The Sweetness of Bees

The Sweetness of Bees July 30, 2014
Bees are on everyone’s minds these days. Their dire situation pops up in news. Fellow bloggers are writing about them. Even Obama has taken notice.
Bees and skulls
Bees and skulls

Our new property has much to tempt the bees. The land is lush and fertile. In a month of 80+ degree weather the land has stayed verdant thanks to the abundant weeds! The farmed garden is producing tomatoes, potatoes, mint, mullein, comfrey, chard, kale, cilantro, and more. Flowers include roses, poppies, and several other things I don’t know. We have blackberries. And oh, do we have clover, buttercup, and morning glory in abundance! There is also some fireweed sprouting here and there.

The land hums in the evenings. Bugs and birds are legion. While the grounds of our last house were lovely,


the landlord used all sorts of weed killers. What a difference being pesticide free can make! The life is TEEMING. Bees buzz around. Butterflies flit. Birds nibble.

The neighbors keep bee hives. They generously give us honey now and then. My husband and I talk about getting bees. Maybe in a few years.

Sadly, my 6 year old son has been stung twice this summer. Once on the head at our friends’ house. The bees were getting angry about something and as we were getting out of their way, my son and neighbor got stung. Then yesterday he collided with a spooked honey bee and got stung on the chin. I try to convince him that bees won’t go out of their way to hurt us. But he’s wary now. Twice in one summer! And me, nearly 40, with never a single sting.
Before the recent spate of bee related posts, my husband and I decided to name our house. The name calls bees to mind. In Wales nearly every home had a name. Most of the houses didn’t have a number in their address, but instead a name, then street, town, county, postcode. We have decided to name our home Dolau Melys/Sweet Meadow. Melys is related to the Welsh and Latin words for honey, mêl, and the name Melissa is related.

So now I have a sweet baby and a sweet meadow. It is fitting and right. It’s a lot of work, sticky work in the hot summer, but oh how sweet this life is.

(Getcher bee onesies, patches and more here!)

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  • Paul Rousselle

    Perfect name, Niki 🙂

  • epredota

    Poor boy! *pets him* Lovely name for your house, too 🙂

  • Is one of those initial links supposed to be to Alley Valkyrie’s article?

  • There were lots of bees in my yard when we moved in 2012. Now there are none. 🙁 My beekeeping friends here say that between pesticides and the harsh winter, local beekeepers experienced 80% die-off. They’re having to resurrect old techniques, like wrapping the hives, and importing bees from the south (which is problematic, because they need time to adjust to the climate).

    I pray for the bees.

    • It’s awful. I complain about the weeds here, and most people suggest weed killers. We’re committed to not using those.

      • Have not tried it yet myself, but I know there are some natural weedkillers you can use, like white vinegar. Not sure what else white vinegar will kill, though 😉 More research needed!

        • Sunweaver

          Boiling water on everything but poison ivy. It does not discriminate, but it is effective. Hand-pulling is often the best option, depending on the area. Vinegar is fine, by and large, but you might acidify the soil. If you’re weeding next to blueberries or azaleas, they might even like it.

          Any part of your lawn that you can replace with native plants or garden is an even better way to encourage bees, especially the small native bees. Read this:

          As an extra bonus, many of the plants that bees are going to visit for pollen and nectar may also be good for butterflies and other pollinators.

          (Edited for spelling)

          • We might drain the reservoir if we tried the boiling water method! Ha! As for the lawn, it’s more than 50% weeds at this point. The bees love the clover. We only manage to mow about every 2 weeks (really should be every week), and right now all the weeds are keeping it green and moist! Thanks, weeds!

          • Sunweaver

            If it’s lawn “weeds” you’re concerned about, something like clover is very good for the health of the lawn, fixing nitrogen where it’s needed most. Mow high (3″ or taller) and the grass will have the energy to push out most everything else. Grass clippings, high in nitrogen, will support grass growth very well. Most things don’t like quite that much nitrogen, so if you have a mulching mower, leaving the clippings on the lawn will help, too.
            Dandelions and other common yard “weeds” aren’t really detrimental. Some of them are edible and a grass monoculture is certainly not desirable for supporting pollinators anyway.
            Support your native bees. Kill your lawn.

          • Oh we certainly don’t care about a pristine lawn. I should take pictures. We don’t have a suburban property!

          • Sunweaver

            You were complaining about weeds, so I was trying to offer some helpful advice. My background is in entomology and botany and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into understanding organic lawn maintenance techniques so as to preserve biodiversity and provide habitat for beneficial insects and other wildlife. This is a topic that’s important to me and I hope at least some of what I’ve said has been useful, if not to you, then to someone else.

          • I don’t think I was complaining about weeds in this post. I want to work with the weeds. It’s overwhelming. But I’m not against the weeds. I’m actually quite happy to have them in the ‘lawn.’ I do appreciate the advice. But things like boiling water are impractical for the size and scope of what I’ve got! However, we already leave the mulch on the lawn! In a world that uses a lot of weed killers, I’m adjusting to what the expectations should be for land that doesn’t.

          • Sunweaver

            You said: “It’s awful. I complain about the weeds here…”
            Since you weren’t specific, I offered some general advice, mainly responding to Christine’s inquiry about using vinegar. Boiling water is very practical for most common small-scale weed control purposes, such as a sidewalk or fenceline, which many readers may find helpful. Vinegar is also impractical on a large scale, but good for smaller areas if used infrequently and in targeted areas.
            Planting native grasses, wildflowers and other plants and flowers that replace lawn grass will work very well for a large area to support pollinators and other wildlife.

  • Bees are the bees knees!

    Of course every time I hear the word “bees” all I can think of is Homer Simpson saying “Or what? You’ll release the dogs, or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark, they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead! Do your worst!”

    • I am partial to that Oprah Winfrey thing “BEES!! Everyone wins BEEEEEEEEES!!!!”

  • “Melys is related to the Welsh and Latin words for honey, mêl, and the name Melissa is related.”

    OH! I finally get that character in The Fifth Sacred Thing.

  • pagansister

    What a beautiful name for your home! Have always thought the tradition in Wales and other parts of the UK of naming a place as it’s “address” instead of a house number was not just fun but added personality to a house/home.