Month: April 2015

Swarm Two 2015

We caught our second swarm today! This one was resting on a potted plant at a house boat. Here’s what it looked like when we arrived. (That’s water behind the plant.) Btw, just click on the photos to see them larger.


Here’s a video of the first handful going into the box.

When we had most of the bees in the box, these few that were left lined right up and marched in to join their friends.


Here we are with messed up hair (well, mine) and happy bee-shiny faces!


We got home just as the sun was setting and got the bees safely into their new hive.

Bees and monoculture

Yesterday there were many news stories about a semi-truck of honeybees that overturned in Washington State.

There are so many things to say about this catastrophe, but the underlying cause is monoculture. It used to be that farms kept bees on hand, or that there were enough native and feral honeybees to pollinate our food. No longer. Now huge semis of bees are trucked around the country. They are not properly taken care of, filled with anti-biotics and miticide, and kept just barely above the level of dying.

For more background information on this, I’d recommend watching the film Queen of the Sun.

Free bee flower seeds!

As a beekeeper and environmental advocate, I created a project for myself — giving out free bee flower seeds! One of the most important things you can do to help bees is to plant safe flowers they can visit for pollen and nectar.

Please let me know what varieties you would like and how to get them to you. Keep in mind that they are all very different. For example, borage is a super easy self-seeding annual that will spread. (Which is a good thing for my garden, but might not be for yours?) Whereas with Purple cone flowers (echinacea) the same plant will come back every year in the same place. Here’s some information about each of them.

Borage – wikipedia, growing and using, ideas on Pinterest

Lady bird poppy – wikipediacare, Pinterest

Purple cone flower (echinacea) – wikipedia, care, uses, Pinterest

Milkweed – wikipediaseed campaign with lots of info,  care, Pinterest

If you plant some of these seeds, I would love to see photos of your flowers! Please keep in touch so I can share them.

Oregon Orchid Show and Sale 2015

I went by the 26th annual Oregon Orchid Show and Sale yesterday. So many gorgeous flowers! I’m posting about it today because you still have time to see the show for yourself. If you go — make sure to use this coupon for $3 off admission. (I just showed it on my phone.)

I bought two orchids at the sale, both of which are now hanging over one of my aquariums.


Here are some of the gorgeous blooms I snapped. Truly worth seeing!

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Bee swarm!

My partner and I got a chance to catch our first feral bee swarm today! Pretty wild!

The photo above is what it looked like from directly below.

Here’s a photo of the tree so you can see what it looked like from far away.

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This is the nuke box once we had caught most of them. (I used my leather bee gloves to pick up hand fulls from the swarm and put them into the box as Sara held it up. We had a friendly passerby take a full video of us both up on ladders getting them into the box, but it might be a few days before he sends it to us.)


We think we saw the Queen at one point, but there were bees flying everywhere! It was a bit hard to tell.

Here’s a video of me gently pulling hand fulls of bees into the hive once we got them home.

All done! I hope they are happy in their new home!


Free event: Urban-Rural Tensions in Oregon

This looks like a very interesting event. See you there?



Contact: Christine Chute, phone 503-851-0322,


The April 11, 2015 event is part of Oregon Humanities’ statewide Conversation Project.

Dallas, OR —February 18, 2015—Every state has a legacy of truths—stories residents tell to explain why things are how they are. When those truths conflict, as they inevitably do, the result is political, social, and cultural tension. In Oregon, tensions manifest themselves as wet versus dry, the valley versus the east side, and, perhaps most fundamental, urban versus rural. What are the ties that bind, or could bind, urban and rural communities to a common future?

This is the focus of “Toward One Oregon: Bridging Oregon’s Urban and Rural Communities,” a free conversation with Ethan Seltzer and Bruce Weber on Saturday, April 11, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at Buell Grange, located at 5970 Mill Creek Road, just north off Highway 22 between Mile Post 4 and Mile Post 5, in Polk County, Oregon. This program is hosted by Buell Grange and sponsored by Oregon Humanities.  Seltzer is a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. Before joining PSU, he was the land use supervisor for Metro, served as an assistant to Portland City Commissioner Mike Lindberg, was the assistant director for the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood program in Portland, and created and directed a statewide coalition dedicated to improving drinking water quality monitoring and protection throughout Oregon.

Weber is a professor of agricultural and resource economics at Oregon State University and director of OSU’s Rural Studies Program. He does applied research and outreach and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on rural community economics and policy. Through the Conversation Project, Oregon Humanities offers free programs that engage community members in thoughtful, challenging conversations about ideas critical to our daily lives and our state’s future. To reserve a spot or for more information about this free community discussion, please contact Christine Chute at 503-851-0322 or  Buell Grange will serve chili dinner after the conversation for $6.00.  RSVP to 503-851-0322 or .

Oregon Humanities (813 SW Alder St, #702; Portland, OR 97205) connects Oregonians to ideas to change lives and transform communities. More information about Oregon Humanities’ programs and publications, which include the Conversation Project, Think & Drink, Humanity in Perspective, Idea Lab, Public Program Grants, and Oregon Humanities magazine, can be found at Oregon Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a partner of the Oregon Cultural Trust.

mile marker 28 spring

Did you know that you can stop along Highway 26 in Oregon and fill up on fresh, clean drinking water directly from a spring?

It seems unbelievable, or at least it did to me, until I experienced it.

Let me walk you through this. Basically, you are just driving down a wooded forest highway, when you see a sign that simply says, “drinking water.” You pull over and find this.  There is a fount on both sides of the highway, so no need for u-turns.


I don’t know how the water would test out, but I can tell you it tasted delicious and I didn’t get sick. I think this is an Oregon experience not to be missed!

There’s not all that much information available about it online. I did find a site called find a spring that listed it, along with some others.

Bee-friendly gardening

Spring arrived early this year in Portland! It’s time to plant your garden. I wanted to share some resources for bee-friendly planting.

First off – ask me for some free seeds! I’ve got borage (photo above), echinacea, phacelia, and milkweed to give out.

Bees eat pollen and drink nectar, but some people don’t realize that not all flowers provide for their needs. Here’s a story about a local Portland gardener, along with a list of great bee flowers.

Here’s another article with more tips.

To help the bees, we also need to keep a very close eye on a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Many plant suppliers treat plants in a systemic way that causes them to produce more toxins over time. It is expressed in the plant’s body, petals, fruit, and pollen. This is very commonly found at big box hardware or one-stop stores. Please ask before you buy plants if they are safe. More info.

For some good news on the pesticide front, the city of Portland just announced that neonicotinoids will no longer be used on city property.