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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
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Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

deer, groundhogs, skunk, raccoon, birds, bees, elephant

Friday, June 18th, 2021

For $40, you can feed a raccoon 4 fish.

We bought a 141 yr-old house, overlooking the Cleveland Zoo, with a large, irregular backyard bigger than the house.

Lady decided to landscape. Started buying used brick and slate. Began a snaking brick-lined slate path, added a brick patio for the beehive, then dug a fishpool and ordered a lining and fountain.

Once the pool was working, she bought 2 small grey koi and 2 large goldfish (orange & white, black & silver). For two days they hid. Third day one started swimming about mid-depth. Fourth day it was near the top. Fifth day 3 fish gone and 4th dead, with the plastic pond lilies they hid beneath torn to shreds and tossed about.

We figure only answer is one of the raccoons, because the two groundhogs, the hosta-eating young buck, the skunk, and the mangy coyote lack the paw hands to pick up one styrofoam lily and tear it apart and pick up the other and toss it 6 foot away.

Fortunately the pool still resonates because the water fountain sound soothes sitting by it, and groups of birds fly down to sip and bathe… and our bees drink from it.

I love life — trees, plant life, fish, birds, animals (people not so much) — and don’t mind helping out, but $40 for one raccoon’s meal is a bit steep.

And oh, my Lady!

Once she was so sweet and innocent, wished violence on nothing and no one. Now she’s thinking dark thoughts about the deer, groundhogs, skunk, and raccoon. Her slide to darkness began when the Cheeto-colored-small-hands-man snuck into the White House and upped his soiling of our culture… it continued when the groundhogs ate her sunflower sprouts, the buck ate her hostas, the skunk doused her rescue dog, and the raccoon ate her fish.

She’s even giving me the wife-eye as I sit here and chuckle.

And on the animal upside, last night I heard a zoo elephant trumpet thrice.


bee patio by Lady

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Lady is blossoming amid her bees and bloom.

We picked up 7th hive Tuesday, having lost previous 6 past 6 years.

Day before, Lady built them a used-brick bee patio. We’d hauled half dozen carloads of bricks she’d found on FB marketplace, plus couple carloads slate.

Now she’s landscaping the patio, as well as our large back area, with ferns, hostas, flowers.

Amazing how quickly she’s transforming this place, inside and out. House is 141 years old, we’re in our 8th month here.


2 bee bites, 2 short poems

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Last week during hive inspection, a bee stung me through my sock on the inside of my right ankle. Yesterday one stung me on the inside of my left ankle. Right on the bone both times. How do they know where the closest flesh is?

Good Cop Story 2

Before this year,
last time I got stopped for speeding
was 41 years ago driving Baltimore to D.C.
at 2 in the morning
delivering microfiche to a customer.

Cop sat me in seat next to him.
I pulled my license from my shirt pocket
and a joint fell into my lap.

He looked at it.
I looked at him.
Looked down at it.
Picked it up.
Put it back in my pocket.
Nothing said.
He finished speeding ticket
and we went our ways.

Of course
he was white
and I was white
plus I was extremely polite.

– Smith, 6.10.2017


Sisyphus Sundae

Sun’s up
I’m not
Air’s crisp
Mind’s knot
Body aches
Money’s thin
Life’s a scrape to make the end
Raise foot
Forward plop
Get through slop
Cherish cherry on the top

– Smith, 6.11.2017


flit float down dance

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Top Shelf

Third floor window
dim in
bright out.

Big bumblebee flies clumsily across
as two leaves flit float down in dance
the bumblebee stumbling back
while a third slow falling leaf
lingers in light.

Here inside is pre-cricket quiet
there outside the water rush
of wind and traffic
with the babble of the birds
seeding at feeder.

Black cat quivers
crouched on inner sill
wanting bumblebee,
the birds below.

– Smith, 5.17.2017

Our 3rd year beekeeping – lost 3 hives and 4 queens, now on our 4th hive with 5th queen.

Hive 1 gave us 120 pounds of honey, then died the first week in February from Nosema aka bee diarrhea.

Hive 2 purchased from a bee supplier, had a bad queen who laid erratically, and the workers killed her.

We bought a new queen without researching the correct procedure, and the hive killed her too.

We bought a replacement swarm late in the season, got maybe 4 pounds of honey, and the hive died the last week of February.

