Friday, December 31, 2010

Day #80 Happy New Year's Eve

Do you ever wonder how animals manage to adapt to fireworks?

We used to have dogs who freaked out so much they tore apart the inside of the car one New Year's Eve when we were dumb enough to take them with us to the fireworks display.

Now my cats get wide-eyed when the various booms and crashes go off, although they tend to take their cue from my sense of calm and finally settle down to -- what else? -- a cat nap.

I saw a bird scared off her nest on my front porch one Fourth of July by neighborhood firecrackers--and her babies died in the cool night air, since most songbirds have no night vision to speak of and can't find their way back to the nest.

I generally read late into the evening, since it's hard to sleep with the explosions a mile and a half from my house. The next morning I wake up happy and greet the new year.

No matter how you choose to spend this evening, I hope you'll say a little prayer for the frightened animals.

BEEattitude for Day # 80:
       Blessed are they who refrain from scaring us, for we shall live longer and make more honey for them. 

What Fran is grateful for right now:
       The past year, the year to come, and this very moment.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day #79 Bee vision

Don't count on red flowers to attract bees. Bees can't see them.

I know. That surprised me, too, when I read it in The Beekeeper's Handbook. Bees, apparently, can see orange, yellow, blue-green, blue, violet, and ultraviolet (the last of which we mere humans cannot see). Plants that need bees for pollination will most likely have flowers in this color range. If they don't, they're out of luck, for the honeybees will pass them by.

My first objection, when I read the list of acceptable colors was, "Wait a minute! I've seen all sorts of photos of bees on white daisies." Smart me? Nope! Take a look at these pictures:

White petals, yes, but look at those great big ORANGE centers.

I still plan to plant some Lonicera sempervirens, though. For the hummingbirds!

BEEattitude for Day #79 :
       Blessed are the artists, for they shall dance with color 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The enthusiasm of my grandkids as we made cookies last Monday, and the rocks they decorated for me 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day #78 Introductions

Two Honey Bees

I love introductions. That's where most authors say what they really want to say, the way I did on Day #1 of this blog. In most books, the intro sets the tone of what is to come.

As I browsed yet again through The Beekeeper's Handbook yesterday, I thought to re-read the intro. Diana Sammataro, who co-authored the book, wrote:

Although considered to be a "gentle art," beekeeping in reality can be physically demanding and strenuous. The typical picture of a veiled beekeeper standing beside the hive ... does not show the aching back, sweating brow, smoke-filled eyes, or painful stings.

Worker Bees and Capped Brood

And I went ahead and decided to try beekeeping anyway, although I still have not figured out how to get my smoker to stay lit. Four more months to practice!

Come May, June, and July, I hope I'm still singing the praises of bees. And I hope I'll eventually have some honey to make up for the ache, the sweat, the smoke, and the ouchies.

BEEattitude for Day # 78:
       Blessed are they who persevere, for we shall produce honey enough and they shall be rewarded. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       People who write truly helpful books. 

Photos are from the public domain

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day #77 Perspective

Every year, along about this time, I sit down and read through my journal for the year, jotting down the things I've accomplished. Each year has its high points. You know what my next sentence will be -- the one about the low points, so I'll skip writing that.

The point I'm trying to make is that reviewing a year is a good way to put life into perspective. Just for the fun of it, though, I dug out some of my old journals and (GASP!) saw for sure why I'm happier to be here and now rather than there and then.

Some of my years have plodded along, while others have raced; but most of them had one or two (or more) shining moments. For 2010, I'd have to say my shining moment was the time I spent at the Southeastern Vipassana Meditation Center. A week and a half in silence. Not just no talking, but no eye contact, no gestures, no sign language, no physical contact, no singing, no phone, no writing, and no reading.

I was okay with the ban on speaking, and had no problem leaving my cell phone locked in their office, but the ban on reading and writing just about did me in. I came within a hairsbreadth of bailing out a couple of times. Thank goodness I stayed. There is something almost magical about shutting up for ten days and simply being. We worked hard, getting up at 4:00 each morning, meditating for two hours, breakfast, meditation, walking, meditation, lunch, meditation . . . You get the idea.

