We’ve Got Hives!

Drop everything, dear, and come along.


Image courtesy of Gerard van Schagen via Wikimedia Commons

We’re flying off on a whirlwind tour of shacks and chalets, hovels and halls, cottages and castles worldwide …


Photo by Cristo Vlahos via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, but, no. Not that sort of chalet. The home-sweet-homes we’re hunting aren’t inhabited by humans, honey.


Photo by Skrissh2013 via Wikimedia Commons

Catch the clue?

Each bungalow along our route, big or small, belongs to … bees.

That’s right. We’re traveling around the world in 80 hives!

(Well, okay, maybe not 80, but a bunch of buzzing beauties nonetheless.)

First stop—in alphabetical order, because my sense of direction has never been all that keen—Austria.

Just look at the intricacy of this unique alpine getaway:


Photo by Häferl via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for something more rustic? Try these jungle bungalows in Burkina Faso (a country in western Africa):


Photo by Marco Schmidt via Wikimedia Commons

Or these woodsy log homes in the forest of Sichuan, China:


Photo by Philippe Semanaz via Wikimedia Commons

In Croatia, the communal hives are distinguished by simple signs:


Photo by Lovro Rumiha via Wikimedia Commons

While the hives in the Czech Republic are nothing short of architectural artwork:


Photo by Mpik61 via Wikimedia Commons



Photo by Podzemnik via Wikimedia Commons

In Ethiopia, the bees nest in trees:


Photo by Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons

French hives are fabulously pastoral, as you might have guessed:


Photo by Myrabella via Wikimedia Commons

In Germany, the accommodations range from humbly traditional skeps to elaborate sculptures:


Photo by Hajotthu via Wikimedia Commons


Photo by Till F. Teenck via Wikimedia Commons

Have a look at this charming stone community cottage in Hungary:


Photo by Kaboldy via Wikimedia Commons

And, oh, don’t you just love these hand-carved hives in Lithuania?


Photo by Wojsyl via Wikimedia Commons

Polish beehives are as diverse as they are delightful, so let’s linger for a while:


Photo by Mos810 via Wikimedia Commons


Photo by Ciacho5 via Wikimedia Commons


Photo by Antosh via Wikimedia Commons


Photo by Przykuta via Wikimedia Commons


Photo by Kroton via Wikimedia Commons


Photo via DirtGirlWorldTV on Facebook

Now, on to Portugal, where we behold this bark-covered cabin:


Photo by Daniel Feliciano via Wikimedia Commons

In Russia, this hive is a resplendent replica of the Troitsky Monastery in Tyumen:


Photo by Yarrowind via Wikimedia Commons

And, as luck would have it, we may have saved the best for last …


Photo by Reuben Dalke via Wikimedia Commons

If I were a bee, I’d love to stay in Slovenia for a spell, wouldn’t you?

The one country we didn’t tour was the U.S., because I’m leaving that leg of our journey up to you.

If you have—or have seen—a heavenly hive close to home, take me on a virtual visit!


Lego Beach

Do you have a Lego-lover in your life?

Or, perhaps an aspiring pirate?


Photo by Ronny Siegel via Wikimedia Commons

Either way, you may not want to mention what I’m about to tell you—unless, of course, you’re ready to hoist anchor and set sail.


photo by Walt Faulds via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s just say that even the most deluxe carton of Legos will no longer quell your budding explorer’s desires.

There’s a little-known destination on the coast of Cornwall, England, that’s sure to inspire desperate dreams of departure and, curiously, Lego lust.

Puzzled? Read on …

It isn’t a matter of scenery, no matter how grand …


Photo by Tom Corser via Wikimedia Commons

The temptation is treasure, booty, loot … Lego loot, to be specific.

Legend has it (well, actually, BBC News reports) that in 1997, nearly five million Lego pieces were lost at sea when a mighty wave hit the Tokio Express freighter, bound for New York, dislodging 62 giant containers.

“Shortly after that, some of those Lego pieces began washing up on both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. They’re still coming in today,” reports BBC’s Mario Cacciottolo. “A quirk of fate meant many of the Lego items were nautical-themed, so locals and tourists alike started finding miniature cutlasses, flippers, spear guns, sea grass, and scuba gear as well as dragons.”

Beachcombing Cornwall resident Tracey Williams began a Facebook page in 2013 to document the local Lego fever.

“These days, the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon. I only know of three octopuses being found, and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough, Devon,” Williams told BBC. “It’s quite competitive. If you heard that your neighbor had found a green dragon, you’d want to go out and find one yourself.”


