Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Galvez Productions

         Welcome to Galvez productions, the base of our Mobile Interactive Educational Space, currently parked in front of my Spanish ally and I's new Summer place here in Andalusia, Lower Patria to be exact. We have views of the Ocean, and on fog free days, even Africa!
         Yesterday, our landlord, neighbor, farmer, and overall Andalus Retiree, caught me by surprise when he shot two snakes with one bullet. I helped him plant squashes last week, which have already shot up, and he's promised me the 10 chickens that will be hatching come next week. Within this same exchange In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to here that Chickens like Worker bees take 21 days to come to life. Which more curiously is the same amount of days it takes for the earth to fully rotate around the sun . Therefore the chicken in the Egg, or The bee in its Cell is exposed to all angles of our earths essential life force before it births. Super Solid Preparation to say the Least. I never underrated chickens but I happened to find this fascinating. There are at least 12 chickens already, 3 Roosters which sing to us all night long, 2 race dogs, 4 Turtle doves, and a beautiful chocolate colored horse. We're right up the road from where I have been doing my Queen Breeding work for the past 4 months and I like to think that its those bees that fill our garden and offer me the chance to educate Ricardo on this often taken for granted yet necessary insect.

Daniel y Carlo Preping Breeding Hives.

Looking for queens before Colony division.

Me! Bare handed, catching and caging a freshly mated queen bee. As  you may imagine, it's tricky work. Any fast movement or bump catches the bees attention and sends them into protection mode, which means there is stinging to be done. And Yes I have been stung
Queen bee and 5 worker bees, in their candy closed plastic cage. They are delivered and placed into their future hives as such. The plastic tube facing down is packed with sugar, which upon arrival to its new colony,  the bees eat away at as the familiarize and accept the scent of their new queen.
       Over the last fews months I have helped Daniel place hives with people here in the community and as the time goes on I am currently falling into the roll of beekeeping educator and learning alongside the people. Not to mention I also officially have my own hive which I am keeping behind Susana and Indio's place, and sharing with Ayun and Silvio their 4 and 7 year old. We have had some great classes together so far and I am really looking forward for those yet to come.
     Theres is a futbol match against the neighboring small town come June 22nd and for the past 3 weeks now I have been training our potential team of village 6-7  and 8 year olds. It turns out there's not a whole lot of organized activity around and as a result all the kids get word and come to play. Thankfully I was well trained for this and between Spanish, Andalus, English and Spanglish,  I do my best to keep the varying group of kids entertained and productive.

I'll bee writing again soon!

Love from Spain!
Breath, Will and Imagination. Its all creation from here!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Hello once again from the recently rained upon lands of Andalusia, Spain, the sun is hot and shiny, la levanta blows harder some days than others and beekeeping continues to open one door after the other. We've spent the last few weeks making friends, putting in gardens, and educating the community about the benefits of bees. Whether its art projects with the kids, or in depth conversations about the effects of queen bee breeding and race integration, everyone seems to be interested. Through a series of successive phone calls over the weekend from beekeepers across Spain and even southern France it turns out we are the only active queen bee breeders around....Therefor there has been quite a bit of organization happening.  
    Meanwhile, I sent out a brief project description to friends wanting to start a project in Burkina Faso, and am hoping to hear from them shortly. Due to the recent coup d'tat in in Mali, not only am I keeping my fingers crossed that the project gets accepted but I am wishing for the peace of the country,  our friends and all our family along the route. So I'm holding my breath and staying busy.

I'm still without a camera so I thought I would include the project description for entertainment purposes.


Holistic Community Development through Apiculture Initiation Overview
Pilot program taking place in Karfiguela, Banfora, Burkina Faso lead by Kahlyn Keilty-Lucas
30th March 2012

The Pollinization of Honey Bees is essential to our environment as well as the security of our food sources and the closer we bring them to our communities the more sustainable we become.  Through community engagement and education the introduction of modern beekeeping in Karfiguela Banfora will demonstrate how beekeeping based on the principles of bee health, nutrition and multiplication will carry forward the same benefits to the people involved.  Using this practice as the foundation to the community’s agriculture practice, crops will increase due to the increase in pollinization, the community will have direct access to the nutritional and health benefits of honey, pollen, propolis, and bee venom, jobs will be created for women, children, and the disabled, artisan work will be sourced to local wood and metal workers and surplus honey and wax can be sold to local markets.
Step 1  Community Engagement and Resource Preparation.
·         Establish Working Site in Community- 1 Hectare of arid land for Beehive placement and Closed Honey Extraction Working Site including exemplary mellifera local crop gardens.
(Land as donation from Village? Do we have access to seed banks?)