The fact that I stayed, went on my accomplishment list, for sure. And out of that silence came my beekeeping. Yes, that's what I said. During the first day's meditative walk, I spotted a honeybee, watched it forage through a patch of wildflowers, and said a silent goodbye as it flew away. Three steps farther on, another bee, and another, and another.

Each day I looked forward to walking the nature trail and observing the bees. I began to see that there was something concrete I could do for my patch of this earth. Something that would nourish me in more ways than one. Honey, yes. But something so much deeper as well. A way to help heal the earth.

I found (and on the last day when we could talk, the other women admitted that they too had discovered) that without ever looking at each other, we began to recognize each other's footsteps. We felt such gratitude to the unknown woman who broke needle-laden twigs from a fallen pine tree to lay across one muddy stretch of the walking trail, interpsersed artistically with dead palm fronds like many-fingered hands. If we'd been able to talk, I dare say we'd have complained a great deal about the mud. As it was, we saw her gift, and each of us began to find ways in which we could serve the greater community.

The lessons in meditation were at times grueling, as I fought my own stubbornness and came to grips with some issues that had plagued me for years. But the end result was well worth the effort.

If I listed nothing else except the Vipassana course and the decision to keep bees, my accomplishments list for 2010 would feel complete.

BEEattitude for Day # 77:
       Blessed are those who see bees in silence and wonder, for they shall find new worlds opening to them. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Beekeeping supply catalogs to browse through 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day #76 Lion Fish and Carolina Wrens

I looked out my bay window yesterday when I heard the distinctive trill of a Carolina Wren. She hopped from a bush of indeterminate lineage (which simply means I haven't yet figured out what kind it is) up to the deck railing, and from there to the rim of the bird bath. She (he?) looked up at me in a meaningful way, so I scooted outside and refilled the bird feeders, then came back inside to watch the antics of the chickadees and wrens and woodpeckers and all that assortment who know that a sucker lives in this house.

That's the sort of thing I look at on a regular basis, and next Spring I'll be able to add bees to my routine.

My son, on the other hand, looks at things like this:
Lion Fish by Yelloideas Photography

      and this:

Table Coral by Yelloideas Photography

from places like this:

Inside the Boiler of a Wreck by Yelloideas Photography

Can you see why I like to be where I am, enjoying his perpatetic ramblings on my computer and my phone? And watching my birds (and eventually, the bees) from a place of warmth and space?

BEEattitude for Day # 76:
       Blessed are the adventurers - and blessed are those who stay home, for we all shall enjoy our nature encounters. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Hot tea 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day #75 Making Christmas simpler

Decorating for the holidays, any holidays, is not my strong point.

I'll tell you a story if you promise not to laugh at me. On second thought, I'm deleting that request. Laugh all you want to, and then send me your favorite Christmas story. Laughing is good.

In December of 1968, eleven months after I'd gotten married, the days crept forward with no tree, no lights, no bulbs, no tinsel. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I looked at each other and said, "Why hasn't Christmas happened?" We'd both been so used to having the trappings of Christmas appear around us, that it never dawned on either of us that now we were responsible for it.

A rude awakening, as we found out that a holiday requires a fair amount of planning. We rushed out to the tree-sellers, and came home with what was left - a bedraggled little pine that conveniently was missing most of its back side, which meant we had room to walk past it into our tiny dining room. Woolworth's provided (for an exhorbitant $1.29) a huge box of red ornaments and a measly string of white lights. We forgot about a tree stand, and we didn't have a bucket, so we nailed a couple of boards to the bottom of the trunk, and had ourselves a merry little Christmas.

Needless to say, all the needles fell off before December 27th and wedged themselves in the carpet (I hadn't known about the real reason for tree skirts). The next year, I planned a little better, and all the holidays gradually  became elaborate decorative affairs. It was a heck of a lot of work. Did I enjoy it? I don't really know. I did it, pulled along by the stream of expectations.

Eighteen years ago, though, I adopted a cat. She was fine with the first Christmas tree she'd ever seen. So was Kreo, the next cat the following year.

