Bee Collection – Specimen II, Irene Kaoru

“Specimen II”, by Irene Kaoru,

I bought this original photographic print from artist and writer Irene Kaoru ages ago. It is a part of her ‘Flora & Fauna’ group, “a set of macro photographs of plant and insect life, created with an eye toward tiny organic details and unusual perspectives on often common things.”

Would love to purchase the other half of this diptych, ”Specimen I”.


Bee Collection – Photo by a Stained Glass Artist

My obsession with bees started before I was born.  I was destined for obsession.   My collection of books on bees borders on obscene and my love of hexagonal patterns, yellow, black, and Laguiole knife logos is a lot odd.

That said, I couldn’t be more picky when it comes to collecting bee imagery, books, art, jewelry, and packaging. Most visual depictions of bees make me gag with I-love-art-but-not-JoAnn-Fabrics-printed-fleece-with-cartoon-bees disdain. Etsy searches for really great bee art take far to many hours of dedicated gleaning.  However, I have amassed a bookmark collection of amazing bee art by incredible artists and will highlight them as I find them.  Below, is a beautiful photograph, in a rich, dense color palette. I happened upon the photograph on Facebook and was thrilled to find out that my college friend and fellow fine arts major was the genius behind the photo. He’s a photographer but is primarily a stained glass artist.  Can’t you tell!?

Bees aren’t cute. They are amazing. And powerful. As Zach describes with perfection.

The Helpful Place

My friend and photographer, Chris ( recently visited IronBee to take photographs.  The light conditions weren’t great that day, but with the help of gold foil reflectors, he managed to capture some stunning shots.

What you’re seeing here is a lobe of comb just starting on a new frame.  “The Helpful Place” is a paint stirrer we use in each frame as a starting point for the bees to build their comb. Perfect placement…not in any way staged. I really have to take the photo to the lovely, generous man at the hardware store who gifed me hundreds of stirrers for free!

William D. Fretz – The Source of My Bee Neurosis

I’m sure he was a great guy.  I never knew him. He was a bootstrapper, a hustler.  Making it work with little means.  William was an academic at heart and wanted to be a teacher.  However, his dad died when he was young and he was forced to take over his father’s farm to make enough money to provide for his mother and sister.

The farm was comprised of a dabbling of creatures – pigs, cows, chickens, bees, vegetables, fruit… The bees feasted on his apple orchard and I can only imagine the flavor…William was well respected as a self-made scholar and theologian and, as my father recently told me, had his nose in a book more often than a farmer probably should have.

Side note: To ward off questions in advance…there is no such thing as Pine Honey.  I think he was going for Fine Honey…a scholar he may have been…not a proofreader.

Installing the Bees: Newbie Calm

Sara is a mom.  I am not.  However, as we went through the process of picking up the bees from the post office, delivering them to the warehouse, smoking/spritzing them, and finally installing them, I realized we kept using expectant mother language.  We had prepared for this but we felt so unprepared. We thought we were really nervous, but in the face of the ‘delivery’ realized we were ultra-calm and collected. We felt highly emotional and fell instantly in love with our new troops.

The process of DUMPING thousands of bees from one box to another went exceedingly well and the bees weren’t even offdended by our horrific take on beekeepers outfits. Me in high heeled work boots and a hat with a missing component and Sara with a hat that kept falling into her face. Turns out she packs a surprisingly huge amount of brains into a very small skull.

Arrival of the Bees – God Save the Queen(s)

After weeks of begging our bee distributor to get their act together and send us the bees, we finally got word that two of them would be arriving. The third was to, for some reason, come a couple days later.  I received a frantic call from a postal worker at the office they’d been delivered to, telling me that they were, and I quote, “all escaping from the box”, “they are out on the dock”, “if you want any bees left, you better get over here soon.”  No amount of begging them to put a box on top of the bees to preserve them moved her to action, so I hopped in my car and rushed to the post office.

Oh, and here are exactly how many bees had magically ‘escaped’ from a non-existant hole in the boxes. One. Upper left corner.

Taking the Hives to the Roof. Using Rocketpacks.

Nope, nope. Not true!  We carried them up two sets of ladders, through the roof hatch, to their final destination.

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In order to save money, we ordered unassembled woodenware…yup…UNASSEMBLED. Which, at first glance, doesn’t sound so terrible.  After a taxing trek to Amish-land and back Sara realized the piles of woodenware came with no instructions.  After moments of panick, we put on our capes, grabbed our laptops and figured it out.

I recommend red nails for anyone doing manual labor. Makes things more fun…

Note below that I’m sneakily trying to reclaim the hammer while Emil is distracted with the apple.

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