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JACQUELINE FREEMAN is a pioneer in the emerging field of natural beekeeping. A biodynamic farmer, she is gifted in perceiving nature intelligences, particularly honeybees, and has spent many years working alongside them with an open and prayerful heart. Her work with the bees has uncovered how bees fulfill broader roles in the hive and in nature. Jacqueline teaches bee classes at her farm and honeybee sanctuary in Washington state.
The documentary movie “Queen of the Sun” showed her caring work as a gentle swarm rescuer. Her bee articles appear in national magazines and anthologies. She is a featured speaker at conferences for organic and treatment-free beekeeping, permaculture and sustainable agricultural.
In 2013, the Dominican Republic hired her to work with rural beekeepers to help them create healthy bees through respectful and treatment-free beekeeping. Jacqueline’s ongoing bee work is updated on the website: SpiritBee.com. Jacqueline and her husband Joseph live on their biodynamic farm in southwest Washington. (from amazon)
Where Spirit and Nature Meet
Our farm is located in the tiny village (pop. 2000) of Venersborg in southwest Washington. We have beef and dairy cows, dairy goats, layers and broiler chickens, seasonal turkeys and many honey bees. The farm is a bee sanctuary with native pollinator hedgerows and blooming bee pastures.
We grow a dozen kinds of apples, grapes, berries and other fruit. We’ve got a vegetable garden and two greenhouses so we can grow food year round. We grow and bale our own hay and always have a construction project going.
Living on a working farm is a real pleasure and even when the work is hard, we feel blessed to be in partnership with this land. We work with joyful hearts and open minds in gratitude for the many lessons our good farm teaches.
Hunter Lyndon told me about today’s guest in episode 64 said ” She’s an amazing bee woman in Washington who you can watch in the video documentary movie “Queen of the Sun.””
So wonderful to hear Hunter is the one who connected us.
He’s really sweet, everyone who knows him as great things to say about him
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Farming for 15 years, bought our 100 year old farm 15 years ago. Were second owners, it’s always been organic, and it was because of frugality more then a political action. Then we came in, we did not intend to become farmers, at all, that was not the direction we intended to go in at all. My husband works with horses, and I run a school for people who want to work with horses.
And that’s what we thought we’d be doing. But once we bought this farm, we bought it because we’re both from small towns in New England and we both want to move to the west, but we wanted to live in a small town again. But once we bought this farm, it’s funny
This farm wanted to put itself back together again and be a farm. I got started in chickens because one day my neighbor down the street raises heirloom chickens, Brenda, showed up at my door and said you have a farm and said you should have chickens…
I said, “Well, ok, that would be good!”
She said “Great! I have some in my car!”
And you know chickens are the gateway animal on a farm!
The next year I had a friend in Portland, OR, and she had a friend who had just sold her house and had some bees in a hive in the woods behind her house, and they had been abandoned and the new owner didn’t want bees in the backyard. And she said the same thing:
“You have a farm, you should have bees!”
Never having a clue, how much that decisions would change my whole life. The next year, I started dreaming about cows …
I’d wake up in the morning and say, cows in the field and cows in the barn? And so we went out and got a cow, and she became the mother to many. At the maximum we had 8. My husband just came in from milking her right now. We have seasonal animals like the turkeys, and dairy goats and my bees have turned into hundreds and thousands of honeybees.
Wow! That’s quite the introduction. Now do you have horses?
Now isn’t that funny? That’s the one animal we don’t have.
When we teach people to work with horses, my husband works with them all the time, and when you teach people to work with horses, we teach people with fresh horses. That’s the reason we don’t have them here. I grew up with horses, I probably have a 30 year background with horses. But we decided not to have them here because for students, it’s actually better to always have new horses so they can tell the effect of their work.
I don’t know anything about horses. I guess, you’re training, breaking a new horse?
He does a kind of work called structural integration, on horses, and teachers people how to do it as a career. His school is called the Equine Natural Movement School. And that’s what it does, it brings horses back into balance and structure and they become more fluid in their movement and it’s easier for them to be healthy and strong and stable and sturdy. If someone shows, their horses, it helps with the grace of their movement.
I do usually start the show asking about your very first gardening experience. Were you a kid or an adult, who were you with, what did you grow?
Gosh, I never had a garden when I was little. I didn’t, I lived in the country. I had ponies….
I was a little girl and I had ponies, and that’s what I was completely wrapped up. One time I planted radishes. I was so surprised that they grew at all. That was kind of an experience.
We lived up in the outskirts of Seattle for a few years, we started having gardens there and that was kind of fun. Here we put up some raised beds, we went to the local store where you can get compost soil. We had some clayish soil and we were supplementing it, we built this raised beds.
