Pittosporum and Honeybee in Nanjing, China

29 04 2013

Let’s celebrate. Bee season is off to a running start in central China, and I caught a few photos today. I’ve identified one of the flowering bushes so far (this is a Pittosporum), so I’ll start by posting two photos of the plant, one with a honeybee deeply engrossed.

Pittosporum and Honeybee - Nanjing China - April 28 2013

Pittosporum - Nanjing China - April 28 2013





Chinese Magnolias

18 03 2013

[Also posted on The Good Villager.]

It’s spring. Flowers are popping up everywhere. I just posted on the all-important Chinese plum blossom season with some lovely shots provided by one of my students. Now, the magnolia trees outside my housing complex have blossomed, and I was able to get out there myself today and photograph.

After doing a little research, there are what I believe to be two different species of native magnolia trees here. One (see the white blooms) is the Magnolia denudata (玉蘭 – yù lán – literally ‘jade orchid’), also called the Yulan magnolia – a symbol of purity. The other (purple blossoms) is the Magnolia liliiflora species (木兰 – mù lán – literally ‘tree orchid’), also called the Mulan magnolia.

Enjoy these beauties below.





Acacia Honey in China

21 01 2013

Chinese Acacia Honey - yang huai feng miFrom time to time, I buy a jar of Chinese honey. It makes sense. After all, I live in China. Why not buy local? Of course, Chinese products are often suspect in some way – many Chinese folks I’ve spoken to are suspicious of honey coming from their own country, and as I’ve written about before, they have a reason to be. But I’ve also written that it’s impossible for us to avoid toxins completely given what we, as humans, have done to our world. So Chinese honey and whatever chemicals it contains makes their way into my kitchen.

Robinia pseudoacacia 004This time round, I secured a jar of acacia honey.  One of the more common monofloral honeys, this honey comes from the false acacia tree  (洋槐 yáng​ huái – black locust tree or Robinia pseudoacacia). The tree grows in warmer climates in Europe and North America, but it also grows in China. The honey is usually rather light in colour, but can have an amber hue (particularly if it has been pasteurized) like in the jar you see here.

Acacia honey has a higher fructose content than most honeys. As a result, it tastes sweeter – you will likely need less to sweeten your tea – and it probably won’t crystallize like most honeys will over time.

See other posts on my Chinese honey adventures:





November Bees in Nanjing

13 11 2012

One thing that I was excited about in coming back to China was catching some bee action. There is a different species of honeybee here – the Eastern honeybee or Apis cerana. I keep a photo gallery of bees from my travels as well as contributions from site visitors. I have a few from my time in Hunan province. Sadly, in the 5 months in 2011 and the 2 months in 2012 I spent in China’s tropical Hainan, I only saw bees once, and I didn’t have my camera with me. But today on a walk in northern Nanjing, I not only came across a massive and impressive spread of urban community gardens, but I spotted a honeybee picking up some autumn nectar as well as some pollen. Check her out below:

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China





Frangipani, Anyone?

23 09 2012

Ji dan hua - egg yolk flower - frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan, ChinaOne of my favourite flowering trees found in the tropics is Plumeria, commonly known as frangipani. They grow in abundance here in tropical China, where they are known as ‘ji dan hua’ (鸡蛋花) or ‘egg yolk flowers’. I find when I pass by them, I inevitably pick up a flower than has fallen and carry it with me on my journey, occasionally smelling it absentmindedly. Not only it is a simple and beautiful flower, but its perfume is intoxicating.

sphinx moth - by the Garden Helper - http://www.thegardenhelper.comIt is actually more fragrant at night. Sphinx moths are the pollinators, and these night creatures follow the deceptive scent in search of nectar. Nectar they don’t find, but they do end up pollinating. Sneaky tree.

Check out some photos of the tree and a few varieties of flower growing around my building at on site at my place of work.

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Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Branches of an egg yolk flower tree - Frangipani - Plumeria - ji dan hua shu - Haikou, Hainan, China





Motherwort Honey

18 09 2012

One of the delightful things about being back in China is the availability of honey from crops that are uncommon or non-existent in Canada. I have written in the past about the notoriety of Chinese honey, and I stand by that. Many Chinese products are suspect and/or cheaply made, reality being lack of regulation, standards and labour laws, all in the name of capitalism.

Leonurus cardiaca - motherwort - yi mu caoBut, of course all bodies living in the modern world are filled with carcinogens and other poisons from numerous sources, including food. If I spent all my time worrying about what I put in my mouth, I’d eat nothing at all. Besides, research to date does not yet demonstrate that organic food, for example, is better for us (see this recent study done by Stanford University on the health benefits of organic food). I do support organic farming and beekeeping – it is good for the environment and the ecosystem – but I also eat notorious Chinese honey.

Motherwort honey from China - Leonorus - yi mu caoToday, as I am currently plagued by a recurring throat infection, I went honey shopping in my local grocery store. And I found some motherwort honey. Motherwort or Leonorus (most common varieties: L. cardiaca, L. sibiricus and L. heterophyllus), known in Chinese as 益母草 (yi mu cao), is an herb with healing properties. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, motherwort is used to energize the liver and the blood, and for menstrual issues. I found an interesting link to a Western blogger who has used it to calm emotionality.

Motherwort honey is light amber to amber in colour (see my colour standards guide at the bottom of this page). It is fragrant, and it is tangy, and almost spicy. After tasting it, I read others’ reports that it tasted of mint. I’m not sure that is what I tasted, but I could understand the interpretation.

In additions to the purported healing effects of motherwort listed above, the honey is recommended as a tranquilizer, sedative, and can soothe hoarseness and sore throats.

Wish me luck!





Hymenocallis littoralis – The White Spider Lily

9 09 2012

Not a bee-pollinated flower, but gorgeous nevertheless. The White Spider Lily is native to where I’m living, and I wanted to showcase them.

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012





Now You Know Your A Bee C’s

1 09 2012

I just moved back to China after a year back in Canada. I’m working on my second life coaching qualification and my business plan. Living in China is a way to live extremely cheaply while working on these goals. In order to stay in this country, I’ve relied upon my teaching and ESL background. I’ve taught all ages, from the very young to the middle aged. This time round, I’ve got 5-year-olds.

I’ve been asked to help decorate a classroom. Yikes! I am not an artist. I’m kinda more into the content and delivery end of things rather than set design, to be honest. Anyhow, I revert to my ‘ulterior motives’ or ‘grand plan’, which is to spread my love of bees, and so there will be bees in the classroom.

Check out my bumbling attempt at ‘art’ below…

Bees for my English Classroom - Modern Art - Construction Paper and Sticky Plastic Cut outs





Tibouchina urvilleana

30 08 2012

A small, but stunning, flower growing on the grounds of my new apartment building in Haikou, Hainan in tropical Southern China. I crouched down in the flower beds to take my photos only to discover that some of the Chinese living in the complex started photographing me photographing flowers. Strange, but true…

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012








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