Outside my back door are vast Permaculture Zones 4 and 5, i.e., managed forests and those areas left (more or less) to be wild. It is a rare and wondrous place, and I am always cognizant of how privileged we are to live where we do.
Today, we are on a quest for the cottonwood – Populus balsamifera – and more specifically, the cottonwood buds on windfall branches with which to make a healing salve. Cottonwood is powerful medicine – the bees make propolis out of it, so that should tell you something – and now is the best time to collect the buds for making what is commonly known as “Balm of Gilead.” Prepare for a sticky adventure. The scent will make you swoon….
A sunny day in early December and the bees are out! Hooray! And even more amazing – they are finding pollen! But where? Should I feed them? Are they ready for winter?