Monday, 6 December 2010

Worry Bee Not

We've been a little taddly concerned for our Malarkey bees, being new beekeepers as it were and this our first Winter, harsh and snowy, cold and icy, as such it were etc et al (Sorry about the verbosity - I am currently engaged in Stephen Fry's latest tome and he don't half go on and it don't half rub off, entertaining though he is).

You see, we think we've done all we can to get them safely through to next Spring - healthy young queen, plenty of freshly hatched brood, a hive almost full with honey stores, a couple of buckets of top-up sugar feed, a sheltered spot which catches what there is of a Winter's sun. A closed floor for warmth, enough ventilation so they don't drown in bee-breath condensation. And every now and then I go and press my ear hopefully against the side of the hive and listen for humming.

But because it's been soooooooooo cold of late, there hasn't been a sound. Not a beep, nor a hum, nor a buzzette. We are trying not to think that they are all inside, well, you know...freezing to the 'd' word. We are hoping they are all snuggled together in an enormous bee ball, keeping warm, looking after their truly magnificent Queen Philibert, so when the time comes next year and the sun is more over the yard arm than 'neath it, she'll burst forth in all her majestic glory, soar into the sky and shout, 'Hear I am, boys, drone me up,' or words to that effect, and the whole glorious process of making baby bees can start again and hopefully be so successful we can make an artificial swarm to pop in our top-bar hive (current residents - 2 dead spiders and half a fly). Of course, the frustrating thing is that we can't take the hive lid off because that would let all the cold in and our bees would definitely be done for.

Good grief, bringing up bees causes more worry than bringing up children. But then they make more honey and less mess than children, so I suppose there are pros and cons to either and/or.

And then...last week...in the snow...there appeared overnight... the dead bodies of about a dozen bees. They were fresh, because they were balanced on the new-fallen snow. We could see them. Plain as anything.

Well, you'd think this would be cause for sadness, and yes, for those bees it was, and I said a little bee blessing in thanks for their busy, useful and fulfilled lives.

But it was also cause for celebration! Because it meant that those poor dead bees had been cleaned from the hive by the bees inside the hive. Which means the colony is still alive and doing housework!! Well, I suppose there's not much else to do in this weather, is there? Not for a bee, anyway.

I took courage from this sign. Our colony appears to have made it through this really cold snap.

Fingers crossed for next Spring.

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