Lilac season

Lilac season

Consider the (lilacs) of the field, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin.

It's lilac season in The County. Which is not like lilac season in other places: The County is defined by its lilacs. Acres of them - in fields, along the roads, by the lake and streams. Huge, billowing, blooming groves of lilacs everywhere you look....

The first inspections

The first inspections

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain. T.S. Elliot

I look forward to the first inspection all winter. I think about my bees, huddled in their hives, eating honey and telling stories, and I can't wait to open them up and support their (I imagine) delirious early foraging.

The reality is somewhat different...

The big reveal: unwrapping day

The big reveal: unwrapping day

May 10, 2017  13° 

"Hello in there. Hello." Bette Midler

Judging by social media, I'm the last beekeeper in Ontario to unwrap their hives. My excuse is that our microclimate is two to three weeks later than Southwest Ontario, but the real reason is I'm not in any hurry. The weather is still pretty iffy and it's not like they can't get out and snack on the dandelions. Why remove their warm winter coat without good reason?

Spring cleaning the Honey House

Spring cleaning the Honey House

"The only way to live is to take vengeance on winter and strife."   Mary Winslow

I like a clean honey house. Clean and orderly. So I look forward to the day when it's warm enough to take a broom and mop to the accumulation of winter tracked-in dirt and detritus and get the honey house ready for the season...

Opening weekend, another beginning. And an end.

Opening weekend, another beginning. And an end.

"Joyful, joyful, joyful, as only dogs know how to be happy with only the autonomy of their shameless spirit."       Pablo Naruda

This year, for the first time in 12 years, we are opening Long Point without Molly, our silly, sassy, supremely entitled and occasionally well- behaved dog...

Thinking about inspections.

Thinking about inspections.

"Let your bees tell you what they need. They know what they're doing." Tibor Szabo bee-whisperer extraordinaire.

Last night I spoke to the wonderful Urban Toronto Beekeepers' Association about record keeping. I want to thank them for the opportunity, not just to see them again, but to work through some thoughts I've been having about the purpose and nature of managing hives. I promised that I would provide my PowerPoint presentation, so here it is, along with a brief synopsis of my talk:

The winter joy of beekeeping catalogues

The winter joy of beekeeping catalogues

March 7, 2017 5°C                                                      Photo: Marco Moretti

“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.”
– Mark Nepo

Last night I had another bee dream. This may be a reflection of hunger for my bees, for the smell and sound of the beeyard. Or maybe, as I secretly believe, they’re calling to me. In any event, I woke up longing for spring and a strong desire to ‘nest’, which for me means couch-time with beekeeping catalogues. Like gardeners who obsess over seeds and garden accouterments, beekeepers, too, can drop headfirst into beekeeping supplies...

Mid-winter visit to check stores

Mid-winter visit to check stores

February 18, 2017 11°C                            Photo: ‘Wild Bee in Winter' by Marco Moretti

Melting snow. Happy dog. Buzzing bees and cleansing flights. Can spring be far away?

Today was one of those glorious, brilliantly sunny, unseasonably warm winter days that made it easy to talk Ross into taking the 3-hour drive with me to check the bees. As a bonus, it was warm enough to bring Molly, our nearly 16-year old Husky mix, for what might be her last visit to her favourite place on earth...

Oxalic acid: treating the dreaded varroa.

Oxalic acid: treating the dreaded varroa.

December 7, 2016/January 3, 20176.4°C and 3.6°C

To treat or not to treat. There's no question. (In my mind, anyway.)

People often assume that organic means treatment-free. In fact, the Canadian organic standards allows varroa treatment with formic acid, oxalic acid, and essential oils such as thymol, all of which are considered organic. To treat or not to treat is a subject of some controversy in beekeeping and beekeepers tend to feel strongly one way or the other....