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  • Happy Halloween!

    Beeware!

    During the month of October our staff has been getting into the Halloween spirit by putting together some spooky bee related stories for our social media pages. We've done our research and found some interesting and perhaps even a few disturbing customs and practices that were scary enough to share here.

    bees pollinating pumpkins

    Pumpkins at Topanga Nursery

    Did you know that pumpkins are pollinated by bees? Proof is in the above picture. When we ventured to Ventura to hand pick local pumpkins for our first ever pumpkin patch, we were pleasantly surprised to see the bees were there too. There's still time to pick up your pumpkin before Halloween. Spend $40 at Topanga Nursery or The Valley Hive and get a FREE small pumpkin of your choosing.

    (Turnip photo c/o Wikipedia, the actual lamp can be found at the Museum of Country Life in County Mayo, Ireland)

    Oh My Gourd

    If you've ever been curious about the history of pumpkin carving, you may be interested to learn how this modern day custom evolved over the centuries. Gourds, in fact, are one of the earliest plant species farmed by humans. Carving them is a tradition that can be traced back hundreds of years all over the world. For example, the Māori, (Indigenous peoples of New Zealand) have been carving lanterns out of gourds for at least 700 years!

     

    Pumpkin Folklore

    The custom of carving jack-o-lanterns, as we know them at Halloween, began in Ireland in the 19th century. These lanterns, carved out of turnips or potatoes, were created with grotesque faces to represent spirits or supernatural beings. Sometimes meant to scare people, but also they were used as a means to ward off evil spirits. Folklore around "Stingy Jack" whose bargain with Satan left him doomed to roam the earth after death with only a hollowed turnip (pictured here) to light his way is thought to be a namesake of this Halloween custom. Once this tradition was brought to North America the carvings were done with pumpkins, a gourd native to the continent.

    A female parasitic Apocephalus borealis fly about to infect a honey bee with its eggs. Photo credit: Christopher Quock
    Fly maggots bursting from a parasitized honey bee. Photo Credit: John Hafernik

    The Dreaded Zombie Bee

    "They're coming to get you Barbara."  Although the human zombies of horror lore from movies like Night of The Living Dead do not exist, we do have to watch out for zombie bees!  John Hafernik, a biologist at San Francisco State University, noticed honeybees exhibiting some abnormal behavior. These honeybees were flying from their hives at night in chilly weather to circle artificial light. After this strange occurrence the bees would fall to the ground and stagger around.

    A Parasitic Fly...Oh My!

    After placing these honeybees in a vial, Hafernik discovered the culprit, a parasitic fly called Apocephalus borealis. The female fly will inject her eggs into a crack in the honeybee's abdomen, and after about a week the larvae travel into the bee's thorax to liquefy and consume the wing muscles. Finally, the maggot bursts through the bee in the space between its head and shoulders. Hafernik recorded 24 maggots exiting a single bee! Researchers have yet to determine why the bees leave the hive at night to seek artificial light, Hafernik theorizes that the parasite manipulates the bees to move to a better spot to complete its life cycle or it could be a form of altruistic suicide. Volunteers have reported these zombees in California, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New York. So on Halloween, remember that even though our brains are safe our bees may not be!

    In Case of Death...Tell the Bees

    In medieval Europe, bees were important family members who were kept apprised of all the happenings in the household.  It was once customary for beekeepers to “tell” their bees about important events like marriages, births, deaths and travels. In case of death, the typical way to tell the bees was for the head of the household, or “goodwife of the house” to go out to the hives and knock gently to get the attention of the bees, and then in a sorrowful tune share the solemn news. Oftentimes, the news of the event was delivered in little rhymes.  It was considered bad luck if the bees were not told these things. Neglecting to do so could cause a hive to collapse or have a poor honey harvest. In the Victorian era, it became particularly important to tell the bees about deaths, and some families would even put the hives into mourning, covering them in black shrouds for a period of time.

