Enjoying Lavender in Norfolk

15 01 2013

Taken out in the beautiful lavender fields of Norfolk, East Anglia, UK, this is a guest contribution by the folks at the up-and-coming Bee Plan. Their site is in the works, but their mission is clear – they are a non-profit supporting a programme of bee-friendly planting in east London. Looking forward to seeing them (and the bees) in action in the near future :)

Bee - Norfolk Lavender





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





Why Do Bees Just ‘Hang Out’?

9 10 2012

Bees are supposed to be busy. Always on the move. Foraging, scouting, collecting, helping the hive thrive. But sometimes, you see a bee just sort of hanging out. Not moving. Not doing much of anything.

There may be a few reasons for this. First, it might be too cold. Bees’ flight muscles need to be held at specific temperatures in order to work properly. When it gets too cold (especially when it is too cold for the insect to shiver and thus raise muscle temperatures), they are grounded.

Another reason might be that the bee is old and tired. This might especially be the case if you notice ragged wings on the bee and it is later in the season.

It could also be possible that the bee (especially males) has forgotten to fuel up by drinking nectar during all of its flying around. No fuel means no energy.

I had a photo submission from 100twenty out in Southern Quebec. A quiet bumble was found hanging off the wild aster in Gatineau Park. One thing about grounded bees – they make for excellent photo opportunities ;)





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








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