This stuff smells funny
We took the truck down and filled up our beds with this nice dirt, one of the truck loads though my husband said, “This smells funny, doesn’t smell like the other stuff?”
We planted our food, and kind of forgot about it, but then things started coming up in half the beds, and yellow and curled and obviously, very damaged. And we went what the heck is that? Why is it those beds? and not in these beds? And then an article came out. a lot of the golf courses take their clippings to be made into compost, it’s just a place where you can bring your branches, and leaves and grass clipping and they turn them into compost… they sell the soil, compost, three way soil.
It turned out there was a chemical that the golf course that doesn’t have a short half life, it had a 2 year break down period!
So when that refuse was broke down into compostable material, the chemicals the toxic chemicals in it were still active. So we had picked up a truck full of contaminated soil/ It was a heart breaker and there farms who were organic around her and they lost their certification and now they had toxic chemicals on their stories and they had to go back and start all over from the beginning!
Clean and re-certify!
I was furious! Wait a minute I’m growing stuff in my backyard!
We were furious!! We were not that strong about organics back then … I really wasn’t buying organic food at that point, I didn’t know enough about it! That politicalized us! I was so mad, I thought here I am growing food in my backyard. If it had it grown and we had eaten it… terrible chemical and none …. it was awful … none of the helpful bugs were alive…
We need to be really on top of this. How can we trust what we’re buying in the store? Up until then we had bought conventional food without even thinking about it. From that point on everything I bought, if I pick up something that it has 98% I’m like what’s in the 2%? Toxic chemicals?!
I don’t want to support
we had to dig it all out! We took it to the dump, that’s trash dirt …
It’s got to sit there for 2 full years because it’s clean… compost can dismantle a lot of chemicals, when something has that long of a half life … you have to wait it out, mother nature is brilliant about how to dismantle things.
I know Jon Moore from the Organic World News over in Australia talked about golf courses when he we son my show! I’ve seen what manure’s done on our land, we’ve gone from forest land, I know mowing the lawn but we sprinkled just manure around and I know that makes a big difference. We have a beautiful lawn and I’m just as nice as a golf course. I’ve brought some stuff home from the big box stores that said it was organic Mike wouldn’t put it on his stuff, he said he’d bought it before and it killed some of his plants. And also Peggy Jane Ousley was on my show and talked about a lot of people around here getting weed-free manure, which you would think, “Free” is chemical free” but really what it means is it has chemicals that make it weed-free and it ruined a lot of gardens …
Weed free Manure
The marketers know what to write, oh weed-free that sounds good, I don’t want any weeds in my garden. So you have to step back and go, “How would it get to be weed free?”
We’re also biodynamic by the way, a few years after we started being organic, we got into permaculture and loved that and then maybe 2 years after that we started getting into being biodynamic. We have cows. I read that a cow makes 80 lbs of manure a day! And I can believe that. 80-100 lbs depending on the size of the cow. So we make a great deal of compost!
I had this weird thing that happened one time … we put in a big septic system … past the septic/ From the septic to the leach field it was probably about 300 feet … when they buried that ditch back in there was a big long scar of red clay … towards fall … I had some women who were interning with us, I said lets spread some compost over it, I have this truck load here with biodynamic compost, it’s very potent you only need to sprinkle a half an inch. So we spread it out along the … we ran out of the compost maybe a hundred feet short of the leach file. That’s enough we; pick up again next spring when we’ll make some more … the stripe that we had sprinkled the compost….
It found every single flower seed in the soil. It was like some of these seeds probably been waiting 40 years to have something nurturing come and find them. It was so beautiful we had evening primrose, and asters, all kinds of beautiful flowers, all along this stripe going down the middle of the house … red clay scar with almost nothing growing on it.
I’m gonna leave this here and we can watch and see how long nature takes to bring it back. It’s probably been about 3 years and pits spotted then where we put the compost on and compare it to where we put the biodynamic compost on … what a difference … except that skinny little half inch of that biodynamic compost on top of that red scar of clay. When you dig up a ditch … when you put that dirt in that ditch you don’t have that layer of top soil there anymore.
Whatever was down further in my clay … it’s good soil with lots of minerals, it’s not loamy and rich like the bottom land is that is down form us.
Do you want to explain to listeners what biodynamics is because I did’ there that till I started my podcast and maybe listeners don’t know because I still don’t know much…
Biodynamics is a really beautiful system started by Rudolph Steiner who was a scientist and a philosopher. The thing that appealed to me about it is, the approach that we have on the farm, this goes if you have a backyard or a little house you treat everything as if it was a living breathing entity.
I did something biodynamic, I was dreaming about cows. And I was wondering about that, its the farm telling us we should have cows here again. That’s reaction is kind of what you do in biodynamics. How do you respect your land? How do you act in concordance with it? How do you bring this land to its’ fullest expression of life and vitality?
