|The flowers are singing
The bees are dreaming
The trees are being
Their own selves
The flowers are ringing
The bees are singing
The Earth is dreaming
Her own Self
--"Maz and the Mystic Bee"
The colonies are tightly clustered, the individual bees forming a drop-shaped globe engulfing a number of honeycombs. Metabolic processes are low and movement of the individual bee is hesitant, in slow motion. Thus the cluster inches its way along the honey reserves, feeding enough in order to keep the little bodies from freezing. Wing muscles 'shiver' imperceptively, producing the warmth needed. In our zone 6 climate, this activity drastically increases toward the end of January/beginning of February, since at that time the sun's arc has reached an important point after the winter solstice: it's Groundhog Day, it's Candlemas.
40 days have elapsed since the sun has conquered darkness anew on December 25th, by gaining back nearly 1 minute of daylight in the three days after the winter solstice. It takes 40 days (quarantine!) for something that goes outwardly unnoticed to become visible. Isn't it a fact that for the first weeks in January it has been difficult to notice the rising power of the sun and then, all of a sudden toward the end of January, beginning February, it's clear: the days are really longer, the sun's rays warmer, the sun's arc stands higher in the sky and the days have gained almost a full hour of light.
Life is beginning to stir in nature, often unnoticed by the city dwellers, or even by modern farmers only in tune with technology implemented to fulfill the tasks. It's the time when birds begin their annual flirtatious behavior and the queen is laying the first eggs of the new year. Yes, it's all about the birds and the bees. The colony's new year has begun. These young worker eggs take three weeks to develop into full-fledged bees, and yet another three weeks before they become foragers and fly out to pollinate whatever blooms in nature. Hey, it's mid-March by this time. How fortunate that the queen followed the sun and was not deterred by the freezing temperatures and snowdrifts!
One of the most important ways you can help bees and other pollinators (not to mention humans) is do all you can to convince people to STOP SPRAYING ROUND-UP in their yards and on county roads. Please read this report on glyphosate in our food and water supply:
Back! After 6 frustrating months of crashed computer and lost software and
website, we are back on-line, mostly thanks to the kind angels at Charity
Advantage, a company that helps non-profits like Save the Honeybee Foundation
with their websites.
we're back with a mostly rebuilt site that we will be gradually bringing up to
you for your patience and support through this trying time.
is a lot of news in the pollinator world, as well as our own little corner of
it, so more updates will follow.
"Beekeepers" spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to understand what would be the best situation for the bees. But it is always through our human lens (mind) that wants to order the bees to human design.
Then, every once in a while, we get the message: there is so much that we don't understand that to pretend that we know what is best for the bees is laughable.
Such was the case when we returned to our beloved Oregon honeybee sanctuary on June 23rd to find that a swarm of honeybees had chosen to begin building a hive INSIDE A WHITE PLASTIC 5-GALLON BUCKET right inside our garden, and about 15 feet away from our shed/office. The bucket is on its side and facing straight into the sliding screen door on our shed, so the hive is facing me right now, about 15 feet away. Our own personal observation hive.
So our beekeeper minds immediately started to "problem-solve," as in, "We need to get a hive body out and get them in it right away," or, "What a bad place to build a hive--right in our flow of traffic," and "What about the bears? We've erected a ten-foot tower for you, don't you want to go there instead?" etc.
Fortunately, we were able curb our initial leaps into panic and mental gymnastics, and take a breath, and say, "Now, what is this about? Why would a group of bees choose such an open undefendable space? At first it seemed clear that there was a Queen Mother, as the foragers were bringing in tons of pollen. And yet, there's been no sign of laying of brood or growth of the hive, nor have we spotted a queen.
They are building a cone-shaped comb down from the top side of the bucket.
Again, our minds want to speculate: Perhaps this is a temporary situation while they get stronger?
Why do the bees swarm into walls in houses? Into buckets? Or, as we heard last night, into a truck engine?
Do they make mistakes?
We are intently asking them what the message is, and where they'd like to end up...to be continued...