Then I moved to Georgia, and Waldo wandered into my garage one day, bleeding and starving. By the next Christmas, Waldo taught the other cats what Christmas trees were REALLY for. The next year, with two more cats in the house, I braced the tree with string attached to cuphooks screwed into the woodwork around the windows. The following year (during which there'd been another couple of cat-rescues) rope replaced the string and sturdy metal eyelets replaced the cuphooks. I must admit that seven cats perched in one tree looked rather festive. Until several branches broke and the tree fell over. Wish I'd had a camera.

The next year I gave up on Christmas trees. December is so much more relaxing now.

BEEattitude for Day # 75:
       Blessed are they who enjoy all the seasons without too much fuss.

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       My phone service from Consumer Cellular

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day #74 Atlanta Roads

December 25th is just about the only day that I can drive down I-85 at any time of the day without seeing more than 2 dozen cars at a time, if that many. I know because I've driven it a couple of times over the past 18 years that I've lived in Atlanta.

Today, though, this particular beekeeper will ignore the nearly-bare interstate and drive the three miles to my daughter's house to see her and all the grandchildren. I'll take the pan of pumpkin bread I baked yesterday for dessert, and the Dilly Crackers for snacking. (Let me know if you want the recipe.)

Whatever your plans for today, I wish you well.

BEEattitude for Day # 75:
       Blessed are you, truly. 

What Fran is grateful for right now:
       Family and friends

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day #73 the 4th bee joke

Okay, answer this one:

What did the (fill in your choice of occupation) say to the bee who was tired?

Send me your answers. I wonder who's going to win?

BEEattitude for Day # 73:
       Blessed are those who enjoy the work they do, for they shall be fulfilled. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The pumpkin bread that's making the house smell so good 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day #72 Silence

There are so many kinds of silence:

A quiet day at home
A night of despair at a hospital
Watching the eclipse in wonder
Sitting near my beloved grandchildren as they draw
Holding a dying cat
Seeing the first crocus in late winter
Crying with a friend
Holding my breath while a deer walks by
Marveling at the 43-year-long marriage of two dear friends
(How did they do it?)
Sitting with a purring cat warming  my lap
Reading and, of course,

Each of these silences has its own quality. Some are happy; some are not. In the spring, I'll be able to add:

Listening to my bees

I'm looking forward to it.

What are your kinds of silence?

BEEattitude for Day # 72:
       Blessed are those who refrain from talking, even for a little while, for they shall eventually hear. 

What Fran is grateful for right now:
       Miss Polly, curled in my lap, and the memory of Panther, who died in my arms two years ago today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day #71 the perfect house

Six or so years ago, I was looking for a house. I wanted it to be smaller than the one I was living in at the time, with a certain arrangement of rooms, a two-car garage, lots of trees, a front porch that was such and such a size, and so on. My long-suffering realtor took me around to see numerous prospects, none of which fit the bill.

Finally, one day in absolute desperation, I climbed into his car and said, "I've upped the ante. I want a house with everything I've had on my list PLUS I want a skylight, a wood-burning stove, and a bay window." While he gaped at me, I added, "And a creek in the back yard."

We looked at five houses that day. The first had a skylight; the second had a bay window; the third had a creek; the fourth was a disaster. I bought the fifth house, which had everything I asked for. Little did I know, when I gave him that list, that someday I'd be sitting here in my bay window looking out at the big back deck where the bees are going to be installed.

Fran's Garage Doors
 Oh! And did I see the lunar eclipse Monday night? Yes indeedy! The moon was so bright when I got up to go outside at 1 a.m. that I pulled my rocking chair under the skylight, leaned back, and watched in total comfort as the moon passed into the shadow of the earth, until the reddish glow was quite apparent. At which point, the clouds swept in and I couldn't see anything else. I was warm, and happy. What more can one ask?

BEEattitude for Day # 71:
       Blessed are they who are open to new experiences, for they shall be pleasantly surprised.

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The people who've bought my e-books. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day #70 Protective Clothing

"There is no stigma attached to wearing protective equipment; it will save you and your visitors a lot of worry if you are properly prepared to look through colonies without the fear of being stung."

