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Monday, May 13, 2013

Bee-Dazzled

Okay, I’m back. Specifically, I’m back to talk bees. Yes, I am still on a bee kick but I promise it won’t go on forever. I’ll go back to being obsessed with making stuff, observing random stuff, and pondering other stuff. But for now, I’m obsessed with bee stuff.

Over the weekend a mysterious someone made a bee box in our garden! I heard about it through an email but stopped by today to see for myself.
 
 

I love that our secret beekeeper made this at home. We community gardeners are Do It Yourselfers to the core, so the personally-made bee box appeals to me. I find it so charming that our bee box is not some ridiculously high-end version you’d find in those airplane catalogues, where everything is 3-5 times the cost it would be elsewhere. (Whoever puts out those catalogues must think our brains shut off at 35,000 feet. Seriously, do they really sell many pairs of slippers at $400/pair?)

Whoever made our bee box clearly did some research about what kind of home a colony of honeybees would like. The dimensions of a bee box need to be within a certain range, according to online instructions: not too big but also not too small. The entrance to the box must be a specific size, too. In summer the entrance needs to be .75 inches high (and half that height in winter). Bigger entrances allow for rodents to enter.
 
 
 
It is also important to keep the bee box off the ground. (Our box is propped on top of an upside-down pot.) This keeps the base of the box dry and helps insulate the hive. The top of our box is weighted down by a rock and the whole thing is held together with love (and duct tape). Yep, we gardeners are all about a fancy image! But really, why not? All we need in a bee box is to keep the bees happy and in one place. Someone took the time to make a bee box so that we didn’t have to dip into our limited community garden funds. I love the gusto of these gardeners…  
On a related note, one of the newer gardeners planted an herb called Borage. Its flowers are a beautiful shade of purplish-blue and they are edible. The bees certainly are drawn to them as the photo below shows:




It’s exciting to see the bees at work in the garden. These industrious little creatures buzz from plant to plant, from bed to bed, on a mission, always with an eye on their goal. They are tiny mascots for the garden, encouraging us with their example of hard work and team effort.

The garden is growing, changing slightly between each visit, as though I’d turned the end of a kaleidoscope just a degree or two, changing the big picture in subtle ways. There are beans and tomatoes popping out in my bed, corn and sunflowers growing tall in my neighbors’ beds. It’s been a year since we shoveled huge piles of dirt, dug irritation ditches, built beds and started this labor of love. I’m excited to see how the garden evolves in the next year. I helped change it from a triangle of dirt, but it has changed me for the better, too.

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