Monday, October 31, 2011

Day #384 One Moment at a time

DeWittJones sent out one of his wonderful inspirational photos Sunday, accompanied by this quotation:

The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the earth in the present moment;  
to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
            -- Thich Nhat Hanh

This is how the bees live. In the moment. Every moment.
We could learn something from them.

BEEattitude for Day # 384:
       Blessed are those who listen and see and hear, for they shall know their world.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day #383 Slanting Rays

The late wild asters are still blooming, but they’re beginning to get brown around the edges, and some of the blooms have disappeared completely. Very few bees were in evidence today – not surprising, since the temperature has been dipping lower and lower each day.

Still, the sun was bright, and Miss Polly and Daisy snoozed in the afternoon rays slanting in through my bay window. If I'd had a good camera, I might have taken a picture like this one:

I gleaned it from the internet, of course.

BEEattitude for Day # 383:
       Blessed are those who appreciate sunshine, for they shall have wonderful naps.

The teeny details:
Coming Soon: VIOLET AS AN AMETHYST, the 6th Biscuit McKee mystery

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day #382 Old Phones

If I remember, my first phone number, on an Air Force base overseas, was something like 53, or maybe it was 537. The phone was the old, heavy, black, corded, sit on the desk model. And only one phone in the entire house.

Then, for a while, I lived in a mountain town in Colorado that had a teeny phone company. That phone number was W5R, or some such crazy number. Try telling that to a long-distance operator.

Now it’s all cell phones – and no need to push a 1 before the ten digits.

The story keeps floating around the internet that cell phone signals mess up the navigation systems of honey bees.

The scientists at the honey bee laboratory at the University of Florida, however, tell us that there’s no such problem. Bees apparently blithely ignore cell signals.

Whew! That’s good to know. I’d hate to dial W5R and have nobody BEE there.

BEEattitude for Day # 382:
       Blessed are those who keep in touch, for they shall live in ever-widening circles.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day #381 Mission Statements

I sing with the Gwinnett Choral Guild, and I’m a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. We’ve been meeting recently to flesh out our mission and vision statements.

You’d think it wouldn’t be that complicated. But what, after all, are we really about? Singing, of course. Musical excellence. Community.

How, though, do we craft those essential statements? How do we agree where we are and where we’re going?

Bees don’t have that problem.

·         Mission – honey and pollen.

·         Vision – survival of the hive.

Hmmm. I want more than food and survival. And I’m pretty sure the whole GCG will want more than that as well.

So, in this, I guess we people don’t have to emulate the bees.

BEEattitude for Day # 381:
       Blessed are those who know who and what they are, for they shall rest easy.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day #380 Monoculture Almonds

Last night I attended a screening of the documentary Queen of the Sun. If you get a chance to see it, please take the time. Gorgeous filming of honeybees, fascinating interviews with beekeepers, entomologists, biophysicists, all of whom have deep concerns about what we’re doing to the bees.

I’ve never before seen a monoculture almond farm – 60,000 acres of nothing but almond trees. Never until this film took a camera in a small plane flying over mile after mile of almond trees in military rows. Those trees bloom for two or three weeks once a year. When they’re not blooming, there is NO FOOD on that land for bees. That’s why commercial beekeepers from all over the country load up their hives, several hundred at a time, onto flatbed trucks, and haul them to the California almond farms, killing hundreds of thousands of bees as they go.

What on earth, this movie asks, would be wrong with plowing up an acre of land every so often, scattered throughout the almond farm, and planting wildflowers and clover and herbs? Then install some hives on each of those acres. That way, the bees can live year-round in what is now a virtual desert. Those bees will turn it eventually into a vital oasis. Think of the savings to the almond farmers (and all those other current monoculture crops), if they didn’t have to pay commercial beekeepers from all across the country to stress out their bees by hauling them 20,000 miles in a season.

It’s something to think about.

BEEattitude for Day # 380:
       Blessed are those who let us live in a natural environment, for they shall have safe honey in abundance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day #379 Einstein had it right

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of blog space comparing people to bees.

