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Adding A Warre’ Box To The Hive

Adding A Warre' Box To The Hive


When we went out to the Warré hive to fill the feeder with more syrup we noticed that they had begun building comb on the feeder. Lovely. Like many beekeepers in our area, we lost all of our hives during our unusually long, frigid winter. I had ordered bees for some new hives we were adding to the apiary so I knew we’d have some eventually, but losing them was just awful. The one advantage we had, though, was existing comb. I installed the bee package I ordered for another Warré in the original hive that we lost and they went right to work cleaning up the existing comb. Bees prefer to build natural comb instead of attaching it to a fake insert and there was a full box of comb for them to fill up with brood, pollen, and nectar. The best part? We don’t have to wait as long to add another box.

Warre’ with extra feeder box

My husband, Jerry, made an inner cover to set a feeder on and added a box above the original box to create an inside feeder set up. He did a really nice job on it and it’s worked well, but now it seems that they’re attaching comb to it so we’ll have to deal with that soon. Warré hives are different than the typical Langstroth hives that many beekeepers use. Jerry made two horizontal Langstroth-style hives by putting two deep boxes side by side and then attaching them together, cutting the center section out to create the larger hive space. We put follower boards in each to create a smaller space for the 5-frame nucs I purchased for them.

But the Warré is unique, not only in its interesting structure but also with how we add a new box. On a normal vertical Langstroth hive, new boxes are added on top, while new boxes are placed on the bottom in a Warré. The theory is that bees like to build downward. They’re already checking out the top bars as we see in the top picture. Warré boxes can be ordered with inspection windows and both boxes have one so that I can take pictures through the window without disturbing the hive itself. Pulling up frames to inspect when they’re only supported by a piece of wood at the top is tricky and comb can break off so easily, so last year I didn’t look much at them.

The Warre hive

The bottom two boxes are where the bees will build comb and create the colony. A package contains 10,000 bees and a queen, but once she’s back from her mating flight, she can lay a massive amount of eggs per day, new bees emerging around three weeks later. If you look closely, you’ll see that awesome inner cover that Jerry made for inside feeding. Sugar water attracts all sorts of interested parties and feeding inside the hive is a better option to control that problem. We added a third box on top to protect the feeder. The quilt box that helps absorb moisture goes on top of the third box followed by the roof.


Horizontal hives

Jerry showed me a video of a guy in Africa who makes his hives out of grasses, mud, and other natural components. It was amazing to watch as he created a new hive. Bees will live in practically anything. Some beekeepers are creating hives from logs and some put their Langstroth hives in trees. Less a beekeeper and more one who is kept by bees, I confess to liking the horizontal hives along with the Warré more than the vertical Langstroth hives we have and I can use Langstroth-style frames instead of top bars like in the Warré and horizontal top bar hives. Langstroth deep boxes are heavy to lift when separating them for inspection them so not having to do that with the new horizontal hives is a blessing.

Swarm box

We have swarm boxes placed around our property with one right outside my kitchen window, apple blossoms tempting the scouts that are looking for a new home. We might get lucky and capture some bees this year to replace the colonies we lost over the winter. That would be wonderful! One of our hives swarmed last year to the tree above the hive. We caught them and then they decided to go back to their original hive. It was odd but at least they didn’t leave the property. The sound is telling, you know it instantly even if you’ve never experienced it before. And no words adequately describe the feeling I had when standing in the middle of a swarm of bees as they vortex upward to surround their queen on the branch where she landed. It’s peaceful and loving and fully resonant.

And while I await the possibility of colonies finding their way to our apiary, I’ll sit by our hives in complete wonder at their unified presence. They compel me to align with their resonance and as I lean closer, our vibrations become one.

I am forever in love with these amazing beings!

