I can’t believe it has been FIVE months since I last posted to bee-mail!  Gosh I have been busy as a bee!  But what a winter/spring chock-a-block with bee related events!

First – there was the February Festooning extravaganza let by Maria Molteni and Colette Aliman at the BU 808 Gallery.  Wow!  What an honor to be a part of this group!  Sadie and I, along with Kathleen Robinson, were there to present on the Leland Garden and its history of apiary stewardship – it’s always a treat to hear Kathleen tell the tale of the founding of the garden!

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My favorite presenter from this event was Lotte de Moor from SkyHive  – not only was she a blast to hang out with after the day’s events – but I really love what this design collective does.

The February Festooning was followed by the March BNAN (Boston Natural Areas Network) Gardener’s Gathering  – where my friend Mario D’Amato, a newly minted MUG (Master Urban Gardener) 2013 graduate and beekeeper at the Victory Gardens, facilitated a panel on urban beekeeping.  Sadie and I, along with Bill Perkins from Ag Hall and Dean and Ramona from Golden Rule, shared our apis mellifora tales with a rapt audience: curious, engaged and ready to embark on their own adventure.

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By late March I received the sad news that my two nucs I had ordered from Fairfax, VT did not make it through the winter.  This was devastating.  Where does a beekeeper find stock to supply two hives so late in the season?  I searched high and low- because I did not – under any circumstance – want a Georgia bred package. (I’ll get to why later)

Two apiaries got back to me – Nature’s Way Farms in the Finger Lakes region of New York (a region dear to my heart because of grad school) – and the other, Northwoods Apiary in Westfield, the far reaches of Northern Vermont on the Canadian border (also dear to me as I lived in the Northeast Kingdom for over 5 years).

It was 6 of one ½ dozen of the other – and I got in touch with Josh White from Northwoods first. I loved our conversation –we talked about organic treatment, leaving the bees alone as much as possible and the negative practice of large scale bee ‘factories’ in Georgia – Josh stated most of the Georgia bees are bred to breed – not necessarily bred for strength, winter hardiness or even high yields of honey production – and I agree.  Plus – it’s tremendously difficult to get strong stock from artificially inseminated Queens.  If I were stuck with a package I would re-Queen anyway (which, of course has its pros and cons… it really is trial and error!)

Josh carries hygienic Carniolan Queens – winter hardy ladies of Slovak/Czech Carpathian Mountain region descent – that are open mated with Vermont (or Canadian) drones –  wow – that’s an awesome pedigree!

I was pleased with my selection – but had to wait until Memorial Day to pick them up.   What a great excuse to plan a weekend in Vermont – visiting friends en route to pick up bees from the same town, Westfield, my favorite cheese comes from.

It was a glorious weekend (except for the weather) – with one night in Hardwick, a day in Glover  and one night in the Eastern Townships of Quebec (in North Hatley).  We had to drive a friend to Montpelier – so at one point there were three humans, two dogs and 40,000 bees in our little Honda Fit!  Fun times – even if it SNOWED on the way home!  Yes, snow on Memorial Day Weekend – such a typical late spring in northern New England.

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Northwoods Apiary nuc yard and workshop

The bees were introduced to their new home – with some modification to the site in the garden.  Josh and I weeded and leveled the soil and replaced my beautiful stands with the old table for sturdier support. And that was it!

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While the ladies adjusted to the ‘southern’ climate and new digs I continued my bee endeavors at the 3rd Tour de Hives.   What an amazing event – produced by incredible volunteers from the Boston Beekeepers Club  to introduce urban beekeeping and urban cycling to those in the Boston metro area.  Bikes and bees – what’s not to LOVE?!?

The number of people in attendance  (I’m guessing 150 – could have been more!) and their curiosity and enthusiasm was so exciting!    Mark your calendar for next year – this is truly an event NOT TO MISS!

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We started on Boston Common

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The roof-top hives on at Fairmount Copley Plaza

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A patient participant

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Curious onlookers at Best Bees in the South End

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Maria and Collete’s Inflatable Hive at the Fenway Victory Gardens

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I visited my ladies one time since the installation – for a very quick inspection two weeks ago (6/23) – and gosh were they active – they’re working hard!  With almost two deeps totally full I added on a super to each hive.  I plan to add another super this weekend.

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**So – if you are around and want to visit Sally and Mavis with me I encourage you to come to the apiary tomorrow, Sunday, July 7th, at 11A.  I will be conducting a MAJOR hive inspection – and you are more than welcome to watch and learn!**

And I’m back in the bee-Mail groove – so stay tuned for a post after the inspection – I’m sure there will be tons to share!

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