O wow. Someone gave me a bee chalet, for solitary leaf cutter bees. Here it is: the next best thing to a honey bee tree hive, for me.
There it is, now, up on the grapevine wall, near the pear tree, the harakeke/flax in flower, the rosemary, forget-me-nots.
The dormant leaf cutters are inside the little hole and they will settle in the tiny cardboard tubes in the diagram when they hatch. I hope. And I hope they love all the nearby parsley flowers, too like the bumbles and an occasional honey bee (very few around this summer). They love the flowering fennel, too. I wonder what a parsley/ fennel honey tastes like? Is it super-healthy?
There are bumbles out on the zigzag,too. In among the thyme. And more parsley flowers.
And then there’s the clover.
I didn’t have much clover in the past and I used to pull it out. Even though I knew about clover honey, it’s a weed, in a lawn, I thought. But suddenly there’s a whole lot more and I’ve learned that clover is pollinated by bumble bees, so maybe it’s a sign that the bumble bee numbers are increasing. Clover also also fixes nitrogen, which is good for the soil, on the zigzag especially. So I’m letting it flourish.
If you’d like any parsley seeds, I’ll be posting them out and delivering them in a couple of weeks. Just let me know.
You may have read about Waiheke Island, half an hour by boat from central Auckland, in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s fifth on Lonely Planet‘s current list of Top Ten destinations and fourth on Conde Nast Traveller’s list of the Best Islands in the World.
Late last year I was blessed. I needed to be in Auckland for a little while and a generous artist friend lent me her beautiful, simple studio/home on Waiheke. And I got to visit Richard at Waiheke Island Honey Co. My first apiary visit ever. Here he is.
I loved hearing and watching how much Richard loves and cares for his ‘girls’, as naturally as possible. He even names each queen – then he puts her her name on the lids of the jars of the honey he collects from her hive. From what I saw and heard, every product he makes receives the same imaginative loving care, from beginning to end. (My chef sons love the elegant-and-sturdy Waiheke Honey Co. aprons.)
If you’re in Waiheke, Richard has a honey shack for roadside sales. (His experience is that passersby are pretty honest.)
I’m sad that shortly after I visited the photos I took were lost in the Cloud, with the rest of my iPad’s info. But I do have this picture of some pohutukawa honey I brought home for a friend – along with active manuka, multiflora and clover honeys for others (I ate the active manuka when I needed a boost, but gave the friend the empty jar, ‘her’ jar, with ‘Queen Amanda’ on); lip balm for a mate in the sub-Sahara where sometimes it’s very hot and dry and sometimes cold dry winds blow; those classy aprons. And a lovely memory of a special morning. I learned so much.
This summer, Richard’s posted some pictures that feel affirming of what I do, here in the city.
He too scatters parsley seed and then lets the parsley go to seed.
Then he gives away the seeds.
For Christmas, he grew ‘the girls’ a special roadside meadow, beside the honey shack.
I recognise flowers that also flourish here, 600km south.
(My phacelia didn’t grow this year. Not sure why not.)
A big thank you to Richard and Sheena (it’s very much a family business!) for their warm welcome.
All photographs from the Waiheke Honey Co. Facebook page, except one, as indicated.
And here’s where I stayed– totally perfect if you’re a nature lover who likes to be comfortable, want to be close to beaches and cafe and a good library and within walking distance of the ferry (there are also buses and taxis). More than totally perfect if you want to settle in to paint, draw, write.
Bees & Bee-Loved Flowers. A Global View From New Zealand.