woven beehives with a circcular hole in the top

American Skep

I’ve learned that weaving a beehive with my hands is very much like weaving a meaningful life: Both take study, focus, hard work, and pure determination. I’ve chronicled my skep journey here from its very beginnings. Today,  I’ve woven around eight of these hives. There are very few of these hives being made in the States, although there are a number weaving masters in Europe. Bees have been wondrous teachers for me. They understand Unity and Generosity in ways that escape most people.

Beginning the Bee Year

Sadly, my last colony perished this past week. I believe it was queen failure. The hive was full of honey, and not a single bee. So, for the first time in years, my garden is quiet. I’ve decided to only host four colonies this year—three skeps and my wall hive. So, today, I got to…

Looking Back on a Busy Summer

It is early August, and here in the Pacific Northwest, we are hot hot hot. We’ve had several weeks on and off of 90-plus temperatures, and the ground is hardened and cracked. Many of my plants have burned, not for want of water–which I am pouring on–but simply from being made toast by the blistering…

2018 Spring in My Skep Apiary

Spring in the bee yard: Is there any better time of year? Here in the Pacific Northwest, we had a loooong winter with much dreariness, but only a couple events of cold, ice, and snow. Last autumn, I found myself with four thriving hives: Three in straw, and one in my last top bar hive….

I’ve Been Busy!

Where does the time go?? Spring will be here—with bees swarming—before I know it! This winter I’ve been weaving, of course. I’ve wanted to make three new skeps before the bee season, and I have two done and the third in the making. I’ve begun making my skeps a full 2-inches thick. It is harder…

Drumming the Bees

The swarm began like any other swarm. Just a big, roaring, exaltation of bees, 20,000 strong and taking to the sky in a glittering amber cloud. I couldn’t possibly know in those first exhilarating moments that by days end, the bees from RainTree hive would change my relationship with bees forever. The morning started out…

Beginning the Bee Year

Sadly, my last colony perished this past week. I believe it was queen failure. The hive was full of honey, and not a single bee. So, for the first time in years, my garden is quiet. I’ve decided to only host four colonies this year—three skeps and my wall hive. So, today, I got to…

Looking Back on a Busy Summer

It is early August, and here in the Pacific Northwest, we are hot hot hot. We’ve had several weeks on and off of 90-plus temperatures, and the ground is hardened and cracked. Many of my plants have burned, not for want of water–which I am pouring on–but simply from being made toast by the blistering…

2018 Spring in My Skep Apiary

Spring in the bee yard: Is there any better time of year? Here in the Pacific Northwest, we had a loooong winter with much dreariness, but only a couple events of cold, ice, and snow. Last autumn, I found myself with four thriving hives: Three in straw, and one in my last top bar hive….

I’ve Been Busy!

Where does the time go?? Spring will be here—with bees swarming—before I know it! This winter I’ve been weaving, of course. I’ve wanted to make three new skeps before the bee season, and I have two done and the third in the making. I’ve begun making my skeps a full 2-inches thick. It is harder…

My First Skep-Making Class! (…and how to request a class in your area…)

It’s been a year and a half since my Sun Hive workshop, where I first learned how to start weaving straw hives. I love my Sun Hive, but honestly, I love the little skeps more, so that’s where I’ve put my efforts. I’ve been working on these little hives pretty much in isolation, so to…

Drumming the Bees

The swarm began like any other swarm. Just a big, roaring, exaltation of bees, 20,000 strong and taking to the sky in a glittering amber cloud. I couldn’t possibly know in those first exhilarating moments that by days end, the bees from RainTree hive would change my relationship with bees forever. The morning started out…

The People’s Sun Hive: Keeping Bees in Straw

It has been five months since I brought my bright and beautiful Sun Hive home, and just three months since I escorted a small cast swarm up a wooden ramp and into its dark and enfolding interior. Small the swarm may have been, but the bees took to the woven hive like they had been…

Autumn in the BeeYard

Yesterday morning dawned foggy and cold. In my morning walkabout in the backyard, I noted the first bronze and peach leaves crowning the top of our old vine maple and the brown heads of the bending goldenrod. Fresh borage plants are poking up happy blue flowers and yet one more small, self-sewn crop of phacelia…

Bees In Straw

In 2014, I fell in love with the idea of keeping bees in skeps, old-fashioned traditional  hives of woven straw or grass. Michael Thiele was hinting at hosting the first Sun Hive workshop (a type of skep) in the United States, and I knew–come hell or high water–I would be at that class. In the…
Susan’s Corner

The Library Bees

I wrote this during Covid, and I can’t remember quite when. But today, as we celebrate Earth Day in our town, We celebrate the Library hive that I installed 2018 on Earth Day. Here is just one of my memories of this precious colony of bees…. “I won’t lie: It’s been really hard starting this…

Distilled, Part 2
Susan’s Corner

Distilled, Part 2

I found this lovely definition of “distilled” in an online dictionary and I love it: “The purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.” Distill is my word for the year, and a fine…

a swarm of bees in flight
Susan’s Corner

Distilling, Part 1

A short while ago, I had the opportunity to serve on a small jury to elect a new county-wide Poet Laureate. I came to the process late in the game, as a rushed fill-in person for a juror who begged out. I’m no poet, but have writing chops behind me, so there I was. My…

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Backyard Nature

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Benny and Carter are the two dogs who run our household these days. Benny is a fuzz-ball of a poodle, and Carter a herding mix with a coat like an old shag rug. Benny grew up here with my housemates at the Manor, and Carter grew up with me. I’ve never seen two dogs so…

Autumn
Backyard Nature

Autumn

The sky today is a mosaic of grays, sparkling whites, and veins of crystal-clear blue. The sun finds her way between all the patterning, and casts crazy shadows that dart across the garden. This morning the streets had that mellow scent of fresh rain. All of these delights are the offerings of autumn, sending a…

Come Walk With Me
Backyard Nature

Come Walk With Me

This is something I wrote months ago, and forgot to post… On a cold morning in late winter, I was overcome with an urge to take Carter to the forest, and to walk as slowly and exploratively as I wanted. I did not expect nor desire to go far. I simply didn’t have the strength yet….