Arriving home
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The Enduring Cycle of Bees

The Enduring Cycle of Bees

We finally pulled the last honey super off the original hive and gave them a pollen cake and a candy board to help them through the winter. We had already done this for the Warre’ and the long hives. Temperatures are still warm enough during the day so we’re feeding syrup as well to help them with honey stores for the winter. But the candy board is filled with sugar syrupa solid sugar solution, with small pollen cakes hidden inside for them to work their way to during the winter months. I also dotted the top of each candy board with chunks of pollen cake. They loved it last year.

candy board

Unfortunately, the new split didn’t survive. We believe they went back to their original hive since the split was sitting next to it. But we had received some bad information from a local beekeeper recommending that we pull our honey supers at the beginning of August. In reality, we shouldn’t have taken it until September. But we’re new, and we believed someone we shouldn’t have. We waited until almost the middle of the month before pulling it because we just didn’t think it was ready. The dearth she described wasn’t evident on our property as flowers were everywhere and the bees were constantly out bringing back both pollen and nectar to the hive. But we decided to listen to her and pulled the super off the split, putting the frames of honey in the freezer.

The hive was fine until just a few weeks ago when we opened it and found it was fairly empty. Since there were no dead bees and no evidence of a swarm (which probably wouldn’t happen this time of year anyway), we’re really not sure what happened. But we have a feeling that it was related to pulling that honey super. It was just too soon.

honey framesWe left the super on the original hive because there was also brood in there. We don’t use a queen excluder between the brood box and the super so there’s always a risk that she might want to lay up there. That particular queen did just that and we had to wait until today for the brood to hatch and the bees to cap the remaining honey. Not all of it was capped completely, but we wrapped it in plastic wrap anyway and stored it in the freezer with the other frames from the split.

Warre' combI have to say that I was devastated to find that we lost the split. It was my hive and to lose it that way was just awful. But the new Warre’ hive is doing well although they’re somewhat confused on where to build their comb. Or I am. Not that I care or anything because I brought that one into the apiary to simply see how they function in a hive like that.

foundationless frameThe horizontal long hive was probably the most successful new addition. It’s essentially two Langstroth hives put side by side. Sort of. But the idea is that you can have a top bar hive that accepts Langstroth frames. Other top bar hives don’t do this. And we ordered the new hive with foundationless frames so that we could watch the bees as they built their comb. Most hives use frames with foundation already in them, but bees prefer to design their own comb without the help of an existing frame. They know how to create a perfectly sized cell in which new bees will grow. They really don’t need us and we’re typically just in their way.

We plan to put up a windbreak this year in the apiary although they probably don’t need it. Some beekeepers wrap their hives, but so far we haven’t felt the need to do that. But we can do so if the weather dictates. The bees don’t come out much in the winter, but on the occasion of a warm day, some take flight. We look forward to such days because we miss them so much during the winter.

And then Spring arrives and out they come and we almost can’t contain our excitement! But for now, they’re snug in their hives, making their last preparations for winter. They’ve reduced their numbers and will huddle together in the middle of the hive, keeping a perfect temperature. And then sometime after the Winter Solstice, the queen begins laying brood for the coming year.

It’s this blessed cycle of the bees that has endured forever. Humans would do well to embrace their unity of purpose, each doing their part for the survival of the colony. They are in truth one organism.

As are we.

Blessed Be

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As Garden Season Ends…


The dome we put in was a complete success. The hugel beds which we also put in exceeded our expectations as everything we planted both inside and around the outside of the dome went crazy. I’ve frozen more beans than I did last year and even though it’s October and we’ve had some frost, they’re still growing. The gourds are finishing out and I’m letting them hang, curing a bit before I cut them bottle gourd

tomatoesThe year has been odd though for tomatoes. I have a section over by my cannabis plants that came up as volunteers, mostly of the Roma variety. They’re loaded with tomatoes but they’re taking their sweet time to ripen. The same with the Big Mama Roma plants in the dome. But we have some warm weather over the next week or so and if I need to, I’ll hang them inside to finish out. I have no blossom end rot this year. I added epsom salts to the planting holes before dropping in the transplants. It really does make all the difference. But I’ve been able to make a bunch of tomato soup so far and last night I canned 5 quarts of pasta sauce.pasta sauce

apiary greenhouseThe apiary greenhouse had a hard time getting started, but then it took off. My clematis died out, however, but it was fairly root-bound when I bought it, so I didn’t have much emotional investment in it. The two over at the dome made it though as did the honeysuckle I planted. It’s all about the bees you know. I listened to someone in our local bee community and pulled my honey too soon on my new split and I lost the whole thing. I’m sure they went back to the original hive, but I’m done listening to anyone other than Michael Bush and a few others who are more into the natural side of beekeeping. He’s amazing and his videos are full of great information and Jerry and I have learned so much from them as well as his books.

