Beekeeping and My Season of Growth

Jars of honey on beehiveSo my tenure as beekeeper has come to an end. Rather abruptly, I might add. Last weekend bald-faced hornets invaded my hive and even though my guard bees fought valiently—there was a massive swarm of agitation happening at the entrance of the hive—it appears the hornets have won. This week most of my bees are gone. So are about six frames of lush, unharvested honey.

Lucky for me, I had harvested my share of honey the week before. Those unharvested frames, those I left for the bee’s winter feed; those were my “reinvesting and saving portions of the harvest for yet another season of growth.” A season that apparently is not going to happen.

Yes, and no.

Yes, I’m disappointed. The nurturer in me feels bad, like I somehow let down my bees. But my disappointment isn’t overwhelming and I’m choosing to relish the sweet side. Being a newbie, I allowed myself low expectations based on the many challenges facing today’s beekeepers. I knew this would be a season of learning and, wow, I’ve learned a lot. All summer I enjoyed watching my bees forage from one group of plants to another. I became conscious of the summer’s detailed progression in ways I previously hadn’t observed. And honey! Just look at that sweet, golden honey! I hadn’t anticipated harvesting any this first year, but those little troopers worked so hard to share.

As a beekeeper I’ve had a temporary setback, but not for long. Next spring I’ll be ordering more bees and another summer of fun!

In the meantime, I’m interested in this organization: The Honeybee Conservancy. The Honeybee Conservancy is a non-profit organization responding to the bee crisis. Check out its Sponsor-A-Hive program, which puts hives in schools and community gardens across the nation. Think of the educational opportunities! The pollinating potential!

The Honeybee Conservancy is a way to “share the harvest with others” and reinvest portions for “yet another season of growth.” Writer Denis Waitley says it so well, doesn’t he?

Care to donate? Currently, a $5000 grant is matching every dollar donated.

Want a hive for your school? The deadline for registration is November 11, 2016.

Want a FREE educator’s kit? Think lesson plans, worksheets to “build reading and science skills, raise environmental awareness, and empower students to help the bees.”


Wednesday Webs: Things Keeping My Interest This Summer

Bees on their brood frame in Wisconsin

So this has been my summer of beekeeping. Since I know absolutely nada of these honeys, I’m learning things as I go. For example, I now know the cone shape in the center above is a queen cell and since I already have one queen, another could be problematic. I should get rid of this cell. Or not. The challenging aspect of Beekeeping 101 is that the old salts are notorious for their variety of preferential practices (kind of like our world of marketing, yes?). In any event, so far I’ve managed to not kill my bees, nor have they left me for a better keeper.

Besides beekeeping (and my usual gardening and raising baby chicks), here are other agricultural interests that have me humming this summer:

  • Speaking of bees, here’s an interview on what we can do to improve their future, by an unconventional Madison entrepreneur
  • Similarly, the Chicago Honey Co-op works to produce honey and promote the good work of bees
  • You’ve heard of CSAs. How about CSFs, (as in Alaskan fish)? Grassroots, out-of-the-box entrepreneurism at its best!
  • We Live On the Internet. We Die Alone. Are we living our lives online instead of living it for real? This isn’t a farming story, but its poignant intensity shows a season of life that applies to us all. This summer spend time digging in the dirt. Grow food and share it with people. Spend real time with real people!

Soil Sisters ad by Adunate Word & Design

  • I’m once again proud to be working with Soil Sisters, a fun-filled, culinary and ag event. Here’s the ad Adunate did for them, which appeared in the summer issue of Edible Madison magazine. Going to be in Wisconsin this summer? Come to Soil Sisters, Aug. 5-7.

Sponsor Sampler, by Adunate Word & Design

  • Later, in fall, Fermentation Fest will once again host its convergence of food, agriculture and art. Here’s a piece Adunate did as a sponsor sampler. Interested in sponsoring Fermentation Fest? Contact the Fermentation Fest team right away because they’re putting things together as we speak!

That’s all for now, folks. Hope you’re having a blessed summer!


Magnificent Trees for Earth Day 2016

Old growth forest in Hartwick Pines, Grayling, MI

Last week while traveling in Michigan we spent an afternoon in Hartwick Pines State Park. When I was a kid my family spent a lot of time vacationing in nearby Grayling so this whole Au Sable River region holds special memories. It was great to be back (snow and all, ha!).