·         Bee Sourcing- Access to Local Apis Mellifera Andosoni Bees.
(James do you have the info from the French bee center outside of Banfora on their prices on Bees? More money, More Bees…)

·         Wood sourcing and Carpentry work for removable panel Langstroth Beehives.
(The more money we can get here the more Beehives we can make! Do we have a general idea of local wood and labor prices?)

·         Local Confectioners in the Preparation of Protective clothing, boots, gloves and mosquito net covered hat. (Local prices of Mosquito Net and thick material)

Step 2 Education
As a trained Queen Bee Breeder and apiculture worker, carpenter, community worker and overall beekeeping enthusiast I am prepared to guide the community through the preparation, installation and education needed to pursue a sustainable beekeeping project.

·         Education through the Arts- Initial Bee Consciousness will be shared with the community through GAIA (Partnering Sustainable Development Organization in Spain), Galvez Productions and our mobile interactive educational space and theatre. Participation of village children is ideal in forming initial collaboration and in achieving the level of respect needed for a successful beekeeping practice.

·         Hands on Community Workshop- Week long hands on Introductory Workshop using Bee Health, Nutrition and Multiplication as the foundation. Appropriate Beekeeping techniques and methods will be described as well as practiced. (Depending on the amount of Grant I would like to put a price on our education programs if possible. Curriculum can be provided.)

·         Job Orientation-Throughout the preparation process interested and eager individuals will be identified through their initiatives and Apiculture roles will be identified.

Step 3. Project Execution
The development of a bee colony is directly dependent on the nectar and pollen available in the habitat. Traditionally there are two periods of honey harvest in Burkina Faso, one in June-July and another in November-December. Pollen collection also takes place the month leading up, and will likewise be taken advantage of for the protein/vitamin rich nutritional benefits. Preparations will be made in order to reach these dates with maximum honey reserves. Working in Honor of Bee Health, Nutrition and Multiplication we can ensure that this will happen and that our future harvests will only continue to grow exponentially.
Once the products are harvested, Honey and Pollen will be available to all contributing villages for personal consumption and health and all excess honey will be available for marketing and sales.

Step 4. Multiplication
Throughout the process efficient and productive queen bees will be identified and used as the basis of the queen bee rearing techniques. As a strong queen bee makes for a strong beehive we can not only control the productivity of our hive but use her strong genes to produce more strong and efficient queens in order to create beehives for sister projects to come…

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm up to my ears in honey, honey!

In honor of my beloved world traveled Canon Power shot camera, which took its last breath here in El Pelmar this weekend, I'll let the photos tell the story this week.
 One of the oldest inhabited Peninsulas in Europe, with the main  town residing in a space of 1800 meters long by 1200 meters wide, Carnival in Cadiz was a bit of everything. We found the perfect place to park for the weekend beside El Castillo de Santa Catalina and just outside of Barrio de la Vina, where the majority of carnival activities happen until the early hours of the morning. 

Days and nights were filled with Gaditanos, (people from Cadiz) who take great  pride in their Chirigotas, clevery written thematic songs, performed in groups of up to 20 people and dressed in intricate matching costumes. Many spend the months leading up to the festivities practicing their performances in preparation for the competition, where only the best of the best receive the privilege of  taking to the streets via the floats. The floats then find their way through various neighborhoods during the day and again at the night.

Here I am in front of the water tap in Plaza de Fallo, the main theater in Cadiz, where the  original  Chirigota contests take place for the month leading up to Carnival. As the contests goes on the groups get cut from the contests and begin to line the streets surrounding the plaza. These same groups, known as "Illegals" continue performing through the celebration, and take to the streets at all hours of the day, and surrounded by eager listeners. 

After 3 full days and nights of Gaditano culture and plenty of Fried Fish, Shrimp and squid, typical to the peninsula, Ramon, Nick ( a befriended traveler on his way to Paraguay) and I made our way back to our cove in El Pelmar. Back in our tranquil, creative minded friend filled neighborhood we continued elaborating La Galvez. We continue to put to use the many items collected along the way, and picture above shows Ramon putting the last stitches of our matching Minnesota born, taken to Serbia and now brought to Spain upholstered furniture.

