They’re here!!!!

 

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After a week of trying to get everything together for the upcoming Guelph Organic Conference, I am so happy to say that my website is up, I have worked on my autoresponders (so that people can sign up to get tons of great content from The Bee Mama) AND I have created and received my bookmarks which I am giving away tomorrow at the conference. Want one? You’ll find me in one of the four Pollination workshops happening tomorrow at the University of Guelph campus. Or you might find me wandering around through the vendors on Sunday.

If you sign up for my Bee Mama Update, you get a fun downloadable activity.

The importance of snow

Today a friend of mine on Facebook was commenting about the snow, and the sheer quantity of it that we are experiencing here in Southern Ontario. She’s trying to “stay positive” she says, but she is struggling to understand why we NEED so much snow. Is there a reason, she asks, why we have to have so much of it right now?

Some of her friends chipped in with comments that the snow is of benefit to ski hills. Another quipped that it will raise ground water supplies and add more water to the great lakes.

Now, I agree that there are certainly benefits in the long run – and even economic advantages for some from this heavy snowfall. But I had to throw my two cents in (do they still count when your country doesn’t produce pennies anymore) .. and I replied with this:

Snow is nature’s blanket, which tells us to slow down, rest and relax. We’re all too busy rushing around here and there, and not necessarily THINKING about what we’re doing and why. The snow is giving us that time to step back and really THINK. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is it REALLY that important? It gives us a gift of perspective.

Let’s be honest here. When there is blowing snow, you have to really evaluate how important it is for you to get in your car (or step outside) to go to the store (or wherever). Does that trip to the mall become important? Or do you re-evaluate and decide that staying home, where you are safe and dry and warm, is better for you?

That’s why I see snow as a friend – it reminds me that I don’t have to rush off and DO MORE things. Doing more doesn’t necessarily bring me closer to my goal. In fact, it might keep me from reaching it because I’m filling my life with more “things to do.”

Snow reminds me that I need to think through my decisions, and evaluate what’s really important. Will going out to do groceries this morning help me get my work done? Or will it keep me from getting it done? Do I have to go out today at all? Today, my answer is Yes, I do need to get some groceries, so that I have what I need for my meals this week. But NO, I don’t need to go to the cafe to work. I can stay home, with a warm cup of coffee, in front of my computer, and get my work done here.

If you’re reading this today and you’re experiencing a lot of snow (real or spiritual), give yourself permission to step back and really think things through. Think (and feel with your heart) whether it’s really all that important whether you do the thing you’re thinking of doing. Give yourself permission to pause, to rest even (especially if you’ve been going full-out for some time). Your spirit, your body and your mind will thank you, and you will have clarity to why you’re doing the things that you choose to do.

(This entry originally posted on 1/27/14)

Get to know your bumble bees

I am so happy that there are so many advocates for bees and pollinators that are coming forward now. More and more organizations are springing up, bringing attention to the many issues relating to pollinator health, as well as our connection to the bees and other pollinators.

So when I heard that the Xerces Society was launching a new website called Bumble Bee Watch, I knew that I had to bring it to your attention.

Right now, it’s cold up here in Canada, especially in Ontario where arctic outflows and strong winds are making it bitter cold. But in some parts of the USA and Canada, there are varieties of bumble bees which are happily sucking back nectar. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of bumble bee you might see buzzing along through your garden, any time of year, simply snap a picture, and post it to the Bumble Bee Watch site.

In no time, knowledgeable scientists (and amateur bee enthusiasts) will be able to tell you what kind of bumble bee you likely have in that picture. And just like the National Audobon Society’s annual Bird Count, this will help us all learn where these important pollinators REALLY live, rather than just where we THINK they live.

I love it… digital mapping, bees, and artistry… all at once!

(This entry originally posted on  1/24/14)

Bees in winter

(This page originally posted on 11/12/13)

Winter has officially arrived today. The air feels sharp on my face, and blows briskly. The snow lies in a thin blanket across the dead leaves that are scattered on the grass. And while some people might be complaining about the snow on the ground, I take the time to welcome it.

After having spent eight years on the We(s)t Coast, where winters are mild, wet and soggy, it feels great to feel the slap of the wind against my cheek. The sight of snow on the ground brings joy and memories of playing in snow forts as child. The crunch of the ice beneath my feet reminds me of skating on the Rideau Canal from Carleton University all the way to the mall downtown. The snow and winter weather are comforting for me. I feel like I’ve come home, even though my birthplace and the city of my childhood are still far away.

But what does this have to do with bees, you ask?

Winter time is a time when bees are sleeping, resting and preparing for the coming year. While they aren’t busy, pollinating plants for us, or making honey, this time of year is very important to bees. This is the time when they are all together as a family of bees, and sleep.

Throughout the growing season, bees are busy. They have to be. They only have so much time in which to gather the pollen they need to feed their babies. They have to move quickly to gather nectar and food for those young so that they can emerge and join their predecessors.

Honeybees, unfortunately, don’t always get their rest time. Some beekeepers send their honeybees to other cities, states, provinces where the weather is milder and where the bees can work all year round. That means that these honeybees aren’t getting their rest. They aren’t able to keep their food source because beekeepers take all of it away from them. They aren’t able to sleep and heal.

I guess that’s why I like caring for mason bees so much. I don’t have to do all that much to enjoy their presence and the services they provide. I simply make a place that will provide everything that mason bees want and need. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t control the bees. They are their own selves. They decide whether my home is a good place for them to mate, to find the food they need, to lay their eggs, and where their offspring will emerge after the winter is over. Mason bees have their own cycles. They can’t be rushed, prodded or manipulated without immediate consequence. I can respect that, and I respect them for choosing this way of living. It inspires me, and I helps me remember to keep a balance between being busy and being restful.