·         If we’d only act like bees we would be better organized. 

·         If we acted like bees, we would stay more focused. 

·         If people were more like bees, we’d produce better products.
But then, I found this:

Einstein was right. People are not bees. We can learn from them, but I shouldn’t go judging people on how well they can do their honey bee chores. After all, I'm not too good at gathering nectar myself.

BEEattitude for Day # 379:
       Blessed are those who live in the moment, for they shall save themselves from excessive worry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day #378 Internet Integrity?

Bees always tell the truth as they understand it. If there’s a good nectar source southwest of the hive, that’s the direction they advertise to their hive mates through their waggle dances, which I’ve talked about in a post last November. They wouldn’t dream of sending their bee friends off on a wasted trip.

Some people, though, send friends in the wrong direction deliberately, and the internet has made this habit much easier, both for the perpetrators and for the innocent forwarder, who doesn't stop to check facts. Here’s the reply I wrote to an email that you’ve probably already seen—the one that says that this October has a highly unusual, so-called "Moneybags" pattern of days. Nonsense!

“I hate to be the Grinch about this,” I wrote, and continued:

but I do wish people would stop forwarding astounding-sounding emails that have no basis in fact whatsoever. I’ll agree that the last two birth year digits plus one’s current age will always add up to 111. Nothing magical about that. But I’m appalled that anyone would think the 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays, and 5 Mondays event occurs only once every 823 years.

In ANY month with 31 days, whatever days the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fall on, will always have 5 weeks of those days that month. If the first of the month happens to fall on a Saturday, then the 5 days will occur Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

In fact, if January 1st falls on a Saturday, then there will TWO months that year with the “Moneybags Pattern”—January and October. If January 1st is a Saturday in a leap year, then the 2nd Moneybag month will be in July.

There is always at least one and never more than two of these “moneybag” months every year, with the following exception. There is one yearly pattern that contains NO “moneybags.”

If January 1st falls on a Tuesday, and the year is not a leap year, then there will be no such pattern. The five most recent examples of this pattern were 1957, 1963, 1974, 1985, 1991, 2002. The next one coming up will be 2013.

This means that in the last 40 years, there have been 34 that fall into this “moneybag” pattern.

So, if you’re looking for an excuse for prosperity, and you believe the calendar holds the key to it, you are blessed indeed to have so many “moneybag years” at your disposal.

Anyone with a perpetual calendar and a little patience can figure this out.


p.s. The abundance in your life is not determined by how many times you forward ANY email. Feel free to break those e-chains!

p.s. #2 – Blessed are those who forward and reply via blind copy, for they shall preserve the integrity of the internet. (Is that an oxymoron?)

BEEattitude for Day # 378:
       Blessed are those who deal honestly, for they shall eventually find that the cards have been stacked in their favor.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bees don’t worry about holidays, so why do we people? I’d prefer to think that bees celebrate life every single day. Maybe there’s a stir through the hive when a new, rich nectar source is discovered, or when a new queen hatches, but I doubt they concern themselves with stringing lights over the shrubbery or bringing dead trees inside.

I pretty much decided to give up on holidays a number of years ago. I found I was stressing out and completely losing the concept of “celebration.” I’m not a Grinch. I’m not opposed to the idea of holidays. I simply choose not to buy in to the mania that grips this country from October through the end of December and one day into each New Year.

Since I’ve been sharing Facebook entries with you – I couldn’t resist this wisdom from Maxine.

BEEattitude for Day # 377:
       Blessed are those who take each day with gladness in their hearts, for they shall garner true wealth – “peace it bodes, and love, and quiet life.”

p.s. from Fran. Yes, bees do quote Shakespeare, at least in this blog. They like The Taming of the Shrew almost as much as I do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day #376 Choose Happiness

Here’s another photo gleaned from my hour on Facebook the other day.

It’s from “Choose Happiness,” and Beth Leeper is the one who posted it.

Choose Happiness. Another good idea.

BEEattitude for Day # 376:
       Blessed are those who accept what is while still planning for tomorrow, for their hives shall be filled with sweet honey.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day #375 Internet Quotes

Bees never have to worry about the internet. Lucky bees.