We took advantage of the relaxed Monday night atmosphere, and presented the first of many film nights in the neighborhood, with one of my favorite films by Richard Linklater, Waking Life. We made a fire in our recently acquired BBQ, set up chairs, our bench and a bean bag, and projected the film on our friends house wall under the stars and beside the ocean. With all the passers by we were 10 that enjoyed the festivities.

Before departing for another week of Apiculture in La Muela, we dined on a plate of Spaghetti's and sat around for a bit of music before sending Nick on his way. The Accordion, one practice session at a time, begins to be softer on the ears.  

We made it back to la Muela just in time for joining of 2 beehives, the first of many technical lessons to come.

The previous evening Daniel situated one strong beehive immediately on top of another, leaving the 2 separate entities to familiarize their scents. The following morning, we joined the beehives together by removing the queen bee from the top box , removed the box's floor, lined news paper on top of the bottom panels, and placed the recently orphaned bees on top of the paper. Following the scent of the queen bee below them, the young worker bees eat their way through the newspaper and acquaint themselves with their new queen by alimenting her larva with nectar, pollen and Royal Jelly.

Here Daniel and I are jarring the honey from the last falls harvest.

Due to the cool temperature of the Apiculture shed where the honey is kept through the fall and the winter, the honey crystallized and took a grainy form. In order to jar it at ease, we used a double boiler system and slowing warmed up the honey and brought it back to a creamy substance.

A panel in position to be scraped and placed in the centrifugal force honey extractor.

A specially designed pollen collecting house placed in front of the main entrance of the beehive removes half of the pollen carried back by the worker bees. The pollen is scraped off their back legs by the entrance and drops into the removal drawer below.

In preparation for queen bee rearing, I assisted Daniel's brother Carlos in the fabrication of waxed lined Queen cells where we place the larva transplants.

With Daniel's ingenuity and Carlo's artisan skills, we modified a standard beehive into 4 separate spaces to be used as the queen bee's first home. The advantage being that we need less bees to support the living space of the colony, and can work withing our limited resources.

He we are modifying the size of the false nutrient filled panel to fit in the baby,

After a week of preparation and honey harvesting we followed the sun back down to El Pelmar and spent the weekend as artisans ourselves selling fresh local honey, karite (Shea Butter from Burkina Faso), necklaces, masks, and wire figures from Burkina as well.

After a successful weekend of sales and waiting for the weekly concert to start up, we watched our Austrian friend Norbert fly his gyro copter back and forth through the sunset. Moments like these I really am beside myself.

Not long after we went back to La Muela, where my first queen bee larva transplants began underway.

Step one in the translarve is finding and removing a panel of freshly laid eggs from the beehive. All eggs turn into Larva between their 3rd and 4th day of existence and Queen bee breeders take advantage of this 24 hour period to transplant the larva from the panel into an individualized cell.

One at a time, larva are transplanted into the wax molded cells using a dentists metal scoop, and the full panel of 26 queen cells is placed into an orphaned beehive full of young royal jelly giving worker bees. Following their natural intuition the worker bees fill the cells with Royal Jelly and the queen cells take their form. Before coming to life between their 14th and 16th day of existence the queen cells will be placed into their respective beehives.

The mild mannered Carnican bee in action.

We had the pleasure of befriending a commercial beekeeper in the area interested in Daniel's approach to Queen Bee rearing, and he was fascinated by the difference of race behavior. Unlike the aggressive Iberica bee local to the country, the Carnican bee can be worked with free of gloves and protection. 

We were invited his beehives and were fascinated by his collection of cork hives. As one of the oldest methods of beekeeping in Spain, the bees build their honeycombs naturally inside the hollowed out cork trees.

In all the activity a friendship was sparked and we loaded La Galvez with boxes filled with 2 strong queen bees and her workers to take with us back to la Muela for breeding.

We finished off our visit by visiting his families honey production warehouse, and petting his pure bread Spanish stallions.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bee's Knees

Hello once again from Andalusia,

Me and the beehive!

I'm currently writing from my office here in the passengers seat of la Galvez, parked next to my friend Hector's house, below his terrace and patio with beach views here in El Pelmar. The waves of the Atlantic ocean are crashing onto the beach and the Sun is glaring into the window, due to the magnifying effects of the van window, my office is even solar heated. Life continues to be good to me.
Ramon and the tower of beehives, all to be cleaned and sorted.

After our initial arrival to the area this past week, Ramon and I have more or less settled into the swing of things at Daniel's house in La Muela. As I mentioned previously, Daniel is currently turning his land into a queen bee rearing center, and we arrived just in time to lend a needed hand.

