Category Archives: Beekeeping

The ways I am a Hippy.

Oh boy. So I was looking through my pictures from this fall and winter, and I came across so many that would provide plenty of evidence of my hippy nature, that it was overwhelming. I am actually convincing myself that I have well-earned the title of Hippy. As my friends commented, labels schmabels, it doesn’t matter. But it’s funny. So shall we begin?

I live on a Gulf Island.
The Gulf Islands are known for their alternative ways. There is an excellent book by Brian Brett called Trauma Farm, about his farm on Salt Spring Island. (One of the islands in the Gulf Island conglomerate.) He confesses (or exalts) that he often goes off for brisk jaunts late at night wearing only gum boots. Only gum boots. I’ll let that sink in.

IMG_20121218_113125

IMG_20121218_085914

IMG_20121218_085904

IMG_20120831_095134

On that note, my kid is naked a lot.
yup, a lot. I have quite a few pictures to prove it. And we believe in communal baths among the wee ones…. because apparently I have a lot of pictures of Gabrielle bathing with other children.

img_1821

IMG_20121125_182236

IMG_20121125_182415

(I might have to give Gabrielle double hippy points for the photo above. Naked Toddler Yoga is a whole new level)

I knit and I keep my knitting in a basket.
This is like a chic hippy fad on Pender. Get a cool African basket and put groceries, Farmers Market produce or knitting in it. I totally bought into this fad. And I feel cool when I do it.

 

IMG_20121123_082155

IMG_20130101_141624

IMG_20121124_081215

I take photos of the following because I think it’s funny…

IMG_20121026_125055

IMG_20121007_145423

Ok perhaps the mustache picture isn’t very hippy. But I couldn’t work out any better excuse to get this picture into a blog post. Isn’t that bumper sticker awesome?? And the fact that it is on a PT Cruiser. It was a great moment.

I’m totally sold on baby-wearing.
1346009044142

1346008921437

IMG_7386

Gabrielle also chooses to wear her baby. Clearly it is amazing!

I keep bees.

IMG_20120903_160602

I lived on a boat.
We were on that boat for 13 months. Most of Gabrielle’s first year was on the boat. We loved living small and consuming little. Even though we are land-living now, we still consider ourselves to be living small and consuming little and that is part of the hippy lifestyle we are certainly on board with.

1346008926364

Kale chips are one of my favourite snacks.For serious. They are tasty.

img_1876

img_1894

Not only do I drink out of mason jars, but yesterday I tried to felt a cover for one of them so I could use it as a travel mug.I’m not sure if this hippy move can be overstated. I had this brilliant thought and this brilliant idea. So I phoned up my friend for a play date and we felted mason jar covers together. Yes, for real. And yeah, she had all her own felting stuff too. My felted cover is ugly as a three-horned toad and needs some decorating but it was worth a try. Now, I’m working on knitting a sleeve for my mason jar. I haven’t given up yet.

img_1874

IMG_20121216_082533

I accessorize with feathers.
This basically seals it for me. I just renewed my passport and Marc opened it up to see the picture and laughed at me. “You have your feather earrings in your passport picture!” He teased. Yup. That’s what kind of good hippy I am.

IMG_20121124_080745

I avoid consuming electricity when possible.

IMG_20121217_095030

Alright, this one could be because I’m pretty cheap. I hate spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. So heat, I prefer a wood stove. I prefer to hang dry my clothes.

IMG_20121124_081102

This is a manual coffee grinder. I own one from when we lived on the boat and did not have power. I do not use this now unless I have no other choice. The fact that I own one has to give hippy points in itself.

IMG_20121006_115650

I’m incredibly attacted to VW Westfalias.I have owned one. We sold it when it constantly broke down on us. But we have regretted selling it and it would not be surprising to find ourselves in the possession of one again. When I drove my westfalia (when it was not broken down on the side of the road) I was grinning ear to ear. I couldn’t tell if strangers were smiling at me because I looked so darn happy, or because it was such a cool vehicle.

The simple fact that this post is much longer than the one previous may speak for itself. We may have a mushroom identification book next to a New York Times best seller but nothing in this world is completely here or there anyway. Being very present, making time to enjoy each other, and living small are values that are very important to us. They lean us toward that hippy lifestyle. I suppose if you were gonna give us a label, I could live with that one.

Oh and how could I forget this one. One of the ways I am most hippy is that I am a doula!

End of story.

Bees and Birth

There is something thrilling and exhausting about being on call. As the due date approaches for one of my clients, I start having this relationship with my phone that’s kind of like discovering I have a 6th finger on one hand. I carry it every with me, and I pick at it. I open and close it (because my phone is old-school, ok!) and I poke at it, willing it to tell me the state of said-person’s cervix. Yeah, weird, I know.

Then we try to guess if it’s actually labour, if it’s real labour, when should I get there, blah blah blah. And finally the call is made and I go over, after throwing snacks into a bag and arranging childcare for my sweet girl.

And then I’m off.

It’s so quiet. The moments as I’m driving to a woman in labour. The drive is so quiet. I don’t play any music. I focus on keeping my energy calm and I reflect, what could be coming? Who knows!

I approach a birth the same way I approach the bees.

Before I break open a hive, I check my energy levels. I focus on getting calm and relaxed. After all, I don’t want to antagonize an already delicate situation. Because if I am calm and focused, I get stung less. It’s a win-win situation really.