I wasted an inordinate amount of time this morning (before breakfast!) trying to look through the entries on my Facebook site. Some of them are fascinating, some of them are puzzling, and some – the ones I hide – are sheer drivel.

Still, I found some goodies that I’ll be sharing with you over the next few days, starting with this little gem that Kathy Barrett Trader posted.

Makes one think. Not a bad idea.

BEEattitude for Day # 375:
       Blessed are those who choose to keep their hearts light, for they shall fly through life like us bees, finding sweetness wherever they alight.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day #374 Daisy's Hidey Hole

Bees can’t fly when their wings are wet, so a long-lasting rainstorm can be something of a disaster for a hive. A bee caught out in a rainstorm must take shelter right away, perhaps under a large leaf or in a handy hole in a tree trunk.

That may be why bees tend to get a bit cranky when the skies cloud over. Do they take the risk of flying out and possibly being trapped by the rain? Do they stay home and bypass a chance to bring in more food for the hive? Decisions, decisions.
Indoor cats never get into such a quandary.  One particular indoor cat, though, is fascinated by umbrellas and will sit for half an hour at a time under one that is spread out to dry, even when the human with whom she shares her house lies down on the floor in front of her to take this picture.

BEEattitude for Day # 374:
       Blessed are those who make the most of their circumstances, for they shall BEE contented.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day #373 Bee Dreams

My mother lived through the Great Depression. She used to tell me stories about how she would get her hands on a Sears & Roebuck catalog, and go through it circling item after item, turning down the page corners to mark especially winsome articles of clothing or particularly striking pieces of household goods. After she’d marked hundreds of dollars worth of purchases, she’d dust her hands off and go back to work.

Eventually the catalog would end up in the outhouse and be put to very good use indeed.

I do that with J. Peterman Company catalogs. Not the outhouse part, but most definitely the turning down of pages. I don’t order very often, but ah! the dreaming is magnificent.

On rainy days, like the last few have been here in Georgia, I wonder what the bees dream about. Do they carry in their little bee brains a catalog of winsome tastes in nectars, exquisite varieties of pollen, and the very safest locations for retrieving water?

I hope so.

BEEattitude for Day # 373:
       Blessed are those who put foundations under their castles in the air, for they shall sense accomplishment.

The teeny details:
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day #372 Fire Prevention

After seeing this  picture on Facebook of a firefighter (Jeff Clark) being licked by a dog he’d rescued, I’ve been thinking about bees and fire.

A smoker supposedly makes bees think fire is in the area. The bees begin to gorge on honey. Beekeepers who know about such things say that the bees are preparing to leave the hive, taking their honey with them. At best, this is a guess. Who knows what bees are thinking?

Still, it seems to me the stress of believing fire is about to consume their home must be awfully hard on the bees.

That’s why I tend to agree with those beekeepers who try to keep their hive inspections to a minimum. How would you like it if somebody terrified you on a regular basis, and afterwards always said, “I was just kidding.”

Yeah. That what I’d think too.

And, by the way, the "dog kiss" happened on August 1, 2009. Just goes to show you how long stories can go around and around and around.

BEEattitude for Day # 372:
       Blessed are those who do what is kind, for they shall get extra points.

The teeny details:
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day #371 To Filter or not to Filter

Yesterday we looked at reasons to pasteurize (or not pasteurize) honey. Today, let’s draw once more on the wisdom of Bob Bennie at Blue Ridge Honey Company. This is taken from the FAQs page on his website.

  Why filter honey?
Honey is commonly filtered to remove sugar crystals, air bubbles, particles of beeswax and pollen and any other hive debris that may be present. Fine filtering of honey makes the honey bright and clear and removes anything that could act as a platform for sugar crystals to build upon and therefore facilitate the granulation process. Simply put, it gives the honey a longer shelf life without granulation and a better appearance for purchase appeal.

I much prefer the thought of unfiltered honey, though. An awful lot is lost during the filtering process.