Chapel in the Pines, Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, MI

It’s also fitting because today is Earth Day and this year’s emphasis is Trees for the Earth. If you want to celebrate trees, Hartwick Pines is the place to go. It’s a 9,672-acre park that during the late 1800s was owned and logged by the Salling-Hanson Lumber Company. Thankfully in 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick, a company heir, donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial to the logging industry. With that came 85 acres (now 49) of old growth, 350+ year old, red and white pines. Talk about glorious trees! There’s also a second growth forest that was planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

How blessed we are that people in the past cared enough to preserve trees for us today. Now we have an opportunity to pay it forward. In recognition of its upcoming 50th anniversary, the Earth Day Network has set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees by 2020 and they’re looking for us to help.

Reliance Peach bareroot trees

Here’s our contribution: Peach trees. They’re replacement for those we lost a few years ago to Wisconsin winters. Since peaches aren’t native to this area, their lifespan isn’t as long as it might be in a more southernly climate (oops, we’re not exactly following the article I wrote for Forward Mutual’s weekly news:-). Nonetheless, I’ve been missing the home-canned goodness they offer, so we’re happy to replace them as needed. Grow fast trees, grow fast!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Plant a tree and celebrate the good earth God has given us!

Nature, agriculture, food and history are some of my favorite topics. If you need copywriting for your organization, drop me a line!

Happy New Year 2016!


Meandering Stream in Wisconsin Countryside

Isn’t this a pretty stream? I saw it a couple weeks ago while meandering through the Wisconsin countryside. Obviously, this year’s Christmas landscape was rather blasé, but here was a winding ribbon of blue to brighten things up. When this Bible passage came up on my New Years’ verse-a-day, I immediately thought of this scene.

In context, the Isaiah passage is referencing the release of the Jews out of their captivity and, beyond that, the redemption we all have through Christ Jesus. But what makes the Bible special is that we can easily apply its message to all aspects of our life. Like now, for the new year.

These first days of January always bring a sense of joy and anticipation. I’ve completely cleaned my office (believe me, it had become a wasteland!) and I have interesting projects ahead in the pipeline. I’m excited to see what new things God has planned for Adunate and my clients!

Happy 2016, everyone! May God bless your new year!

November Means Working Together (Pro-Bono)

sandhill cranes in the distance

Here it is November and we still have sandhill cranes. If you look closely in this zoomed-to-the-max iPhone shot, you see two of them enhancing the otherwise desolate cornfield. They caught my attention a few mornings ago as they gaggled away in response to another pair far in the distance. This weekend we’re supposed to get several inches of snow so these snowbirds will likely say to heck with this and take off for warmer temps.

Aren’t the migratory habits of birds amazing?

For example, for several months in autumn the sandhills gather in wetlands before heading south. These are called staging areas and here in Wisconsin there are several where thousands of cranes assemble at a time. I like to imagine this is a time of preparation and joining together of forces for the arduous journey ahead.

You probably knew migrating birds fly in the V-Formation, officially known as the echelon formation. They do this for its aerodynamic advantage, obviously. But did you know birds take turns flying the front helm of this V, a very strenuous task? And did you know the mortality rate for birds is six times higher during the migration season? Given this, isn’t it interesting that even though survival favors the selfish—those that promote their own well-being before that of others—the God-given nature of birds is to selflessly share the responsibility?

This author makes a good point when he says, “If migrating birds work together, the flock has a greater chance of having all of its feathered brethren make the long trip to their destination.”

Working together. For the good of all.

With this caring concept in mind and because November is the month of giving, let me announce it’s my season for pro-bono applications. Each year Adunate accepts two pro-bono projects for greatly reduced or no cost. These are projects I strongly support and believe will positively impact God’s creation, his people, or his ministry.

My interests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Children
  • Faith
  • History
  • Humanity
  • Natural Food & Living
  • Nature & Animals
  • Preservation & Sustainability

If your organization needs creative assistance in the upcoming year, click here for an application. Then, to guarantee your project’s success, be sure to click here!

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015. I will let applicants know of my decision in January.