Honeybees on Crocus

Seen in a garden in Franklin, New York, on Sunday afternoon, just before the snow shower of later that evening. Much pollen-getting! Ants were at it, too. Click photo for bigger shot.


Some Very Good News

It's like a whole new world opening my e-mail in-box these days. Instead of horror stories from the environmental groups, there's one piece of good news after another.

Today, we are so pleased to learn that the Omnibus Public Lands Act has passed. This means all sorts of good things for the preservation of our beautiful lands to the tune of more than 2 million acres in various parts of the U.S.

So much to be done—and so, so much damage to be undone—but at least we are finally moving in the right direction.


A Van Named Honey

Parked outside the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for the past couple o' weeks.


Google Bee (Old Beekeeping Books for You & Me)

A recent issue of American Bee Journal made mention of the availability of two newly reprinted beekeeping books by Applewood Books, publisher of a nifty variety nature books, farming guides, "floral and gardening" books, and many other topics in keeping with its mission to "build a picture of America through its primary-source materials." The charmingly titled volume pictured above is one of Applewood Books' many reprints of interest.

The two bee-related books Applewood has recently reprinted are: Beekeeping: A Discussion of the Life of the Honeybee (originally published in 1918) and The Honey-Bee: Its Nature, Homes, and Products (first published in 1884). Both can be ordered directly from Applewood's website which, while containing marvelous products, is (alas!) unpleasant to navigate and not exactly plush with information.

I should also mention that one of these titles—Beekeeping: A Discussion of the Life of the Honeybee—is available for free download on Google Books. Some pics from the book:
Here are a couple of other out-of-copyright beekeeping and bee-related books you can find on Google Books:

The Honey-makers (1899)

The Honey Bee: Its Natural History, Physiology, and Management (1843)

The Bee-keeper's Manual (1860)

This is just the beginning; a search of Google Books will yield more treasures than can be assimilated in three lifetimes. Enjoy!


The Bee Pasturage of Early Spring

It be the Spring Equinox today, so it's officially time to share this vintage ode to the springtime flowers from which bees forage nectar and pollen at this time of year.

"First the gray willow's glossy pearls they steal,
Or rob the hazel of its golden meal,
While the gay crocus and the violet blue
Yield to the flexible trunk ambrosial dew."


Mood Swings

We've gone from bitterly upset about the new (and unsurprising) report that America's birds are in deep peril (thanks to our collective ecological mental health problem) to exceedingly thrilled by the news that the Obamas are going to plant a vegetable patch on the White House Lawn.
But it gets even better: "A White House carpenter who is a beekeeper will tend two hives for honey,"quoth the New York Times.
To read about one of the groups that advocated tirelessly for this exceedingly good idea, visit eattheview.org.

You can also say a proper thankee for this Good Thing by going hereabouts.

And you can learn some interesting fun facts about the White House, Victory Gardens of the past, ecological activities prior presidents (except for you-know-who) have undertaken, and all that sort of thing by heading over here.
Of course, this doesn't mean we're forgetting about the birds.

One Third of U.S. Bird Species Endangered

Heartbreaking, awful, reprehensible.

Read the New York Times article here.

Check out the video about the report's findings and download the full report
, which is the result of an extraordinary collaboration between numerous groups, including Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Also, see this resource on things you can do to do the birds a good turn.

Honeybee Wallpaper!

Check out this amazing honeybee wallpaper by Candace Wheeler, a contemporary of Louis Tiffany's and founder of the Associated Artists.
This is the stuff that makes life worth living, no?As if the wallpaper weren't Thrill Factory enough, get a load of these honeybee lace curtains—also from Candace Wheeler.
Great Depression notwithstanding, these inspire one to consider a major redecorating project. For now, we can only dream and stare longingly at other designs from the Arts & Crafts, Victorian, and Deco movements at J.R. Burrows & Co.

We can also learn more about the marvelous Candace Wheeler and delight in the knowledge that such lace and wallpaper reside upon this earth.


Bees (and Wannabees) of New Zealand

Our friend Eva recently returned from an amazing trip to New Zealand. Along with penguins, sheep, flowers, mountainsides, starfish, and Roberta Flack (!!), Eva encountered some lovely bees and bee-imitators (a.k.a. "wannabees"). With her permission, we're sharing some of her images here. Can you tell the real bees from the bee mimics?

at Clifton Wool 'n' Things - 1 (c)2009, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Glenfalloch Woodland Garden - 23 (c)2009, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Glenfalloch Woodland Garden - 22 (c)2009, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Bee at work (c)2009, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Busy (c)2009, Eva Yaa Asantewaa


John Muir on Bees

Recently, we recommended an essay called "Locusts and Wild Honey" by our local hero, John Burroughs (1837-1921).

Today, we recommend writings by Burroughs' contemporary, John Muir (1838-1914). In particular, a chapter entitled "The Bee-Pastures" from a book called The Mountains of California.

Richly depicting a long since vanished California, with its "continuous bed of honey-bloom" so thick a walkers' foot "would press about a hundred flowers at every step," the essay is a balm on a cold winter day like today, when honeybees and their flowers seem like distant, thrumming dreams.

A favorite passage to whet your appetite:

"The great yellow days circled by uncounted, while I drifted toward the north, observing the countless forms of life thronging about me, lying down almost anywhere on the approach of night. And what glorious botanic beds I had! Oftentimes on awaking I would find several new species leaning over me and looking me full in the face, so that my studies would begin before rising."John Muir
John Burroughs


Japan's Honeybee Shortage

Disturbing news on honeybee declines in Japan, and interesting details about Japan's beekeeping world.

Bees We Met In Spain

Wren and I have just returned from a magnificent trip to Barcelona and environs. Along the way, I took photos of all things bee-related, as shown below.

First of all, we were excited to find that the taxis in Barcelona resemble bees. Here they are "swarming" in front of the train station.
In the Priorat region, we found some honeybees working these flowers—the only flowers we saw blooming in the mountaintop village we were visiting in this beautiful wine-making region. However, nearby, the almond trees were in abundant bloom, so the bees had plenty of forage available.

I was beside myself with happiness to find this Hello Kitty bee at the grocery store and brought her along on our travels.

We named her Chavela Abeja.

Here's Wren showing off another bee toy during a visit me made to a beekeeper in the Priorat. I'll do a separate post about that visit soon.

A window display.

Bee-related merch.

A chocolate honeybee.
Chocolate honeybee lollipops—three of the nicest words in the English language!

A package of honey that came with breakfast in our hotel during our three-day visit to the Costa Brava.

Another window display.

A candle shop window in Barcelona.

Jars of honey in a shop window.

Bonus shot: mosquito graffiti!


This just in...

...from the Dept. of Hallelujah-Related News: Obama Suspends Bush Rule on Endangered Species.

Blogs We're Liking

How good it feels to use the royal we on a cold and sleety Tuesday—it does wonders for the immune system!

Our friend, The Brooklyn Bachelor, has launched a terrific new urban beekeeping blog called BQE Keeper, and we highly recommend you pay a visit ASAP.

Also happy to have recently discovered Local Ecologist, a very nice blog on "near and far encounters with the local and ecological." This blog is currently hosting the latest episode of the Festival of the Trees blog carnival, and our When Trees Have Faces post is included in the latest roundup of cool essays and photos on all things arboreal.

A Tidewater Gardener is another new find, and we're inspired by the detailed photos and thoughtful writings on gardening, landscapes, and related themes by "an unapologetic plant geek" in Virginia.

That's what we're reading over here at GSH this week—what blogs have inspired or excited you of late?