Like bringing the cows, to making the compost to … you treat it in love and with respect and you are always respectful of the spirit of everything.
I’m not a normal biodynamic farmer, I’ll just say that upfront because I have some quirky little things, I do just because I do them just because I’m me…my girlfriend Patti who also has a biodynamic farm, says “You’re not a farmer…you did up your weeds and you go plant them somewhere else and farmers don’t do that.”
What I’m resounding to is sometimes I’ll see something in the garden coming up and I’ll go that is the most beautiful vital oh, what weed would be a good example, let’s say a dandelion? … That is the most beautiful mound of dandelion or chickweed! or something, I’ll dig it up and I don’t want to just plant it on my compost pile, I’ll say keep growing…
It makes it so much fun to interact with the life on the farm in that manner. My husband is like that with animals on the farm, he has such a tremendous respect for what their needs are. How to interact with them that your are always honoring the life spirit in that animal?
Now Rudolph Steiner is from the Waldorf schools right?
He started Waldorf schools, he had the first concept for the first CSA’s for people who didn’t have gardens in their backyards, so they would participate with the famers gardening …. with their hands a little bit, and they would have more of an understanding of how their food was, it was more participatory, some CSAs still do that, they will have a farm day, where everyone comes out, others are more where the works is done and you just trust that it’s being done well, you don’t really get your fingers dirty.
He was just amazing, anthropocropic medicine, eureitimie … just really brilliant, different kinds of psychotherapy, everything he looked at he seemed to have animate understanding of the harmony in all of life he worked to bring that out … biodynamic agriculture was something that came along from working along side farmers that were not being as productive as they could be.
Just as a coincidence I grew up when my mom’s backyard backed up against a Waldorf school, and there was the school and then the soccer field with a d a track around it and then it was surrounded by a nature trail, and I think that always influenced my life having that school and nature trail back there. There was like a grape thing/arbor that was cool.
in the 20s looking at how they were looking
Kids who are at Waldorf schools, are taught to have a relationship with nature, which is just complexity missing, although Michelle Obama is doing a good job with inner city schools growing food so kids know that a carrot comes out of the ground.
I know you’d be surprised even here in Montana where kids live on ranches and things you wouldn’t think kids wouldn’t know but they think carrots come form the grocery store or something.
Yeah and they’re surprised it has contact with dirt!
I know I’ve brought in carrots form the garden for a surprise snack and the kids are like my carrots dirty I have to wash it. Just fun!
So do you want to tell us how you got started with the bees?
Yeah, I’ve had bees now, I think this is my 13th year.
I didn’t know anything… all I could tell you was honey that came out of the hive, and if they got upset they stung. Probably i could have told you with 20 seconds what I knew about them.
From the first day I was absolutely fascinated with them and I would put on my big bee suit, with duck tape and a hat and veil and gloves and all that and I would go down and sit with them. It was interesting I would go sit and watched and watched. It was sweltering hot with the bees there
I kind of thought they were gonna attack me, over time I I realized they didn’t care about me one bit, the more I sat there and they would come sit on my sleeve, they would come look and right form the start I became aware of their gentle behavior … You know we fall prey to what media … swarms of bees will come and attack, good lord it’s not like that at all … my first bees were fairly feral, they’d been out on their own for many years, right from the start I’ve always collected wild swarms. There nice, the nice thing about those bees they haven’t been treated with chemicals.
Worry about their bees getting mites, which beekeepers do. Those bees are so delicate, if you treat your bees it can cause bee damage for 5 generations past that original colony you treated and that’s only because the study only went 5 gens.
I work with wilder hives, so we don’t do any treatments whatsoever. My bees eat honey, they don’t eat sugar. We have respect for nature … wont say from the start that all of my bees survived, because they certainly didn’t … Over time, each year they put out another swarm form each hive, and they become more bees. They are more feral that way, we don’t do anything out of the link of mother nature … provide them with a house, but we try to provide them with houses that are, let them be bees …
…. instead of something that forces humans to be bees, that’s kind of the cardinal rule about it. I hear someone say,it’ll be easier on you. But that’s my rule, if it’s easier on me that’s probably not so great for bees…
I’m so glad you brought at up beaus I’ve been worried about these mites and everyone keeps telling me we have to do something about these mites. And he watched this video that said you could put powder sugar on them? We don’t even have to do that? COOL!!!
Let me tell you, there is a sequence on this, btw that’s an organic treatment.
I’m really an extreme organic, what you call this stuff that we do is treatment-free beekeeping.
The powder sugar makes them groom themselves, and they’re like little fleas and so then they’ll groom them off, that’s the theory … they hate that stuff!