So says The Beekeeper's Handbook, which I've quoted numerous times in this blog. I was caught by that phrase "there is no stigma." And I disagree with it. Having talked to a lot of beekeepers over the past few months, I've noticed that the ones who say

"Of course, I never use veils"

generally have an underlying pride in those words, as if they belong to an exclusive club, the Anti-Veil Society.

"You can use a veil if you're afraid."
"I just scrape out the stinger and keep working."
"Don't be ashamed if you have to use a veil."

Well, until I'm really, really used to my bees, I will use a veil, without any feeling of inferiority. The risk of receiving a sting on my eyelid (or getting an inquisitive bee stuck in my ear) is a bit more than I can stand.

I'll be buying veils in the next few weeks. I did buy three used veils -- a real mistake, as they turned out to be in need of such major repairs, they're not worth the effort. I wonder if I could ask for my money back?

BEEattitude for Day # 70:
       Blessed are those who ask for what they need, for they shall receive. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Warm curtains over cold windows.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day #69 Bees, rain, and geese

Saturday morning it rained and rained and rained.

If I were a bee, I'd have a problem with that. Bees with wet wings can't fly. That's why some beekeepers spray their bees with sugar syrup to calm them down. I'm not sure it calms them; it simply immobilizes them.

So, what am I going to do next Spring when I get my bees if it rains for days on end, the way it did in Atlanta last year? Feed them, for sure, and hope they have the good sense to come in out of the rain and stay dry.

The trouble is, I like cloudy, rainy days. It's my vitiligo -- I have no melanin in my skin, so I can't tan, and I sunburn easily. That means that what I like is different from what my bees will like.

 I don't even have them yet, and I'm worrying about them like a mother goose clucking at her goslings.


BEEattitude for Day # 69:
       Blessed are those who plants lots of flowers and vegetables, for their yards shall be well-pollinated.

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Sunny days in the winter and cloudy days in the summer. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day #68 The solstice lunar eclipse

Bees and the night sky? Bees and the moon? Bees and astronomy? Bees and the Solstice? Bees and photography?
A similar lunar eclipse in Nov 2003
Photo credit: Jim Fakatselis

I can't think of a way to connect this blog-post to the general topic of bees, but I'm going to post it anyway because I think the topic is pretty interesting.

If you read this blog regularly, you know I subscribe to NASA Science News. I'd like to share with you this great article about the total lunar eclipse that will be visible on the night of the Solstice (the night between December 20th and 21st).

The article explains why the moon glows an eerie red during a lunar eclipse and exactly when to see it. The photo above comes from the NASA article.

 If you live anywhere in North America, you'll be able to see the eclipse -- if you're willing to take the time. If the skies over Georgia will cooperate by staying cloud-free, I plan to give a look.

I know it's possible to see a lunar eclipse despite the light pollution of a city area, because the following two photos were taken by my son from a balcony in downtown Atlanta during an eclipse in November 2008.

Yelloideas Photography

Yelloideas Photography
I've seen only a few exlipses, but each one has been memorable indeed.

If you see the one next week, let me know what you think.

BEEattitude for Day # 68:
       Blessed are those who look up, for they shall live in wonder. We bees wish we could see the moon; it sounds marvelous.

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Those precious places in this country where light pollution is not a factor. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day #67 The truth about assassins

I learned the truth about Assassin Bees when Bill Dunn spoke at the most recent meeting of the Beekeepers Club of Gwinnett.

You never heard of Assassins? Sure you have -- just not under that name.

For a while the press called them Killer Bees, which sounded much more exciting than their original name. Then, for some unbeknownst reason, the name shifted to Africanized Bees.

Now, who's to say that some of the feistiness of those critters isn't a good thing for bees in general? I don't know.

But they really are assassins. And the way they work is fascinating. Want a gruesome tale of treachery that rivals that of the Trojan Horse?

You DO recall the details of that story, don't you? It's the reason people began saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." The Greeks appeared to be losing in their long seige of the city of Troy, so they built an enormous wooden horse, left it in front of the gates, retreated to their ships under cover of darkness, and sailed out of the harbor.

"Look!" the Trojans cried the next morning. "A gift from our defeated enemy!" They shoulda known better.

