I am Bee

I am born from a Queen

My father, a King for an hour

I am cared for by my sisters

I drink tiny droplets of water

and sweet honey from the wells

I eat the bread of pollen mixed with honey

I emerge and stretch my wings, my furry little body now dry

and I make my way towards that small door

where the warm sun slants inside

I wait my turn at the door

sister’s antennae stroke my head,


step . . . step . . . step

outside through the opening

I wait

someone is behind me, pushing

I alight


. . . . hover

 . . . . . . . . . hovering

in front of the door to my home

a box of wood,

painted white

what else do I see

then higher . . . higher . . .  higher

the circles

become wider . . . wider . . . wider

I know every tree, every bush, every fence, what is roof?

the black dog

the woman in the white hat and sunglasses

take off those sunglasses

I must see your face

I know where the water is found

I know the door to my home

all the others in a row

tomorrow, maybe now

I will climb higher and higher

And fly, fly, fly as far as I can

I am the Scout Bee

I can fly far far away

looking, looking, looking

I come back to my home

and dance my dance for everyone to see

about what I was looking for

what I found

I have flown many miles

I am tired now, my little head will drop down, my antennae droop

and I will sleep

but in the morning a sister jumps on my back

to shake me awake

I want to sleep, I am tired

step step step to the door

the sun is shining

off I jump,

up, up to the sky

I am Scout Bee.

August 17, 2021


Humanity on Planet Earth may have had an awakening this year, for myself, a chapter of my life closed shut forever. I lost my belovéd sister Sabrina and just two weeks later, mighty Craig Norell my husband.

One can survive anything if such devastation happens on the cusp of June. The leafing trees, the scents, the flurry of birds, happy bees. Physical labour helps while the mind unreels the memories and re-constructs the steps towards their deaths, if there was something that could have been done to change the outcome . Somedays, even if I woke with optimism of what I could accomplish for the day, by noon I was spent and would lie down on the outdoor couch (one of the best accoutrements for home improvement!) under the gazebo. Then, stiff and overheated, I would move to a shadier location, now with a snack and glass of wine.

I survived the summer, autumn, and the winter solstice has just passed- the darkness is over and time ticks adding a minute and a bit everyday until it will be June again. The celestial event: ‘The Great Conjunction’, of Jupiter lining up with Saturn, is happening this week at sunset and was brightest on Monday December 21. Yes it was spectac, you could see those mysterious rings on a slant without a telescope. This alignment happened about 800 years ago and will occur again 60 years from now. I had my chance and made a wish.

Kepler drew this, thought you should know.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Dear Readers of this Blog about OUR Bees. Be Well.

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.

Disaster averted!

Dateline: February 13, 2019

A bulletin via FaceBook Thunder Bay Beekeepers  informed that fellow Member Rudy has lost 3 hives. Bees have starved. Rudy is the “European expert” with many years of beekeeping. Rudy has many hives and sells honey from his acreage on Oliver Road.

Eegad. I was worried before I heard about Rudy. We, meaning all of us (Husband, Kaya (the magnificent Dog) and the bees, made it through January and those Arctic Vortexes but I noticed over the last 2 weeks Hive No. 1 “looked quiet”. No bee casualties were to be found laying on the stomped down threshold. I am diligent to sweep aside or shovel snow around the BeeYard.  Hive No. 2 always had a few bodies and when I poke their upper exit to clear the ice someone inside gives notice: buzzzz!

I have been suspecting an icy “Attic” in No. 1 and have been preparing a new Cedar chip burlap pillow to change up, what I expect will be a ?frozen? one that needs replacing. Luckily, today climbed to minus -5° with that particular February sunshine and I opened  No. 1 up, fearing the worst . . .although in the morning I had found 3 bees on the threshold and hoped it was a sign.  It was!  (and not just stray bees from No. 2)            After I lifted off the layers of construction: Roof, top tray of cedar pillow, and top handhold cover of the upper super . . . Ta-Daah! behold the brown mat of bees, quietly buzzing, the candy board still full of white sugar fondant and that’s how you spell joy.

The top cover went back on quickly, my toque was stuffed into the hand hold,  a quick dash inside for a mohair blanket to substitute as temporary insulation while I cleaned off the ice and dried out the roof interior. It is obvious that the building science performance of this hive is not working, not enough airflow and the resulting condensation is icing the upper levels of the hive. It could be the opening of only 1 inch is not wide enough to draw air at the base. *note to self next year: use 2″ cleat and re-think the straw bale surround . . .I may have created a cold sink also. 😦 Tomorrow’s forecast will also be as warm but with snow. No. 2 will be checked if weather allows and then I have to think of jimmying another design of candy board to slide between the frames of No. 1’s super and No. 2’s situation, whatever I find there.                                                                                                                            Beekeeping . . .  one must have their wits about them and be ready to improvise. But seriously: whew!