They will groom them…. they’re meticulously clean in their hive and you dump powder sugar in there it’s just a mess, it’s like someone walking into your bedroom and someone
and throwing powder sugar all over and it will probably get cleaned up but at what cost. I mean it’s one step better then mitecide but at what cost. It also can also weaken the bees, treatment-free beekeeping …
I have this concept that I follow, that mother nature the way she works in the world, that the strongest one survive and the others die.
so much funky stuff.
order packages, comes in the mail … bred in ways that I don’t agree with,. Artificial Insemination, … where the male drone bee isn’t catching up to the queen and impregnating her because he had good genes and was the fastest. This is just the next drone off from one line …
The queen bee can breed with 20 different daddies, that gives the hive a wide variety of traits in the babies that will allow them to respond to nature’s different situations. So if part of the bees in that hive, and you have a drought, and there are bees with a daddy with drought behavior, those bees they’ll say don’t worry we know exactly what to do!
variety in there
skills and talents
beauty of wild bees
so what I do
nature is always looking for what is strong and what’s weak
and lets take that out of the gene pool, so when you start out with bees, theres a good chance your bees won’t survive.
I can tell you my first 4 years my bees survived
it wasn’t till year 4 that my bees
It was heartbreaking for me, but I was committed.
so I collected each year, a few new swarms,
let them go on my land on a hive
now I have way more success with bees! Occasionally I lose a hive, but the vast majority of my bees survive
So if you’re a first year bee keeper, don’t be surprised if you lose bees in your first year or two. Those bees were weak, and they can drop out of the gene pool. I do believe that’s what mother nature’s
let the weak bees die off
starving to death, that’s a different thing.
I would feed a hive in the winter time
So you don’t worry about those veroa mites being spread?
the thing about it,
I taught beekeeping down in the Dominican republic
beekeepers down there and of course they have mites too
driving thorough the mountains 5 miles, driving though
many were quite poor, and they had people who had come through to teach them before, and they had these people come through each year who told them buy these chemicals do it every year
I asked these very poor ones
their doing ok
they want’d to confess, we haven’t been using those chemicals. Of course they haven’t their annual income was like 1000$ a year aren’t gonna go out and spend money on chemicals
Well how are you bees doing?
Oh our bees are fine!
They stopped using the chemicals and their bees became stronger.
what were’e asking the bees to do, when the strong one survive, that affects your gene pool. so when you let the
drive off into death
left with stronger and stronger bees
I’ve had years where I had 100% no mites, which is fabulous. A few years ago, I had a hive that got deformed wing virus which was a disease that they get from the mites
ok guys your on your own here, Im not gonna put chemicals on you. It’s was interesting they they started bringing out the deformed babies, and they were flying them out and dropping them in the grass, they started cleaning out all of the brood. The mite hatch inside that egg cell, why were taking out everything that was damaged, they’re doing the proper behavior. They were saying something is contaminated, so they were cleaning out the brood. It took them a few months, there was no more mites, there was no more deformed wing virus
might even take a year or two,
how many mites they can handle. It wouldn’t be unusual to see in a treatment-free beekeepers yard, that they have some mites, some mites, they just don’t have weak bees, theres a small amount of mite they can actually deal with it.
I had that happen in our bee yard a few times now, and I trust it. Every once in a while a hive says its too much for us, we can’t handle it and they go down and they die. . The majority of them come out the other side and they come out the other side stronger bees.
The other thing I was worried about is that I just didn’t like the way they even figured out, how they count the mites thing … I mean it seemed like you had to kill a bunch of bees to see if they had mites?
you can see them on your bees, the first time I
I was just sitting outside and
watching me land on the landing board, the drone land the bigger boys, and it had a mite on it and I thought oh, I haven’t seen mites in quite some time. It’s hard to have bees that don’t go anywhere near other bees
looking for stuff
can catch stuff form other bees
We just finished the almond pollination that goes on down in California
during this time in February, there are about, I think it’s about 80% of the bees in the US are in the almond fields.
they have to go their because there’s nothing else , the bees couldn’t even survive there in July because there’s nothing to eat. So they hire all of the conventional, beekeepers and let them pollinate for a few weeks and then they head over to wherever the next monoculture is calling them. They head off to Washington to do apples, and then Minnesota to blueberries and they came from florida to do citrus
any bees that anyone has
drive them to another state
when mites first came to US it was to FL 15 years ago. Anyone who had conventional bees in citrus trees in FL, and took them to all states. At the end of that one year there were mites in all of the 48 states. You couldn’t have designed a system better to carry that stuff all over to California.
That’s crazy! That its come down to it. So basically we don’t worry about the mites, and if they survive they survive but if our bees die we have to get more bees.