celeryThe Thai pepper and celery continue to grow in the dome while temperatures remain above freezing. This is the first year I’ve grown celery. I had no idea it would grow here on the High Desert and it was so adorable coming up. Each one came up with tiny celery leaves and while the stalks didn’t get as big as those in grocery stores, at least mine don’t have a bunch of pesticides on them, and they taste great!

The new herb garden was prolific even though my arnica, elecampane, and wood betony didn’t come up. They might come up next Spring though. So I’ll get more seeds, but wait to see what actually comes up before replanting. My white sage and skullcap came up at the end of the season, so you never know. I’m just thrilled it worked out because creating the space with eight foot game fence isn’t exactly easy. But everything I planted is perennial and I’ve already harvested all kinds of herbs to dry for tinctures, salves, and teas, and after one last weeding and mulching, the garden will ready itself for the coming year.

herb garden

We have spuds galore! I grew six different varieties in the dome and some of them are huge. A few had obvious water spots and we chucked those, but that was probably due to running irrigation water through the dome. We have another bed outside of the dome as well as two structures that typically yield tons of spuds, but as of yesterday, we’ve harvested over one hundred pounds. We’ll probably harvest the rest this weekend.



snakeI would be remiss if I didn’t include my helpers in the garden. A snake has been my constant companion in the dome and his watchful eye was always present, crawling all over the dome, hiding among the beans, melons, and gourds.

bee-on-borageOf course butterflies, bees, and lady bugs were ever present. It’s odd to harvest herbs next to a borage plant vibrating with hundreds of honeybees and bumblebees. But we all shared space and it wasn’t until I was watering over by some comfrey that I got stung. Multiple times. That never happens over at the hives. If I’m stung, it’s on the finger while moving frames or something.lady-bug-copy


butterfly 2Butterflies were all over the garden, seeming to follow me everywhere. But the best one was the praying mantis. I love those guys! They all stood ready to pollinate and protect. And our gardens simply cannot do without them.


Fall is here with winter soon after. My garden gets better and better, with full credit going to the bees. Observe them and watch as they show us the way forward. They operate as one organism. It’s their reality, just as it is ours.

~Blessed Be last picture..of Agent Orange. Wonderful medicine!

agent orange



  1. Michael Bush ~ The Practical Beekeeper.




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Hive Inspection: The Split is Queen Right!



Apparently after the winter we had a rockin’ bee colony. Both brood boxes from the original hive were full so to try to avoid swarming, a month ago we did what’s known as a walk-away split on the original hive. We took the top brood box splitoff of the second hive on the left, and moved it to the other side of the hive stand, placing it on top of an empty brood box. The idea was that the bees would hopefully build their brood nest downward. Most folks put the new boxes on top, but the Rose Hive and Warre methods favor inserting new boxes either below the others or in between and after researching, we like that idea.

We had a medium honey super on top of the original hive that had quite a bit of honey in it so we pulled two or three frames of honey and added them to a medium honey super box that we put on top of the new split. That way, they’d have enough food to get them through the month-long re-queening process. Once a queen is either dead or gone, the bees will make a new queen. It was clear from the beginning that the queen was still in the original hive because all activity basically ceased in the new split. The nurse bees were still inside tending to the brood and it took some time before we saw bees flying in and out to bring back pollen and nectar.

