Palet Wood’s New Future

Palet Wood’s New Future

 4 days of construction, an excited and motivated team of assistants and a non stop flow of ideas helped bring the Bee Free Urban Beehive to life.   A big thanks to the Media-Lab Prado for organizing the event and providing the space for many of us beekeepers and those interested in beekeeping in Madrid to come together.  Many new contacts were made and collaborations in the future are sure to continue.

Though the future of legal beehives in Madrid is still unclear, the potential for their success is. Conversations held between regional beekeeper associations and city code officials came to the common agreement that the presence of  beehives in Madrid can  act as positive promotion for the entire beekeeping sector. Focus was placed on the educated consumption of local honey products and all representatives felt that familiarizing urban dwellers with beehives would be a great step.  Fellow project participants even compiled a mellifera plant map of Madrid , which identified nectar and pollen producing plants, trees and flowers 10 months a years, more so than many other surrounding rural areas.

I will be sure to stay tuned to the initiative as it continues to develop and meanwhile  I am planning on taking my prototype to the farm and fill it with bees!

Here are a few photos of the building process as well as the close to finished product which I presented to a curious eyed crowd yesterday afternoon.

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I began the building process with a cardboard model, both to work out the construction kinks and better explain the over all idea.

2 cm thick palet pine boards were sourced and dismounted before being transformed into a beehive.

2 cm thick palet pine boards were sourced and dismounted before being transformed into a beehive.

Thanks to my wonderful helpers for all the collaboration!

Thanks to my wonderful helpers for all the collaboration!

We decided to include a translucent acrylic window for colony observation purposes without having to open the hive and disrupt the regulated temperatures.

We decided to include a translucent acrylic window for colony observation purposes without having to open the hive and disrupt the regulated temperatures.

Elvira sands down the half sized honey super out on the Media Lab Patio

Elvira sands down the half sized honey super out on the Media Lab Patio

The 5 star urban beehive chateau; removable sanitary floor, main hive brood observation window, honey super and rain poof pitched roof are all prepared for their final beeswax and linseed oil finish.

The 5 star urban beehive chateau; removable sanitary floor, main hive brood observation window, honey super and rain poof pitched roof are all prepared for their final beeswax and linseed oil finish.

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Reap what you Sow

Reap what you Sow

“Paciencia es la madre de ciencia”,

It’s is a wonderful Spanish phrase translating to

“Patience is the mother of science”

I was reminded of this phrase this past weekend as we tended to the hives, 35 kilometers southwest of Spain’s capital, Madrid. We envisioned ourselves harvesting what we could from the seasons honey but were excited to see that our plans would have to be delayed. The bees seem to be loving the changing of the season and there non stop pursuit for the life giving nectar shows in the reflective glitter of the heavy combs that line their hive. We as beekeepers do nothing more than give them more space to continue doing what they are already doing.

Happy Hives

Happy Hives

The summer, like most here in Madrid has been hot, temperatures reached the high 90’s on a daily basis, and the majority of the bees had no choice but to stay close to the hive in order to help with the ventilation. In order to do so and keep the temperature of the hive at no more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius, they flap their wings at rapidly fast speeds functioning as a natural air conditioning system. Its a constant balancing act, as the population grows and the hives heats up from both the inside and outside the bees most stay in constant communication

As the seasons begin to change, the nights begin to get cooler and the sun gives us all a bit more breathing room, the bees begin to take advantage in their foraging.Their hard work of temperature management of the summer is now being rewarded with the abundance of nectar in the area. And we are happy to see that the region’s fauna offers much to choose from.  The days continue to be in the 80’s it also seams that the bees as well as the us as the beekeepers have plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements to get through winter.

Ventilation takes place in the hive as well as in front of the entrance in order to pull the hot air out.

Ventilation takes place in the hive as well as in front of the entrance in order to pull the hot air out.

What I enjoy most about this relationship with nature is the opportunity I am offered to reflect upon the events in my own life. Hard work and determination do pay off, and with patience and intention I will reach my goals. As the beehives demonstrate its not always at the time you may have imagined, but that doesn’t mean that the fruits wont come.

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Recently stretched wax cells prepped for nectar storage

 My hopes of the getting back to Ethiopia this September to continue the partnership with my brothers work through Ethiopia Reads and community beekeepers is know pushed back to the coming spring.

