It was a thrill to be warmly welcomed to Shelf Life Books in Calgary. What an amazing book store! There is lots of work by local authors, chap books, gorgeous gardening books, and just an amazing eclectic, well-curated selection of books. Yes, books. No chachkas, umbrellas, clothing and other useless crap. Very refreshing.
And one of the highlights of the trip was to meet two amazing local bee experts: bumblebee expert Dr. Ralph Cartar and ecologist Mark Wonneck, who helps farmers grow eco-buffers for bees. Ralph brought two examples of simple bumblebee boxes you can make and hang in trees. They are simply filled with organic upholstery cotton and hung in trees. He cleans them out at the end of the season and showed us the remnants of some nests.
One cool thing we learned was that healthy nests tend to only produce female bees. Weaker nests produce males. Huh.
Mark brought a beautiful box of bees, which we oohed and aahed over. And then I asked each dude to choose a bee they thought should be the official bee of Alberta. A hilarious double act ensued, with Ralph choosing Bombus flavifrons and Mark nominating the Andrena bees of Alberta because they can carry so much pollen on their velvety bodies. He joked that the bumblebees are the charismatic mini fauna of the bee world. Actually, this gave me an idea: maybe each province and territory should have one official bumblebee and one official "other" bee. Just to bee fair.
I also finally learned how to pronounce Psytherus (SITH-er-us). (Yes, like the Sith from Star Wars, as Mark pointed out). And Coelioxys is pronounced SEE- Lee-OX-is.
One of the staff even brought flowers from his garden for the display. How sweet!
I was very pleased that my family could attend the Calgary launch, along with some dear friends I haven't seen in a long time. It's so good for the heart to reconnect with those important folks to be able to share key moments in your life. And in such a rare gem of a bookstore.