Forward

“…writers and artists are in the shocking position of having to record the decline of pollinators through our works. Winged is meant to be a record of this moment, a document that artfully honors the relationship, the importance, and the beauty and peril of one of the most vital of all pollinators: the honeybee.”

Winged: New Writing on Bees

Lizzie Harper

Forward, Winged

        A year ago on June 19th, the seeds of Winged were planted when an estimated 50,00 bumblebees were killed by insecticides in Wilsonville, Oregon. That number was especially shocking since bumblebees tend to live in colonies of 25 – 75 bees. The loss was, obviously, staggering. Poet, educator, and editor Melissa Reeser Poulin was immediately moved to respond. Thus, Winged was born.
          Feeling shocked and wanting to utilize art as activism, but not having a connection to the larger beekeeping community and knowledge base, a common friend introduced me to Melissa. To say it was kismet is trivializing the partnership and connection; I think we both would feel comfortable citing fate. I am a local poet and writing instructor, and owner of Bee Thinking. Our partnership has been a perfect fit.
        Being awarded a grant from Regional…

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The Day the Bees Died

Little actions have very big consequences.

Winged: New Writing on Bees

American Bumblebee

It has been over a year since the mass deaths of over 50,000 bumblebees in Wilsonville, due to an illegal application of Safari to flowering linden trees in a Target parking lot. It was the largest documented die-off of wild pollinators on record.

The event garnered a great deal of media attention, locally and nationally, including this well-researched piece for Al-Jazeera America by renowned science writer Elizabeth Grossman. Unfortunately, such die-offs continue to occur today, with or without media attention. Just two days ago, a die-off in Eugene prompted investigation.

The shameful event in Wilsonville was the impetus for Winged. We ought to be deeply respectful of bumblebees and all pollinators that belong to the complex ecosystem of which we are but one small part. We ought to use sense and caution when legislating poisons, especially neonicotinoids, whose impact we don’t fully understand. We ought to take small steps every…

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Parade Of Homes

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Morning sun glints off the chickadee box.

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One of my favorite nest boxes is this wren “condo” I bought on etsy. So far a total of zero birds have nested in it.  Harumph.

If you were to call me a bird nerd I would beam with pride.  I have nest boxes tacked up all over the farm.  Here’s the proof:

 

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This little wren house was used last spring to raise one brood and has been used as a perch ever since. I love having wrens nest on the porch because I swear it keeps the wasp population down.

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Another vacant wren house. (C’mon!  Some bird put all those twigs in there.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And where do the wrens nest since they aren’t in the expensive boxes I provided for them?

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In the tool shed…

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…and in an empty cavity feeder that is stored inside the barn…

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…and of course in this fern on the front porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had better luck with other boxes.

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Another etsy find, this box is stained a gorgeous pale blue and has a copper roof. I adore that offset entrance hole. This spring a pair of chickadees raised a brood in this box. Squee!

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This is my first-ever Peterson style bluebird house and it is located in the middle of the back yard. I installed this box in February and a nesting pair moved in within weeks. They are raising their second brood now.

 

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An old old nest box perched atop the fence in the pony pen.

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Rejects.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology sets the standard in citizen science programs involving wild birds.  Be sure to check out nestwatch.org where you will be welcomed into a huge family of bird nerds.

Labeling

This month’s DIY was inspired by a post by The Armchair Sommelier; if you haven’t read her blog you simply must check it out.

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Transformed! A few wine labels, some Mod Podge, and my friend you have yourself a nifty little tray.

Materials:

several dozen wine labels (more on how to remove them later)

1 bottle of Mod Podge (I used matte)

1 inch sponge applicator(s)

1 damp sponge

display medium (mat board, foam core, stretched canvas, wooden tray…you can be very creative here)

This is not a project to do in a hurry.  First of all, there is a lot of wine to drink.  I know that doesn’t sound like much of a challenge (or maybe it does…who knows) but it takes a while to accumulate 25 – 30 labels, so this may be a good time to throw a party.   Also, you will need a method by which to remove the label and then a method in which to store them.

There are two main ways to remove a label from a wine bottle:  the oven method and the soaking method.  I much prefer the oven method as the label comes off in one piece, usually pretty easily, and it holds it’s shape better upon reapplication.  The soaking method makes the label soft and prone to tearing.  Even with Mod Podge a soft tissue-y label is a pain.

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Since the labels are a little sticky when they come off the bottle place them on waxed paper to keep them neat while you store them.

I recommend pressing your labels between a couple of books as you accumulate them as this will make them a little easier to work with when it is time to begin gluing.

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Step 1: Arrange the labels on the medium and adhere with a little Mod Podge. Use a damp sponge to wipe off any globs of Mod Podge as they can look cloudy when dry.

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Step 2: After sufficient drying time, begin to coat the entire surface with Mod Podge. I know you’ve heard it a kajillion times but several light coats are better than a few heavy gloppy ones.

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Step 3: It takes several coats of Mod Podge to really get a nice smooth adhesion. Give yourself a few days to accomplish this and allow enough drying time between applications.

 

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Bonus: I had several black and red labels left over that I used to apply to the lid of a file storage box. Not my best arrangement ever, but they do look kind of neat (that Freakshow label is awesome).

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I used my beloved Willamette Valley Pinot Noir labels in the center of the tray, and then favorites along the outside to fill it in. I don’t really love Four Vines OCV Zinfandel but my gosh how great does that label look in the lower right corner? Since I’m using my tray on top of an ottoman, I cut a piece of clear acrylic (from Lowe’s) and put it over the labels and presto! Instant coffee table.

 

Cheers!

Recharging Blackberries

It is blackberry season in Tennessee.

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A neighboring field has gone uncultivated for a decade which makes it a great place for blackberries…and pollinators.

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Blackberry bushes full of blossoms, even after a hard rain. We let the blackberries grow in our fencerows where they are easy to pick when they ripen in July.

honeybee on blackberry blossom

This photo is cropped and enlarged; I took this shot with a Pentax DSLR, a camera I sadly no longer have. I miss being able to photograph the honeybees with this much detail.

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This is a honeybee on a pale pink Multiflora Rose blossom. The locals hate Multiflora Rose and it is considered an exotic invasive. It likes to grow with blackberries where it can go undetected as the blossoms are so similar. I personally don’t mind Mulitflora and I allow a few pockets of it to grow around the farm; it smells heavenly when it blooms.