Every summer I plant a big raised bed of basil…just mix the tiny seeds in a quart of fine sand, sprinkle that over the soil, and rake it in lightly. The sand helps scatter the seeds and also helps me to see areas that I missed. I keep it lightly watered and, in a few days, the bed is covered with tiny leaves that soon grow into huge, fragrantly-flowered green clumps of delicious fresh basil for eating with our garden tomatoes, flavoring my home canned tomato soup, and making pesto. Or feeding our honeybees. They love foraging in the basil flowers!
In the picture below you can see some of them all lined up on the blossoms. They brush against the leaves and release the aroma of fresh basil all throughout the garden. On hot, sunny, days, there are so many honeybees and native bees and wasps in the basil that if I don’t remember to pick leaves in the early early morning, I don’t have the courage to go near the bed, let alone reach in to cut a bunch!
Last summer, we took two of our hives to a friend’s farm to set up an apiary for her farm day Agri-Tourism event. When we brought them back home, I put this cedar branch in front of the hive entrance so the bees would slow down upon exiting the hive first thing in the morning and take stock of where they were…reorient themselves to their new location after being gone for so many weeks.
Here’s a great photo I took of the queen. She’s the one with the blue dot painted on her back. If you click on this picture you can see that her abdomen is much longer and more tapered that her workers’ abdomens. To her right you can see the brown covering on some of the cells that contain her growing babies. When they emerge as adult bees, the workers will clean out their cells and the queen will lay an egg in each, and the whole process begins again. Pretty cool, eh?
I rendered down some honeycomb (quite a messy process!) and made these lotion bars with the beeswax. All natural moisturizing ingredients with a sprinkle of cinnamon to accent the design in the bar molds are all the ingredients in these bars that melt gently at body temperature. I’ll have these available to buy in the farm market this summer. Bet you can’t wait to try them!