Thank You Bees and Lady Bird Johnson

A couple weeks ago, my neighbor discovered a bee swarm on one of our fence posts. (When I first saw it, the swarm was twice the size of the one pictured.) Being a conservationist, I was concerned the swarm was honeybees. Being a paranoid dog owner/foster, I was worried what could happen if dogs and bees met. Thankfully, my ever-calm hubby hopped on the Internet and called Little Giant Beekeepers.

The woman he spoke with said the swarm was probably resting after their hive had been disturbed. They’d send out scouts, find a new home and move in a day or two. But, if we wanted, they could send a beekeeper. With me imagining one or more dogs not having the sense to leave the bees alone, getting stung, and having an allergic reaction, we opted for the beekeeper.

Turned out the bees were honeybees. When Miguel came, he suited up, and with an Amazon box and brush in hand, he swept them into the box! He accomplished the task amazingly fast. (Miguel later told us once the queen is in the box, the remaining bees pretty much follow.) Then he taped the box shut and said the bees would be relocated.

The bee incident made me thinking about Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy. This time of year, wildflowers, particularly Texas’ state flower bluebonnets, bloom along highways and in medians, continuing the conservation efforts she started decades ago. According to http://www.pbs.org/ladybird, on January 27, 1965, Lady Bird wrote in her diary, “Getting on the subject of beautification is like picking up a tangled skein of wool. All the threads are interwoven—recreation and pollution and mental health, and the crime rate, and rapid transit, and highway beautification, and the war on poverty, and parks—national, state and local.”

I’ve always felt passionately about issues. Rarely am I on the fence. These days, two of my soap box issues are conservation and saving honeybees. I keep thinking about planting bee friendly plants–sage, salvia, lavender, clover and native wildflowers. Honeybees are struggling to survive. I believe we all need to do our part to help. After all, as Lady Bird said, everything is interwoven, and honeybees pollinate most plants, including our food. No bees? Life will get tough for other animals. Humans included.

I think the bee swarm was the universe telling me to quit talking about it and improve my garden. This weekend I intend to take a tip from Lady Bird Johnson and plant flowers, because like she believed, “beauty can improve the mental health of a society,” and of course, I’ll choose bee friendly plants. We should be kind to our planet and its inhabitants, honeybees included. We’re in this together, and we should keep the Earth healthy. As French president Macron said, there is no Planet B. 

Tonight I’ll select one reader who leaves a comment to receive a Book Club wine glass and a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy, where my heroine runs a B&B, The Bluebonnet Inn.

Julie Benson
Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.
Updated: May 2, 2018 — 7:22 am

45 Comments

  1. Good morning, everyone! Today I’m working my other day job–substitute teaching. I’ll be popping in and out today when I can to chat, but please leave a comment to be entered for the giveaway!

  2. I always plant a bee friendly flower patch. When we were younger, my husband kept a hive. Got 60 -90 lbs of honey a year. took first place at our county fair for wild flower honey.

    1. Estella, your husband kept a hive?! That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but have thought it would take way more talent than I possess. And 60-90 pounds a year?! You had some busy bees. I recently learned that honey tastes different based on where it comes from and what type of plants the bees visit. How is wildflower honey different taste wise?

  3. I would have freaked out. I was severely allergic to bees when I was younger. I don’t know if I have grown out of it or not, but I don’t want to find out. I wish I could grow flowers in my yard, but I have never been good at growing anything. And I really don’t spend much time outside when it gets hot. I only have one houseplant and it’s an ivy because you pretty much can’t kill those even if I miss my weekly watering.

    1. Janine, I was pretty freaked out, too. Then we talked to Little Giant Beekeepers and they said honeybees are pretty harmless. (Unless you’re allergic, of course.) But with fostering dogs, I didn’t want to take the chance. We have three fosters right now. I was afraid one of them would get stung.

      It’s funny what you said about growing plants. I’m the opposite. Anything I try to grow in my house dies. But, if I plant them outside, they thrive. Better not let me near your ivy. I’d manage to kill it. I guarantee.