..In the end, we did nothing. We let their choice play out. it soon became clear that there was no queen with the group. They remained very busy on the warm days bringing in mostly nectar. But finally at about week 6 they began to dwindle. By week 8 they were all gone, the natural lifespan of individual bees being about 8 weeks, with no queen to re-populate the hive.
One message that came from this experience is, as we already said, there is so much going on in the hive-world that our minds cannot understand. For instance, a not-much-talked-about facet of bee swarms is that small groups spin off for any number of reasons and end up somewhere without the rest of the hive, and no way to propagate themselves. When this happens in the wild, the group gradually dies and that is the end; no one ever knows it happened. In our case, they moved right onto our front porch and allowed us to see this process firsthand. It ultimately feels like a blessing.
But another deeper message is the same message the bees have been giving us since last summer: that we have succeeded in creating an inviting bee sanctuary with plenty and widely varied forage, etc., surrounded by like-minded folks who don't spray poisons; where there is clean water, and minimal EMF’s.
Now that we have also created a rain catchment irrigation system, next summer will be about planting an ever-widening spectrum of forage plants, herbs, and trees.
Heading back to Oregon in a few days and wanted to update this while still here in the Kauai honeybee sanctuary. Another exciting and busy year of tending bees and meeting beekeepers. Right here in the valley of Moloa'a (the main center of organic agriculture on the island) bees abound!
And it's amazing how different the honey from one apiary differs from the honey of others, even when they are quite close, as the bee flies. Something in the nature of the micro-climates and the level of wild jungle as opposed to tended yard.
And this year STHF purchased seven older hives here in the valley! A few of them are rather decrepit (the boxes that is...holes rotted in the wood, etc...one is leaning over as the bottom board rots out from under it.
An ongoing discussion in our bee world, as well as the world at large, is how much and what types of intervention in the bee colonies is good, and when does it become detrimental?
With this discussion in mind, we have begun putting out swarm-catchers, with the idea of offering the bees a brand new hive, while the old one simply rots away and the colony eventually abandons it. This rather than replacing the hive body deep box.
Many people are successfully catching swarms, and there is a lot of good info about it on the Web. We are conducting our own swarm-calling experiments and will report on our progress.
We are now back on Kauai, after four months at our Oregon honeybee sanctuary.
An amazing thing happened in our little valley this year! Inspired by our focus on clean habitat for honeybees, our neighbors across the street built their own bee tower and put in two thriving hives.
The change was dramatic! As wildflowers in the Honeybee Meadow opened every morning around 10:00, the entire meadow would be vibrating with the songs of honeybees. The meadow was alive with a buzz and hum that has been mostly absent for the past 15 years in our part of the valley.
It felt like our dreams were becoming reality before our eyes...
Our tower will receive it's bees in the Spring of 2015, and at that point the valley will be completely transformed.
We have already planted many of the bees favorite medicinal herbs and flowers, including:
echinacea, mint, rosemary, lavender (lots of lavender!), thyme, oregano, comfrey, and red clover, to name a few.
One of the most inspiring for us this summer was hearing from people literally all over the world that are taking the health of bees and other pollinators very seriously and, in fact, are taking it upon themselves to do something about it; whether it's creating a sanctuary of spray-free bee forage in a backyard in Los Angeles, or an organic farm in North Carolina with healthy chemical-free hives, or artists from all over the US and Europe that are trying to publicize the plight of the honeybees, or all the backyard beekeepers that are keeping bees healthy, diverse, and free.
We salute you all!
Oregon has seen some slight advances in trying to control rampant pesticide spraying after a couple mass killings of honeybees and bumblebees that led to public outrage.
Cities like Eugene have placed some restrictions on the use of pesticides, but they are far too little while most of the country is using more quantities than ever before and more dangerous substances:
The EPA has just given the green light to Dow and Monsanto to start using a new herbicide that is a cross between 2-4-d and glyposate, Read about this fateful (and fatal to bees and other pollinators) decision here:
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/10/epa-approves-controversial-herbicide-for-market-use/ - .VGQpbyghPfg
Research from Harvard connecting pesticides with colony collapse:
|June 20, 2014
ODA suspends license of Eugene company involved in bee death incident
Our Beehive platform goes up!