They rolled the wheeled horse into their city and celebrated like crazy, getting dead drunk in the process. Along toward dawn, Greek soldiers, who'd been hidden in the belly of the wooden horse, jumped out and opened the city gates. The inpouring army slaughtered . . . well, you get the idea.

Assassin Bees are even smarter than that, though. They form a cluster in a tree somewhere in the general vicinity of a regular beehive. The cluster is to protect their queen, who is in the center. Then they send out scouts, who forage for nectar and pollen. the scouts fly up to the unsuspecting hive, land on the front door and display their gifts.

"Gee, thanks!" the guard bees say. "You wanna bring us presents, we'll accept." Gradually the number of assassin bees within the hive increases, until there are enough to launch an attack on the resident queen.

After they've killed her, the swarm breaks up, flies to the hive, and installs their own queen. Pretty as you please. And the original worker bees don't put up a fight because, once their queen is dead, they're toast, unless they get a new queen quickly. Voila. Assassin Queen to the rescue.

You know what they say: "Beware of Bees bearing gifts."

BEEattitude for Day # 67:
       Blessed are the gift-givers, for they shall prosper. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       My choropractor, who straightened out my wrist when I fell on the ice. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day #66 The New York Times talks bees

What's the New York Times doing in my blog? I'm still not over my cold, so I'll let the New York Times speak for me in this article about the value of bees in New York City (and elsewhere).

Here's the article a friend of mine from Arizona shared with me. (Thanks, Ellen!)

And to answer the questions you sent in about what the critter in the first picture in yesterday's post was:

It's a Porcupine Puffer Fish, photographed somewhere in or around the Philippines by my son (data-base-manager / circus-performer / fire-spinner / lamp creator / master scuba-diver / all-around good soul).

Enjoy the Times while I have a cup of hot tea (with honey, of course).

BEEattitude for Day # 66:
       Blessed are good reporters, for they shall enlighten their world. 

Something Fran is grateful for right now:
       The map that shows me it's one L and two Ps.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day #65 A little chat

Yelloideas Photography
I was chatting with a friend of mine a while back . . .  She was telling me how much she enjoyed looking at flowers.

No! Not that friend.. It was a different one.

Yelloideas Photography

And not that one either, although I'm sure he enjoys flowers as much as anyone.

Yellowideas Photography

Yes! Finally, here's the one I was talking with.

She was telling me how special flowers are to her, and I said, "Then you have a lot in common with the bees I'll be getting next spring."

"Bees?" she queried. "They're those noisy, fuzzy little critters, aren't they?"

"Well, I don't know about noisy, but they do have fuzz on their bodies."

"Believe me, sweetie, you haven't heard noise until you've really listened to a honeybee." But then she paused and considered. "You're a human, aren't you?" she said. "Humans are even noiser than bees. Maybe you could take a few lessons from them."

"Thank you," I whispered, and tiptoed away.

BEEattitude for Day # 65:
       Blessed are those who are quiet, for they shall hear more. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       My son, who takes such interesting photos and let's me use them on my blog. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day #64 I'd rather be singing . . .

Well, Monday night was a dress rehearsal for the Gwinnett Choral Guild, singing at Brenau University in Gainesville with the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra. Tonight (Tuesday) will be the performance.

I'm missing both of them. Phooey!

How do opera singers ever manage? Surely they must get an occasional cold(?)

Or maybe not.

Yes, I apologize. I'm still whining about feeling sick.

So, what is there about bees that will cheer me up?

   1. They are a sunny yellow, just like my bathroom walls. I like yellow.
   2. It's only about 14 more weeks until I get to pick up my nuc and my package of bees.
   3. Worker bees do a wag-tail dance to identify where the nectar is. I could dance around my living room just for the heck of it, and that would keep me from grumping about my sore nose.
   4. On days when I can't sing myself, I'll be able to step outside and listen to my hives!

Okay. I feel better now.

Will somebody tell my nose to keep up with me?

BEEattitude for Day #64 :
       Blessed are the singers, for they shall be filled with joy. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Hot water.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day #63 Doggone it!