      1. Yea, you definitely don’t want to take a chance with the dogs.

  4. I agree we really need to save the honey bee without them this would be a sad place. The bees is what keeps things going. There is nothing like raw local honey, so good for you.

    1. Raw honey is the one sugar I haven’t eliminated because of what you said. People are discovering a tablespoon of raw honey a day from the area you live in can really make a difference with allergies. I’ve even heard it can help with wounds. Amazing stuff. And you’re right, we’d be in sorry shape if we lose honeybees. Thanks for stopping by today to chat.

  5. Good morning Julie- If it weren’t for bees I think the human population and all our food would be non-existent, no one knows how important the bees are for all of our survival. Thank you for posting such a wonderful blog you have a very wonderful beautiful spring May Day.

    1. Tonya, I think you’re right. We do underestimate how important bees our for our survival. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and thanks for stopping by today!

  6. I love your post, Julie! With you as one of their champions, the honey bees will thrive!

    No need to enter me. I buy your books!

    Big hugs!

    Light,
    Nancy

    1. Nancy, miss you girl! We have got to catch up!

  7. We have a friend who keeps bees and we get our raw honey from him. There was a huge swarm once at my parents farm and he came with a box and got them all in it. It was very interesting and entertaining to watch him.

    1. Susan, it sure was entertaining to watch. Hubby and I stood out there the whole time Miguel was working and we asked a bunch of questions. I learned a lot. You’re so lucky to have a friend that keeps bees to give you honey. Thanks for stopping by today.

  8. I don’t think the general population realizes how important bees are to humans. My daughters had a biology teacher that tried to instill in her students how important bees are to human survival.

    1. Glenda, I know people don’t realize how important bees are. I didn’t until not too long ago. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  9. Saving the bees is important since they are vital to the environment. I am apprehensive when there are so many.

    1. April, I was nervous, too. Not only was I concerned about the dogs, we were also worried they’d set up their hive in our house. Since then, though, I read somewhere that bees are making their homes under solar panels. We have those on our house, and my guess is, that’s where they probably would’ve chosen. I haven’t decided whether that would be a good or bad thing.

  10. Bees contribute a great deal to our ecosystem and provide a great deal as well. Thanks for this lovely post.

    1. Anne, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Fascinating and interesting. I had read about bees and knew that they were necessary.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ellie.

  12. The farms around us have honeybee boxes all over… Sometimes they pop into our area for the flowers and hummingbird feeders. They do love the sage plants!

    1. Colleen, what a great idea for farms to have honeybee boxes! I have one sage plant, but haven’t seen a lot of bees around it. Maybe I need to plant some more, plus some other flowers. Thanks for stopping by to chat.

  13. I didn’t not know that honeybee’s will leave the box or boxes if they are disturbed too much. Thanks for the info and insight into honeybee’s.

    1. Kim, I didn’t know that either. There has been a lot of roofing going on around here. Our neighbor also replaced his fence. Either of those things could’ve disturbed the bees. The beekeeper also said it might have been that the hive split because there was another queen born. I couldn’t believe how much I learned.

  14. What a wonderful blog. You spoke to two of the things I really care about: admiration for what Lady Bird J. did for our environment and my concern for honey bees. (BTW, my mom went to high school in Texas and she always spoke so very fondly of bluebonnets.) And thank you for saving the honey bees! You’re a champion in my eyes. 🙂

    I confess I berate our trend to make our lawns look like astroturf, getting rid of natural flowers we see as weeds but bees need. I’m probably a bane to my neighbors because I don’t use chemicals on my yard, and I let buttercups, dandelions, cornflowers, daisies and the like bloom for the bees’ benefit. (I also don’t mow too close to the ground as most do which is harmful for earthworms, another part of nature we need but have been harming.)

    To top it all off, recently I read Roundup is now showing up in our food supply!

