Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

When the Bees Are Vanishing….

…We should all be informed. I am writing this blog post today, in hopes of reaching my readers with the message, it is time to act. Not just read about this atrocity committed on our world, but to understand, be versed in, and be prepared to do your part. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live, this an important global issue.

I am certain most of you have at least become aware, that there was a leaked document, that showed the United States Environmental Protection Agency, was doing anything but protecting our environment and us,  when they allowed bee-toxic pesticide usage, despite their own scientists report. For those of you who have not already been made aware of this, I invite you to read this article, and the document itself, (there is a link to the document in the article).

This video, is the beekeeper/ document leaker, Tom Theolbold, telling us about how the EPA ignored warnings about the use of chlothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide is used on corn, canola, soy, wheat, sunflowers and sugar beets also.

So what can we do? Those of us who do keep bees, need to do so naturally. Those of you who have been thinking about keeping bees, get started. They and we need all the help possible to increase their population. As Tom says, be informed, talk about it, be aware. Make some noise people. Share this with your friends and family. We are not just talking about the fate of the bees, but the fate of our world, as we know it. Do it for the future generations.

I invite you all to sign the petition, to urge the EPA to remove chlothianidin from the market.

Chlothianidin has already been banned in the countries of Slovenia, German, France and Italy. This toxic chemical needs banned worldwide.

I also invite you to read this link and see how the company Bayer AG (the makers of Chlothidanidin) , is involved in GMO’s, and many other environmental dangerous interests. Scary to read of how much money this company spends on lobbying and contributions to political parties. They should be banned from doing so. I consider them traitorous  to the entire world.  Please join with me in boycotting any product from this company. Search for alternative products, if you find that you customarily do use their products. Become informed on which products they do produce or subsidize. This is a list of some of the key products they have.

Thank you for the time and consideration you put into this subject. It affects us all.

Bright Blessings to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx



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Look at the flower embellishment on the pinnacle. It has a hole in it for the bees to enter.


I love stories about the history of our bees and civilization. Rosslyn Chapel, just outside Edinburgh, has been a holy place for centuries. Its name means either “point of a waterfall” or “ancient knowledge down the line” depending on who you ask. One of the magical spots in the world I would love to see first hand someday. This link tells you more about this amazing discovery!

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Two separate research teams discovered that some bees make little nests of flower petals to lay their eggs in. I thought these pictures were so amazing and the news so cool I just had to share in case you hadn’t seen it yet!


How beautiful is that?!


Click here for the full story and more pictures:)

I am just in love with the thought of starting life inside flower petals:)

big hugs and love to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

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New Bees and Garden Updates

This is going to be a photo intensive post folks. My brother Eric and I drove out to our friend Ron’s house to pick up a new nuc of bees for us and one for Dallas, the young man we are starting in beekeeping. These nucs consist of 5 frames of bees, brood, and a marked queen. I have had fun looking at other beekeepers this year using packaged bees, which come a bit differently. Here is a link for a photo album Dan has of him hiving his packaged bees, and also of a swarm he caught! But, back to our day. Here we are at Ron’s. These bees were raised up in a bee farm in Florida. One of the workers drives up a truck load and stops at various towns to deliver bees that have been ordered. Ron had to drive about 2 hours in the middle of the night to pick up our bees.


This is my brother removing the frames from the nuc box and putting them in our prepared hive.


Then we were off to deliver to Dallas his first hive of bees! Wow, was he excited:)




We left this cardboard nuc box just tipped there so any stragglers can go in.

We found our marked queens in both nucs before we hived them. That is always reassuring to find them.


Do you see her in the picture above?

This picture shows some eggs, larvae and glistening nectar. There were also frames of capped brood.



We finished up and I went to take a few pictures of how things are growing so far here at Comfrey Cottages. The violets, redbuds, lilacs and some others are past their prime beauty, but many others are just starting.

Comfrey (of course)


Bleeding Hearts


For get me nots


Sweet Woodruff


Johnny Jump Ups


Last year I started clary sage, marshmallow, skullcap, angelica, black cohosh, and valerian and they all are doing well



Black Cohosh and Angelica






Clary Sage


Transplanted blood root and toothwort are both taking off!



And this years additions of 2 elderberry saplings seem to be settling in


Hoping the little sassafras transplant gets going soon.

Well, I need to get off of here and get some chores caught up! big hugs to all of you who visit C0mfrey Cottages



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I see green, and adventures!

