Spring or to be quite specific, “blossom time” in the Twenty Valley, is absolutely my FAVOURITE time of the year! I wait for this little piece of heaven to unfold with great anticipation. The first signs that the greatest show on earth is about to commence is the “brightening” of the little gold finches’ plumage as the hours of daylight increase. Before long, I see the return of some of my favourite songbirds – red winged black birds, thrushes, blue birds, orioles and the lowly robin. I even get a smile from seeing the ridiculous Canada Geese honking from the peak of the cooking school roof and defecating merrily everywhere they go!
And then there is the surest sign of all….the arrival of the bees! Orchardists “rent” beehives every spring to help pollinate the orchards. A pick up truck arrives with a load of hives which get set out in the orchards in just the right spot to optimize bee activity. The busy bees, flit from blossom to blossom collecting pollen and in the process spreading the “seed” to allow for pollination. It’s a tough job but these industrious insects merrily buzz about helping out with the reproductive cycle and guaranteeing another year of cherries, plums, apples, pears and peaches. Some fruit like peaches are self fruitful and don’t require much help. Others like cherries are very dependent on just the right conditions and the help of bees. When blossom season is over, the apiarist collects his hives, sends us a bill and heads up north where many of these same bees will pollinate alfalfa fields and other crops. In fact bees, pollinate 1/3 of the food that we eat!
At The Good Earth we are always stumbling across wonderful opportunities! We have loyal “earthlings” Dennis and Leslie who happen to be a hobby apiarists. In the winter we chatted about possibly bringing two hives over from their place to “vacation” at The Good Earth. What a great idea! I am very fond of bees and the thought of Good Earth honey was very appealing. With the earlier than expected arrival of spring, we went into overdrive and just this past Friday my puppies and I welcomed Dennis, Leslie and two beautiful bee hives (complete with Good Earth “pink” doorsteps) to the garden!
So few people have any idea how absolutely fascinating bees are. They are industrious, communal and gentle creatures driven by a hard wired understanding of pheromones and their place and purpose in life. Not much need for “navel gazing” or “finding themselves”. The life of a drone (always a male) is well…akin to working on an assembly line minus the union wages. Worker bees (always females) are the bees that we see buzzing out and about industriously collecting pollen. The best you can hope for is to be born the Queen Bee and spend your time laying eggs and being looked after! (The similarities to the “trophy wife” are undeniable!) .
There are many wonderful websites about bees – check out the National Geographic site. I LOVED the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd which was later made into a movie of the same name. Ms. Kidd captured the charm and complexity of this wonderful insect. And to imagine that we get yummy honey and clean burning aromatic candle wax out of the bargain too!
Dennis has placed the bee hives in a prominent spot in my garden so that you can come and visit the bees and spend time watching them travel to and fro. It’s fun to see the bees returning to the hive with their legs covered in bright yellow pollen “pantaloons”. They are gentle creatures so you needn’t worry about beeing stung unless you aggravate them. So the next time you are at The Good Earth, look out for the hives and pop by for a visit. Before long we will be offering “Good Earth” honey for you to enjoy. With only two hives, production will be limited.
The sun is shining and my spring kaleidoscope beckons. Gotta buzz!