    Bees As Sacred Messengers

    This superstitious practice was rooted in Ancient Greek and Mesopotamian cultures, where honeybees were considered sacred messengers between the natural world and the underworld. It was believed that the bees could transmit messages between people and their beloved dead. As Halloween approaches and the veil thins, pay attention to the honeybees. They might have messages for you!

    Photo Credit: Blake Little

    The Mellified Man

    The legendary mellified man, a strange but real medical confection from 16th century China, was made by mummifying human bodies in honey (the photo above is not of a mellified man but from an art exhibition by Blake Little, where subjects were drenched in honey for a photo shoot).

    Corpse Medicine

    That’s right—you read that correctly! It might sound ridiculous now, but prior to the 17th century AD, various forms of “corpse medicines” were consumed by people all over the world to treat everything from epilepsy to broken bones. Many cultures believed that the life force energy from a dead body could heal the wounds of a live one, and this led to the creation of all sorts of powders, tinctures and elixirs made from human bodies. The mellified man was one such medicine, and the process of making it was truly bizarre.

    A Body of Honey

    Elderly holy men would volunteer their bodies for this process, which began while the donors were still alive. First, the men would bathe in honey daily and eat nothing but honey for weeks, until their bodily fluids turned to honey and they inevitably died. After death, their bodies would be placed in stone vats filled with honey, where they’d be left to steep for decades. After a century or so, the resulting human honey confection would be sold at street markets as a treatment for broken limbs and other conditions.

    Honey As A Cure

    While eating mummy-infused honey might sound horrifying, the ancient progenitors of this ghastly confection were right about one thing—honey, on its own, is a powerful medicine! In addition to being a sweet treat, honey makes an excellent topical medicine for wounds and burns, and it’s natural antibacterial properties make it a great food to eat when you’re sick.

    Corpse Flower at Topanga Nursery

    The Corpse Flower

    Carrion Plant (Stapelia gigantea), also recognized as the "corpse flower" gets its nickname from the characteristically stinky odor it emits. This bloom's stench, reminiscent of rotting flesh, attracts pollinators far and wide—especially flies! These large succulents also thermal regulate, further dispersing their nauseating scent. Pee-yew! With only a short bloom during the fall, it's impressive to look at...but not so pleasant to the nose! If the description of this smelly plant has your curiousity perked, come see if for yourself at the Topanga Nursery.

    Bee Informed

    Want to see our weekly posts about bees, honey, plants and more? Stay up to date with happenings at the hive by following us on social media. Just click on the links below.

    https://www.facebook.com/thevalleyhive

    https://www.instagram.com/thevalleyhive/

  • 4th Annual Honey Competition & Recipe Contest

     

    Celebrate National Honeybee Day

    How sweet it is! The Valley Hive's 4th Annual HONEY COMPETITION AND RECIPE CONTEST is Sunday, August 18th from 4pm to 7pm at 10538 Topanga Cyn Blvd in Chatsworth! It's the perfect venue for celebrating NATIONAL HONEYBEE DAY. Got honey? Join dozens of other local beekeepers and show off your prize honey by entering our Honey Competition. Not a beekeeper? Enter a favorite recipe that uses honey. From sweet to savory, give us your best dish!

    HONEY ENTRY FORM

    RECIPE ENTRY FORM

     

    Honey Cocktails

    No party is complete without drinks. So come thirsty! Bartenders will be on hand mixing up signature cocktails inspired by TVH honey.

    Recipe Contest Winners

    Last year's winners of the recipe contest pose in front of our newly unveiled Bee Wings backdrop. The recipe contest is open to anyone who enjoys cooking or baking. The only requirements are the dishes need to include honey and you must submit a copy of the recipe for inclusion in our Honey Cookbook. Please prepare a plate of food for the judges and additional servings for sampling. Entry forms are due by August 9th. Please bring your entry to The Valley Hive by 3pm on August 18th. ENTER HERE!!