A surprise in a box. The mouse turned the beehive into a home.
While Daniel was in Chili the previous 6 months spending time with his big time Chilain Apiculture Uncle, his beehives went unattended to, and as a result require a but of attention in order to recuperate. Just as moths venture into the humidity of the wardborbe  and slowly eat away at our clothes during winter months, these fine insects do the same inside the beehives. Attracted to the moisture of the wax left behind after the last of the honey harvests of the fall and winter months, the moths procreate and lay their eggs, while each cocoon slowly eats away the pine wood consisting of the beehive boxes. Their cacoons are stronger than they look and the beginning of the beehive preparation process begins by knocking them loose, scraping them as well as the remaining bits of Propolis (tree resin collected by the bees and mixed with their saliva to be used as a glue, heat retainer and antibacterial within the hive) off of all surface areas. The 10 panels within the hive are also separated from the main box and the boxes are inspected and separated according to their condition.
View from the office.

The physical work only leads me to more curiosity into the world of bees, and in addition to asking every question that comes up, Daniel has offered me his extensive but concise library of spanish language beekeeping books. I have spent the past week familiarizing myself with the livlehood of the bees, their behaviour as well as products. As nature's pollinater the worker bee (non egg laying female bee) ventures up to 3 km away from its home in search of pollen and nectar filled plants. Through a very cleaver kick action of the back legs, the worker bee picks up and stores a grain of pollen on each of its side legs in order to bring back to the hive. Back at this hive, the Pollen is stored alongside the egg laying area, and used to feed the growing larva. Meanwhile the nectar is collected by the tongue of the bee and carried back to the hive in its stomach. While in it's stomach the nectar mixes with natural enzymes of the bees, including fructoses, and when the bee returns home, the nectar mix is regurgitated and passed on to a fellow worker, before being packed, covered and stored into the hexagonal wax cell they call home.
I love the uniform!

Inside the beehive the Nurse Bee, the other non egg laying female bee, between her 3rd and 10th day of life,  is responsible for feeding royal jelly, the vitamin B rich substance produced in their hypofaringic glands, to all larva in their first 3 days of life, as well as the Queen bee for her entire life. Here I might add that the Queen bee does nothing more than eat Royal Jelly and Lay Eggs. Not Bad.

A healthy panel full of Larva, and Pollen

Anyways, this is the basic breakdown on the action between the hives, and I continue to by amazed by their simplification of such a complex task. Each hive has between 60,000 to 100,000 members, and due to the Queen bee's gluttony the worker bees split and organize the work between themselves. I won't go too much into the detail in their communication, but between the vibrational frequencies sent between their hind legs, their precise abdomen shakes used to indicate the direction of a plentiful harvest, and their 5 multi-directional color perceiving eyes, the bees have a sensational  system of organization.
Bees dancing out side their front door

Thursday, we went up to Daniel's office which happens to be bluffside with a spectacular view of the beautiful coastline, where he is actively recuperating 30 beehives. Dressed in the full bee suit, Ramon, Daniel, and I inspected the state and development of each of the hives. Early Spring is the time that the bees are growing their family so we focused on inspecting the state of their development. We took note on the quantity of panels filled with larva and depending on their production, altered the order of the panels within the hive or substituted an empty panel for honey. Because it is early in the season and the bees are in a period of recuperation we had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with just about every stage of bee larva development.

Inspection time.

Eucalyptus clearing.

Our bee time has been shared between forest clearing work, and once again Ramon's Chainsaw skills as well as forestal work have come in hand. In order to clear space and open the land up to more sunlight we have taken down quite a few Eucalypti, Arizona Pines, Cedars and wild Olives that have overgrown the space. As a result of our wood clearing work, our week has been filled with the 3 stages of warmth, cutting, hauling and then burning the fruit of our labor in bonfire form. Which of course just isn't the same without chocolate, graham crackers, and marsh-mellow roasting on a stick, though I am still trying to find a way to introduce this to the Spanish people

South African Cave drawing.

Spanish Cave drawing.
La Galvez is in top form, and my list of sewing projects is
happily growing!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hello from Andalusia

My life is like a story book, and I am doing my best to keep it that way. 

Good Bye Madrid
After a successful stay in Madrid, Ramon and I have made our way to Andalusia, the south of Spain. We spent the month of January apovechando (the concise Spanish word for saying to take advantage of) a great apartment in Madrid, and ended our stay with a fresh coat of white paint for all the walls. We simultaneously uploaded photos and a description of the apartment onto the World Wide Web, and were instantly visited by a plethora of perspective apartment renters. Ramon says that he got a little tired repeating the same details over and over again, but I continue to think that it was a great way to meet many interesting people.    