EPA FINALLY CONCEDES THAT NEO-NICITINOID PESTICIDES ARE KILLING HONEYBEES!
We've been on the Oregon Coast for almost two months now, working our tails off on the honeybee sanctuary. We've been planting forage and gardens, lots of berries, and clearing invasive species.
As of two days ago we have erected the first beehive platform that will protect the bees from the local black bears. It turns out that black bears not only love honey, but even more they love eating the baby bee larvae stored in the hive bodies. In theory, the platform will be sufficient to protect the hives.
In addition, we are excited that some of our neighbors have caught the buzz and are starting to steward bees as well.
We've been taking many photos to share, and will hopefully be re-starting our Facebook page one of these days.
We've been getting so much support and good wishes it's been wonderful...but we still don't have a person to stay on top of our computer/website needs. Perhaps soon.
Meanwhile, the struggle to save bees continues across the world, as people are rising up and demanding that the pesticides and herbicides that have been proven to be a major cause of pollinator decline be banned and ultimately rejected by our society, as they have been by much of the rest of the world.
Excellent article on Honeybee Collapse:
Europe has just declared a continent-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Read about it at:
A new study on pesticides and honeybees:
Much has happened in the bee world since we last updated this website, and we are very excited about it all!
Now back on Kauai and beginning to implement our swarm-catching techniques. Also preparing for the release of our fundraising CD.
Stay tuned for the next updates....
Part of our mission at Save the Honeybee Foundation is to keep developing these non-invasive beekeeping methods. As part of this, we are devoting time and energy toward learning the art of "calling the swarm".
We will be experimenting with hive-body placement and heart-centered communication techniques as a way of offering a hive an intended place to swarm to. Coming soon we will have a new section on the website called "calling the swarm" where we will report on our experiences. For now, check the "Kauai" section of this website for more detail about "calling the swarm" and for more info on what is happening for us on the island.
There is a growing movement of beekeepers all around the world that are evolving less invasive approaches to beekeeping. If you haven't lately, take a look at the Melissa Garden's website for another great example of The New Evolution in Holistic Beekeeping:
Also visit Spikenard Farm's beautiful website:
We are deeply grateful for the support we have received from bee lovers all over the world. Networking continues to be an important part of our work. Please take a look at the section entitled "Links" for some great examples of people we are connecting with. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to email us with questions and ideas...we are all becoming a part of an Evolution in Consciousness around beekeeping!
Many thanks to Cheryl Dunlap and her steadfast devotion to the bee cause. Cheryl has created a line of greeting cards based on honeybees that you really have to see! These cards are taking Cheryl into all kinds of places and, wherever she goes, Cheryl is always speaking out for honeybees and for the work we are doing here at Save the Honeybee Foundation. Cheryl donates a percentage of proceeds from the sale of the cards to SHBF. And this just in...she has a new website just for the Yoga Bee Cards: www.YogaBeeStore.com
Also, the important documentary film, "Vanishing of the Bees" continues to spread the word about the plight of the honeybees worldwide. If you haven't seen the film yet, it is available on DVD and is receiving great reviews. Thanks to Maryam Henein and George Langworthy and their crew for all the good work on behalf of the honeybees.
We will let you know more details about the 2nd Annual fundraising event as the process unfolds. Next newsletter will have updates on the Oregon sanctuary, the swarm calling experience, and the CD release of "Honey" from "Maz and the Mystic Bee."
Thanks for staying in touch and sending us some of your precious attention.
--Caban and David
For those interested in the latest research on the effect of pesticides on honeybees, the link below is touted to be the most widespread and extensive study of pesticides in bees and bee products to date. The numbers are very shocking. Bees are truly a wonder that they can survive at all in this pesticide soup.