Every once in a while, Melanie and I sneak off for what we call "perfect day", a magical space of time we set aside to do whatever we want with no timetable. It's like "book club", daytime edition. This time we shopped for plants, drank chai, ate french pastries, and stalked other people's beehives. Perfect, right?
Our day started at the Spring Garden Festival, a plant sale we look forward to the entire year. We don't mess around. We get there early with no children, no phones, and no distractions and do what we do best...shop for plants.
I brought home an obscene amount of plants. $2 columbine? $1.50 native Dicentra? Really, what's a girl to do?
Ohhhhh, the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture. Loved, loved, loved this place. I pass it at least three times a week and have never stopped. Silly girl - it's less than 10 minutes from my house! Now I keep making excuses to go back. Lots of lush plants, beehives, and rustic Thai-style sculptures (my favorite!). A perfect place for a perfect day.
Lucky for us, Michael Burgett - Emeritus Professor of Entomology and a really funny guy - was mowing the grass and eagerly took a break to give us a personal tour of the garden and all the hives. I asked him to pick his favorite and it is this, a hive with 6-frame boxes and a vigorous colony of once-feral bees. The photo does not do this scene justice. These bees were going crazy. All of his hives are made from juniper wood stained a luscious, rich brown.
We were told these are Russian-style hives. The boxes on the left have 12-frame hive boxes, and the one on the right is a gigantic 20-frame box. Good luck lifting these guys.
The highlight of the day, for sure - an actual skep with an active colony! I've never seen one before. Skeps are the ultimate in secrecy. They are fully the domain of the bees. Lacking moveable frames, the only way to harvest honey is to destroy the hive. Or you just let them be, living their life of mystery away from prying eyes. Fantastic! I will go back to the garden just to see this hive.
Another skep (left), this one currently unoccupied. On the right is a funky little Warre hive with observation windows. This hive uses all foundationless frames, and the combs inside are incredibly organic and beautiful. This bee garden blew me away. I'm already planning a return trip.
We ended our day at the Thyme Garden for even more plant shopping and beehive stalking. This property is my idea of heaven. I could live here happily for the rest of my life. As a consolation, I took some more plants home with me. When I returned from our trip, I put on my suit and got into my own hives. A "perfect day" for sure. Thanks Melanie!