A Golden Summer

Handsies and Honey web


The first taking of honey from Hive No. 3. The first taste at a bee meeting Tuesday September 10, 2019 at the Kakabeka Legion, a communal tasting session. I had resisted until we were all assembled. My husband Craig was amazed that I did not partake. I wanted to be in the company of other honeys to compare it to, I brushed my teeth before leaving the house.

“WHAT???”                                                                                                                                                    “THIS is MY honey????”                                                                                                                          Since that moment, things have happened. Beginners luck?   A good summer. Luck again? When I came home from our Monthly meeting of Thunder Bay’s Beekeepers’ club                                     I filled out the forms for a submission in the “golden” honey category at the  Fair in Toronto (November). Today AND yesterday I spent ALL day on the internet searching for the correct jars, if your honey is not in the “Canadian Standard Jar” there will be point deductions. Apparently the largest distributors of said jars are out of stock, the shipment from China arrives in December a month late for the most prodigious Fair in the Land. At the end of the day, finally found some in Barrie Ontario, ordered BOTH sizes, tall and short, from https://innisfilcreekhoney.com Thank you Brian Scott!

Now, its about nomenclature. Is it the “Tall” version of the 375ml or the “short” 375mls.     I am amazed we even got to the Moon Werner Von Braun. How long has that Fair been in the works for a Canadian Standard Jar?

The taste of the honey. All this kerfuffel about jars and forms and internet surfing is about the taste.  On the form the RAWF asks you to describe the taste. Donning the Architects hat I typed: Rare. All of Nature’s depths along River Bank forage.

Thank you Bees of Riverdale. I love your work. See you at the Fair! xorHive No. 3 summer evening webRiverdale Bees on a summer evening, chilling on their verandahs.

In The Heart of Summer

Bee on Daisy

The air outside . . . ahhhh.                                                                                                                    We have these long cold winters and now, in the heart of summer,  is our time of rapture. The bees seem to be happy. When more frames arrive I will add another ‘storey’ and carefully take some of their honey . . . maybe to be judged at the agricultural fairs of August.

In the heart of summer 50 years ago, I was a restless teenager, watching some men step upon the surface of the Moon. How did they get there? How did we do it so quickly- from the lips of a fallen President? You know I like to mix up the macro with the micro 😉 80,000 bees in a successful hive at the peak of Summer, 6,000 people at NASA on July 24, 1969. While that settles, how about that Wernher von Braun and his Saturn F5. I’ve always liked the number 5, that’s how many hives I have registered with the Ontario Regulatory Bodies who want to know about how many bees people are stewarding over.

Here is Herr Braun, and his idea5 and von braun



The Swarms of June

Bees incoming webWhoah! So much has happened. Life must be good. The original two hives have now divided into 3 and there have been at least 4 swarms that were witnessed leaving Hive No. 2 (the strongest).

WHAT is going on???? As Rudy said . . . let them go.

I found a QUEEN on my deck, captured her (she was annoyed), and inserted her into Hive No. 3. Life has resumed into a steady pace again and I observe the comings and goings. The surrounding landscape looks derelict as all the Dandelions, their first food, have turned into fluffy globes… and you know how unkempt that all looks to our Protestant sensibilities of that immaculate Cathedral on the sacred green.

With all the swarming, there is a lot of ROBBING going on. The new Rogue clusters send foragers back to the Hive for honey but the guards hold steady . . . guarding. I watch the incoming and they try everything, including tumbling onto the tarmac or wrastling the guards. The entry is barred.

Grapevines are about to bloom, year No. 3 now for Frontenac Noir and Gris. Hummingbirds are already inspecting the crop. Amazon’s “organza” drawstring bags will arrive to protect the grapes. There may be wine in September!

RitaK and her little eco-system signing off . . .

Bee Water

One of about 4 “bee spas’, they need fresh water everyday. After a rain or cloudy day it is standing (hovering) room only.



A President and Bees

Toomas Hendrik Ilves

A long time ago, in a place far away, I met a young lad at a children’s camp- an “Estonian Children’s Camp” called  Jõekääru (Camp River Bend). Many years passed by but we wrote letters, we loved language and words. He studied the words and read the books, I studied engineering and philosophy (which equals Architecture) and Toomas Hendrik Ilves became a President.

Yesterday, I flew to Ottawa to have dinner with the ex-President of Estonia. We had much to talk about and laugh about and think about what is happening in our world, especially the small Nordic country called Estonia. Our Parents were Estonians. They, and 60,000 other Estonians escaped the “iron curtain” that fell upon the tiny country (of about one million people) for 5o years.