The key to that is not to buy packaged bees. If you’re gonna get started get your bees form somebody you know, who does good organic healthy bee care. We have people who are around us, who do nooks of bees with queens or people who catch swarms and will catch a swarm for somebody. So that’s how we start them out not doing part of that artificial insemination.
Emergency queens or who are not quite as down healthy as natural queens are. The secret is swarming. That’s how bees survive they send a queen out with all of the mature bees, and they go find another place to start over and the leave behind, the baby queens and young bees to take over the old hives. And that’s a natural process,
We would have started a long time ago if we could have found someone.
there’s getting more and more people doing treatment free, and if you get on Facebook for treatment-free bee groups, I put out a newsletters
what are we doing with our bees
we teach classes on our farms, there’s a lot of people doing good work with bees these days
where we’ve come in the last 5 years
I started out, we had an organic farm, I certainly wasn’t gonna put chemicals on them, it certainly didn’t make any sense to me
I knew there were other people
there’s more books out
Even the Idiots Guide to Beekeeping by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer. Laurie with a long last name. And that’s a great beginner book on treatment-free, getting started with your bees. ThenI have a book called The Song of Increase, but Im more about how to bee with your bees, having a relationship with your bees
provide bees with the best home I possibly can and surroundings, that’s where the satisfaction comes for me, and then if you re a bee keeper you have got to be a gardener to feed those bees
you can’t just put bees in the backyard and then say go to my neighbors to get your feed.
Or water. one of the first guys I talked to said we were too far from the creek and he wouldn’t put bees on our property becasue we we’re too far form the quick.
very first bees we got
making a water station is really important
your hive is set up
how about your water station
on day one, when you bring the bees home, they will go and find a source of water
may be your neighbors swimming pool. That’s what I did, my neighbor said, you must have bees, and I said how do you know?
Do you want to tell listeners? What a water station is?
I’m so glad you asked that. Even if you don’t have bees you can still provide water for them, native bees will come to them and butterflies and dragon flies
take a bird bath
plastic bird bath, concrete
for birds you would leave that whole thing open water. Bees need a place they can drink the water. The easiest thing is to fill it with gravel half way so there are mounds of gravel they can land on and walk down. and stick their long little tongue down there and get a drink of water.
I live in the Pacific NW now, home of all the moss, so I make little mounds of moss that fell off the trees, and put them in there and my bees will walk down there and get a drink. My friend Robin, she has the most beautiful bee watering station. Her partner sells crystals, so they take birdbaths and Crystal watering stations
local insects are coming for their water needs, and they are just gorgeous and beautiful to look at!
We have this creek bed that mike built down to a pond, and it grew a bunch of moss and that’s where the bees totally hang out.
If you have moving water.
Yes it’s supposed to recirculate!
come not the side of it
we have stock tanks because we have cows. And I knoteiced in the stock tanks, the bees were trying to drink out of that, I put sticks in there floating sticks. And oe day I was watching and I realized I saw one bee trying to get a drink and they were doing like log rolling and now I have fork sticks, and my husband says doe we have to have all theses sticks in the water?
Yeah, we do.
Oh the fork makes it not roll.
I’ve gotten calls from people before
there’s a swarm of bees in my backyard
beautiful water feature and water lilies and it was lovely
It wasn’t a swarm, there was a beekeeper who lived a 1/10 of a mile from her, and he wasn’t providing them water, so she was the water station. I told her you have to go talk to you neighbor. He’s a beekeeper he needs to provide water in our backyard
The other thing I told mike were’e gonna plant more chives this year, because I know the first thing they go to is the chives. What about bumble bees because they are there a lot.
bumble bees have longer tongue, size will help them pollinate different.
I’m so glad you brough that up about have ing different bees around. The native pollinators are really important. And all gardeners should do this. Everything that grows, let everything once it grows out, like your broccoli heads go and then they will flower
these plants that you grow in your garden as vegetables, you will not believe how beautiful how they are as flowers. I grew, this is more like a radish seed fell somewhere and grew on it’s own! It was 4 feet tall, almost 5 feet wide, and covered in white flowers every day! People would come in and say what kind of flowering bush is that ?
It’s a radish!
If you let elute grow, it will have these beautiful blue flowers, it’s a member of the chickory family. And these radish flowers and lettuce flowers and the bees love them!
They will bloom and bloom until the frost kills them back!
let lettuce grow every spring
if you are a flew grower you should know about this they make the most beautiful
4 foot wide
blue flowering bush, will go to frost! That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
We let a lot of things go last year, because we have been learning a lot about seed saving.
Yowl be amazed if you let kale, or bok choy, let it go and see what it turns into and see if the
What’s your favorite activity to do in the garden?