  Why not filter honey?
The fine filtering of honey removes much of what makes raw honey a healthy and desirable food. This would include particles of pollen, beeswax and propolis.

Which do you prefer?

BEEattitude for Day # 371:
       Blessed are those who sing in the rain, for they shall call green into their lives.

The teeny details:
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Day #370 Pasteurization

Time for another tip from Blue Ridge Honey Company:

Why not to pasteurize honey?
Honey will deteriorate when exposed to heat. The higher the heat, the faster and greater the effect.
For example, honey has numerous enzymes. Most of these enzymes remain stable under 100ºF but have decreased activity when exposed to temperatures over 120ºF. For instance, the enzyme diatase, which is common in honey, shows a 50% reduction in activity after 15 days at 122ºF. Most enzymes in honey are almost completely destroyed when exposed to temperatures above 160ºF for even a short period. These enzymes are also destroyed when honey is liquified in a micro wave oven. An interesting side note is that most of the enzymes in honey are added by the bees.

Interestingly enough, they also tell us the reasons in favor of pasteurization:

Why pasteurize honey?
Honey contains yeasts. These yeasts are very different from the yeasts used in bread, vinegar and alcoholic beverages. They will cause fermentation in honey with a moisture content over 18% to 19%. These yeasts can be killed by heating honey to 160ºF for a short duration of time. The heating of honey to high temperatures will also cause a delay or slowing of granulation by the dissolving of small sugar crystals present in raw honey. These crystals can initiate the granulation process. The heating of honey also thins it so it can be finely filtered.

I added the bolding of that last sentence. Fine filtering, which many companies subject their honey to, removes a lot of the good elements in honey – little bits of pollen, little bits of wax, little bits of dead bees—protein, anyone?)

BEEattitude for Day # 370:
       Blessed are those who live in tune with nature, for they shall rise up with bounteous energy to see the sunrise.

The teeny details:
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day #369 The Scottish Play

I must admit, I was relieved when the three weird sisters in Macbeth chanted around their cauldron Friday night at the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta. Despite the many times I’ve seen that play, parts of it still surprise me.

This year, because bees have been so much on my mind, I was somewhat nervous waiting for the “double, double, toil and trouble” speech. I knew they threw “scale of dragon” and “root of hemlock” into the pot, along with a number of other extremely odious, nasty things, but I couldn’t remember – had they thrown in various parts of a bee as well?

I’m happy to report, they didn’t. Bee parts would have sweetened their brew, I’m sure, and Shakespeare couldn’t have had that happen.

My two 11-year-old grandchildren were entranced. The porter’s silly speech, the sword fights, the sleepwalking scene.

If you’ve never seen the Scottish Play, as it’s called in the superstitious theater, where speaking the name of that play aloud is considered bad luck, I strongly recommend it. It speaks to this time as powerfully as it did to the Elizabethans. The corrupting influence of power seems, unfortunately, to be as timeless as Shakespeare’s dialogue.

BEEattitude for Day # 369:
       Blessed are those who know the sweetness of honey bees, for they shall sing happily in their dreams.

The teeny details:
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day #368 A New Arrival

I got to thinking about bees and honey. Are you surprised by this?

We humans eat the excess honey, in the same way that when we drink milk, it’s the extra milk, the gallons and gallons of it that the calves don’t need.

Rancho Alegre, the organic farm in Dacula GA, has a brand new calf, just a few days old, and the new mom has an abundance of milk.
In the state of Georgia, it's illegal to sell non-pasteurized milk for human consumption. Unpasteurized milk must be labeled "For Pet Consumption Only." I agree that milk produced by huge conglomerates has to be pasteurized for our protection. We have no idea what those cows have been eating or what their living conditions are.
Just as we have no clue, generally, of what supermarket honey contains (things like corn syrup imported from China, where pesticides have killed so many of the natural pollinators that Chinese farmers have to use little paint brushes to hand-pollinate their crops).

Rancho Alegre's newest baby (c) 2011 P. Quintero
RanchoAlegre is where I buy my locally-grown, safe, delicious produce that's been pollinated naturally. I get goat milk there, too. My cat, Miss Polly thrives drinking goat milk. Daisy, my other cat, doesn't care for it. Go figure.

