Saturday, February 20, 2010

Keeper of the Bees

For the past year I've been peering closely at my rosemary plants conducting my own personal bee count. Good news first. Bee count is up. But I'm biting my lip because I've given the lavender and rosemary bushes free reign, and they've taken over the front garden, along with a robust mint. All three are rudely pushing all comers out of thier way. But the bees are happy.

Support your local beekeepers. If you eat local honey, it fends off allergies. Then there is a natural antibacterial bonus too, so slather plenty on your biscuits. Beekeepers do, and that working group suffers less from arthritis than any other worldwide.Bees are drawn to blue flowers. The girls are obviously aware it shows off their yellow stripes to best advantage.
Pots of edible honey have been unearthed from Egyptian tombs. So I guess its safe to finally uncork this dark honey from Ambleside that I've been saving for ten years.

There's fun in the community too. The worker bees preform a circular dance in a particular direction according to the position of the sun. This tells the other workers the direction and distance to the closest nectar source. Bee's like yellow flowers too. Brilliant of them.

Keeping modesty in mind, I do think the bees approve of me. I rescue them when they zig-zag into my studio and I shun pesticides in my garden. On a grander helping scale, enourmous swaths of farmlands in europe have been designated as 'Recovery zones' to help against the collapse disorder, where nectar bearing plants flourish without pesticides. And in 2008 the Beekeepers of England in their protecive suits, and even carrying thier smokers, descended on Parliment and marched to Ten Downing Street to hand over a petition demanding more research for what was called in the 19th century 'Dwindling disease'. And its working. The losses are down 20 percent in the last year. I did a bee dance all my own when I read that news.

This plate, painted with a super that looks just like a clapboard cottage, is the image I painted on my very first piece of pottery. I'm still painting them every spring.

I am not at peace, though. I hanker after one of my own bee houses, vibrating with activity. And one of these wide brimmed hats with the flowing netting. If my neighbors call me the mad beekeeper of Cambria, so be it. In fact, maybe I'll get my first tattoo (strictly henna) to commemorate my hive. A bee? a skep?

nuh-uh. Just the beekeepers motto and the three words that I adore: Nothing Without Labor.

Now and then the honey bee

Laden with her treasure

Darting from the clover blooms

Hums her drowsy measure.



For Mr. Toast!


My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

love the bee post...and that jar of honey amoung the herb plants on the windowsill....YES! open that honey and slather it on your about tonight...

there is a storm on the way...

biscuits and honey for supper...why, yes....

donkey making biscuits

farmlady said...

Oh Julie, this is a wonderful post. So much great information about BEES and all the beautiful pottery of yours.
I love...
I hanker after one of my own bee houses, vibrating with activity. And one of these wide brimmed hats with the flowing netting. If my neighbors call me the mad beekeeper of Cambria, so be it."

I feel this way too. Just one hive or box filled with these wonderful insects.I would let the lavender and Rosemary over run the hillside if it's would extend the lives of these beautiful insects that give us such "sweetness" in our lives.
Let's all be "Mad" about them.

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

Interesting post with beautiful pottery!

cabin fever said...

Such beautiful new pieces - a wonderful tribute to bees everywhere!!!

Loved all of your information and history, too.

That yellow looks so pretty with cornflower blue. Two colors of Spring!

I was late coming to your post. There was a HUGE black bear walking thru my woods!!!! Do you think he knew about the honey???

Xoxo Liz

Maria said...

I'm in love with all your bee goodies!
I too have been wanting to become a beekeeper for about 4 years now. This was the year I decided to just do it! I'm starting with 2-boxes this Spring...I really think you should give it try. If you do decide to, email me. I'll give you some info, like which books are good, places to order your stuff...

Kathi D said...

My dad kept bees when I was young. The only time I was ever stung (even though the hives were in our not-big suburban yard) was when I unknowingly stepped barefoot on one that had made its way into our kitchen. And I can't really blame a bee for fighting back against a big bare stomping foot.

Librarian said...

Lovely pictures! The sound of a bee humming is the only thing I want to hear when I say in the clover meadow at the park, sunbathing. I think I even wrote about this in my blog last summer. The other day, I was reading something about the evolution of the bee's dance, written by Richard Dawkins. It is truly amazing and makes one appreciate them even more.

A Time to Dance said...

Your work is beautiful Julie, I do love it, there has been a lot of ooohing and ahhhing at this side of the pond...we are having problems this side as our bee population is diminishing...they make me think of summer, there is nothing like the buzz of a bee in the it has snowed! we are snuggling in front of the fire in blankets...thank you for sharing ...H

Barbara said...

Your breakfast looks good Julie adn I like the Beehive sketch.

Mmm said...

I'm so excited to see that you have joined out Creative Tuesday art co-op. Can;t wait to see what you do. Thanks to Karen for referring you. you have until noon this Tuesday left for the duck theme but then there will be two weeks between each theme. Each entry gives you a submission into the quarterly prize drawing, plus one can get an extra one for placing the icon on one's side bar somewhere. The next theme will end with the next drawing. Tt should be good.

Anyway, nice to meet you. Thanks again.

Vintage Fairy Tales Rebecka said...