It’s strange to compare assisting a woman in labour to beekeeping but to me, it’s the most natural thing in the world. Two worlds unto themselves that flow in and out. And knowing that they’ve been around for so long and will continue to ebb and flow so much longer than my short life. It’s humbling. Bees and Birth.

Amanda As A Bee!!!

The blog Amanda As A Bee all started when I started keeping bees and a friend of mine said, “Oh Amanda, you should really have a blog!” Another friend gave me this little metal garden figure of a girl with funky hair dressed as a bee on a bicycle. Yeah, random. And I said, “Oh it’s me as a bee.”

This blog has taken twists and turns that I did not expect. In a little more than 3 years, I have gained and lost a lot of beehives, made new friends, moved to a farm, then to a boat, then had a baby, who then had a heart condition, then moved back on land and like a good book, I’ve come back to the beginning. Bees!

Last night I waited until little nutling was asleep and off I waltzed to go pick up a hive. On Pender, no less. Someone I’d delivered bees to a couple years ago made me up a hive as a thank you. Well, Brian and Sue, thank you! I thought this would be the first summer I’d face without bees since moving to Pender.

I have had an upwards of 25 hives but over the last couple years with Gabrielle in and out of the hospital at crucial beekeeping times, the bees have suffered. When it was time to put my 6 hives to bed for the winter last year, Gabrielle’s surgery was bumped up because her heart was failing. Sorry bees, but baby wins.

After getting home with a hive in the back of our tiny truck, I fully suited up and asked Marc (unsuited) if he would help me carry this not-strapped-together hive down to the field. Poor guy, I was trying to be sympathetic but I was more concerned with the bees than his overall health when I said, “If you get stung, put the box down slowly then you can yell and jump around.” Yeah, I’m a good wife… More importantly, he is a very supportive husband.

(Yeah, I know this is a bumble bee but it was a pretty picture to take while my bees were getting settled)

The bees are in full sun with a field full of yellow buttercups. It could not be more perfect. And I could not be more happy.

I have an extra suit, if you wanna come join in on the fun! Let me paint you the picture. The hum of happy bees, the bright sun warming your back, the delicate waft of honey as you’re surrounded by buzzing and flowers and summer. Yes, it’s a perfect moment. Just ignore the stingers.

Welcome Bees!

Lists and Plans, This and That

Lately we’ve been making lists and sitting by the wood stove. The crocuses are dusting off their white little heads and our thoughts are turning to Spring. After all, it’s halfway through February.

On the lists are plans to haul Nesika out for a bottom-painting, perhaps install a new head as the other one is leaking a bit and stinking up the boat. We’ve also been considering installing a wood stove to extend our sailing season. Right now she has no heat whatsoever and it makes nights very very chilly. Other boat plans are to fix our dinghy seat. The fibre-glass actually broke away on the back seat, making my ride quite wet. We have another dinghy but it’s quite waterlogged (and came with the boat) and weighs nearly 300 lbs. That makes moving it quite a challenge for my burly husband and really, I’m no help when it comes to heavy things. When something outweighs me three times, I usually just run away.

And then there’s the bees. Oh the bees. I haven’t cracked open my hives since the end of October, what with heart surgery and all. I’ve started emailing people regarding buying more bees but I haven’t found anywhere that is convenient yet with a time-table that would be helpful. A lot of beekeepers won’t have their packages ready until June sometime and around here, that’s halfway through the season. Also, I find it just gutting to pour more money into the bees when the return has been so slim. Selling honey at $10 a jar seems atrociously expensive to me, yet it doesn’t even put a dent in my expenses to keep the bees healthy and well-fed. It is decidedly the most expensive hobby I’ve ever pursued. Honestly I had high hopes of it becoming more than just a hobby, but even though there is a demand for the product, the bees with their new parasites and diseases are so fickle and keeping them alive (that’s just alive, not necessarily producing copious amounts of honey) seems to be a full-time job. If we were rich, I would be happy to invest all our extra earnings into such a satisfying pursuit.

So I’ve turned to other hobbies, that are more conducive to wintering and hibernating right now. Knitting. I’ve picked up wool at the Nu-to-U and an expensive wool store in town and have turned my needles to hats lately. Hats and more hats. It’s lovely to feel the fibre between my fingers. And our little knit nights are so inspiring. There is a wonderful group of ladies who meet once a week to drink tea, eat cookies and oh yeah, knit!

Gabrielle is beginning to try to shape words. She’s quite interested in poking everyone in the eye, and poking her own eye, and saying “aaahhh” so intentionally. We can’t believe how much she is eating these days. And most of the food she’s preferred is distinctly Orange. So much so, that her fingers and mouth are getting this fake tan-O look to them. Luckily orange is a pretty easy colour to satisfy. Purple food, now that would be trickier.

Marc is in an unemployed stint again as we wait for work to start up at a farm down the road. We’ve been taking advantage of this by hiking together in the rain, making lists, and talking about meaningful things like “5-year-plans.” *shudder*

We’ve been fighting the February blues (because February is the worst of months, don’t ya know) by having friends for dinner, puddle-stomping, baking cookies and attending play groups. Man, there’s a lot of babies on Pender right now. It is fabulous.

My camera’s been on the fritz lately so the photos have been slow coming. Hope you enjoy the ones I’ve included below.

In a Dress

This is my mother-in-law’s kitchen. She just washed the floors.

This is us, extracting honey on her recently-washed floors.

Extracting honey is very sticky business.

I promised to mop up after. I hope I didn’t miss a spot…

Thank you Gail for your generousity!

And yes, I extract honey in a dress.

… not my smartest move.