capped honey


Eventually, we began to see some activity and we calmed down a bit. Going in the hive today told the rest of the story. Although we didn’t see the queen, we did see eggs so clearly she’s there. The lower box had nothing really happening in it yet so we swapped the boxes, putting the box with the brood on the bottom. Because the medium honey super was nearly full of capped honey, we added another super below it, creating an empty area in between the lower brood box and the upper honey super. The bees should fill in both now. So not only are there two medium honey supers on the original hive, we have the same on the new hive. All in a month’s time. We couldn’t be happier.


eggsYou can see in the picture on the right little white spots in most of the cells which are the eggs in various stages of development. The bees will eventually cap the brood and it will look brownish. The capped honey just above is cream or white in color. The picture below illustrates this difference nicely.


queen right 5Typically the brood is somewhere in the center of the frame, with drone brood more toward the outside of the frame. That brood cell sticks up more than the others do and it’s easy to see. What you don’t want to see is a bunch of it because then you know that their queen isn’t functioning properly. There should always be more worker brood than drone brood. There will also be nectar, pollen, and honey on the frame as well. Some folks use a queen excluder between the brood boxes and the honey supers to keep the queen from going up in there and laying eggs. It’s a metal screen-like plate that’s big enough for the worker bees to pass through, but not the queen. We didn’t use one on either colony and it doesn’t look like she’s been up in there, so all honey!


queenAs I said, we didn’t see the queen in this hive, but we did see her in the new long hive we put in. This particular queen was crawling all over the place, very active. There was no way to miss her. And it’s the coolest thing ever to see the queen. We’ve never seen her in any of the hives other than the Warre’. And the only reason I saw her was because I purchased a package of bees for that new hive. In a package of bees, the queen comes in a cage and you have to release her into the hive and hope they accept her. Because they’ve had a few days with her already before they arrive at their final home, typically queen acceptance isn’t an issue. I pulled the plug out of the cage and inserted a mini marshmallow and then placed the cage in the bottom of the hive. The bees will eat the marshmallow and release their queen. She takes her maiden flight, flying up around 300 feet in the air where she’ll mate with a drone or a series of drones. Then she comes back to the hive and begins laying up to 2000 eggs per day. In her lifetime she may lay up to a million eggs.

warre combAnd my post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of a Warre’ foundation. We’ve been using foundationless frames in both the new long hive and the Warre. Typically, frames have plastic foundation with a hive cell pattern stamped in it. Foundationless comb can be tricky because it can break off and fall into the hive. The long hive has a different type of foundation than the Warre’ in that it’s a four-sided frame. The Warre’ foundations have only a top, no sides or a bottom. In the long hive, we’ve alternated foundation-type frames with foundationless. This reportedly keeps the comb straight on the foundationless frames which apparently matters when you harvest honey or need to pull frames for inspection.

So that’s what we did in the long hive. But in the Warre’, alternating frames wasn’t possible, so we won’t be pulling frames much. The boxes are much smaller than the Langstroth style long hive, so we can simply lift the boxes up to see what they’re doing from beneath. With a Warre’ hive, boxes are added underneath and the bees build downward. Eventually, the initial brood box will be converted by the bees into a honey super and we’ll harvest the comb from there. But not this year. And maybe not the next. The bees get all honey until there’s too much. Then and only then do we take any honey.

But I can tell you in all honesty that there’s nothing like bees. And becoming a beekeeper will be the best thing you will ever do with your life. Truly.

~Blessed are the Bees for they will save us all!




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New Life in the Apiary and the Unexpected Swarm

apiary package


Two new hives went into the apiary this year along with two new colonies of bees. We purchased a five-frame nuc for the long hive and a package for the Warre’. The long hive combines the rectangular shape of a top bar hive with the traditional Langstroth design allowing for a nuc to be easily installed.

long hive

The Warre’ is a little different, however. Smaller in size, it’s customary to buy a package and dump them inside the box. The queen is in a cage, rather than on one of the frames as with the nuc. The nuc is essentially an established colony, with brood, honey, pollen, and drawn comb on plastic frames. The package of bees must first accept the queen and then begin building their comb for the queen to lay her eggs. She’s already taken her maiden flight for mating purposes at this point and she needs a place to begin laying. For this hive, I chose foundationless frames so that I could see them do their own thing instead of attaching to plastic foundation. This particular Warre’ hive has an inspection window to check out how the comb building is doing. The picture above was at the end of their first day in their new home.

