The 501c3 Files from Ashland Sneak Preview:
By Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
I was a bit nervous before I got there. I even brought a homeopathic remedy for bee stings just in case. Oddly though, when I donned the beekeeper outfit that Sarah had lent me, I found I was suddenly completely calm. Under the broad brimmed hat and veil it felt like I was in a dream.
The reality was that I was visiting Ellen Wright’s home apiary. (That’s a bunch of beehives in one area sort of like bee condos). Ellen is the president of the board of directors of Bee Girl and was kind enough to play tour guide for me. Bee Girl is a local non-profit with a mission to save the bees. It was founded by Sarah Red-Laird who is still the executive director. When I met with Sarah to get her story she suggested that to really “get it” that I should meet the bees in person.
This is how I came to visit Ellen’s back yard. After we both geared up, Ellen led me up the hill in her beautifully landscaped backyard to where her bees lived. The sun was shining after several days of rain and there were many bees buzzing about celebrating the good weather and taking the opportunity to get a drink of water and of course visit the flowers. Apparently in rainy weather they mostly just stay in the hive. (Probably watching Bee Netflix.)
June is the busy bee month with the most bees in the hive. The population rises and ebbs with the solstices and equinoxes. In June they have a huge amount of work to do just so they can survive through the winter. They have to make at least 60 pounds of honey per bee hive. This may not sound like that much until you know the rest of the story. It takes two million flower visits to make just one pound of honey (about 1 1/3 cups). On top of that the bees might have to fly as far as five miles away to find good flowers and each worker bee makes only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life. After they make their own 60 pounds, on a good year, one hive can generate 30 extra pounds, or about 2.5 gallons. That means honey for us!
I asked if I could see the bees at work. After using a bee keeper’s tool called a smoker, to calm the bees (they just need to “smell” the smoke) Ellen opened one of the beehives for me to see the bees at work close up. I found their constant weaving motion to be hypnotic and inspiring. There they all were, thousands of them clustered together working to survive – and these bees are lucky.
We have all heard to some extent about how the bees of the world have been having a hard time lately between farmers not planting diverse crops and the continued overuse of pesticides and insecticides. These are just a few factors that have put bees in grave danger. And if bees are in danger then we are in danger. There is a direct connection between 90% of all of our groceries and bees.
But let’s keep this simple. One easy thing that you can personally do to help the bees is to plant bee friendly flowers like bluebells, foxglove, lavender and rosemary. Another way to help is to support the people who are using their voices to speak up for the bees. Bee Girl is dedicated to educating people about bees and advocating for them and their habitats across the country. Through classes, field trips, lectures and fundraising events they are determined to do their part to make the world a safer place for bees. We are lucky to have this great bee resource here!
Their next fundraising event is called Hive to Table Dinner and it takes place this August 26th in Jacksonville at the Hanley Farm. There will be live music and amazing bee inspired food. Think honey and herbs and delicious! Here is the dessert listed: Brown butter ice cream with a crunchy caramel cookie, honey glazed bacon crumbles, fresh blackberries and basil. There is more information on their website www.beegirl.org and you can get a look at the inside of a beehive!