Well, for somebody who's normally as healthy as a bee, I sure did manage to come down with a whooper ot a cold. As long as we don't stress bees out, they do pretty well, so what happened to me? I don't think I'm stressed out:

  1. I'm happy.
  2. I have good friends and wonderful family.
  3. My cats are healthy (i.e. not barfing up hairballs or anything else).
  4. All my editing jobs are caught up, and I'll be getting four new clients started next week.
  5. My books are (FINALLY!) out as ebooks - well most of them...
  6. My checkbook is balanced.
  7. I have plenty of food to last through the upcoming cold spell.

I could go on with the list, but you get the idea. I don't have a reason to be stressed. Still, I have a cold. Yuch!

I'm someone who believes that we create our circumstances, and that what we see in the world is a reflection of who and what we are. So, I must be wanting to honk at somebody, if my nose is any indication.

Trouble is, I don't think I'm mad at anybody.

What would the bees tell me to do?

BEEattitude for Day # 63:
       Blessed are those who take care of themselves gently, for they shall get better faster. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
      The hot water, lemon juice, and (thank-you bees!) honey I'm drinking to ease my sore throat. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day #62 The joy of a good heater

My car has one.
My house has several.
My bees . . . ? Well, they have each other.

Now, you know I don't actually have the bees yet. But my imagination is rife, and I can practically see the little ones flying in and out of the hives right outside my bay window.

But not on a day like today. Brrr ! ! ! ! !

The bees cluster together and shiver, thereby generating heat. One bee alone can't possibly keep itself warm by shivering, but when they all group together, the heat-to-bee ratio goes way up, and they can keep a hive at a comfortable temp, as long as nosy beekeepers don't open the hive on the first sunny day to "check on" the bees.

BEEattitude for Day # 62:
       Blessed are the beekeepers who leave us alone most of the time, for we shall reward them with great sweetness. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The space heater next to me. 

[All photos are from the public domain unless noted otherwise.]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day #61 Stability and Slumgum

How long does beeswax last?

Well, The Beekeeper's Handbook tells me that it is stable for thousands of years. I'll keep that in mind.

I also need to know this: when I'm melting beeswax in my solar melter (the one I guess I need to build), old comb won't melt as well, and will form a dark, gummy residue called slumgum. (No, I am not kidding.) I can put it in my compost pile. Well, that's encouraging.

Does that mean that if I came across an old stash of beeswax, say from the time of the pharoahs, it would all be slumgum? Does "old" mean "used many times and therefore contaminated with dirt, oils, pollen grains, and such?" Or does "old" in this case simply mean "well-aged"? I don't know. The book doesn't say.

 But, the next time I come across some really old, old beeswax, I'll melt it and see if I have the making of candles, cosmetics, floor polish, car polish, furniture polish, adhesives, crayons, chewing gum, ski wax, or even some kinds of ink.

Or will it just be a big lump of slumgum?

BEEattitude for Day # 61:
       Blessed are the archaeologists, for they shall live in wonder of the ancient world. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The rich dark soil I get from my compost pile.
       And one other thing - the folks at,  commercial beekeepers who avoid using chemicals on their bees. I like that attitude! Their queens are resistant to varroa mites.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day #60 More book titles from the bees

Well, if there's one fan of BeesKneesBeekeeping who is keeping me in stitches, it's Petie from Houston. She and her whole family take this blog to heart. I've gotten more comments from Petie than from anybody else. On day 58, when I was talking about Bee's Book Titles, she came up with:

Gone with the Wing,

Inherit the Hive,


To Hive or Hive Not

I dare you to top these! 

       And for some reason, nobody's groaned out loud yet about The Agony and the ExtraBee. I thought it was pretty funny...

BEEattitude for Day # 60:
       Blessed are those who like to play with words. We're not sure why, but they seem to laugh a lot, and they send off healthy vibrations that we bees can sense. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       People who write very clear instructions. (It's an art that isn't always followed.) 
[Photos are from the public domain,
except for the "Rubber Duck Yellow Deluxe Garden Hive" from H & L Bee Farm]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day #59 Art by Grandkids and Bees

As I write this, I'm looking at two pictures drawn by my grandchildren. The bright colors and the sheer imagination -- all of this delights me.