My most favorite activity is watching my bees
we beekeepers call that bee time,
I’m making a salad and I’ll be back
an hour later
where have you been
I haven’t been gone
look at what she’s got,
she has pollen that is purple
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
Oh yes! Pulling things out, I am so bad at that . I am the world’s worst weeder
you have so much vitality and life force
I’ve named it, oh I’m a farmer who mulches with weeds! I don’t necessarily pull them up, I just let them grow alongside, it’s kind of a permaculture concept, that’s what I can call it… but I just have a curiosity where I say lets see how you do right here? Sometimes they overtake an area and I pull some things out, but for the most part.
this is between my husband and I, we have things like thistle, when it’s seed it’s a great bird food. But Thistles when it blooms it’s a beautiful flower that bees totally love! It’s really healthy for them.
we have this ongoing thing, I say no, no, no just let them flower first, I say just let them go. I let them go till the last possible second.
Isn’t there something about a weed is only something growing where you don’t want them to. So I just say let those daises grow. I want them there.
weeds are bringing something to the soil
we’re not taught
the job of the weed is to carry the
was filled with dandelions
neighbor said to me, you have a lot of dandelions, I know she was saying when they go to flower and seed they’re all gonna be in my yard. So that first year, I dug out so many dandelions as many as I could, I must have dug out 1500 dandelions and the the next years, it didn’t make a bit of difference there were 2000 dandelions in my backyard. So after I dug them all up and they came back, so the next year we had chickens by that time so we put our chickens in that area. That became the brood chicken area
the job of a dandelion
mining the soil for calcium
sucks it up though it’s long tap root
when the plant dies back it deposits that little contribution of calcium in the soil. The difference is in nature’s time it may take 10 years, or 40 years. It doesn’t matter because nature isn’t on the same clock as we are. We look out there and say that shouldn’t be there, yet it has a task to do. But over the last few years, the longer that we’ve bene here and the more we’ve added to that soil from putting chicken manure on it. And it’s sort of sad because we should be cultivating dandelions, they’re the first sign of bee food for a bee. When the dandelions bloom we say that’s the official start of bee season
miners they have a task
The thistles job is they have a big fat tap root, and then it breaks open the soil so air can get in there, when the thistle dies back, all of a sudden we have air holes down there, it’s improving the soil
we aren’t often aware what the task of the weed is or we would be praising them and saying more over here.
I wonder if I can come up with a good use for spotted knap weed.
Spotted knapweed was why Montana was the whole bee growing in the place. It’s a wonderful flower for bees… Yes, I had a friend who was from Tennessee was going to retire into Montana and do his bees up there. He went out there a couple of years ago, and he said the beekeepers were in lament, that everyone was doing such a good job on spotted knapweed.
I was just said we should plant something else here where the knapweed grows over by the bees.
It’s a wonderful thing to look at bees and be respectful of the task they have here. They’re just trying to help. We get out of balance with things. Petiole look and say dandelions, I should ge ttah monsanto producet
it’s always the soil. If the soil is unbalanced nature will send in…
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
The best gardening advice I have ever received. Well, gardening with nature. I think that’s the difference…. When I started out bumbling around not watering radishes when I was ten years old. Thinking that I had to do it separate from nature, that’s how I started with raised beds, you just put the bean in here and its growing… Now I need to have a mix of things, nature doesn’t have monocultures
I do have beets growing in areas but I’ve also done it where I’ve taken all of my seeds and mixed them in a big jar and made a hundred foot swath. i have 2 swaths a 100 foot swath and an 80 foot swath
took everything that was left over from the year! It was the most fun garden! Everything was growing! Everything you wanted for dinner that night
corn coming up, it was all, I know corn has to be all I know has to be all together! This was my end of the year, all the seeds left over! It was so fun, there was a bounty of everything
3 sisters thing, where the beans are growing up and the squash and on a grand scale! everything mingled together and I do it again and again! I do it year after year! Lets me spread everything!
Is there a favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?
What is that knife
that kiri, kiri
A friend of mine who speaks Japanese says taht’s means knife knife,
I got that just a few years ago
hangs right off my belt loop
poke with it
dig something with it
But my favorite big tool! The old fashioned scythe
we love using that,
take down big areas, when haying, can take down the edges!
the other things we have
big tool is as tall as me
A broad fork
flinging it into the dirt
You know where I’ll be like, no,no honey! I’ll do that, and he’ll say, nano honey I’lld do that!
a heck of a fun time
used to do all of that
that didn’t feel good!
got that many years ago
loosening up the soil
composition of the soil stay in tact
don’t get harmed
the insects don’t get harmed! I like that a lot
Im gonna get one? I wonder how come we don’t have one?
10 different tasks that you can do with it.
We felt the same way, why have we not got one before?
