Words

Bee Mine

Hearts and honey

Attend

What: Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association hosts a virtual "BEEginners" Group

When: 6:00 pm Wed., Feb. 24

Where: Google Meet

More:

An experienced MBBA beekeeper will talk about bees and answer questions. Jon Moore will lead a Round Table bee Discussion.

Cost: Free; open to all

Info: http://www.mtbakerbeekeepers.org

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

While the first hints of spring arouse anticipation in gardeners about seedling starts and turning the soil, as a former beekeeper, springtime still turns my thoughts to bees and this year prompted me to read two delightful books on beekeeping back-to-back to start the year.

If you are thinking about beginning to keep bees, Helen Jukes’ A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings is a great introduction. Documenting her first year of keeping bees in Oxford, England, Jukes talks through practical questions and considerations, from choosing a location and deciding what style of hive best suits that location, to obtaining a colony, to honey production and harvest.

But more than just a primer on beekeeping, Jukes muses about what it means to “keep” wild creatures and whether bees can actually be considered domesticated. A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings is also buzzing with interesting factoids about bees and the history of beekeeping.

The “bee dance” where bees communicate information about a pollen or nectar source is one of the great mysteries of nature. Researchers believe that factors such as body angle and dance duration communicate direction and distance to the source, while the energy of the dance communicates the sweetness of the nectar or presence of obstacles in the path. Jukes notes that, amazingly, this ability is innate, as bees can both dance and interpret the movements even when raised in isolation.

As beekeepers go, while Jukes is quiet and meditative, Andrew Coté (pictured) is like rock ‘n roll with the volume turned up. Coté, a fourth-generation apiarist, is New York City’s premier beekeeper. His curriculum vitae includes Fulbright Scholar, college professor, founder of NYC Beekeeper’s Association, and Executive Director of the nonprofit Bees Without Borders. He also sells his honey in Union Square.

Coté’s recent book, Honey and Venom: Confessions of an Urban Beekeeper, is chock full of fascinating and outrageous stories about beekeeping in an urban environment. He has captured swarms on stoplights hanging over busy New York streets and from a high ledge at One Times Square—where the New Year’s Eve ball drop happens. He regularly assists NYPD in responding to complaints about poorly kept hives and other honeybee problems.

Google “untilled MOMA” to see Coté’s contribution to the Museum of Modern Art outdoor sculpture “Untilled,” where he was commissioned to figure out how to get bees to build their comb to make a living hive head on the sculpture.

But Coté is not just about beekeeping fun in the big city. For their organization Bees Without Borders, Coté and his father travel to faraway places such as rural Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, and Iraq to teach beekeepers how to increase their honey yield and income.

Although the tone and setting of these two books are as different as can be, the authors agree completely on one thing—that bees, who pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops (which constitutes about a third of what we eat), are integral to the human food ecosystem and that to ensure the survival of our species, we would do well to treat them like royalty.

As well as being a bee enthusiast—or “beek,” as Andrew Coté would say—Lisa Gresham is the Collection Services Manager at Whatcom County Library System. Visit http://www.wcls.org to find these titles and to learn how WCLS brings the power of sharing to rural Whatcom County.

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Vases, planters and drinking vessels by Briggs Shore will be on display and for sale from 11am-5pm Mondays through Saturdays (closed Tuesdays) and 12pm-5pm Sundays through April 30 at Good…

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Works by as many as 45 Whatcom Art Guild members can be viewed from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Sundays at Whatcom Art Market, 1103 11th St.

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Whatcom Art Market

11:00am

Works by as many as 45 Whatcom Art Guild members can be viewed from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Sundays at Whatcom Art Market, 1103 11th St.

Tulip Poster Artists, Past and Present

11:00am

The fifth annual “Tulip Poster Artists, Past and Present” exhibit can be seen from 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday through May 2 in Anacortes at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave.…

Scatter Sunshine

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Scatter Sunshine: La Conner in Bloom…

The Work of Jesus Guillén

11:00am

“The Work of Jesus Guillen: An Artistic Legacy of Love and Courage” can be seen from 11am-4pm Fridays through Sundays through May 2 in La Conner at the Skagit County Historical Museum, 501 S.…

Rock, Paper, Paint

11:00am

“Rock, Paper, Paint” shows from 11am-4pm Fridays through Sundays through April 25 in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The exhibit features new “drop” oil paintings by Allen Moe, rock…

Sculpture Northwest Exhibit

11:00am

The works of 15 Sculpture Northwest artists can be viewed both indoors and out from 11am-5pm Fridays through Sundays (and by appointment) through April 23 on Camano Island at Matzke Fine Art…

A Road Well Traveled

12:00pm

“Max Benjamin: A Road Well Traveled” can be seen from 12pm-4pm Thursdays through Sundays at La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art, 121 First St. The solo exhibit featuring the work of the…

Seeds of Culture at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Voices of Native American Women,” “Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest,” “Jac Trautman: The Specter of the Indigenous,”…

Art-iversary Exhibit

10:00am

From 10am-5:30pm Mondays through Saturdays through April 30, celebrate 20 years of ownership for Sheri Wright of Fourth Corner Frames, 311 W. Holly St. A wide variety of works are for sale as…

Seeds of Culture at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Voices of Native American Women,” “Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest,” “Jac Trautman: The Specter of the Indigenous,”…