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!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, these bee hives are wonderful and creative. I love how the various countries have come up with their own unique styles and some of them are architectural prizes! My favorite are the Polish creations. How about the gypsy wagon look? Adorable! Have bees will travel to your orchard. Do you think bees are happier in really cute digs?

  2. Deborah McKissic says:

    I so enjoyed the “bee hive tour”…some of those were so amazing..I think maybe other countries care for the bees in a little bit more special way then we do here in the US…hmm…we should take note of that…how are your bees, Mary Jane? I would love to see photos of your hives! My mom and Dad raised bees on their farm, many hives all painted different colors…bee attracting, of course… along with sheep and hay. Mostly my mom took care of the bees and she also taught beekeeping at a University near them in Va. My girls grew up on their farm…summer visits were so wonderful…my Dad had retired after 35 years working for the government and became a farmer! 19 years of farming before he passed….he so loved the farm…we all so loved the bees and the honey!!

  3. All of these people in these diverse nations really love their bees and they truly show it !I have never seen such works of architectural wonder. What a wonderful travel tour . I’d seen the hives in trees in parts of africa but did not know what they were. The very best honey I’ve eaten is jungle honey from the Amazon Jungles, pitch black and tasted of every tropical flower you’d ever seen.
    The honey in Kenya is high mountain grown like their coffee and is also black as molasses and sweet like coffee blossoms. And our own white Sourwood honey from the Appalachia mountains. As it is said:
    ” Most honey is made by bees. But sourwood is made by bees and angels”. – Carson Brewer, writer

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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?



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is so interesting! Yes, my girls loved to play Legos with friends and their boy cousins. Although we never had a request for some at home (but we had a virtual stable of Breyer and My Little Pony pieces!), Legos seem to be a universal draw to most people big and small.

    What I love about the beach wash up at Cornwall is that Port Issac, in Cornwall, is the filming location of Doc Martin, the British TV series on PBS. Having become such an ardent fan of the series, Cornwall is now on the top of must go see places. With the Lego information, I now have a second reason to go visit the beaches there! At Port Issac, they have these huge tidal changes where low tide leaves the boats on the sand and exposes huge areas of sand. I am betting there is a great opportunity with each low tide to wander out and find all sorts of interesting things including a possible Lego!

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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

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a perfect story of appreciation and commitment. Elephants have some of the most high level relationships in the animal kingdom and this story just shows this trait. Those are some lucky water buffalo because of her size and fierceness when the chips are down.

    Thank-you for the link to such a informative and interesting site!

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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


  1. Connie-Killarney says:

    I So enjoyed this! with my cup of tea this beautiful Sunday Morning here in West Tennessee.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am back again and loving this link! How incredible is this?? You know what I hear outside this time of year. That unmistakable sound of HOT and HUMID! Yep, there is a sound for it and we have it everyday. At night, there are the cicadas singing till dawn and even they sometimes hum in the heat.

  3. Thank you MaryJane for posting this website. I had so much fun looking up the soundtracks of my life as a traveller. I got to listen to the sounds I once heard( or maybe even missed) of many of the farflung places I have been fortunate enough to visit. And a few places on my ” bucket list” as well.

    • MaryJane says:

      I have the ca-utest cow hankies on my desk (one waiting for Meg) from a simplified someone:) The lace and wrapping paper really made my heart sing. Do you know me or what? And I always love a cache of news clips. Treasures ahoy! I’d seen Helen Reinhold before. Fantastic. Also, we have a neighbor who makes a living building custom horse-drawn carts. Occasionally, we see him on the road carrying a wedding couple around town. He’s a true artisan. I mounted a couple of his hand-made wheels on the outside of our facility. Many thanks for thinking of me!!!!!

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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!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a cool icon from the past. I love this little piece of history. Hopefully, someone with a love of America’s history will find a way to save it and maybe move it to a museum close by where people can continue to stop and enjoy a piece of our past. I wonder what the ketchup tasted like in comparison to the brands today. At least back in 1949, we didn’t worry about GMO and high fructose corn syrup being in everything on the shelf!

  2. Connie-Killarney says:

    I love this!!!!! It makes me miss the Landmarks from my childhood! Like all the very elaborate neon signs! We had one that was a giant billboard, with a pitcher of milk filling up a blue glass! and The Coco -cola Bottling Company, no words to describe!
    My daughter, Holly, in her travels for her new job, visited the “Mustard Museum” in Wisconsin! who knew?? It is sooo adorable!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Rebecca Taylor says:

    That is so cool!
    I hope the person or company that buys it will keep it how it is; It would be sad to see it go.
    Thanks for sharing this interesting land mark. 🙂

  4. If you pine for the giant catsup bottle, I highly suggest this book :


    read the reviews for lot more info.

    “Roadside America ” tells about all the fun and weird and kitschy places to visit in the USA- way lots of fun. I have the older version but this is the updated a expanded one. Just as fun to read as an armchair traveller. I have enjoyed this book over the years and have actually visited some of the East coast attractions. enjoy!

  5. Marineth says:

    The paint on the Catsup Bottle was faded and peeling by the early 19, with some considering it an eyesore. From the Official World s Largest Catsup Bottle® Web Site and Fan Club

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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

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Such a beautiful story. It is proof that real people, who are not interested in political gain, can find peace with people different from them and share. When I was an operating room nurse, working the 3-11 shift, I had the privilege to help harvest organs with teams for immediate transplant on several occasions. I do believe that even in their grief, the donors find solace in knowing that they are helping children and adults have another chance at life. What could be more meaningful than to help give the gift of life?

  2. HEARTBREAKING and yet uplifting. How tragic the child was shot because he was playing with a toy gun. Guns and violence are all that these kids saw and that is how they played. To give the gift of life like that was a true act of heroism by that family. Let us hope that more can see the true way to have peace is to treat everyone equally and with grace. Thank you MaryJane for reminding us by reprinting that news story.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What is it about old barns that make us dream of fixing them up and using them again? Unlike empty houses from the past 50 years in suburbs, old wooden structures have a quality of soul or something that just begs for a creative new beginning. When I am driving along and see structures like this, I immediately start dreaming about what could be the new possibilities of it.

    I am officially home again and it feels wonderful to be typing at my computer again and catching up! There is no doubt that Home Sweet Home is 100% TRUE.

    • MaryJane says:

      I always feel the same way when I arrive home. Traveling makes me appreciate the saying Home Sweet Home even more!

  2. Connie-Killarney says:

    Home is where the Heart is! As much as I loved traveling the Irish county side for 14 days in 2010, I was happy to be home again in my own bed, snuggled under my Granny’s Quilt!

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Is that prairie grass or wheat in the background? I have been seeing so many beautiful wheat fields all golden and waving in the breeze. Incredibly scenic ! Makes me want to grind some grain and make bread and then slather it with some homemade butter.

    • MaryJane says:

      Today’s photo-of-the-day has a field of beautiful golden wheat in the background. Most of the wheat grown on the Palouse is soft white wheat (planted last fall) and good only for pastry flour and things like noodles, not bread. However, our neighbor is growing a field of hard white wheat this year (spring planted) that is excellent for bread. And even better with butter.

  2. Karlyne says:

    I’m running out of adjectives for these pictures! Gorgeous, beeeeautiful, stunning, fabulous…

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