Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Where would we be with out this little gem, `The Life of the Bee` by Maurice Materlinck, translated by Alfred Sutro. First published in May 1901, reprinted every year up to 1912, with the Pocket Edition in 1908 to 1920.
`What is this "spirit of the hive" - where does it reside ? It is not like the special instinct that teaches the bird to construct its well-planned nest, and then seek other skies when the day for migration returns. Nor is it a kind of mechanical habit of the race, or blind craving for life, that will fling the bees upon any wild hazard the moment an unforseen event shall derange the accustomed order of phenomena. On the contary, be the event never so masterful, the "spirit of the hive" still will follow it, step by step, like an alert and quick-witted slave, who is able to derive advantage even further from his master`s most dangerous orders.
It regulates day by day the number of births, and contrives that these shall strictly accord with the number of flowers that brighten the country-side. It decrees the queens deposition, or warns her that she must depart; it compels her to bring her own rivals into the world, and rears them royally, protecting them from their mothers political hatred. So, too, in accordance with the generosity of the flowers, the age of the spring, and the probable dangers of the nuptial flight, it will permit or forbid the first-born of the royal princesses to slay in their cradles her younger sisters, who are singing the song of the queens`
I love the language used by Materlinck, it sings to me and describes even the most ordinary occasion beautifully. Who could not resist reading the chapter `The Massacre of the Males`??
Another book with interesting chapter titles, eg, `The Nest of the Four-Winged`, `Living Brush` and `A Turn of the Spiral` amongst others.
As you can imagine, this book has socialist views of beekeeping and some interesting perspectives on life in general, this is from the last couple of pages: This creative impulse manifests itself in the every-day work of millions of working people of the Soviet Land, workers in the green factory.
Orderly rows of the future forest belts stretch criss-cross over thousands of kilometres; there, in clusters, rise young oaks, spreading their green leaves and growing stronger and stronger as years go by.
Powerful tractors furrow the fields with glittering steel coulters and leave behind wide ribands of soil made fertile by the roots of sown mixed grasses.
Fields of these grasses form an endless carpet and the bees sent here by man reach with their proboscides into floret after floret of collective - farm clover.
All this has been done by the hands and minds of the Soviet people, people that were the first in the world to become masters of their own destiny and are the first to become masters of Nature`
Well, life in Russia has changed over the last few years, this book is certainly an insight into a period of history I didn`t know that much about.
I found this book fascinating, these hives were works of art - very pleasing to look at. The inside of the hive was often grained and varnished with elaborate entrances and facade.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The second garden I went to was this gully section on the outskirts of the city. Hamilton is made up of a number of gully systems that run through the city. At last people are bringing these areas of land back to life and replanting with native plants. Most of the gullies are full of weeds like willow and privet plus old car bodies and fridges !! This garden went down to a steam and has been planted with flax, cabbage trees, kauri, kahikatea, pukatea and many other appropriate plants, many being eco-sourced from the surrounding areas.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
She penned these poems for me and I had to share them.
Bees live in hives
in each hive there are more then 50005.
Sometimes they are cute
and much small then a ute.
Little worker bees
I feel sorry for their poor knees,
working out their wings
flying and seeing all sorts of things.
You might have seen them before
flying in packs of 5 or more.
The Queen is so fat she wears a hat -
her crown ...
My honey label is `Ora` which is the Maori word for pure, here is her 2nd poem ..
Ora honey is so yummy
it feels warm in my tummy
Have it on toast
I always eat the most
Sweeten up your roast
with a little Ora honey
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
It is a beautiful time of the year with the blossom and new growth, the Rhodos were humming with bees and the wee native fantail or Piwakawaka followed us around the garden, darting and flitting quite close, I know its the bugs we disturb, but it always nice to think they are not afraid.
My friend Julie`s foxie, Jess, loves going there, she runs for miles chasing rabbit smells and flushing birds out of the undergrowth - a dog heaven. Thats Julie below, no sign of Jess !!
Ngaroto is out in the countryside, surrounded by farmland. Before European settlement the land was covered in native forest with abundant birdlife, fish in the nearby Waipa river and the small lake Ngaroto, ( one of the many peat lakes dotted throughout this part of the Waikato region), nearly all of the bush was cleared for farmland, leaving small remnants of Kahikatea, poisoning the waterways with chemical run-off and nitrogen from the dairy farms - great uh ?