Dear Julie!
One day I would love to come and visit you,
drink tea and eat some biscuits with honey.
That´s my plan;)

kate fern said...

Hi Julie, thanks for dropping by my blog, which brought me to your wonderful blog, amazing ceramics, and such interesting info about the bees...I'll be coming back for more!

Mmm said...

Julie--love your wood etching of the duck. Looks like it was VERy fun to do and I'm so glad you found the time to addit to our collection. Can't wait to see it up in the montage.

Yes, as you mentioned, a couple of things to add for Creatve Teusady entires to be considered as such: please link back to my blog, state the theme was "duck" and it was for Creative Tuesday. Extra points for writing that on the art piece somewhere but even I forgot to do that this time! LOL. Oh, and an enxtra submisson into the quarterly prize drawing for each person who places the red icon on theri side bar with a link back to me so peeps can read about it. Thanks again adn welcome to our co-op. It's great to have you join in.

I'm adding you to the side bar now!

Mmm said...

Also, the post should be for CT only as well so it will be easy for co-participants to find. As it is though, I am amazed you got it done so quickly. Excellent. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie, found my way her by way of Mr. Tea and Toast. Great duck etching. I love honey too and always have used local honey for allergies for myself and kiddos. A beautiful blog. I will be back. Thanks for entering the CT project. Blessings to you and the bees.

LadyCat said...

I love the duck etching! He's so animated that I can hear him squacking : )

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

This bee themed post is lovely, with the sunlight and sunny pottery. I love the bee verse too. Have a wonderful week Julie. Best wishes, Lesley

lissa said...

love the duck print, it have lots of movements, a wonderful entry to creative tuesday

Lizzie said...

Julie, love your duck. What technique is that called? :)

lilylovekin said...

I love all your bee pottery. And am glad to hear you think the bee count is up since I hear that if the bees were gone we would also be gone. I love the idea of them being attracted to blue flowers and will plant some in my garden.

Susan said...

love your creativity - and love your duck etching!

Carousel Dreams said...

Clever little bees! And I simply adore your pottery x

Claire said...

Hey Julie, what a lovely post about bees. I love bee skeps and the 'clapboard' type of beehives, I am sure Marion Cran would've had one or two dotted around her garden. Your new pieces are just lovely, you must be very happy when they turn out so well.
I am sooo thrilled that you have tracked down one of her books and are enjoying it so much.

No 1 son commented the other day that we should get a beehive a thought I have entertained on and off over the last couple of years. Shall have to look into it seriously. His mane of hair was grown with the intention of getting dreadlocks, not an idea we were too thrilled about, but it was his choice. He decided against it to our relief and usually wears it up, easier to manage. With long hair and acrylic nails on one hand for guitar playing, he gets a few strange looks!!
Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment. Glad you like the egg cosies, hope I sell some Saturday, must go and whip up a few more book covers.
Claire x

Claire said...

Hi Julie what a lovely, informative post about bee. Must remember the link between honey and arthritis, very interesting. I love old fashioned bee skeps made from straw and clapboard hives. I imagine Marion Cran had a few dotted around her garden. So thrilled that you have been able to track down one of her books and glad that you are enjoying it.

No 1 son grew this mane of hair with the intention of getting dreadlocks. We are a little relieved he changed his mind. He usually wears it up easier to look after. Between the long hair and acrylic nails on one hand for guitar playing, he gets some odd looks.
Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely comment. Glad you like the egg cosies must make a few more.
Your new 'bee' pieces are so sweet, always love your work and can't wait to see your next creation is.

Claire x

Lesley said...

What a wonderful post! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your bee pottery! I have been known to save bees from my garden by feeding them honey from a teaspoon! A bee keeper once told me that honey never goes off but that they're forced to put an expiry date on the jars they sell, so I'm sure that jar from Ambleside will be delicious! I will keep an eye out for it next time I'm there :-)

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

THanks so much for you wonderful comments. Someone wrote me about the beehive plate. Its an older piece, about 1930, and it says Royal Winton on the reverse.
Its not every day you see old plates with I really had no choice but to dredge my wallet out of my backpack and ante up.

susan jenkins said...

Love,love,love all about the bee's and beautiful related pottery. Why couldn't you put a skep in your yard? It's made for it!!!
You still have honey from Ambleside?? Wasn't that fun??

xx sis

Carolee said...

Just discovered your blog, and have to say I LOVE your work! I'll definitely be back. :)

~ Carolee

Maggie Ann said...

Hi Julie, You know what I wish? I wish you would publish a book..yes, put all of these utterly charming posts into a bound book we could buy and hold in our hands, and enjoy over and over again. Sincerely, Maggie Ann


What a gorgeous post!

Nan said...

Wonderful posting! and such good news about the bees. It has worried me tremendously. We get our honey from:

Great folks!

I'm assuming you've read the book by Gene Stratton Porter??

Sarah { bee house hives } said...

Oh my, I am loving this post.. your blog, all that there is here. I can't wait to get back to more.. just wanted to say hello to you first! wow wow wow.. you have some amazing talent!

Animals who garden

Animals who garden
Donkey with green paw