Warre hive and package

After dumping the bees into the Warre’ box, I located the queen cage and dug out the cork plug to insert a small marshmallow. I placed the queen back in on the bottom of the hive. You can release the queen directly, but this way, they have to work to get to her, increasing the chance that she’ll be accepted. Odds are, however, that process has already taken place while in the package.

queen cage


Next, we installed the five-frame nuc in the new long hive. We divided the hive in half and used only one end, putting the nuc frames in the middle of that section of the hive. It’s the same idea as having two Langstroth style hive boxes side by side, but with the ability to have the whole box function as one big hive. It’s like a horizontal top bar hive in that regard, but not V-shaped. The honey tends to be at each end with the brood in the middle in a horizontal hive and I also purchased foundationless frames for this hive as well. After a couple of days, I went back in and alternated a foundationless frame with a nuc frame so that they could begin to build their own comb. The comb in the nuc was a little darker than I would have liked to see, but it is what it is.

Longhive install

I began writing this post before I went outside to work in the garden. I took a break and while outside, I heard the most intense buzzing sound. At first, I thought the bees had found the hawthorn blossoms. But when I walked over by the apiary, I saw bees everywhere above the hives, in a slight funnel shape. I immediately found my husband and we donned our bee suits. One of the hives had swarmed into a tree above. Cool!


Well, not really cool as much as get the ladder. At least they only went up a few feet. It was our first swarm so we winged it. Jerry got the nuc boxes we have and I got all the pruners I could find. Sometimes you have to prune as you go and you might have to cut the branch they’re on. The bees swarm around the queen, and when they do that, they’re somewhat docile. And it really was cool watching them build their clump. Which they had to do a couple of times because we made several attempts before we got them in the box. Sometimes they drop right off of the branch and fall to the ground as a unit. At least they landed in the cattails. Jerry had to hold the limb there and let them swarm back up and reattach before climbing down with the swarm.

Jerry and the swarm

We discovered right away that if we didn’t put the plug back in the box, the bees would fly out and re-swarm in the same tree. At one point, they began bearding all over one of the hives. I brushed some of them back into the box and closed the lid. No ladder involved this time.

The rumor is, if they swarm once, they’ll do it again. So we drove up to the farm store that carries beekeeping supplies and bought two more boxes with frames. We’d used the last of the extra boxes when we expanded and split the original hive, but evidently the bees had other ideas and swarmed anyway. It’s swarm season after all and it seems like a bunch of folks are experiencing this, many for the first time. So as long as they stay close by, it’s easy to bring them back, but if they travel, then you’re following your bees around the neighborhood until they decide to stop in a tree somewhere.

Swarm in the nuc

Swarms happen even if you do everything right. And the thing is, a swarm isn’t dangerous. They’re swarming around their queen, protecting her, so they’re busy and unconcerned with people around them. So you don’t have to run screaming for the hills. Instead, call 911 and tell them you’ve found a swarm. They’ll contact the local beekeeping association and someone will come and get the bees. If they don’t know who owns the bees, then the swarm catcher will get some free bees if he or she wants them. Otherwise, there’s typically a list that beekeepers put their names on to receive swarm bees. And it certainly beats buying them.

I hope the bees we collected in the nuc box will go back to their hive on their own, but time will tell. I guess we’ll be on swarm watch for the next month or so. Fun times. Stay tuned.






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Thoth Tarot: New Thought, New Beginnings

Thoth Tarot


I love when The Magus shows up in a reading. I know when I see it that I need to allow for the possibility of. Doesn’t matter what it ends up being, I just need to allow whatever it is to manifest. The Magician in other decks, Crowley’s Magus is active creative energy in motion. He represents our willpower and the ability to achieve our goals and dreams. Focus in, visualize what you want, and then act.