Growing up in beautiful Canada, removed from an intense history, a lyrical language of poetry and song all my life, I was reintroduced to our culture from a champion of that Nation, now independent and free. It is no wonder that when I transferred my nucs into their new wooden homes I felt I had done this all before.

This poem, versed into music, is always the second last song of the Estonian Song Festival, a festival, which is known throughout the world, as how Estonia declared their freedom from Soviet Occupation.

Here is that song from the Festival (2009) & translated lyrics by: Hilary Bird in Tartu, 2014


They Fly Towards the Beehive

The little bee flies from flower to flower,
her hive getting closer every hour.
thunderclouds over her they threaten and glower,
but home gets closer every hour.  

Though thousands fall upon the way,
thousands will survive and stay.
The little bees forget their care and worry,
as towards their hive they hurry.  

Soul, oh my soul, when times are bad —
Oh, how you long for your homeland!
Whether at home, or abroad and sad,
how you long for your homeland.  

The deadly winds, oh how they buffet and thrash,
and throw deadly missiles across your path.
But the little bee forgets both death and pain, 
and hurries to come home again !  

Soul, oh my soul, when times are bad —
Oh, how you long for your homeland!
Whether at home, or away and sad,
Oh, how you yearn for your homeland,
Oh, how you yearn for your homeland!

Bees. Humanity. Much to think about.

Toomas in the 80's web

Toomas –   all we can do is sow the seeds, even if it kills us.  Love, Rita

Opening Day

Honeybee greeting

Winter wraps have been removed from both hives,  the R10 2″ rigid insulation, candy boards and the cedar chip pillows. (note date: April 22 & 23 2019) Everyone seems happy. No sign of Nosema, yuk. Brood is in the works, (there has been some hatches as I observe the hovering flights at the entrances) Even Honey has been capped and there is a constant stream of the airforce with their payloads of Pollen! Where are they finding that? There are some minus temps coming up this weekend but I wanted to get the moldy bottom board out and help clean out old bees. Onwards!

Also, some interesting news and I will download the images, Rutter Tree Services was here today to take down the rogue beehive from last August. Yes, Hive No, 2 swarmed and set up their wild organic hive over 30 feet high in a spruce. A precision removal thanks to the hydraulic bucket and bim-bam-boom- I have a showpiece exhibit! later then . . .

Hive retrieval 1 web.jpg

a gorgeous day in the Thunder to do this . . .

Rutter Guys and Hive web.jpg

the PRIZE! Nature’s beehive, the organic forms of honeycomb in lobes.                          Bees, alas, all died with exposure.


The Bee Show

Customers at the hive web.jpgAt the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition’s 91st ‘Spring Home and Garden Show’ from April 5th-7th many exhibitors set up their wares to help Thunder Bay Citizens make plans for their home improvements over the good months ahead! Booth No. 28 had been reserved for the Thunder Bay Beekeepers’ Association.  I will take you to the show!

What happens when you put an architect in charge of an exhibit? Spell j-a-z-z, actually, describe passion. This new hobby (this word is not really appropriate, “strong” enough),  a chance to have an intimate relationship with one of the amazing forces of nature, bees, has put me in another zone of design.    All the stops were pulled out and just under two weeks many elements of an Exhibit came together: a banner was realized, a display hive ordered, a shelving unit procured from Home Sense, brochures were ordered from the “authorities having jurisdiction” (U of Guelph, OBA) t-shirts and buttons and business cards . . . all this and the most studied and touched and sniffed piece of evidence was a chunk of honeycomb. (!)

Children. Children were the inspiration for all the machinations, how to engage them in a friendly way- to invite them into the hive to sit for awhile, to colour and perhaps talk about and learn what they know about what is happening to the BEES.

After the take down Sunday evening, it was obvious Thunder Bay understands they can help.  Over 150 brochures of “Bee Friendly Plants” had been taken home. High-Five!

Children at the Hive web.jpg

A Bee Day

Well, I think it is safe to say we made it through the winter. Bees are out enforce and I have a coffee and a chair set up to watch. How did we get through? Beeginner’s luck? Perhaps it was the straw bale wind break surround or that I dried out the cedar chip pillows in mid February on a 0° day. I was concerned about air flow as the entrance cleat was at its smallest opening, less than 1″. Hive No. 1, the stronger- curious, no one is using the low entrance…I wonder what mess awaits down there in the bowels of the brood chamber. The big attraction today is a wet towel hanging from the deck railing- are they drinking? Yuk. The wet towel was sopping up the leak we have in the basement. Drag.

I will have to change into lighter pants when I go out now to insert 1:1 syrup jars. Last year I got stung through my black tights. Black = scarey animal coming to steal our honey! Will post photos of how the beeyard fared over the winter. Just excited to share the news. Toodles.