honey. If I wasn't so afraid of getting stung, I'd consider getting a hive or two to manage.

I also read and have watched several prgrams about how people who tend bees live longer. Something to do with consuming large amounts of honey and getting stung with the life giving, adrenaline-filled, healthy stings.

I was so pleased to see the bess this past Spring to pollenate our fruit trees, but then afterwards, in late May we had a freeze followed by several hail storms.

So no fruit. :(

Come back again next year sweet bees! :)

Laughing Orca Ranch
New Mexico

billie said...

Lisa, we had fruit trees at our old house, that I planted with my kids when they were quite young and the trees were about a foot tall. By the time we sold that house and bought November Hill, the trees were 9 feet tall and giving us apples, peaches, pears, and cherries. We of course welcomed the bees.

I've read similar things as you. Our homeopath suggested to all of us when we moved here that we take a teaspoon of local honey a day in the spring to acclimate ourselves to the flora and fauna, and in my husband's case, to ward off allergies and asthma.

I've read that too about the stings of bees being good - it always makes me wonder what we do and don't know about nature and its impact on our bodies.

I read something a week or so ago about horses in fields swinging their necks around at flies, and swishing tails, and how for horses, this stretching and moving is like yoga for us.

I hope the bees AND the weather cooperate this year to give you a huge harvest!

mamie said...

If you think the bees were worth the chiggers, not that's saying something! I hate chiggers!

billie said...

Mamie, I complained bitterly while scratching away. However, I read something a few years ago that has permanently altered my attitude about ticks, chiggers, fire ants, yellow jackets, etc.

I wish I could find it - it talked about how we as humans tend to personify these insects that sting and bite with what seems like hate and aggression, when really what they're doing is trying desperately to complete their life cycles, protect their eggs/young, and perpetuate.

The way it was written made me think of how hard I'd fight if someone came after my family, and even when I'm fussing about chiggers, fire ants, etc. these days, I'm also thinking that they're just doing what they can to survive.

So, yes, seeing those bees was worth the chiggers. I even went so far as to wonder if the chiggers played some small role in making the wild flowers grow so beautifully so that the bees can enjoy them.

That said, I scratched the lone remaining chigger bite earlier and ended up with blood dripping down my leg - a reminder of the weeks of itching!

jme said...

stingers or no, i love the honeybees too. for me they have always been messengers of good things - of spring and sunshine, of flowers, and of less tangible things too... no garden seems complete without their gentle humming :-) and now with their unexplained disappearance, sighting them takes on an entirely different significance... i'd love to take up beekeeping, but somehow i think i'd do them more harm - i'm good with horses and dogs, but i can't even keep a houseplant alive :-\

Rising Rainbow said...

I've been back reading through all the posts I've missed. Am so sorry to hear about Rafer's leg but glad to hear that he is adapting to life in a cast.

I know that six months sounds like along time, but having lived through this with the twins, I can tell you the critters handle it better than we do.

Sending all kinds of healing energy to the little guy! I love that he has kittys to help pass his time.

billie said...

jme, my reasoning for not starting up beekeeping is that I know I'd be overwhelmed absorbing information about care, etc.

I already feel like I'm paddling a dinghy in the sea when it comes to the horses!

There are two new things I've been reading that I need to write about, but I just haven't had the time to get focused and do it.

billie said...


Thank you SO much - I know you've had your own stuff going on and I'm happy to see you here again.

Rafer is holding his own over here. I think you're right - in many ways it is harder on us.