Photo by Ronja Wiedenbeck via Legos Lost at Sea

Williams’ Lego Lost At Sea page has over 35,000 fans and offers daily posts, so even if you can’t cast off to Cornwall, you can delight in the finds of other treasure hunters.


Photo by Tracey Williams via Legos Lost at Sea

Granted, there’s the not-so-fun possibility of plastic pollution here, but at least these pieces are being picked up with fervent enthusiasm as they wash ashore. My kids are game, but …

setting sail isn’t really a possibly for us but this is. Did you know it’s easy to make a small dent in Lego plastic production by patronizing Pley, a Lego rental service that encourages a play and pass-it-on philosophy. Imagine how fun to find a new “treasure” in your mailbox every time you trade in a tired set?



Good News!

Good News Network reports that an orphaned baby elephant has now become the matriarch of a herd of water buffalo in a 10,000-acre Zimbabwe game reserve. The elephant was adopted into the herd after her mother was killed by poachers decades ago. For some reason, she chose to stay with the water buffalos instead of the elephant herd on the property, and she’s now become their protector and beloved buddy.


photo, Good News Network

Visit Good News Network for a daily dose of positive, uplifting news. A few of their headlines lately that caught my eye:

Women Activists Clean Up and Revitalize Libyan City

Guy Pretends to Be Homeless, Then Rewards Whoever Gives Money

At-Risk Philadelphia Teens Shatter Expectations – 98% Going to College

Nature Sound Track

If you were to step outside right now and close your eyes, what would you hear? I might hear the whispering rush of wind through pine needles (my daughter’s most favorite sound on earth); happy hens clucking to one another; a songbird; or later tonight, the sound of bellowing frogs in my pond.

chickens_4802 Few of us would hear exactly the same “soundscape,” but rarely do we think about how sounds characterize the surroundings we call home. How fun would it be to eavesdrop on one another’s auditory environments? And imagine if we could listen our way all the way around the world!


Photo by Petar Milošević via Wikimedia Commons

We could call it “traveling by ear.”


Photo by Jen Smith via Wikimedia Commons

Hold on to your hoops and dangles, girls, because we can do just that. A group of 35 professional nature recordists (who knew there was such a profession?) from around the globe have collaborated to develop Nature Soundmap, an interactive way of exploring the natural sounds of our planet. “Combining high-quality field recordings with the latest satellite imagery, the project brings together some of nature’s most beautiful, interesting and inspiring sounds,” the team explains on the Nature Soundmap website. “Immerse yourself in a pulsating insect chorus in Borneo’s tropical rainforest, or climb the Himalayas and relax to the melodies of birdsong in an alpine meadow.”


Photo by Frameme via Wikimedia Commons

In effect, the entire world is at our ears. Many recordings in the site’s collection are “binaural,” meaning they’re stereo recordings made with two microphones capturing sound in 360 degrees, a technique that accurately imitates the natural experience you would hear with your own ears. So, where does an auditory traveler embark? Visit NatureSoundMap.com (no fees or membership required) and click on “Main Map.” You’ll see hundreds of little green place markers across the map. To move to a specific region, click on the map and drag it to the desired location. You can then scroll in to see specific markers. Click on one, and a box will appear, describing the soundscape of a particular place. Click “listen,” and get lost in the sounds of faraway places courtesy Mother Nature.


Photo by Moqureshi via Wikimedia Commons


World’s Largest Catsup Bottle for Sale!

Collinsville, Illinois, is known for its catsup … bottle, that is.


photo, http://www.catsupbottle.com/

Since 1949, “The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle” has drawn visitors from across the U.S. to marvel at the kitschy, 170-foot-tall roadside attraction. The bottle itself is 70 feet tall, standing on a 100-foot-tall steel base. The bottom of the bottle is 25 feet in diameter and would hold 100,000 gallons of catsup, but has instead served over the years as a water tower. It was built to mark the adjacent catsup bottling plant for “Brooks Old Original Rich & Tangy Catsup.”

The tower was restored to its original appearance in 1995 with over $100,000 in donations and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

But it’s now for sale, along with the adjacent warehouse. How much does the world’s largest catsup bottle cost? A rich-and-tangy half-million!

if only …

In light of recent news about the Israel–Gaza conflict, I wanted to share a story we ran back in 2005 in an issue of my magazine.

It was a rare moment of humanity in the blood-soaked Palestinian-Israeli conflict, highlighted on Israeli news broadcasts as an act of peace …

Read the story here: “Hope, life salvaged from death.”


photo by Al Jazeera English via Wikimedia Commons