I’m thinking that maybe the hori, hori is knife, knife is because it, isn’t it like 2 different types of knives like a seated edge on one side? A lot of my guests have recommended that.
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
I think I could live on sauté a bunch of garlic, and a little bit of olive oil, and throw in about 9 pounds of kale, me on a desert island, I can only take one food, that would be it!
I could eat that year long, I can have a garden through the winter, I mean I can’t grow tomatoes, obviously, even in my greenhouse
I can go out right now and pick, even in January, the bitter lettuces, cress and kale, and even the beet greens, make it right through the winter.
That’s why you moved from New england?
That’s before I was a gardener, remember? No, now I know why I moved … my inner longing
A favorite internet resource?
I have really wonderful connections
farm girl group
we’re farmers we don’t’ get to go into town
being on Facebook! Brings us all together that are just wonderful.
I’m on a number of groups like-treatment free beekeeping!
Different aspects of things in our life.
My farm-gals group – we formed a buy in group! We buy stuff in bulk, and we buy big stuff in bulk, and my husband needed t-posts! We needed to buy t-posts!
bought a group order
everyone in my buying group!
if anyone needs anything
organic chocolate! At a price you really want to pay! We buy almost everything that way
85% of what I buy, I buy through my farm gals group!
I would encourage others to set them up!
go to a supplier and say if we buy it in 5 gallon buckets, how many do we have to buy to get it at a wholesale price? We just did nuts we do a bulk buy, pecans and hazelnuts, and walnuts, we bought them all at heavy discount!
That’s got to be one of the best internet resource! My husband’s a baker we spend a lot of money on walnuts! And turbinado sugar is another one!
Everything we buy is organic! So that takes off the thought that the cost of organic is too expensive.
get together a group of your girlfriends
somebody will say I need to get
We do our seed buys the same way. I need to get some of this, and then that person will take over, that particular buy, and she’ll take that over and she’ll make up a google doc sheet here’s what we’re buying
we even do starts that way
someone will say, she’ll either do squash starts
or somebody will say i bought a bunch of melon starts to use in my green house, I bought 16 different kinds of melons to put in my greenhouse, I just bought a few of them, 4 of each and we got a wholesale price
what was nice
i didn’t have
I bough 16 different kinds of melons
it’s the wave of the future, it builds community
when I go to pick stuff up, someone will say I’ll go pick up mine I’ll drop mine off for you.
One day I was sick, one of them came by and helped me in the house, one brought me some food, she stopped and said you have all these tomatoes and they’re not planted
And today is International Women’s Day!
My friend Katie
I would never have called a friend and said, hey I have to plant all these tomatoes
left her kids at somebody else house
I walked through and said wow what an amazing group of friends we have!
I’m sure it’s a mutual feeling that you
we do a bee keeping conference every summer in August, and I had some people who were tenting. And they needed breakfast and she made them breakfast, but she told me what a difference it made for income and such a little thing!
I was gonna say when you go to pick the stuff up it’s like a great little get together and a chance to see each other because you need to go to that thing!
there’s that too!
For me I know it’s always I see the people more who are on Facebook! We go for a walk or play tennis!
it’s made really nice for me
what we grow
I don’t do farmers market anymore
my farm gals are going to buy it, I’m never gonna get past my driveway.
really nice for me
i got 40 lbs, it’s more then I need but its’ not enough to take to market
I’ll take 10 lbs, and someone else will
ill take the rest of the 30
I don’t have to pick out of sequence, I don’t have to pick for market
I’ve got chard, who wants it
who wants it! we’ve kind of created our own economy that way!
I think listeners are gonna love this!
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
Well, I kind of
I read secrets of the soil.
That book was out.. gave it to our interns… when we had our apprentices on the farm that was assigned reading! You need to know many different ways and you’ll see why does music make a difference to your plants, it really expanded people horizons so I would recommend that too.
we read mother earth news
they are steady in our house.
I also like ode, yes magazine because they are so positive about things going on in the world
open up what’s new in the world
you think oh? we’re going down to hell in a hand basket
let’s all go where we build community and we’re making good things happen in the world.
I have heard about Yes and Mother Earth News, but I have n’t heard about those others Ode and Countryside.
Tell us about your book … spiritbee.com
The Name of it is The Song of Increase: Returning to Our Sacred Partnership with Honeybees.
I have a connection. I speak with them and they speak back.I really want to help you and I just don’t know what to do … I’m willing to do absolutely anything, but you have to tell me what you need … I was lying in bed, clearing my mind, meditating or not so formal … something about the bees, … I had an explanation of what they were doing … I told my husband and he said that would explain it, and I kept getting more and more of them. It was kind of like the book conversations with god, kind of got this info passed along to him. Wherever it came form … conversations with bees and what the world is like from their point of view … I can see it form their perspective …
That’s what I write about. It has stuff about how I learned stuff form them … someone who is an open minded bee keeper. If your very conventional and only do what science tells you, my book probably isn’t your cup of tea but if you want to know what the bees think. And how to look at it form their perspective, my book is out right now on amazon. It was just picked up by a publisher, because sales have been consistently, on Amazon’s top 100 list in 2-3 categories every day. So it caught the idea by a publisher, when you do that, I have to take it out off the market.