Well we are warming up a bit, and have had a bit of rain, and a bit of hail! i am in illinois you know, where if you don’t like the weather, well… just stick around. it’ll change soon:) so seeing more green in the landscape. in the cottage’s gardens i am seeing st. john’s wort, horseradish, strawberry, lemon balm, horehound, mullein, skullcap, lavender, black cohosh and angelica all emerging in the last few days.



seems kind of funny to see some of these plants before some of the others that live here. but in my little ecosystem, the above particular plants are in the sunnier spots, so even though one might think they would emerge after say, the crocus, well, the early things are in some of the shadier spots that are still covered in snow:) i’ve mentioned before my home gardens are like living just inside the forest. still a few sunny spots, but mostly shade to semi shade. here is a picture i took looking up at the geese through the trees near the hives


2 mature maples and a mature tulip tree in that picture. there are 3 other mature maples and a 10+year old white pine also. so, like everyone, my home environment has its own uniqueness, challenges and attributes:)

yesterday was a wonderful day. we had our annual master gardener’s big day at our local college. we got offered our choose of different sessions. the first one i took was on community gardens. lots of good info and now hoping to maybe get a spot in it to grow some sunny loving veggies. the school where there is going to be one start is just a few blocks from my house and i could easily walk there this summer:) i will keep you posted about that:)

the second session sucked. called the amazing bee and the only amazing thing was how bad it was. the presenter was nice enough, but i wasn’t really into looking at those sad almond groves in california, with there napalm looking rows where roundup had killed everything but the almond trees. seeing that freaked me out as i boycott almonds personally just because i despise their monoculture, chemical, unnatural way of farming them! gag! and the poor bees! fed corn syrup early in the year to build them up to truck them out to pollinate those  post apocalyptic  looking fields….! need i say more? i’m getting rebummed. honestly just bout walked out of that session…

but the third session on raised bed gardening rocked as did the compost session. those were both great sessions and i learned new things from both. really liked this idea for composting. they just took a normal trash can, drilled holes top, bottom and all around, threw on the ground and rolled it around once in awhile and ta dah, compost!


i guess i should have took time to photoshop and make bigger for you, but i didn’t so just click on it and magnify yourself if you want to see it better. 🙂 we got a compost pile we turn, but thinking this might be a bit neater. to have a few of these, and where our pile is, is a bit too close to the poison ivy anyway. i am thinking to make one raised bed garden and use the compost i have now for that, and in the future, just do a few of these cans:)

my brother and my buddy val went with me to the event. i was fortunate enough to win a door prize and here is a pic of val and i


had a really nice time at the event, but was itching to get home as the sun had came out and it was near 50 degrees! when i did get home i dashed out to check the bees and open up their hives some.

here is a pic of where my hives sit in my yard. not an ideal spot with all my trees, but the best i can do:)



bees march 6th 2010

now today. my brother and i went out to our friend dan’s house, and just had a ball taking a tour of his farm and acreage. he was kind enough to let me harvest some cottonwood bark to work with. this will be my first time and i will keep you posted about that too. this is eric, dan and dan’s 3 goats that follow him around like the dogs did.


dan and his wife have a very wonderful home. they sell at local farm markets a variety of produce, flowers and honey:) we met dan through our beekeeping group and i really enjoyed getting to know him better, visit his farm and thank him so much for sharing with me:)

earlier this week, my husband had ran down to the river hunting. we still have lots of ice and he said it had scoured out alot of the willow, but he did bring me home some to do some herbally things with ( tell ya bout that when i do it). the river is a wonderful place to find unusual items floating around or mysteriously brought from afar by ice, etc. so the black box in front of these willow branches is a butterfly house! figured it wasn’t a bat box as the inside doesn’t have the screening you usually find.


whew, been a busy week and i need to get off here and get chores done before monday gets here again. tomorrow is my friend katee’s birthdays and dylan and i are going to pick her and her granddaughter sicily up for our monthly lap sit at the library.

rosie continues to improve and dylan and i have been working hard learning new things, and having lots of fun too:)



and lily, evan and i have started a new of me once a week going out to their school to pick them up at the end of the school day. they really love these days they get to be “car riders”! and i love spending some special time with them




big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit comfrey cottages:)

