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Busy as the Bees

home sweet homeAnother rainy day forces me to stay inside, make soup, bake cookies, and slow down. The month of June is flying by as we are busy as the bees out here at Starseed. Change is happening so fast these days. Old structures and habits are breaking down making room for new positive change in the world. Starseed is one of many places all across the globe that is transforming. I am really hopeful to be part of such a special project underway.

swarm10,000 new beings have made Starseed their home- Honeybees! We welcomed them last weekend and they are already making their rounds to the flower gardens. Their hive is nestled into the tree line beside our newly planted high-bush blueberries.

bee sugar

First, we added sugar water (or  you can use honey) to the hive to give the bees something to start with and draw them into their new home.

queen beeThen we took out the queen who was in her own compartment. The worker bees will eventually chew their way into her compartment and hopefully accept her as their queen.

welcome beesAll the other bees joined her in the hive by swarming and within a few hours, they all settled down. Home sweet home! I can hardly wait for honey this fall.

bees and bluesHoneybees  travel up to a few miles pollinating our flowers and food sources as they go. About 40% of our food supply relies on bees for pollination such as fruits, nuts, and some vegetables. Non-organic pesticides are killing off our bees causing “colony collapse.” Watch the film, “Queen of the Sun” for more information about the importance of honeybees for our survival. Not to mention, the divinely sweet, nutritious, medicinal, anti-microbial substance they create- Honey!

Well, now that the rain has stopped, it’s time to head back outside being busy as the bees…

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Mushroom Mania

The months of September to October are primetime for mushroom hunting. Chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, chanterelles, coral, oysters and puffballs are treasures beneath the canopy.

Foraging for these beauties means slowing down to observe the forest. What kind of trees are growing and how big are they? Is it dense, dark, and wet, or open, light, and airy? When was the last rain? How does it smell? Sometimes you can even smell when fungus is growing especially after a good long rain.

Using all of our senses while in the forest is an enlivening experience. It is a chance to practice our primal instincts. My ears perk up to rustles in the leaves as a squirrel buries its acorns. Slight shifts in the wind raise the hair on my body. Soft moist moss cools my internal heat from hiking up hill. I can simply turn my head in any direction to see what is above, below, behind and in front of me. My sharp vision and ability to zoom in and out allows me to change my depth perception.

This is why it is called mushroom hunting. Engaging all five senses in the woods is what humans have done since the beginning of our existence. It is how we found sustenance and escaped from danger. When I find an edible mushroom, my brain fills with chemicals that bring ecstatic bliss. My face transforms from serious focus to smiling joy. I often cannot hold back laughter. I have found treasure!

The grey/brown mushroom above is Hen of the Woods. This is one mushroom of 15 that I harvested. Each weighs between 3 and 8 pounds. That’s a lot of mushroom!

Once I have gathered more than I can eat or share with friends, I deliver the bounty to restaurants that support the local food economy. I am now exchanging a material with value. Nature’s generous gift has become a desirable product with a market price attached. I feel resourceful to be using my primal instincts of foraging and business skills at the same time.

Honoring the earth for providing our sustenance is key. When I forage, I always ask the plant or mushroom’s permission. I only take what feels appropriate and leave the rest for bugs and newts to enjoy. If the treasure is on private property, I ask the owner if I can harvest there.

Last week I passed up 15 pounds of Chicken of the Woods (the golden orange shelf mushroom seen in the these photos) because the property owner felt we ought to leave them for their beauty. It wasn’t easy to leave over $100 worth of bounty. But, I respected his decision and felt better about it in the end. Greed has caused most of the damage in the world today. Rather than betraying my neighbor, I took lots of photos to share with you all.

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