Not only do I show my age with this line, I also show my very poor taste in music during my university years. But, I did always love that line from the Beastie Boys: “Slow and low, that is the tempo.”
I repeat it to myself now because I know after a year like we had last year, this year for us on the wee homestead needs to be less work, no new projects, and more deep diving into those tasks, learning and activities we deem most necessary for the critters and the gardens, and most conducive to our own personal well-being.
This morning I stood for a while under our beautifully-blooming old pear trees bursting with lively buzzing—so much noisy activity was actually soothing, peaceful, motivating— there’s such a calm diligence in the bees’ seeming frenzy.
Winter’s not over yet, and we had what seems to be now the new-normal of continual weather whiplash, still I’m thrilled to report all our hives have made it so far, on a completely treatment-free program. Yippie!
In slow and low tempo we make a big stink of every success, small, medium, or large. 🙂
This is my favorite time of year for making pesto and chimichurra from foraged ‘weeds’. Making pesto in summer when everything else in the garden is demanding attention is not nearly as pleasant as crawling through the flourishing green beds snipping chickweed, violets, henbit, and more. Here’s an old post with links and recipes, if this is the year you want to try it for yourself.
Handy Hubby is soon on vacation for six weeks—the best time of year for us here! He’ll be wrapping up the fencing for the second pasture, and helping me redo the garden drip irrigation (neither being his preferred jobs by a long shot, thanks lovey, our greatest and most necessary trooper!)
In tough times it helps me to focus on the big picture; it helps Hubby to put his proverbial nose to the grindstone—that’s a damn good recipe for wholesome collaboration, and the perfect environment for talking past each other. All the more reason that slow and low will be the tempo.
Philosopher-homesteaders, don’t know this man yet? Appalachian wise man for deep thinking.
Continuing from my new line of questioning on this blog, Science’s G.O.D. (https://kenshohomestead.org/2019/11/29/sciences-g-o-d/), or the Great Organizing Dynamic, here’s some more speculation.Please volunteer any thoughts, facts, references, opinions—I’m really searching for direction and substance in this series of posts.
A bit of bee background:
The way honeybees communicate has been historically termed ‘the waggle dance’.There are at least 9 different dances that have been observed and recorded. (v. FRISCH, 1965)
1) The round-dance is a call to search for food in all directions within a radius of 25 m. 2) The waggle-dance describes the direction of the destination in terms of the respective position of the sun and defines the distance. 3) The Rumpel-dance describes a conspicuous type of movement made by suc- cessfully returning foragers. They hastily make their way across the honey- comb, bumping into colony members and informing them that something is going on, e.g., that food is available. 4) The Ruck-dance is carried out by foragers that are emptying their honey sacs and involves intermittent, directed tail wagging. It serves more to indicate a general dancing mood than to impart any specific message. 5) The sickel-dance has been observed in every bee species (with one exception) in the transition between the round-dance and the waggle dance (figure-eight). The opening of the „sickel“ in the dance pattern denotes the direction to the feeding site. 6) The buzzing run is the sign to disperse. Scouts barge through the interlocked bees in the swarm in an undirected, zigzag course and audibly buzz their wings. 7) In the Putzlauf the bee shakes its body from one side to the other. 8) In the vibration-dance, one bee takes up contact with another, whereby it rapidly vibrates its abdomen. The meaning of this dance has not yet been deciphered, although their is strong evidence that it involves a communication form combining dance and acoustic signals. 9) Finally, the Zitter-dance is an expression of neurotic behavior and is disregarded by the surrounding bees. Research has shown it to be a result of a traumatic experience such as severe impact, poisoning, injury to appendages, or extreme state of alarm.
What researchers draw in copying these dance moves has been described as a ‘squished figure 8’.More current research focuses on not only what can be observed visually, but precisely how their communication works acoustically.
The first time I saw the figure of this ‘squished figure 8’ drawn by my beginning beekeeping teacher, I recognized it, and being the diligent student I sometimes can be, I raised my hand and questioned, “You just drew a torus, the bees must be communicating through a toroidal field?”No one had any idea what I was talking about.
But I’ve got a strong sense that those who study UFOs know exactly what I’m talking about.