    The best flowers for bees are wildflowers native to your area, but others are clematis, foxglove, honeysuckle, snapdragons, Black-eyed Susans, lilacs (I have them just everywhere including across the front of my house), hollyhocks, hyacinths, classic rosemary, and dahlias. (Rhododendrons, azaleas and oleander are supposedly bad for bees. )

    Thanks again for a blog that obviously spoke to me, and then cause me to speak! 😉

    1. Eliza, yikes about the Roundup. That chemical showing up in our food supply is more than scary. We have got to stop using such deadly stuff. I, too, wish we’d quit trying to make our yards so perfect. It wastes water and is working against what nature intended based on the climate. Thanks so much for the list of bee friendly plants. Now I have something to look for when I go to the nursery this weekend!

      Thanks for leaving such a great comment, fellow environmentalist and bee advocate!

  15. I loved this blog! Bees are so important to our world. My husband, (Rev. Klockers in the Estes Park series), is a gardener. He loves to plant beautiful things like lilacs (my favorite) which attract bees. I was so glad to hear that the bee story had a good ending and your beloved pups weren’t harmed. Love and hugs! Miss you!

    1. So good to hear from you, Jeanne. If it hadn’t been for the dogs, we would’ve left the bees alone to move on when they were ready. But you know my dogs and someone would’ve gotten into trouble!

      Miss you, too! Give my love to Walter!

  16. Thank you for sharing your great post, Julie. We certainly needed our bees!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. Good to hear from you!

  17. We need to teach our children about the food chain. So many have no idea how the food got to their table. And, sadly, do not even care. Let us begin with the bee.

    1. Jerri Lynn, one thing I think would help is if more schools had a garden at school. You’re so right. Not enough kids have an access to a farm to see how food gets to their table. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  18. An interesting g post. Thanks Julie. I don’t like being anywhere near bees. The last time I was dying 3-4 times in a row in my hand. I woke that night from horrendous pain and my hand twice it’s size. But they are important in the grand scheme of things.

    1. Yikes Carol, I don’t blame you for not wanting to be around bees. I love honey and think bees are vital to our environment, but I’m not brave enough to be a beekeeper! Thanks for stopping by today.

  19. Two years ago I learned how important it is for honey bees to have water nearby. A local aviary had hives set on the edge of our neighbors squash field. When the center pivot irrigation systems were not watering the fields the bees came looking for water at our water tank in the sheep pen. I filled the tank daily with a hose and neither the sheep nor I had a problem until the day I accidentally rested my arm on a fence panel without looking for bees first. Not a good experience especially when my arm swelled from wrist to elbow. Usually the bees were not aggressive. I can understand your concern for the dogs.

    1. Wow, Alice. The swelling sounded awful. Great thank you for you and the sheep sharing your water.

  20. We have considered putting a hive in our yard, but we are home sporadically. I realize they pretty much take care of themselves, but we are next to a bear preserve section of the Cherokee National Forest. A bear attacked our son in the pasture adjacent to our back yard. I am sure they would have no trouble finding a hive and enjoying what it offered. I wish more people realized just how important bees and other pollinators are. So much of our wonderful Earth has been damaged or is in danger. Every little bit we can do to help her out is important, even just planting a few flowers.

    1. OMG, Patricia, my oldest son was attacked by a bear on a Scout hike in Alaska. He still has some wicked scars. How about your son?

      1. Julie, Sorry to hear about your son. Our son had his left forearm clawed. We were out of town and he never did go to the doctor, even though the wild life officer who came to do the report said he really should. He has had tattoos done over the scars, so it is hard to tell what is still there. He had one deep gouge and a couple shallow ones. He did bleed a lot. He did more damage diving through the barbed wire fence to get to the house. The muscle was damaged a little, but the nerve damage is there. It has cut down on what he can feel. He is a blacksmith. One day he was working in the forge and could smell something cooking. He looked down and realized a hot coal had landed on his arm and was burning him. He couldn’t feel it.
        It sounds like your son’s encounter was much more serious than our son’s.

  21. I think she’s right about flowers contributing to our mental health. I always look forward to planting the first Spring annuals.

    1. I’m the same way, Linda!

  22. Julie, you live very near me. I’ve lived in Dallas several times, right now, we’re in Arlington. I think it’s wonderful what you did for the bees. They need all the help we can give them, otherwise, as Tonya said, I don’t know if anything would grow in the world again.

    1. Hebby, so good to here from you!

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