The book has been out for a year on Amazon, but it will go off the market starting in May, then releases in September through my new publisher, they will come out promoting it, with a slightly changed name:
It’s absolutely wonderful, sounds true, because it caught their eye, I hadn’t been marketing it to book stores, it will start to come out in Barnes and Noble and stores in the fall and for them it’s a brand book!
If you’d like to be on my bee newsletter you can go to my website at spriitbee.com
I send out a little video and picture and whatever we’re doing with our bees this month. I’m always happy to have people come out and see!
If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Sometimes there’s so much that has to be done, I could spend day after day, funding different charities that I adore and educating people. Two things are my answer:
My favorite charity is xerces.org they do lots of work with pollinators and trying to get poisons taken out of mthe environments.
As far as what I would like to see if you’re a gardener or a beekeeper, almost requires us to almost be activists, educate your neighbors and why you need to not use chemicals. You’ll laugh at this, when my husband goes to Home Depot or Lowes I’ll go stand where the chemical products are in the aisle and just look like I’m browsing too, and I’ll see someone come up, and I’ll strike up a conversation, and say something like, “What is that you’e got that you’re trying to get rid of?” And if they say, oh I have moss in my lawn…
Rather then have them buy some crappy thing, or broadleaf weed killer.
I want to kill the clover.
I said why do you want to get rid of the clover? It’s a nitrogen fixer, it makes your lawn healthy! You just have to orient our thinking a little.
I thought I was not supposed to have clover, because that’s what the chemical companies tell them.
Broadleaf weed killer, what a stupid thing to get rid of the clover in your lawn. I try to be as friendly and helpful as possible, looking like just another person who’s looking at that same wall, and try to educate people that the problem you have some weed or something is that the weed is trying to do a task, if it’s trying to bring calcium to your lawn maybe you can help it with that.
Now if the problem is you have some kind of bug eating your food, or aphid is eating your lettuce or something, the aphid is actually eating weak plants, that’s ow mother nature gets rid of plants, if she wants to get rid of for the next generation, mother nature sends in bugs or pests to knock down what ever is week.
if we could just tell more people that, it would kill the whole chemical sparing industry, it isn’t at you need to spray poisons on your plant, you need to give it better nutrition in the soil and then the plant will be healthy!
I had a neighbor said who said to me, aren’t the aphids absolutely terrible this year? They are everywhere, and her garden is 200 feet form my garden and I didn’t have an aphid in there?!
So I went over there and I said, let me help you with your soil, you need some compost, I’ll bring over a wheelbarrow full of compost, and well get this soil in better shape! That’s the difference between weak soil, it isnt’ gonna have the, Mother Nature doesn’t want that plant to go to seed, and donate its seed into the gene pool, and so it needs to get pulled out, that’s the job that the diseases! What a good job their doing! Yeah! Go pests! Go diseases! Go knock down that weak stuff!
Yeah, it’s a radical approach!
But that’s a great theme, so many of my guests have talked about it’s all about the soil. That’s crazy, I was trying to get rid of the clover!
Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
Oh just love Mother Nature fall in love with Mother Nature and everything will be just fine! The whole world changes.
How do we connect with you?
Spiritbee.com is my website. and sign up for the newsletter and then you are connected to us, you’ll see all the things we’er doing.
I have some other websites
My husbands’ Equine Natural Movement School for people looking for a career with horses …
My granddaughter finds all the bird nests on our road!
People who have that vision, I am so impressed by them. We were having this class, and we were standing around and this women looks up in the pine, I was showing them something about the bees, and she said, “oh look you have 2 barn owls up there!” I couldn’t believe that I had seen them before?! I find that fascinating that she has that bird nest vision.
I don’t see them as much as she does, by any means, but I walk up that road all the time, now she’s a track star so she runs up and down it more!
I knew you were gonna be a great guest!
Last year my earth day episode was Heather Wood who has a natural bee sanctuary in Olympia Washington! Since w’re talking on International Women’s Day, I’ll try to get it up! I’ll try to get it up on Thursday, but I’ll try for this weekend for sure!
Thanks, soooo much because Mike and I have been going back and forth about the bees. We’re not spreading mites to other peoples bees?
Well you mite be, but the more of us who can get on the other side and stop importing, those bees from other places and get on the organic side!
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