The first one who gets the cow's milk, though, is this little lady in the photo that Pilar Quintero, Rancho's owner, was kind enough to let me use. I love the way the calf's tongue is just barely visible.

And - would you believe it? Her name is VIOLET! If that doesn't ring a bell, you may not know that muy upcoming book -- due to be release in another month or so -- is called  VIOLET AS AN AMETHYST. I love coincidences!
Anyway, I just thought you’d like to meet Violet.
Don't you love the way the sun illuminates the veins in her ear?

BEEattitude for Day # 368:
       Blessed are those who nurture the little ones, for they shall sleep with a warm feeling in their hearts.

The teeny details:
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Day #367 Good Beeswax

Here’s another little snippet from

*      Is it okay to eat the beeswax from comb honey?
It has long been believed that honeycomb is good for you in moderation. It is thought to be good for the digestive tract and the blood. Recent studies at the University of Georgia suggest that ingesting as little as one gram of beeswax can help lower cholesterol.

I love eating honey comb, just a little bit at a time. But please keep in mind that I eat it because it’s good, not because it’s good for me.

For years, my voice mail message has ended with the suggestion to “Drink plenty of water, because it’s good.”

I suppose I’m lucky in that I enjoy many things that also happen to be good for me, but the enjoying is, to my way of thinking, more important than the good-for-me part.

Just for a moment, think about what you enjoy.
There! Didn’t that feel great?
BEEattitude for Day # 367:
       Blessed are those who share what they create, for they shall fuel the imagination of those around them.

The teeny details:
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day #366 Food from Bugs

In some area of the world, people routinely eat various bugs, such as grasshoppers (I’ve heard they’re pretty tasty when they’re fried), ants (covered in chocolate, anyone?), and assorted other six-legged critters. But when it comes to the food those bugs eat (such as aphids, plant saps, and dirt), we humans are not interested. Honey bees, though, are the only insects that produce food humans like to eat.

Isn’t that worth a little cheer?


for the

honey bees!

BEEattitude for Day # 366:
       Blessed are those who live attuned to nature, for they shall sing with the rising sun.

The teeny details:
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day #365 Blue Ridge Honey Company

Tuesday evening, Bob Binnie spoke at our Gwinnett County Beekeepers meeting. Bob’s a commercial beekeeper, who’s been in the business since 1981,

He and his wife own the Blue Ridge Honey Company. His talk was fun, informative, and interesting from start to finish. I came home from the meeting and went right to his website - .

On his FAQs page, I found all sorts of interesting tidbits that I’ll be sharing with you over the next few days.

Here’s one:

What is beeswax used for?
Beeswax is used in candles and ornaments, lip balm, cosmetics and medicinal creams, as foundation for new honeycomb in bee hives, and in sewing to lubricate needles and thread. Beeswax keeps belts in vacuum cleaners, sewing machines and other tools from slipping. It is used to waterproof shoes, fish line and clotheslines, to lubricate doors, windows and tools, on skis, toboggans and bow strings, in furniture or floor polish, and so much more...

Are you using beeswax without knowing it?

BEEattitude for Day # 365:
       Blessed are those who share what they know and who listen when others share, for they shall all increase the wisdom of the hive.

p.s. from Fran: 365 days???? My gosh, have I really been blogging for an entire year?

The teeny details:
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my eBooks for Kindle:
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day #364 Hurry Slower

Sometimes, when life is feeling a little bit frantic, it’s a good idea to remember how bees handle all the jobs they have to do.

One at a time.

Although every worker bee takes on every single job in the hive, no bee tries to do them all at once. They do this for a day or two and that for a day or two, this job for three days and that job for five.

Twelve of them, pooling their efforts over the course of their six-week lives, can make a teaspoon of honey.

And I thought  I had it hard …
BEEattitude for Day # 364:
       Blessed are those who take their time, for they shall hurry slower and get everything done in good measure. 

The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.
my eBooks for Kindle:
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