I had planned on making myself a quilt in celebration of Bees, Beekeeping and Spring, I thought I would try my hand at expressing what it all means to me. Et voila! Welcome to my quilt, Bee Inspired!
But, since I'm probably only ever going to make one Bee themed quilt top (right??), I wanted it to tell the story of my Bees, Alaska and the shifting of the Sun throughout our Seasons and Joys.
Every year I order 15,000 honey bees. They are Russian. They are weeks early. They are Not Amused. But it will soon be too hot to ship them from Outside, and so they have to wait along with us, for Spring to arrive. They arrive in a five pound box, in a massive shipment with most of the other bees coming into Alaska; most of which will take several other, successively smaller, flights until they arrive in their new homes. Mine have a 20 minute sing along car ride until they are home. Home where they used to spend a week in my old cast iron footed tub. One of my Russian neighbors once asked me, "Lori, why a tub?" "Is this necessary?" (to the raising of bees). I replied that no, it's not necessary to the raising of bees, it's just a nice, quiet, draft free place to keep them, and occasionally soak them with sugar water, until it's warm enough outside for them to go into the hive. And besides, I think a tub full of bees is kinda funny. Don't you??
The upper right quadrant of the quilt represents the Sun and what she brings to us. We begin the year at the Winter Solstice, when we have only 5 hours of sunlight a day. But the Dark brings its own pleasures. Now we can enjoy the Moon in all of her phases. Stare entranced at the Milky Way as it blazes across the evening and night skies. Watch cometary wanderings, the effervescence of meteor showers and the dancing beauty of the Aurora Borealis. None of which we can see during our long summer days. Each has their own season in which to be enjoyed.
The lower left quadrant represents early Summer. The Sun is now shining eighteen or more hours a day, The garden has been planted and has begun to grow, we are harvesting lettuces and turnip tops to munch upon as we work. We started their seeds when the days were mostly dark. Their fresh green shoots did much to brighten us towards the coming days.
In early summer, the bees are getting most of their pollen and nectar from the 21 types of willow and alder that abound in our area. They supplement heavily with dandelion, whose orangey yellow pollen swathes their legs and burdens them as they fly. A young bee will frequently stop on my shoulder to take a rest on her way back home. She checks me out to see what I'm doing and then is merrily, busily on her way.
By now, my queen has been laying eggs steadily, and the pupae have matured into new, lighter yellow and black, fuzzy abdomened girl bees. One of my many delights is in watching them take their first few flights out of the hive. If you walk too close, they will bang into you and careen off on wild journeys they didn't know were coming. Chortling days, burgeoning days, warbler days!
The lower right quadrant and the middle and rightmost 'flowers' represent Mid-Summer and August (our advent to Fall). In Mid-Summer, the Sun never leaves our side. She accompanies all of our triumphs and joys in the garden. The Bees have been happily buzzing along and have left the lower hive to store honey in the upper frames. Baby bees are hatching again, almost 50,000 now, and have many a task in front of them. They fly all day, and much of the night on their quest to find nectar. The Sun warms their way. Now they have garden flowers of a stunning array from which to choose, and their pollen is all of the golds and yellows of the color wheel.
Did you know that bees see the blue of this quilt as yellow? So one of the fun things about this quilt, is that the bees will see the blue flowers, yellow and the yellow sun, blue. For this Sewing Bee quilt is meant to grace our porch swing, warm our morning coffee in the garden, and embrace our late evening chill near the fire pit. I think she will see countless garden wanderings in search of the first peas to eat, the tenderest spinach leaves, the brushing back of dirt from a turnip top, and the too early munching of strawberries. I am also certain that she and the Bees will be there for many a tea or Mike's hard lemonade and post hike chat with a girlfriend. Contentment!! Plentitude! Sweeping Swallow Summer!!
And on into August and the first time we have seen the Moon in months. The days are still long and burdened with Sun. But now we have some Night again, to be enjoyed at 3 am on the way home from the airport to drop off visiting relatives. Refreshing night allows us to wind down from the frantic pace of summer growing, into visiting and chatting and the beginnings of harvest. Now, we quickly slip a mesh between the lower and upper frames, where the honey is, and leave it for a few days. Soon we will place a solid square of wood in its place and leave the lid ajar so any bees can fly out and walk home down the side of the hive. We're getting them used to not being there, with the honey, so no one gets injured when we steal it away. If it's been a rainy summer, I'll leave all of the honey for them, and just make a nighttime raid to steal a frame or two to lick for ourselves. But if it has been a splendid, a startling, a fabulous summer, then I will take the honey in the upper super, and leave them what they have stored with the babies in their lower super.
I thank them heartily, dress very carefully, and go as quickly as I can. The bees are pretty fierce about their honey. And I would be too, considering the time and effort it takes to make it. How many sips of nectar make one sip of honey??? It truly is liquid gold.
Soon the bees will be wrapped in warm insulation, and I will try to overwinter them in the garage. I don't know how they will take to the snow blower.
But what's life without a little adventure??!
Every Season has its Joy, and every Joy, its Season.
What things do you do that can only be done in a certain season? Do you have family memories or events that you think of with a certain season?
XXOO Peace and Joy,
(When I saw the triangle quilt along at The Sassy Quilter, I knew I had to conquer my fear of triangles and dive in there. And so, I did! And I wanted you to conquer your fear, too. So I wrote you a tutorial to get you there. And get you free!!!)
Linking to the wonderful WIP wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and Really Random thursday at Live a Colorful Life.