In the springtime, there is a short window to catch a phenomenal activity. And if you’re lucky–like we were today–you can experience the swarming of bees.
A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves with a large group of worker bees (~60% of the old hive). This process is called swarming. It is the hive natural reproduction process, the bees that stay behind make a new queen.
The day started off perhaps more hectic than usual. It’s tax day here, after all. A lingering thought to check on the bees got us on our bikes and down a few blocks to the Algarden Demonstration Farm. And of course, the bees were swarming. We jumped into our suits and rounded them off the tree and into a box.
Patricia & her bees.
We set ten fresh frames into the box and guided as many of the worker bees in the direction of the queen…
We will name this hive: blood moon
…popped some fresh blueberries and back to our taxes!
Remember the bees everyone! And stay close for more news on Patricia’s new non-profit: International Natural Beekeeping Federation.
I took advantage of my recent visit to WSU in Pullman and decided to spend the weekend in Seattle. I had wanted to visit the Pollinator Pathway, the Beacon Edible Forest and the Bee Garden. I was warned that Seattle is not the best place to visit in the winter but I was happy surprised when I landed on a partly-sunny-with-no-rain-Seattle. It was gorgeous and I took advantage of the day by walking the city from side to side. First stop was the pollinator pathway. A gorgeous hummingbird welcomed me and showed me the path to an urban farm along the way.
hummingbird at pollinator pathway
It was the Aley Cat Acres urban farm and it amazed me; it was totally open to the public and there was a hive and chicken coop! The coop had pictures of each hen with their name and a description of their personality. There was also a sign that described the do’s and don’ts with the chickens. Wow Seattle!
Chicken coop at Alley Cat Farm in Seattle
I continued along to the pathway, and although it was the middle of winter it was clear the difference in sidewalks that had transformed their lawn into a garden. There were some spots that had veggie boxes and others that had lavender and other pollinator attractive native species. I’m sure it is gorgeous in the summer.
Food and herbs planted on the pollinator pathway
On Saturday, the weather was not as friendly and it showed me a truer, grayer, colder and rainy Seattle. I still went to the work party at Beacon Food Forest. I was surprized to find about 50 people working hard under the rain.
Beacon Food Forest to do list on the door of one of the structures
There was live drumming and they had just finished serving lunch, which was donated along with coffee and tea. I had previously arranged an interview and tour with their community outreach coordinator; she welcomed me, introduced me to people and showed me around. It is really phenomenal what they are doing there.
Beacon Food Forest
The food forest is a collaborative effort that has become a reality thanks to a core group who created the vision, the P-Patch who serves as he umbrella non-profit, the Seattle Department of Public Works who has made public land available, a group of students from UofW who has designed/build a few temporary structures and a lot of volunteers who come out and help out at every work party.
I was particularly interested in the political process to make such a project a reality. I was told it took about 3 years of visioning, planning and outreach before they broke ground which was about 1 year ago.
Temporary installations design and built by architecture students
The project also has amazing signage that has been translated into 5 different languages. One of the issues is educating people about what is going o and getting them excited and on board. They want to have harvesting workshops to teach people how and when to harvest and to do it ethically, only take what you need and share with others etc. I’m really looking forward to see this project grow and succeed. It is a model to replicate in other cities.
Signage translated into 5 languages
Last but not least, my dear friend Kate recommended that we go visit the bee garden. She knows me well…
The bee garden is located at the commons park of High Point community, which is is a 120-acre, ecologically-conscious, planned community in West Seattle. We were amazed to see all the curb cuts and rain gardens as we drove around.
Signage at the Bee Garden
The bee garden is part of the P-patch and it has a fantastic structure with lots of bee information in 5 different languages, the hives are located within the structure and there was a side room with equipment and lots of bee-keeping suits so I assume that they teach classes and do educational tours to the hives.
Close up of the signage at the bee garden
The planting in the garden is all pollinator friendly and there is also lots of signage. Adjacent to the garden is a community garden where residents can grow food.
I felt really satisfied and complete with my Seattle experience, I learned so much, saw great friends and feel inspired. Seattle I will bee back soon!