Return of the Honeybees!

Last summer, my garden was absolutely buzzing with honeybees. So much so that my husband and I got really interested in beekeeping and tried to figure out a good spot in our yard to house a beehive and collect our own honey. Our yard is not that big and the only spots that seemed ideal were either right where our son plays, or a bit too close to where the neighbor’s kids play. The wild bees were plenty, though; they must have been living in our other neighbor’s garage. I worked in my garden amidst the bees all summer while my son ate raspberries off of the bushes where they were buzzing.  We watched them (and the bumblebees, mason bees, and other pollinators) up close and personal, and no one ever got stung or even threatened. But still, the idea of putting a hive on purpose right in a high traffic area didn’t seem like such a great idea. At least we had our wild honeybees.Well, this spring they disappeared. From April through mid June, I think I saw six honeybees. Last year on a fine May day you’d see six on one plant! I figured that either the neighbors had the hive exterminated, or that the bees woke up during the unseasonably warm days in March, only to succumb to late frosts.

This past week, though, I’ve finally seen some honeybees! Here’s one of the many I saw, working some flowers in the garden:

honeybee in my garden june 2012

This little guy was working a Salvia plant in my garden.

For Comparison, here’s a bumblebee:

And what I believe is an orchard mason bee  (leave a comment below if I’m wrong and you know what this is):

Orchard Mason Bee?

Now, the return of the bees in my garden has me thinking about urban beekeeping all over again. Especially since my younger brother Andy seems to be doing just fine with his new honeybee hive in on a Chicago city lot not that different in size than ours. I’ll be posting some pictures 0f his bees in the not-too-distant future!

But if you can’t wait to find out more about honeybees, especially if you live in the Chicago area, check out the Chicago Honey Co-Op. 


Swanfire farms elderberry syrup kickstarter page

I like elderberries, and I, too, will have a bumper crop of them this year. Mine will most likely go to feed a squadron of neighborhood robins, who seem to love them. Check out Swanfire Farms kickstarter page to see what they want to do with their nutritious surplus.

A Thought-provoking Piece of Performance Art-a Feast of…Rats?

Before you recoil in horror, check out this kickstarter page and listen to Laura (not me…different Laura!) explain her project. And yes, you read correctly, a feast of rats is involved. I’m personally not interested in eating rats, but I do appreciate the territory she is exploring. I was briefly a vegetarian and then learned how to butcher chickens as a way to connect with the source of the food I was eating. As a college student studying medical illustration, I dissected and collected bones,shells and feathers from dead things I found in order to better study and make drawings from them. But what most resonated with me was when she spoke of how we put so many layers between the world that sustains us and the products we use. She tans leather and creates something useful from the world; I can relate because I collect seeds and plant fibers and pieces of bark to use in artwork and to make something directly connecting to the world. She says it better than I…watch the video. 

Canon EOS Rebel T3i!

This gallery contains 10 photos.

So I finally, after years of deliberation, I broke down and got a digital SLR camera. I’m in love! It has been SO long since I’ve immersed myself in photography and it feels like I just came home. The camera just fits right in my hands. I have to relearn everything, but I still love […]

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun.

You may wonder why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog in these past few weeks. Well, time just slipped away from me! It seems like yesterday that I hauled several month’s worth of hard work over to What’s Blooming and tried my hand at the art fair thing. Several plastic tubs are still sitting in my office, waiting to be unpacked. The handmade paper artwork has made it safely into my flat files for storage, but my office is a disaster! Life gets busy, my garden needed weeding and planting, laundry and dishes and bills must be paid, relationships tended to, work is work, and before I know it another week has gone by!

Yet the next wave of artwork is bubbling under the surface of my brain, a heady brew of ideas simmering. Rose and I have decided to do another fair in the fall and we are already signed up for the Ravenswood Art Walk on September 29 & 30th. I’ve got ideas for how to better display my artwork and jewelry; I like the idea of making some free-standing partitions for the handmade paper art, drawings and paintings, and I’ve been on the lookout for fabric to dress up the tables.

I’ve also bought some new beads on Etsy, my new favorite place to buy art supplies! I can’t wait to work with the gorgeous beads I bought. Included in the bunch are frosty, green and blue sea glass beads, these sweet Steampunk Lampwork Beads, gorgeous beads made from seeds and bone, as well as more paperbark and cow horn beads from Mzuribeads.While kayaking in Wisconsin found birch bark that I’m going to use in paper making and bead making. Just today I walked by a couple of Kentucky Coffee Bean trees and collected a bunch of seeds…I thought I’d have to wait until the fall to collect more seeds but the tree was full of pods and already dropping them. They make awesome beads! I also just read that if you bake them for 3 hours and grind them up, they can be used as a coffee substitute (they are poisonous prior to baking I guess).

In my overgrown, unruly garden I see many long, thin branches I’d like to weave into my art projects (or at least make my own twig trellises for the garden). In addition to my edible summer veggies I’ve also planted my scarlet runner beans and my canna lilies, both of which will provide seeds I can use in my projects.

But underneath it all I need to build a bit of structure…this next wave of creativity will be a bit better organized with a couple of spreadsheets and maybe a binder.

Now I’m just rambling though. You get the picture. Go check out the links to the Etsy stores though, seriously! There’s some pretty stuff.