Adjustment, or Justice in most decks, represents the power of the Goddess within. She is our alignment, our equilibrium, holding the sword of the Magus, balancing duality of self. She tells us to stand in our own power and make decisions from a dispassionate view and that we center, align, and then know.

The sword of The Magus appears for a third time in the Ace of Swords representing our will and intellect and Elemental Air. The Ace of Swords asks us to look beyond illusion and proceed in full clarity via a controlled intellectual presence while avoiding impulsive thought and action, taking time for reflection if necessary.

The redundancy of the Sword of the Magus is not to be ignored in this reading. Clearly, allowing for all possibilities, all potentials, is the preferred way forward. Judgment clouds our perception and the Ace of Swords cuts away all of that leaving only brilliance and clarity in its place. The dispassionate view suggested by Adjustment reinforces this notion as it supports decisions made from a balanced perspective. Crowley suggests a sexual component to the Sword, representing the phallus, referring to her as the woman satisfied. Please. The sword represents true balance. If she were truly reflecting satisfaction, I think other colors would have been used. The blues reflect the cold steel of the sword, balance, and alignment.

Numerologically, the cards add up to 10 which can be reduced to 1. Again, it brings us back to The Magus and his Sword. The number one is about oneness and beginnings and it sounds like new ideas are about to manifest. With the presence of The Magus, we know that all things are possible, so it would seem that we’re in for a creative period.

I’m pretty sure we call that Spring. But perhaps the cards are telling us that it’s time to embrace new thinking and to rid ourselves of thoughts that disturb our alignment. I know that’s true for me, so as the plants continue to grow with help from our ever-expanding bee colony, I’ll use this time to appreciate Spring as it unfolds and let troubling thoughts be taken by the wind.

~Blessed Be

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At Year’s End: Finding Presence in the Knowing

bees presenceThat feeling of presence in the knowing an empath experiences reflects alignment with Self. It’s a vibration like no other. A calmness takes over, and clarity begins. We may take up residence in the past and future much of the time, but the present moment is all that truly exists. Anything else is based upon perception or fantasy.

I use the expression, the knowing, intentionally because it feels separate from physical presence. I suspect that feeling may indeed be the very experience that allows us to understand our multidimensional nature. It also adds to a feeling of being inside a body but not actually part of it. Many witches believe in an in between area, just beyond physical awareness, and I’m no different. In fact, at least where I’m concerned, I may hover in and around my body, but it’s in the knowing or in between that I find my true resonance.

On this last day of the 2015, I feel that presence within grow ever stronger as I continue this journey of awakening. I’m reminded of the Eight of Cups, where the individual moves on, ready to pursue a new path. The knowing of an empath requires alignment with Self. The instant that presence is exchanged for perception, knowing slips away, all clarity gone. Because we focus upon what we know, not what we knew or will know.

Empathic awareness is in the now. A empath feels knowing’s presence in the present moment because it resonates differently when perception filters in. Knowing happens easily. Perception, on the other hand, takes time, and if time is present, then it’s the past that governs perception. It’s not a conclusion that we arrive at after careful research. So, if that much can be realized in the now, why wouldn’t we want to stay there? Because empaths are no different than anyone else. We just sense our collective consciousness or resonance. The blessing of the present moment, however, is experienced by everyone.

If I relax into being and stay in my own resonance with Self, I can move about my day in peaceful alignment. The expression, living in the present moment, has almost become cliché in that we hear it all the time. But it’s the way forward for all of us. It’s how we experience the oneness of our collective, multidimensional nature.

I challenged myself this year in ways I had not done before. I’ve begun other writing projects and expanded this blog somewhat. I participated in National Blog Posting Month, writing daily for a month, and now I can’t seem to stop. My herbal work continues as I create more herbal remedies to help maintain my health, with cannabis still a primary part of my treatment. I’m already planning next year’s garden space, with a new living dome greenhouse to enjoy.Warre hive

We also became beekeepers this year. Two additional hives are going in the apiary, the new bees ordered today. I’ll have three hives to love instead of one, and I couldn’t be happier. The two new hives have foundationless frames, so we’ll be able long hiveto watch the bees make their own comb. Bees reflect true presence. It’s no wonder beekeepers sit next to their hives, existing in the hive’s resonance. I’m never more calm than when I’m with the bees, and I visit them often.