“The craft was able to displace gravity through the propagation of magnetic waves controlled by shifting the magnetic poles around the craft so as to control, or vector, not a propulsion system but the repulsion force of like charges.[p100]
raced among themselves to figure out how the craft could retain its electric capacity[p100]
The air force discovered that the entire vehicle functioned just like a giant capacitor. In other words, the craft itself stored the energy necessary to propagate the magnetic wave that elevated it, allowed it to achieve escape velocity from the earth’s gravity, and enabled it to achieve speeds of over seven thousand miles per hour.” [p101]
I’m not a scientist by any stretch, I’ve never been good at science, or math, or any technological field.I could be completely wrong in trying to make this connection.
But, I do think I’m right in assuming there are some far more intelligent minds out there who have also considered this connection. And I’d really like to find them.
“The results indicate that the wagging run is the “master component” of the dance. The figure-of-eight dance path does not seem to convey information. Both sound and wagging must be present in the dance, but no specific roles were found for these components. Both sound and wagging convey information about distance and direction, and they appear to be largely redundant.”https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00166696
Redundant?Kinda like the bee version of ‘junk DNA’ the scientist have tried to sell us? Come on now.
“It is also not known how the dance followers detect the dancer’s movements in the darkness of the hive where visual cues can not be used.”
The popular wisdom has been the bees communicate their navigation paths using the sun, but I’ve seen bees out foraging on overcast days and even in light rain.
Which makes me wonder, could the bees be demonstrating Ampere’s Law?
The magnetic field in space around an electric current is proportional to the electric current which serves as its source, just as the electric field in space is proportional to the chargewhich serves as its source. Ampere’s Law states that for any closed loop path, the sum of the length elements times the magnetic field in the direction of the length element is equal to the permeabilitytimes the electric current enclosed in the loop.
Furthermore, do you think all this research is being done for the love of bees?That’s what many bee-lovers believe, I’m sure.
Naïve folks think it’s all about making life easier, and more enjoyable for everyone, and learning all about the bees, just because they are fascinating creatures and honey is delicious and we all love nature.
Sorry to try to burst that bubble once again, but the global military industrial complex doesn’t give a crap about your comfort, or the bees. They want better weapons.
Acoustic weapons are all the rage.“Simple high-intensity sound causes the inner ear to generate nerve impulses that register as sound. Since the inner ear also regulates spatial orientation, saturation of the inner ear by high-intensity sound may cause spatial disorientation. For example, loud music was used by American forces to drive Manual Norriega from the Vatican Embassy in Panama in 1990. High-intensity low-frequency sound may cause other organs to resonate, causing a number of physiological results, possibly including death. Acoustic weapons pose the hazard of being indiscriminate weapons, potentially imposing the same damage on friendly forces and noncombatants as on enemy combatants or other targets.” GlobalSecurity.org
Bees dropping from the sky confused around cell towers. Hmmm . . .related?
If you plan to join the growing number of hobby beekeepers the very first step should be to define your goals.I learned that the hard way.
It’s a wonderful thing to see the popularity of beekeeping keeps increasing.I love beekeeping for many reasons, but when I was first starting out the learning curve was very intimidating. And that’s coming from someone who usually adores learning.
Not only was there loads to learn about the bees themselves, but also about how to manage their colonies, which changes depending on your hive type, which is dependent on what your goals are as a beekeeper.
The first question to answer for yourself as a newbie is if you are interested in beekeeping as livestock or as habitat provider, or maybe both.
I had several mishaps in my first years because I hadn’t asked myself this most fundamental question.I hadn’t asked myself this because in all the books, forums, courses and club meetings I’d attended, no one asked this question.The general assumption is always that the beekeeper is interested in bees as livestock, because that’s what most want.
In this case, follow the commercial standards, using their Langstroth hives and peripheral equipment, their treatment schedules for pests and diseases, and their feeding programs and supplies, and you should be good to go.You can buy nucs (nucleus colonies) in the spring, and if all goes well you’ll have some honey before winter.This is by far the most popular route to take in beekeeping.
But it’s not for everyone, including me, which took me a few years to figure out.Honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly, queen rearing, and other processes and products from beekeeping are the main goals of this style of beekeeping and there’s lots to learn from the commercial operators who have mastered many of these skills for maximum efficiency and profit.