     

    Honey Competition

    Do you have prize-winning honey? Then enter this year's contest and prove it. You could win the grand prize plus be the envy of all backyard beekeepers throughout Southern California! Requirements: bring two 8 ounce jars of honey (one without a label and one with a label) to The Valley Hive by August 16th (or before is even better). The winner will be announced by the end of the day on August 18th. Entry form is due by August 9th. ENTER HERE!!

    Entertainment

    We've got a full itinerary of events for the day ranging from belly dancing to mead making.  You will also be able to visit our concession booths where you can purchase unique items from local vendors.

    An RSVP is not required, but we would appreciate you letting us know you are coming. Please go to our Event Page on Facebook and click GOING.

  • Bloom Into Spring Event - Sunday, May 6th at The Valley Hive

    Join us on Sunday, May 6th for fun, food, and activities. Bring mom and receive a special gift!

     

     

     

     

     

     Bloom Into Spring

    Honeybees collect pollen and nectar from flowers. Flowers rely on bees for pollination. Beekeepers are an intricate part of this equation, as many agricultural crops are dependent on bees for fruit and vegetable production. Join us on Sunday, May 6th as we celebrate this connection and season of growth and rebirth!

    Bees

    Did you know that bees need to visit 2 million flowers in order to make 1 pound of honey? Check out our Observation Hive - a fully functional hive encased in glass - and watch as bees come and go and communicate with the other bees inside of the hive. Sample raw, local honey and learn how bees create different flavors simply by the way they collect nectar from the plants.

    Flowers

    Get ready for Spring...make a flower pot for mom for Mothers Day! Plant some seeds and watch them grow! Learn what you can do in your garden to beautify any outdoor living space.

    Bloom LA

    The Valley Hive and Topanga Nursery are excited to announce our partnership with Bloom! BLOOM is an interactive, pop-up art show with nearly a dozen large-scale installation art pieces, spread out over 100,000 square feet of lush grass in Griffith Park on June 22, 23 & 24. Our friends from Bloom LA will be on hand to share information about their upcoming event and have planned a special interactive activity just for us featuring....flowers!!

    Celebrate The Queen Bee

    Bring your mom to the event and she will receive a special gift from us. Take advantage of special Mother's Day savings throughout the store and in the nursery on Sunday, May 6th ONLY!

    Fun - Food - Activities

    Bloom Into Spring with us in bee-u-ti-ful historical Chatsworth.  Sip lemonade in the garden as you commune with nature. Enjoy learning more about the craft of beekeeping and participate in other Spring-like activities.

    Shop and Save

    No matter what time of year, saving money is always in season! Shop with us on Sunday, May 6th and save on specially selected items throughout our gift store and in the nursery.

    Happy Anniversary to Us

    We have now been at our new location in Chatsworth - at the corner of Topanga and Chatsworth- for an entire year. If you haven't stopped by in awhile, now is the perfect time to visit! Our gift shop is overflowing with honey, lotions and balms, and other bee-related and local gifts. Browse through the Topanga Nursery and be amazed at the recent transformation. Plants of every shape, size, and variety and bursts of color abound throughout the luscious garden. Stop by and see for yourself. You will bee amazed at what we have done with the place!

     

     

     

     

     

     

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Store Hours
We are open 7 days a week from 8:30am-5:00pm
We have moved! Our new address is 10538 Topanga Cyn Blvd. Chatsworth, CA 91311
(818) 280-6500

We are excited for your visit! For your convenience, we have a small parking lot at the south end of our property with an entrance on Topanga Canyon Blvd. It fills up quickly, so here are some other parking options for you to consider. 

  • Topanga Canyon Blvd. (right in front of our property): Monday - Saturday 10am to 3pm is 1-hour parking. Sunday there are no restrictions.
  • Chatsworth Street: Northeast of our property, there is less restrictive parking on the North side of Chatsworth St.
  • Andora Ave. runs diagonally Northeast and Southeast of our property and has less restrictive parking.

If you are coming to our property for a class or event, please use the other parking options provided so we can keep our parking lot open for customers needing short term parking and those needing assistance. We hope to see you soon.

 
 
 
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