My return back to Madrid has brought some unimagined changes, and as I begin to fall into a but of a routine, with a new Montessori English teaching job, a new apartment and an invigorating daily commute by bicycle through this swarming city, I find myself enjoying this new structure to build off of.

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Propolis harvest underway

I am hoping to rework the programing designed last spring to make a larger impact within a shorter period of time by expanding upon the family education aspect,  find new partnerships through new organizations and individuals, as well as continue the collaboration with the Holetta Bee Research Center in Ethiopia.

 So what all comes down to now, for both the bees and everyone else, is a bit of consistency. Day to day, and then week by week we’ll make the necessary preparations to successfully pass through fall into winter. And with the passing of the months, and a season of rest and hibernation we will return in the spring with even more health and vigor than the year before.

Can you Collaborate?

Can you Collaborate?

Rule of thumb number 1: When you want do do one thing you must do at least 3 before.

And if you want to do that thing, activity, project, construction, what have you, in Africa, well you have to do at least 7 things before.

Lacking the precise word in English to signify a mix of desire, energy, and motivation, it is more direct to say in Spanish that Ganas Exist.

We at Beefree Apiaires, Boss man at Ethiopia Reads, formerly known as TEFSA, and my hardworking school building brother also share in the Ganas it will take to make this project happen.

However, knowing better, and of course knowing the pace of day to day activities in Ethiopia, as well as the frequency of things going against any precipitated plan, we’ve decided to push back the 1 month Pilot Program for this coming April in exchange for an 1 month in country assessment so to speak.

I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this dream a reality and that means investing all I got. On my own account I’ll be flying out of Madrid, Tuesday March 26th  in route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The plan as of know is to spend the first few days meeting with the bossman, Dana, while staying at my brothers flat in Addis. We had an opportunity to meet back in Minneapolis one cold Sunday before I took off for Spain, and though we’ve been trying to connect over the internet over the past 2 months since my US departure, with all the movement on both ends, meeting in person and especially in country will really help turn this project into reality.

My brother Cien will be returning to the capital from his 3rd school building of the year on April 6th and from there I’ll be tagging along on his escapades to the villages where he has been working for the past 3 years. Known as Kembata Tembora, this same region is where we are working towards implementing the 3 phase Beekeeping, Public Health and Community education program.

Traveling around the area with my brother for a months time will provide us with much needed information. I’m planning on treating the visit as one very big a very large research Project. I’ll be meeting communities, their schools as well as their health programs. Local agriculture will be assessed for pollination purposes and Propolis giving trees will be identified for future hive placement.

As far as beekeeping goes, as there is no country with richer history for Honey Bees, I also have my note taking cut out for me. Beyond the many lessons, I will be assessing available resources, including wood for hive building, metal for tool construction and  materials as well as the knowing of seamstresses for the creation of the necessary protective clothing needed.

Lastly and equally if not as important, I am hoping to meet with in country beekeepers, the more local the better. I also have my eye on and have already been in contact with the Bees for Development International, Beekeeping for Excellence Center in the Holetta region in  the North. Check out their informative website at (http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/).  This is where I begin to ask for Community Collaboration.

This trip alone to the north, via public transportation including lodging will run me $200. My money is tight and I am always willing to collaborate so this is when I begin to make offers to my friends, family and supporters of all breeds all over the world.

In exchange for a donations between $1- $25, I’ll send you a handwritten postcard. 

For a Donations between $26 and $50 I’ll send you a handmade hand dipped Ethiopian wax candle and a handwritten thank you note.

For donations between $50 and $100 I’ll send you a candle, a note and a jar of the best Ethiopian Honey I come across.

Any thing more than that will be going towards beehive construction. If not this trip than than the next.

$50 more or less will buy one village participant all the necessary equipment, beehive and material needed in order to be a beekeeper.

While another $50 dollars will pay for their week long education program in order to become a successful beekeeper.

So what do you think, are you willing to collaborate?

If your answer is yes, oui or si, press the make a donation button at the top or bottom of this page and send Beefree Apiaries the electronic funds it will take to make this dream a reality.

You can always send me an email at beefreeapiaires@gmail.com for any question, concern or inquiry.

I enjoy all your emails!