If bees are visiting your holly bushes you are blessed.

Press Release: I wrote this as an article for a local newspaper. Please feel free to use it in its entirety with attribution. No compensation is required; however, please notify me by email concerning where it was published. (queenbjan [at] msn [dot] com)

HEMINGWAY, SC – I love the spring when the flowers are popping out everywhere, the birds are singing, a few butterflies have already hatched out, and the bees are buzzing from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. This is as it should be.  Unfortunately, some are not happy with this picture.

Honeybee on Holly

Honeybee on Holly

Only yesterday I received a panic call from a lady who knew that my husband and I were (retired) beekeepers. She wanted to know what she could do, because the bees were all over her holly bushes. It wasn’t the first time we had received such a call, and it won’t be the last. Fortunately, this lady hadn’t already resorted to spraying them with Raid before she called – as some others had done.

I explained to the lady that the bees would only be in the holly bushes until they finished blooming. Holly blooms are pale green and so tiny that you have to look closely to notice them. These bees, I explained to the lady, are happy bees. After the long, lean winter season, they are so excited to be finding nectar and pollen that you would probably have to knock them around to get one to sting you. I also explained to the lady that without the bees in her holly, she wouldn’t have holly berries on her bushes in the fall. I hope I successfully put her mind to rest so that she would let the bees “bee” and not try to harm them.

Our declining honeybee population has received a lot of publicity in the past couple of years, so many people are discovering for the first time the importance of our bee population on our food supply. One third of the food we eat is dependant upon pollination by bees, and this has nothing to do with the honey they make.

Sadly, one of the major enemies of the bees, both honeybees and native bees, is man. Pesticides have been used without regard to the regulations written on the labels – and have killed the bees along with the pests they were trying to eradicate. Natural nesting areas are destroyed as homes, shopping malls and industries continue to use up the land. Then there are the totally uninformed who think anything with six or more legs is a pest and must be destroyed. Unfortunately these uninformed bug killers may be depleting the population of an otherwise healthy hive of honeybees owned by a local beekeeper, who is trying to make his garden (as well as his/her neighbors’ gardens) productive. Or even worse, they could be killing off one of the few feral colonies of honeybees still left in the wild, or the native bees and pollinators around them.

But back to the holly bushes and the bees—my husband and I have been enjoying watching not only the bees as they pollinate our holly bushes, but we have also seen how the holly bushes have provided food and protection to hundreds of birds throughout the winter season. We keep birdfeeders on our deck and in our back yard and have been continually entertained year round with the antics of the various birds vying for domination of the food supply. When we walk past the bushes in the yard there is a constant fluttering of wings as birds scurry from one branch to another to get away from us, who they still perceive as a potential enemy even though they regularly see us filling the feeders and fuss at us if we let them go empty.

There are many kinds of holly bushes, and all provide food and shelter for the birds, but our personal preference is for the Dahoon hollies. These bushes are quite dense and their leaves are slightly less prickly than other more decorative varieties. Their blooms provide abundant nectar for the bees and other pollinating insects, and are followed by green berries that turn red in the fall. The birds tend to prefer other fruits and berries over the holly berries, but when winter turns its coldest and other food supplies have become scarce, the holly berries are still there waiting for them, and by spring the birds will have picked them clean.

So if you should notice there are bees all over your holly bushes, or dandelions, or clover, or …, consider yourself blessed. Somewhere there is a hive of bees still carrying out the task it was created to perform—pollinating the food supply for both wildlife and man.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Note: This popular post is on my first blog, QueenBJan’s Weblog. I no longer post on this blog as I combined it with several of my other blogs. For more great posts see Honeycomb Adventures Press, LLC.

Hopeful news

I have received notice that I have been selected as an alternate to receive one of ten scholarships to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference on May 18-22. That doesn’t mean that I will definitely get to go, but I will get to go if one of the ten has to cancel their plans to attend. It is exciting to think of the possibility of attending.

Now it’s time to pray and wait for the word.

Blogging: My first two and a half months

When I began blogging two and a half months ago I had a goal to promote myself as a writer. My goal has not changed. But things haven’t worked out the way I first thought they might.

This blog, “QueenBJan’s Weblog” was my starting place. I made a few comments about this and that and it was fun. I also went to work posting a few of my favorite writing pieces from the past. I wrote a little about the birds at our bird feeders and a few comments about my family heritage stories. Then my blog sat idle. I didn’t want to keep posting old material, I wanted more new writing. But new ideas weren’t coming to me.

I also found myself in another dilemma. I wanted to post about things I want to write about and have published. But I didn’t want to post something that I could sell. It was like a “catch 22” situation. I needed to write on something similar enough without writing my book ideas and plans online. I also needed idea starters to keep me writing.

Something had to change. I considered what I most wanted to write. I am currently working on Bible stories that I hope to get published. My greatest motivation for writing is to encourage people to believe that the Bible is readable and applicable to our time.

With that in mind, I decided to start a new blog called “His Whisperings.” And my daily writing prompt was right beside my desk, the “Daily Bible Studies” in my Sunday school quarterly. It has been a challenge to keep up the pace of a blog a day, but I have grown a little every day in the process. My goal with each day’s blog has been to clarify the passage, if needed, and to apply it to a situation in our present setting. Sometimes it is fairly easy to write, but often I have to spend much more time thinking and praying about it before I write, and sometimes I have to research to understand it myself. I say all this to illustrate the amount of time it has taken each day to keep up with this blog. (Did I mention that blogging can become addicting?)

But I still hadn’t covered everything that was important to me. I wasn’t writing to children, I was writing to adults. It is harder to bring these scriptures down to a child’s level of understanding. I also need to think in smaller bites.

So I started two blogs with children in mind. (Did I mention that blogging can become addicting?) One blog is named “Tales from the Kid in Me” and the other is “Kids-n-Bibles.” The first was easy to get started on and has been fun to write, though I don’t get around to writing every day. The second is basically sitting around waiting for me to do something with it. Because of the time of year when I started it, I made my first post on “Slavery in the Bible.” I should spend more time on this blog, but time is what I keep running out of.

I now have a third blog for kids that is tied in with my work. It is named “Mrs. Green’s Library.” It is about books and student reactions to them. The students love to see their comments online. (Did I mention that blogging can become addicting?)

Time.  There is no way to manufacture time and get more of it. It is all a matter of setting priorities. If I had my way about everything, I would retire so I could do what I want with all of my day; but as it is, to work I must go five days a week. That means my options are to (1) clean house and do laundry after work, (2) watch TV – NOT, (3) check my email and blogs, or (4) write something I might be able to get published. (Did I mention that blogging can become addicting?)

His Whisperings is demanding a lot of my time, but it has truly been productive. With over 2,000 hits in my first two months, I am confident that I have found a ministry in itself that is very meaningful and rewarding.

Yet all the while “QueenBJan’s Weblog” has been sitting around fully neglected. This is the blog that was supposed to present myself to the world as a writer. And when am I supposed to find time to write what I wish to publish for profit?

Have others wrestled with some of these issues? I would love to read your comments and reactions. (Did I mention that blogging can become addicting?  I’m writing this on my longer-than-usual-with-students-leaving-early lunch break today.)