Much of what I undertook this year focused on expressions of presence. I would have accomplished nothing had I remained focused on past drama. Instead, I’m looking forward to the new year beginning. Letting go of the past to experience the peace of the present assures the new year will be filled with endless opportunities for creative expression. And bees..lots and lots of bees.

~Blessings to all!

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Back Porch Herbal: Horsetail and White Willow Bark


I love wildcrafting herbs. Not all plants that grow in the valley grow on the high desert of Central Oregon. Nettle, chickweed are two that I typically have to purchase, although I found some nettle growing in a pot this year that I plan to cultivate. It probably came in a nursery plant I bought. I may end up with some chickweed that way next year if I’m observant enough. Or I’ll go over to Portland and find some growing. Chickweed grows everywhere over there.

I do have willow and horsetail, among other herbs, growing on my property and it’s wonderful to walk about, gathering what I need for my materia medica without having to order any of it. The horsetail, or shave grass as it’s also called, grows up by the irrigation ditch near the juniper trees. Various willow varieties grow on the property including three weeping willows from which I harvested the bark.

The aerial portion of horsetail, or shave grass, is best harvested in early summer. I dried the horsetail I gathered on some bamboo mats on the floor of a grow tent I have. With its astringent properties, horsetail has a mild diuretic property to it, and also helps ease hot flashes and is helpful with prostate issues. With its high silica content, it acts as a vulnerary, healing wounds and reducing bleeding, and protects bones from osteoporosis, and its anti-inflammatory properties protect the lungs and may also be helpful in rheumatic conditions.

I use horsetail as part of a blend for tea or tincture. It can also be incorporated into salves for skin conditions.

Willow bark contains salicin, a compound similar to aspirin, and as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, is used for general pain and fever as well as pain associated with rheumatic conditions. I love my willow trees. I know I have weeping willow, and I believe I have black willow growing wild all over my property. At least I think that’s what it is. I also have a more delicate type of willow, the name of which escapes me, that hasn’t done well where I have it planted. But it’s still alive, so that’s something.

I watched a video of an herbalist named 7 Song show how he strips the bark off of willow. He sliced it lengthwise, and then carefully lifted the whole thing off the branch. I tried this. I failed. So, I whittled both the outer and inner bark off the branches. I read that it’s fine to use the outer bark as well and given that I didn’t take anything from the main tree itself, but instead took smaller branches, I couldn’t see any real way to separate the outer from the inner, so I left the shavings as they were.

2015-10-09 16.50.09

The process took hours. Horsetail is much easier. Okay, I’ll admit that I can be a little obsessive about things, but I really didn’t know how much I’ll be needing, particularly if I use some of it for tintures, so I wanted to be certain that I had enough. I gathered/whittled enough to fill a half gallon jar. I was surprised that my hands weren’t in any more pain than they were after my marathon whittling session, but I probably absorbed some of its painkilling properties as I worked with it. It’s worth it though to know that I chose those willow trees nearly twenty years ago and brought them home to plant next to the ponds. Three in total, they p2015-09-18 07.42.31rovide the first food for the bees in the Spring, in fact, we put our new apiary next to them just for that purpose. It’s cool knowing that next year it will be our bees making the willows hum. This is a picture of one of the bees gathering pollen from a pumpkin blossom. Next year, I plan to use a small greenhouse frame with webbing or something over it with pumpkins and gourds growing up over it, maybe some beans as well, creating a living cover for the greenhouse structure. It’s sitting in the apiary, so I think it would be a great source of food for the bees. And it’s cool.

In New Menopausal Years The Wise Woman WaySusun Weed recommends extracting willow bark with vinegar, with one teaspoonful considered the same as one aspirin. I plan to use apple cider vinegar for the menstruum. Apple cider tinctures are gentle and have the added advantage of being food, so they’re often used in herbal remedies for children.

