Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bees, Barley and Bavarian Haus

The result of those busy bees this last spring
The summer is winding on, the days are shorter, sad I know, but true. It is still hot, and sunny, the garden is still productive, but I can see that some things are looking tired. The morning does not come so early, and the hops are ready.
Even so, the honey bees are busy gathering nectar from all the flowering squashes, mint and sunflowers. We dig the bees , and I encourage their activities in the garden. After all how would I have gotten my luscious apples without them? I know some apples are self pollinating, but that's not my point.

The Sugar Shack
All seemed right and in balance in the garden, when I noticed an unusually large number of honey bees drinking from the hummingbird feeder. First it was one, then two. Then I went outside to have peek and WOW!! All the openings were choked with golden little bees having a good drink.
Their amber bodies wriggling and pulsating as they jockeyed for the prime spot to get at the nectar. Like WW2 bombers, flying away laden down with sugar water for the Queen..Bees so full of nectar they could barely take off, cruised slowly past my head off to the hive.. The feeder was so jam packed with bees, not even the normally agressive yellow jackets dared to have ago at it.
The hummingbirds had given up, and were nowhere to be seen..
I just stood and watched , mesmerised.
Last year the bees stopped by for a quick sugar water drink, then flew off. The song birds would nip in for a beak full too on the hot days ..But this year is waaaay different with the bees..
I was happy to help feed our local bees, but there was problem.
The problem was that the greedy little bees would climb themselves up into the feeder tubes, and end up drowning in nectar. Seeing their drowned little bodies floating at the top of the feeder, I realised something more sensible had to be done, so I called my bee keeping freind and mead maker Amy aka Wolfwoman..
"Ya need to build them a jar feeder. This time of the year they are trying to gather as much nectar as they can to keep the Queen producing eggs, and to store for winter, so they are really hungry. Iam feeding my hives , and going through a quart of nectar a day."
Who knew? So I got a jar, poked some holes in the lit, set it up on small stones, set that in the middle of a shallow dish, and there ya go! Bee feeder!

Flying in for drink Now I suggest that you set this thing up after it gets to be evening, or you will have as I did, a zillion bees climbing all over you. I mean climbing. Bees buzzing by your ears, face, arms, climbing my hands looking for sugar.. The thing is to just be calm, and slow in your movements, not so much because they will get agressive, but so you do not inadvertently squish one, or squish one between your fingers. Then you'll get stung for sure. It was amazing, the feeling of their wings beating air all around my face, trying to resist that primeval urge to run at the sound of so much buzzing up close. It was cool!!! they did not care a bit about me, except that I was bringing more nectar. Next time though, I refill the thing at night.

The Bar

The way they all lined up reminded me of some little gold bees made for a Scythian warriors garment.....or the sculpture of Diana of Ephesus, she wears a necklace of bees...
They flew past me, ignoring me as another obstacle..So they seem happy, and no more drowned bees.

Bavarian Inn sign
Barley, hops and beer..

The start of the spirals..Iam working on the stein today.
Well, Iam currently slacking off writing this! But the bees were so cool, I had to share!

Here is the study for how to make hop cones, and barley...
The white thing is the study, I think Iam going to use the layered method, cut out and shape the petals of the hops, and them fit them on a central "pin"....The Barley, I still have no idea yet..
This is a cool project, but I best get back to work.


Rois said...

I like that jar idea.This year we planted Borage and Cosmos in with the squashes to help with the pollination.We have tons of bees now.I can't believe how if you stay calm the bees just go about their business when I am out in the garden.Tho' to be safe I will say "Excuse me little brothers just coming through" I am a whack case!
Love R

Anonymous said...

That's amazing Heidi! The hummingbird feeder leading to your invention. Love it! I think you should market it. We would just get a load of wasps. Don't you get wasps?
Also love your descriptions - a wonderful piece of writing.

I'm still sad I never managed to capture the swarm on the farm in June - our own honey too - the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Your sign is, as ever, wonderfully creative. I'm in awe!
How'd that hop party go....wish I could be there.