Last Wednesday we got a free replacement swarm with a new $35 queen, so here we go again.


sage smoke

Monday, October 17th, 2016


Sage Smoke

Standing with the Cleveland Native Americans
who are standing with Standing Rock
the sage smoke circle ends
with Blossom saying
“Give your thanks your way”

I nod to the green of the trees
the blue of the sky
then down to the clover on the ground
and the honey bee caressing it.

I am thankful.

Hours later the sage smoke
is replaced by a bee smoker
fired with cedar chips
small twigs
and a sumac seed cluster
as we inspect our hive.

Again, I am thankful.

– Smith, 10.17.2016



Lady Poem 8/14/2016

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Wistful rain
like I am being taken care of
home safe carapace from which I play
the carilon of keystrokes on computer
I sit in comfort of couch in presence of husband of love
the cat shifts her hind toes carefree in plush sleep
knowledge of oatmeal to come berries to pick
bees to visit
wish I could make things good
for all

~ Lady


back in bees-ness + psychedelic steampunk dream

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016



last of old hive Daisy

We back in bees-ness.

Bought a box of swarm honey bees two days ago and installed Hive Ivy out in Ashtabula. The last two hive were Daisy 1 and Daisy II, and we figure Queen Daisy I, II, and III have had their say.

Hive Daisy I the bees disappeared the first week of February after giving us 125 pounds of excellent spring and fall honey. We think bee diarrhea weakened them, but there were no bee bodies so we really don’t know. Hive Daisy II started off with a bad queen, the workers killed her, we improperly re-queened and the workers killed her too, so we quit because we couldn’t afford anymore, but Lady’s father bought us a swarm from another beekeeper.

Placed new Hive Lily on higher ground closer to her parents’ house.

Where the old hive had been there is a clump of bees clustered beneath the beehive stand. I think they were the remaining female workers who were out gathering pollen when I moved the mostly male drone hive down next to the pond.

After we were done setting up the new hive, I noticed a strip of wood blocking part of the entrance, and as I knelt down to remove it, a bee stung my upper lip. Pure liquid fire, intense pain. It’s still swelling – I have thin lips, but my upper lip now looks like Angelina Jolie’s bee stung lips. If it gets grotesque enough, I’ll use it as my FB profile photo, though most of the swelling’s inside my mouth. First time I’ve been stung above the neck. Lady was stung once on her right temple and it made her dizzy, woozy, shaky, enough so we were worried.

Should have fall honey this year.

When Lady woke me this morning I went Wow Wow Wow There’s no way I can write this dream down.

I was in an Alice in Wonderland old timey psychedelic Mexican town with a lot of characters who were my people. There were snakes, and shape-shifters, and people with tentacles. We were trying to find a guy named Clay who’d disappeared after telling me what to code but had never gotten back to me on how the testing went.

The people I was helping had come to me because I was the last one to see Clay. They kept giving me small amounts of marijuana and laughing. As Lady woke me I’d just told one of them You can never have too much marijuana and he laughed and said How about a small amount of marijuana and a badge?

When we started out I thought they were angry with me, that I was in trouble because I’d not coded my program right, but I’d taken extensive notes of what Clay had told me as he’d taken me through this strange land in which I’d understood nothing but this time through after awhile I realized we were going through the same places and events as I’d been with Clay, that I’d written good code and now we had to find Clay and save him.

It got so strange I began taking notes in my back pocket notebook and when one of them asked why I said This story is too good not to write and he said Don’t use my name and I promised to change all the names except Clay’s, but after awhile I gave up taking notes because there was too much happening, all of it strange and surreal, the colors explodingly vivacious. I even called Lady to explain I’d be late getting home.

When Lady woke me at 4 a.m. so she could go run 10 miles before dawn, I staggered out here to the keyboard lurching back and forth off balance not quite awake and now I’m sitting in my undies sweating in the heat needing to badly urinate my morning bladder typing away like mad with two fingers and the cursor keeps jumping around so some of this is up and down the paragraph between words so I’ll have to unscramble it but this is the best weirdest most surreal dream I’ve had. I could gladly live in this dream forever.

Dusty Mexican roads, failing antique pickups, intense vibrating colors glowing everywhere, Mexican music, Zeppelins floating in the steampunk air, the dream went from me thinking I had screwed up the programming code to having more fun than is possible, and I contributed to the adventure, figuring out some of the clues, saving a few of my people as we were shot at. They were wearing long ragged earth-tone western overcoats with colorful scarves and earrings with black mascaraed eyes and they were funny folk, droll, witty, would make jokes with serious faces to make me think I was in trouble, then hand me a few buds as they laughed.

