Monday, July 17, 2017

A Special Visitor in the Beeyard

Top bar hives seem to be gaining more and more momentum every year, but when I started out, it felt like they were still few and far between. Most people at my bee club hadn't even heard of them, much less had any experience with them. As a result, I turned to books and online communities for mentoring and support.

One of the online resources I found was Buddha and the Bees, a blog about everyday experiences keeping bees, and it quickly became one of my favorites. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because Don, the blog's author, was in the same boat as me. We were both just starting out with our TBHs and quickly realizing that bees are not the experts that all the books claim they are. They insisted on doing unexpected wrong things. ;-) It was refreshing to find someone who was writing not about how bees are supposed to behave, but about all the nitty-gritty, wonky stuff that happens in real-life (mostly about bees, but sometimes writing bravely about other things as well). Don is also a smart guy with a terrific sense of humor, so I always looked forward to his new posts (and I still do!)

One of the bonuses of living in a digital age is that one gets the opportunity to connect with people all over the world. Over the past few years, Don and I formed a digital pen-pal relationship that started with our blogs, but it has moved on to email, packages of honey, and FaceBook. Our friendship has even extended to our spouses who now follow each other on FaceBook. That's the power of the interwebs being harnessed for good!

Although Don lives out in Colorado, he has roots back East in my neck of the woods. That's lucky for me because on his recent vacation for a family reunion, he and his lovely wife, Diana, carved time out of their busy schedule to bless my family with visit. As I told Don, after so many years of correspondence, it was delightfully surreal to finally meet in person.  He and Diana are just as I'd always imagined them to be -- warm, giving, funny, kind, clever, and passionate. They are just brilliant, and it was a blessing to have them in our home. The only bad part was that they had to leave because I would have liked them to stay and stay and stay. My DH and I lamented all the next day that they couldn't be our neighbors.

Diana in the center, and Don on the right.

I can't even begin to express how much I appreciate Don and his blog. His blog is well worth reading just for its own merits. But over the years, he has also been such a generous supporter of me and my own endeavors -- raising questions I hadn't considered, offering his own experience and insights, suggesting solutions to problems, or even just leaving comments to let me know that I haven't been shouting into the void. (BTW, Don is a fantastic problem-solver, and true to form, he gave me loads of ideas during his visit, so more on those in future posts. My daughter, though, was more impressed with his genius for finding four-leaf clovers.)

When I started beekeeping, mental stimulation was one of my new hobby's most immediate benefits. Watching bees do their thing was endlessly fascinating. Later on, collecting wax and honey became other tangible benefits. However, what I didn't predict was that beekeeping would bring so many amazing people into my life -- people I never would have met any other way because we come from such disparate walks of life or different parts of the world. Don and his wife Diana are two of those extra special people that I feel so blessed to call friends.

Don makes the best comb honey ever. I shared some with my daughter's friend Emma who agrees.
She says it tastes like rainbows, cupcakes, and unicorns.


  1. Like a great photographer, you describe us not only as we wish to be seen, but also better than we are.

    You, John and your family are treasures. It was great to be with you'

    1. Unfortunately, my camera only takes black and white photos. I wish everyone could have the full Don & Diana Kodachrome experience. :-)

  2. Awwww, that's a sweet writeup. Now I'm the one who is verklempt!

    It was a pleasure to meet you and your family in person and we look forward to future meetings. Someday we hope to return the favor out here in Colorado!

    Tell your daughter that I searched all over my yard yesterday for a 4-leaf clover, but my supply is depleted. So now she has the magical place for them.

    1. Aww, it was wonderful meeting you, and we'd love to see you out in Colorado, too!

  3. Julie,

    Thrilled that you and Don got to meet. You have such a nice rapport I didn't release you hadn't ever met. Now I can check out his blog too. Question for you, how much land do you have? I've seen about 6 hives on your property, the reason for my curiosity is NJ is getting a little out of control with some purposed bee keeping regulations. An exsample is you can only have 2 hives and a nuc that must be removed in 30 days of getting a swarm. I can apply for a waiver but there getting a little much to say you must have 5 arces to have more than 2 hives. Then there's formal letters to neighbors, water source 25 ft away and wind break to make them fly high. I have a little over an arce, all is well, but these regs have me worried. Quick update, both hives absconded...they where weak and wax worms are no fun. Have learned a lot, cleaned lots and let the girls clean too. Currently have this little handful of a left over swarm seating outside the hive box, I section off a small space for them if they want to make something out of it, but very late to be starting now. Que Sera Sera. Hope all is good with you. Can't believe August is here.


Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!