Anyways we did the best we could with the rental process and finally tore ourselves away from the city in order to prepare The Galvez, our beloved, 4 gear Serbian Modified van for her continuation south. We spent the week staying in San Martin de la Vega with Ramon's mother Daniela, constructed pull out boxes that fit under a fold up bed, installed a full service cooking unit, and mounted a fine piece of Serbian Art. Like most tasks shared between Ramon and I, the project offered us an opportunity to practice our patience as well as ability to listen. When both are done well, we call this communication.

Daniela overlooking my carpentry work.
 Though a bit resistant at first, by the end of our 7 day stay of sharing our company as well as failed food recipes, on my part that is, as Daniela is officially not a fan of sweet potatoes and the Serbian white bean recipe was a failure due to toughness of the skin (which could be a result of old beans or the lack of soaking time), she warmed up to us, and even donated 28 square meters of strong durable fabric, to the pull out roof tarp we continue to prepare. We collected the rest of our things in Madrid, I bought one of my favorite chocolate palmeras (the best cookie in town), and we showered before taking off to Grenada!

Palaces of Water.
The View of Granada from the Royal Gardens in La Alhambra
We arrived in the evening and parked aside La Alhambra, the first Arabic Castle in Andalusia. We once again spent the day losing ourselves in the rich diversity of the area. Surrounded by Eucalypti, pines and many other coniferous species I failed to verbally comprehend from Spanish to English, the surrounding area at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains offers a paradise of nature. In 1237 Muhamed the first Al-Ahmar, arrived to Andalusia and was immediately attracted to the access of Water. Something most of us take for granted, but at the basic level of our well being, is essential. He was the first of many inhabitants as well as artists to create the architecturally beautiful space we now recognize as La Alhambra, and as I like to see it, all in celebration of water.

Olives, Olives and more Olives
We caught the sunset on the freeway  and spent the night camped in Grazalema National Park heading south towards El Peurto de Santa Maria. Two and a half years ago I made my way to Laos searching for my passion in life, and stumbled across a Gaditano man mid-way through the construction of an adobe house in a small village outside of Vang Viene. I spent a month working alongside him and other travelers passing by, and after his departure decided it was only right to carry the project through. I stayed for another 2 months animating the construction with all those around, as well as assimilated myself into the local culture. An amazing experience to say the least and a contact worth hanging on to. Pedro and I were in contact the previous year when I arrived to Andalusia in search of beekeeping, and this time he invited Ramon and I to spend a few days at his house. As it turns out, Pedro has mounted an organization of Sustainable Tourism Routes and invited us to collaborate with him. We left his and Anchax's place with work, and are now officially preparing the information for our interactive educational caravan in route to Burkina Faso.
Welcome to the Abyss of beauty in Andalusia.

I continue to believe that everything happens for a reason, and our arrival to Cadiz and the amazing Casa Caracol, the hostel where I lent a hand last year, was no exception. Nico, the owner of the joint, spent the past 2 weeks building beautiful wood bunk beds, which also happened to weigh at least 50 kilos, each side. We arrived just in time for their installation. Due to the style of the 1900's architecture, the tall and narrow buildings required using a pulley system operated from the roof top in order to lift the furniture from the street, up and through the window. Ramon was able to put the cords that we carry with us in the van as well as his tree climbing knots to use, and over the course of the 5 hours spent tying, lifting and unloading the recently finished furniture to its appropriate place in the hostel, we had the opportunity to catch up with all the beautiful people in my favorite city of Cadiz. There’s nothing like a little team work to bring people together.

View looking up, this was the trial run,
we soon after replaced the platform for
well tied knots directly on the furniture.
We haven’t stopped moving the potato since our arrival, and after a successful pair of days in Cadiz we made our way to La Muela, where my friend Daniel is turning his house in el campo (rural house) into one of Spain’s only queen bee rearing centers. We spent the night sharing stories in front of the fire, and catching ourselves up to speed and the morning, stretching, chatting and playing accordion in the beautiful sunlight. Daniel has a long list of work to take care of in order to prepare, and it seems that Ramon and I have arrived at just the right time to lend a helping hand.

Needless to say I am very excited about my return to Andalusia…

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Carnival is just around the corner...