I could see the dust hanging in the air from driving falling-apart pickups too fast through the desert, could see the mold on the dimly lit dingy brothel hallway walls, could feel the crystal trichomes on the gorgeous red and yellow and green and blue streaked marijuana buds they gave me. Must have had 20 to 30 pounds of grass stuffed in my pockets, yet none of us ever smoked any of it during the dream – we were too high on the adventure itself, didn’t need it, although I got a buzz through my skin just handling the stuff. One dude handed me a card saying here’s a clue and the card was 9 large vacuum packed buds that had glowing crystal trichomes I could see from two foot away.

This was a three-day dream – 1st day Clay gave me the specs as we walked through the wonderland, 2nd day I wrote the code, 3rd day we went to save Clay. Lost so much of it between sleep and wake but what’s left is pure treasure.

When I was smoking a little every day, I could not remember my dreams, something to do with the short term memory buffers being wiped by the THC – I knew I had dreampt, but not what.

Now I’m in my 4th week of not smoking, the dreams are coming fast and fortunate, and if I wake during them, I come out with lots of detail. This is worth being unstoned.

Could be the best dream I’ve had, although almost all of them are surreal fun . . . darn few bad ones.


new hive Lily


flock of phlox / back in the bee business

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016


A flock of phlox
outside our door
bursting into sun

– Smith, 7.19.2016

We’re going to buy a bee swarm in two weeks, be back in the bee business.



light to stride the day

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016


When we bought our $125 three-pound box of starter bees with queen this year, we got a bad queen, so we were screwed before we started and didn’t know it.

Within two weeks the worker bees started building supersedure cells to create a new queen, which means they didn’t think our queen was doing a good job. Lady mentioned she was laying in a spotty pattern.

So the workers likely killed the queen. We spent $33 for a new queen not knowing that you have to get rid of the laying worker bee before adding a new queen to the mix, so they killed our new queen as well.

So much for year two. Year one we got 125 pounds of honey and our hive lasted 9 months until they disappeared the first of February. Year two our hive lasted less than two months, though actually never even got started due to the bad queen.

It’s a shame. Last year our spring honey had a slight medicinal undertaste; this year it was light, delicate, super sweet. Got less than 10 pounds of it; we spent maybe $400 for new hardware and bees, so our honey cost us around $40 a pound.

On to year three next April when we buy our third three-pound box of bees . . . that should be our main expense next year since we’ll reuse this year’s wooden hive.

We burned last year’s hive because we believe the bees had nosema, which is bee diarrhea. We also bought hive tools and a honey extractor last year so our total was over $500, but a third of that was a one-time purchase.

~ ~ ~

Status Report 225

Eat the cookie
drink the coffee
stare the dark
wait the sun
for light to stride the day

Sun will bring the wind
to move the wild grasses

– Smith, 7.12.2016



not to bee

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016


Our beehive is dying.

Our first hive last year was by-the-book successful for nine months, giving us 120 pounds of honey, then the first of February all the bees vanished.

We bought a new box of bees with a queen and dumped them into the hive end of April. Within the week the worker bees were building supersedure cells, which means they aren’t happy with the queen and want to create a new one.

We weren’t getting good egg laying with our queen and knew the bees weren’t happy, so we bought a new queen for $30 and installed her two weeks ago. They continued to build supersedure cells, and we can’t find her or any eggs, so assume the worker bees killed her.

The queen lays 1,500 eggs a day. Since we have no eggs, this means every day we’re 1,500 bees less than the day before, plus another 500 to 1,500 that die from old age every day, so our hive is disappearing. They won’t have enough to protect their honey from other bees.

Saw a couple hundred dead bees on the ground, so our first thought is pesticides. Farmers rotate their crops every year, so maybe this year’s spraying practices affected us . . . honey bees travel 2-6 miles to forage, and that includes a lot of farmland and pesticides.

Check again next week and take any honey we can, then start again next year with our third new hive in three years.

This is not the way it was to go.

Status Report 224

When I was 30
my poetic metaphors were
Elvis, Richard Nixon, and Marilyn Monroe

Now at 70
it’s Sisyphus and status reports

– Smith, 7.5.2016



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