As I write this, the bees are quiet, not truly dormant, but somnolent and sleepy. Waiting. The hives are draped in black insulating plastic and surrounded by feet of snow and not a flower in sight.
But last summer, when the garden was in full flush and the blooms were abundant, the hive wisdom said to swarm. Make a second queen, split, and create another hive to add to their numbers.
To see a hive swarm is to be in the midst of what feels like a maelstrom. In truth, bees are as calm as they ever will be when they swarm. Topped off with honey, surrounding their new queen, and off on an adventure.
We’ve never been quick enough to rehive the swarms, but were lucky to capture this one leaving on film.
Thankful they didn’t all swarm! Their honey is fantastic.
It seems as if there’s always something one could fret about when it comes to bees – too hot, too cold, too moist, too dry, predators, mites, not enough flowers/pollen – a person could loose sleep! Luckily, that’s not my style, I tend toward the “live and let go” side of the fence, trusting that their inner sense of guidance will lead them toward healthy and happy hives, generously flowing honey. While that may be where I trend, it’s clear that bees sometimes need a little help from us to make it through as they adjust to our changing weather – in Maine or out.
Joe, our resident bee guy, is the fretter on site. He checked on our two hives recently and found that they are both healthy. When he lifted the lid he could both hear and see them. Also, it was a little warmer than the air when he put his hand close to the entrance. On the other hand, because our winter has been so mild, he’s actually more worried for them than if they just hunkered down and stayed still. The warmer it is, the more active they are. The more activity, the more honey they eat. So, Joe’s worried they won’t have enough food stores to get them through to pollen collecting time.
On goes a 5# bag of sugar on top of each hive.
Helping our bees through the winter.
Tucked in but still healthy and active.
Joe, The Bee Guy, Rebecca The Most Excellent Gardener and the Peanut.