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thought it might be fun to film the bees enjoying their tribute today. many people say not to do this as it can encite robbing and fighting amongst the bees. i hope this video shows that this is not the case with my bees. they have a riotous, joyful time and the house bees waiting for them in the hive are just vibrating when they receive the honey from the forager bees! i can not only sense through seeing their behaviors, my own being vibrates and glows right along with them! i realize that laying out these combs like this invites other creatures big and small and would not be able to safely do this in a more rural setting. as it is, i put up the frames at dark and re-give them during the daylight hours. i have done this for several years without mishap. something you would have to decide for yourself if you chose to feedback honey the way i do it. i let them be like the bear and glut their fill before winter and then offer it to them this way again in the spring, to help strengthen them. i consider it a gentle, organic way to feed my bees.  enjoy, they and i most certainly did!


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Today I decided the time was right to decant the comfrey oil, st. john’s wort oil, and the yarrow tincture. I don’t know why but the picture color is not the color i saw with the st. john’s wort oil and the yarrow tincture! both were a lovely deep ruby color but turned out purplish in these pics!



trust me, they are a gorgeous ruby color. will have to figure out why the color in the pics are different than in real life. any suggestions?

the comfrey oil was a lovely green shade.


all of them smelled wonderful! so earthy, and wholesome!

the comfrey oil and the st. john’s wort oil are both going to be used in healing salves. the comfrey for the little scrapes and cuts we all get in are day to day lives. i will add a bit of thyme oil to the comfrey oil salves also. comfrey heals wounds so quickly that if there is a bit of infection present, it could actually seal the infection in, so the thyme will help prevent this with its antiseptic properties. the st; john’s wort oil  will help with the bruises, scrapes, nerve pain, and also for the basis for sunscreen. when i use these in salves i will be using some of the wonderful beeswax from the first honey harvest. this is the large baking dish full i have from the wax that has been draining since the harvest a couple weeks ago. most of the honey is drained out of it now.


i will gently melt this wax in a pot over boiling water until it is smooth and i can pour it into individual containers. some to mix with the healing salves and then some i am going to try something new. my beautiful daughter michelle is a diabetic and just plagued by dry skin. i am going to try a couple different oils added to the beeswax to see if i can make her a good moisture rich skin salve/ lotion. thinking to see how organic coconut oil mixes with the beeswax for one.

so more alchemy happening here at comfrey cottages courtesy of our bee friends. both for the lovely beeswax and also the lovely plants i am working with. will post more as i work with these things with pictures also.

big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit here at comfrey cottages!

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whoo whoo! starting the honey harvest! below is a picture of a capped honey frame taken from one of the yellow hives honey supers(the box which holds 10 frames for the bees to build wax on and store nectar in). isn’t it a gorgeous white?!


now i am harvesting using the crush and strain method. first i remove a frame of capped honey (the bees flap their little wings and evaporate some of the moisture from the nectar and when the moisture level is right, they seal each cell with wax, thus the name, capped honey). i am using a glass dish with a silicon flexible mat in it. first i cut off the honey comb from the frame


then i use a pestle to crush the wax and honey.


i then pick up the silicon mat and let it all ooze into my new bucket with a strainer in it. this bucket also has a gate at the bottom for using when time to bottle the honey that has filtered through the screen.


these following pics are close ups of the bucket and the screen



when i am thinking i am close to capacity i will put the bucket in the sun with a lid on it with a brick on the lid!

very excited as this is the first year i am going out on my own from the normal way of beekeeping in my area. i did no supplemental sugar feedings and went to foundationless frames, and of course, no chemical intervention or brood building patties etc, so… i can now say my beekeeping methods are organic! the bees did a beautiful job of creating their own wax and the honey is light and delicious! i will keep you posted on how much i actually get harvested and bottled. thinking to make some herbal infused honey with some of it.

the harvested wax will be put to good use in herbal salves, which i will tell you about when the time comes. good fall/winter time activity.

when i have cut the comb off the frames i am just leaning them into another pan to finish dripping and then i will save the frames to use next year! i won’t trim off the excess wax on them as with foundationless frames,  you really need to leave a little on the frame so the bees will hopefully cooperate and build their comb in the direction i need to easily harvest from! lol

big thanks to wendy at midwest green for turning me on the live writer as this post looks alot nicer than previous ones!

huge herbal hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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have you ever came across a wildflower, or bird, or other scene of nature and wondr to yourself what it is? well the enature fieldguide might just help! hugs 🙂

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