I’ve chosen these two herbs to help with both rheumatoid arthritis and menopause/postmenopause issues. Both are anti-inflammatory, helpful with both issues. Fluid retention is helped by the diuretic properties of horsetail, something that happens with both RA and menopause. And it’s nice I can walk outside my house and gather them instead of buying them.

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I’m really enjoying all that I’m learning. Below are some of the books I’ve used in my research and formularies. I ended up with enough horsetail to fill two 1 gallon jars and enough willow bark for a half gallon jar. I’ll continue sharing my research and everything I’m making in future posts.

~Blessings to all!



Recommended reading that can be found at Amazon:

Medical Herbalism and Holistic Herbal both by David Hoffman are excellent.

A Modern Herbal Vols 1 & 2 by Mrs. M. Grieve, also found online.

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

Anything by Rosemary Gladstar

Anything by Susun Weed

Anything by Michael Moore

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Runecasting: New Bee-ginnings


I love fun journals, especially small ones. The runecast sits atop my rune book where I keep all my notes about each rune, bind runes I’ve created and so forth. It’s my go to book for interpretation as well..Crone years and all. Besides, it has a cool latch.

We brought our bees home yesterday, all 10,000 of them, and this morning we transferred the bees from their travel nuc into the hive, their final home. One flew over yesterday and hovered in front of me as I sat at the table in the she-cave (aka gazebo). I said hello and it looked at me for a few seconds and then flew back to the hive stand where the rest of them were. Yes, I’m the crazy woman who drove you home in the back seat of her Camry. It’s a hybrid, so it was an environmentally conscious trip home.

Beekeeping is new for us, so I thought about new beginnings when I drew the runes today. The vertical axis depicts the influence of our nonphysical aspects of self surrounding the rune in the middle. The runes on either side of the middle rune illustrate how we either express ourselves in the physical realm, or how we should be doing so. The middle rune, therefore, sits as significator, either representing the individual in question, or perhaps a particular issue at hand.

Beginning with the significator, Thurisaz represents the catalytic change of new beginnings. It provides protection by neutralizing problems and opposition. Thurisaz catalyzes creative thought into form.

Surrounding Thurisaz, Ingwaz, at the top of the vertical axis, appears in the 3rd Aett and is the 22nd rune in the Elder Futhark. It signifies the sudden release of creative life force, a genesis of sorts. It represents our genetic inheritance and provides the energy of expansion. If not applying to an individual, this could also apply to a new project or endeavor as well.

Dagaz, the 23rd rune of the Elder Futhark, sits below Thurisaz, indicating the end of one phase and the beginning of a new one, bringing the energy of total enlightenment to bear. The rune of present moment awareness, Dagaz both synthesizes and transmutes polarities. All things are possible with Dagaz. 

It’s interesting that Dagaz follows Ingwaz in the Futhark. What has always intrigued me about the runes is how one rune seems to flow into another. Coming at the end of the Futhark, it’s as if it’s the culmination of all we’ve learned readies us for the next chapter, project, or even lifetime. And sitting on the vertical axis, both runes beautifully illustrate that creative flow as expressed by the catalytic energy of Thurisaz.

It appears that there is an abundance of creative energy available to fuel whatever is next as we focus our attention, creating something new. Nauthiz, on the left or receptive side of Thurisaz, shapes our creative focus, awakens our inner passion, and helps us achieve our goals. Berkano, on the right, projective side of Thurisaz, brings ideas to fruition, brings healing and protection, and represents family.

I love the imagery of Thurisaz, the hammer of Thor. An abundance of catalytic energy aligned with intention can bring anything to fruition. All things are possible.

It’s always cool when I draw runes that both complement and reinforce each other in a runecasting. It also looks like the runes are in sync with what’s happening at my house these days. Endless projects, and now we’re beekeepers. The hive has to stay outside, however, unlike my worm farm. It’s in my kitchen. But they have a lovely pond and a pasture full of clover to keep them busy..and me in honey and beeswax.

~Blessed bee!