I think bees draw pictures, too. The queen bee lays her eggs in a beautiful spiral pattern, like the seeds in a sunflower. This means that as the eggs go through their various stages, those cells change in the same spiral pattern, each of them progressing from an open cell with a single skinny white egg at the bottom of it to one with a growing pupa, and on to the point where the workers pack the cell with honey and pollen for the larva to eat as it continues its growth. Eventually the workers "cap the brood," covering it over with a yellowish-brownish wax cap.

Like an artist picking different oils (or, in the case of my grandchildren, crayons and pens), the bees choose a different color wax to cap the honey cells. That's how a beekeeper knows for sure which frames hold the white capped honey.

Of course, as the baby bees mature, they emerge in that same spiral pattern, the first-laid at the center and the newer ones progressively outward. Finally the queen goes back to the center and starts over again with yet another first white egg in a newly-cleaned cell.

The fact that they've been doing it this way for 140 million years doesn't make it less artistic. It's beautiful. Do they do it because they "have" to? Well, yes, I suppose so. But maybe each queen considers her options and says, "Spirals! That'll look gorgeous!" And we have a continuous wax canvas in front of us.

BEEattitude for Day # 59:
       Blessed are those who choose to see beauty around them, for they shall be uplifted. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Hot oatmeal on a cold morning. 

Photos are from the public domain.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day #58 Poor bees - they can't read

One of the greatest joys of my life has always been reading. From the time I was just a little tyke, books have shaped my world. No matter what was going on, I could find companionship, or solace, or good advice in a book. What a shame that bees don't read. What a shame they don't write, either.

Think about the books they could publish:

    The African Queen
    The Drone Mutiny

     Hive: the Inside Story
     Cell: the Inside Story
     Beebread: from pollen to nutrition

     As It Was in the Beginning: Life Before Dinosaurs
     The Agony and the Extra Bee

     The Culprit Behind Colony Collapse Disorder:
     Skunk Attack: How One Hive Survived!

     B is for Bees
     One for the Honey
     Brown as a Wing Vein

BEEattitude for Day # 58:
    Blessed are the readers, for they shall never bee lonely.

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
    Four of my books are available as eBooks now - through Smashwords! The other two mysteries should be available soon.

And if you want to think about marketing your own eBook, take a look at the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. It's free! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day #57 Dusk

All the animals I know slow down at dusk.

Why don't people do the same? It's quarter to eleven on Monday night as I write this - to be published tomorrow morning (which means about an hour and a half from now).

I just got home from a wonderful rehearsal.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

AND - I'm pooped!

When the sun goes down, why don't we?

Are bees smarter than we are?

BEEattitude for Day # 57:
       Blessed are they who pace themselves, for they shall last longer. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The energy to do what I love to do. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day #56 Rockin' Gospel Singing

Well, Saturday and Sunday were great fun. The Gwinnett Choral Guild gave two concerts. The music was challenging, and I was astonished at how much sound came out of my old lungs. We just got started singing and sang our hearts out.

In case you're interested, we started with three different versions of the Magnificat. High-falootin' stuff. Organ music - which I can't stand, so don't ever give me an organ CD, but I must admit the volume was impressive.

Then we sang some more traditional Christmas songs - White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, things like that - interspersed with performances by the Georgia Young Men's Ensemble, a phenomenal group of young guys from 6th grade through high school (and even a couple of college guys who enjoy singing with the group so much, they keep on attending rehearsals).

We ended up with yet another Magnificat -- this one The Gospel Magnificat by Robert Ray. Soul music at its best. We had the place rocking both concerts. I ended up energized and exhausted both. Love singing with that group!

Have I mentioned that I plan to sing to my bees once I get them here? I think that makes sense. I wonder if they'd prefer classical or jazz? I'm pretty good at elevator music, too, but if they want rock or rap, they'll have to hear that in somebody else's back yard.

BEEattitude for Day # 56:
       Blessed are those who make music, for we shall enjoy their buzzing. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The GCG's director, Phillip Shoultz, who can pull more music out of us than we knew was in there.