Thursday, September 9, 2010

FJA Leaders Volunteer at Sweet Virginia

Our returning Food Justice Alliance members have been working extra hard to make the beginning of this year big. As a Labor Day excursion we trekked to Gainsville, VA, to spend the day with Beekeeper Dan and the Sweet Virginia Bees.

While on the farm, we built and painted future honey bee homes. It's important that they are assembled tightly and painted meticulously, so that water, intruders, and wind don't get in.

Per Labor Day tradition, we had a FEAST of delicious end-of-summer fare, veggie burgers, sweet corn, snap peas, melon, berries, tomato & mozzarella salad, watermelon, and grilled peaches!! YUM.

Then...we played with bees! This time of year, they need to be fed. Seeing as we have taken their winter store of honey for ourselves, beekeepers feed their bees starting in August, about once a week until mid-November, then every few weeks until February. Feeding keeps the bees strong and healthy through the winter, so they can have a head start early Spring. The syrup that beekeepers feed with is usually just sugar water.

When a beekeeper opens a beehive, she first smokes the bees with a smoker. The smoke, which is just dry leaves, grass, and sometimes twine, calms the bees who's job it is to guard the hive. We don't want them thinking that we are attacking them, just poking around a little, making sure all is well inside the box.

Philanthropist Dan, who donates all honey proceeds to charity, also has a Love Through Zinnias Program. He grows hundreds of Zinnias, arranges them in vases, and gives them to hospital patients. We helped Dan pick Zinnias and he let us arrange them and take some home.

All in all, a wonderful Labor Day, filled with sun, fun, and good company.

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