However, if you are interested more in providing habitat and learning from the bees, and creating truly sustainable, long-term, self-sufficient colonies in your space, following commercial practices is really not the way to go, and can lead to a lot of expense, confusion and frustration.
In the hopes of encouraging more beekeepers to become honeybee habitat providers rather than livestock managers only, here are a few tips and resources.
The conventional practice is to keep all your hives in a ‘bee yard’ for reasons of convenience and space.This is antithetical to bee colonies’ natural proclivity to nest far from one another. It creates problems of diseases and pests that spread rapidly in conditions of overpopulation, which is why so many treatments are needed, and then feeding when nectar/pollen flow is scarce, as well as being hyper-vigilant in your regular hive inspections to find issues immediately before they spread.Now that I have spaced my 6 hives out around a very large area I’m having far more success. But, only time will tell!
What else I’ve learned:
The typical Langstroth hive is made for easy transport and standardization purposes for the industry mainly, but they are not ideal for the honeybee habitat provider, because they are made with thin walls in order to be lightweight. This means they are poorly insulated and so not suitable for the long-term stability of the hive—getting too hot in summer in southern climates and too cold in winter in northern climates. Our top-bar hives and nucs have thick walls and insulated roofs.
If you want your bees adapted to your area and climate you don’t want to do the conventional practice of buying new queens every couple of years.Ideally, you’ll want your colonies to produce their own queens.Queen-rearing will remain an essential skill for a more advanced beekeeper, because occassionally you may still want to make splits to increase your numbers or to replace weak colonies, or to re-queen another hive displaying poor genetic traits.
When the colonies are weak, depending on the issue, they may need to be culled. This is rarely suggested by professional beekeepers who promote regular treatments on which the weak colonies then become dependent, while still spreading their weak genes on to subsequent generations and their diseases and pests to other colonies.
Just like the faulty logic of ‘herd immunity’ in the vaccine debate among human populations, many commercial beekeepers use the same complaint about those of us who want go au naturel,that is, treatment-free, with our bees.
Many scientists and researchers are trying to raise public awareness that this is not how herd-immunity works, not in livestock or in humans, and I applaud their efforts. I personally find referring to populations of people as a herd to be insulting. I think it actually trains individuals through neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to think of themselves and each other not as unique and separate individuals, but rather as cattle to be managed.
You’ll also want to mostly forgo the conventional practice of swarm prevention.The goal is for the bees to become self-sufficient, as in the wild, where colonies can live for decades with no hand from man to aid or to disturb.Some of these colonies are enormous, like one we found in an old oil barrel, there for over 15 years and thriving with multiple queens in the same colony, which most likely swarmed annually.
Swarming is a natural, bio-dynamic process performing many different functions for the colony, hygiene being an essential one. Everything the beekeeper takes away from their natural processes is a stress on them which must then be alleviated by other, most likely artificial, means.
Plant perennial and annual crops the bees like for your area and climate.Here in the south there are plenty of plants that bloom at different times most of the year, giving free bee buffets from early spring to late fall, like: bluebonnet, white clover, hairy vetch, wild mustard, vitek, morning glory, trumpet vine, yaupon, and lots of garden herbs and crops, too.It is my greatest pleasure to harvest cucumbers, peas, beans and arugula surrounded by forging bees—they love them as much as we do!
Experimenting and observing is the most fabulous feature of the honeybee habitat provider!
I know a homeschooling homesteader with an observation hive in their house that the children treasure.Not only do they learn from these fascinating creatures about how they operate in the hive, but how they are connected to the seasons and to their environment.They’re learning constantly from the colonies’ successes as much as from their failures.
I practice slightly different techniques with each hive to discover which methods work best here on the wee homestead: one hive has a screened bottom board, one I keep with a reduced entrance all year, one’s in full-sun and another partial shade, and so on.Not that this will necessarily solve the mystery of colony failure, but every bit of data helps!
Some unconventional resources:
The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters by Simon Buxton (2004)
The Dancing Bees: An Account of the Life and Senses of the Honey Beeby Karl von Frisch (1953)
Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder & Heather Harrell (2012)
Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture by Ross Conrad (2013)