There is also a little cafe where one can sit out under the trees with a latte , always good for the soul ..
Monday, September 24, 2007
I found I knew about most of what was being talked about, but it was wonderful being with like-minded people all really enthusiastic about keeping bees. I don`t think any of them lived in an urban situation like myself so that is my next goal, to get more bees in the cities !
Thursday, August 30, 2007
There are veges and flowers, herbs and fruit trees grown in this small garden, it is seasonal, rich in insects and birds ..
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The fruit trees and clover were not being pollinated by the native bees so the first honey bees were brought to NZ by the sister of a missionary, Mary Ann Bumby in March 1839 to a Weslyan Mission station in the Hokianga, which a beautiful area in the north of the North Is. The 2 skeps of bees were brought from Sydney Australia, having been introduced to the state of New South Wales in 1822 - no honey bees there either before the convicts !!
Anyway, there was this Reverend W C Cotton who also brought bees to our fair shores in 1842 from England by ship, this being the only quick way to get here in those days, in fact, the only way really. The good Reverend wrote a book called `My Bee Book` before he left, he starts with this written passage :
The Bee of England, like the Man of England, if he be but good of his kind, is, I think, surpassed by none in the world. I will not get bees from India - nor bees from South America - nor from New Holland, but carry them direct from England, sixteen thousand miles over the sea
Cotton then goes on to describe how he carried his bees across the oceans. Three colonies were placed in a barrel, which he had refurbished and recoppered, and the joints properly fitted. He lined the whole with thick felt. In the lower part of the barrel he packed with ice, with a tap to take off any melted water. The upper part of the barrel with the skep like hives was completely filled around the hives with well dried cinders thus excluding all light and heat. He wasn`t worried about air getting to the bees, but just in case he placed a small tube in each hive leading to the outside world and a tap at the bottom of the barrel to let out melted water. He reckoned that two thirds of the ice would 'cross the line' and a good half of the ice would have melted by the time they reached NZ.
He also tried an evaporation method as well as the ice. he suspended one hive on springs and another on gimbals so that the motion of the ship did not disturb them. He placed the hives in a double case with a wall of water surrounding them which is continously replenished by the ships system. The two cylinders of zinc in which the hives were placed were open at the top to allow evaporation to occur, a piece of rag was placed between the two cylinders so as to transfer water to the top of the hives thus ensuring an even surface over the hives to be cooled. Again he supplied a tube for air supply.
Finally , he made an observation hive which he feed with honey during the journey. We don`t know which plan worked the best as it wasn`t written in his book or the subsequent book ` A Guide for NZ Beekeepers` in 1848. We know at least some survived as the hard-working little honey bee is found through-out the country in the 21st century.
One of the most stunning trees, Pohutukawa( Metrosideros excelsa) also called NZ Christmas tree due to the fact it flowers over the summer period. It is a large much branched tree which can grow to about 50 metres - these trees literally hum with bees when in flower. It is an iconic NZ symbol and although a coastal tree, it will grow well inland. Dry seasons result in the heaviest nectar flows from Pohutukawa, the bees working the blossoms from dawn to dusk. The flowers offer ample greenish yellow pollen which cover the bees, no more pollen than that required is collected, so copious is the nectar flow.
The Kowhai or (Sophora tetraptera) middle of the North Island and (Sophora microphylla) throughout NZ, are one of the best know early flowering native trees. Kowhai can reach a height of 12 metres, bursting into flower in the spring before the new leaves arrive. The bees compete with birds for the large amount of nectar produced form the gorgeous bright yellow bell-like flowers. The pollen is deep orange, but it is the nectar the bees tend to collect. The honey is a light amber in colour with a mild but distinctive flavour.
This photo is one I took last year on a visit to Pukekura Park in the lovely west coast city of New Plymouth, about 3 hours from where I live.
of the bark when peeled off. The flowers are white and star-shaped, the bees adore it, I do to, it is a lovely tree, it has so many sweetly scented flowers, often concealing the leaves. It flowers in the autumn with the bees collecting large amounts of nectar, the amber honey having a strong but not unpleasant flavour.