5 FEBRUARY 2011
Here on the pond in a blanket of powder quietly hums, when an ear is pressed against their home, the hives of Bhakti & Conan. Conan and the Earwigs, that is. This baby colony seemed weakest when it came home to our backyard beeyard last spring due to a high volume of earwigs which had occupied their nascent “Nuc.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuc
Going into winter, however, it was she – the “C” colony – who had grown strongest and most vital producing an abundance of honey to feed through what was to become an unrelenting pummeling of snow & cold. As such, it makes me think of how the seeming adversities in our lives are the one which can when we let them, lend themselves to the building of core strength & character.
Ergo, our “A” colony, Ayurveda, was the most robust at the onset of summer yet now is chillingly silent giving me the sense that she has perished. I won’t know for sure until inspection in March. If so, though sad, her honey will be put to good use in the spring feeding the other baby colonies coming to our forest apiary. The circle of life pays itself forward, indeed, with these honeybees.
So what do these bees during our cold New England season, on a wintry day like today, when yet again, the sky opens in cascades of white.
Here are six interesting facts about that topic. Six being the sides of the honeycomb cell.
1. Bees stop flying when the temperature drops into the 50s (F) and there are no flowers in bloom for nectar & pollen to be plumbed. Their job is to keep the hive as hot as they can muster and feed their family.
2. Thus they make a warm winter cluster which, by self-regulating the internal temperature can be maintained at 93 degrees Fahrenheit in its inner center, regardless of the outside temperature, and where they protect their toasty Queen. The outer edge of their body heat huddle remains at 46-48 (F).
3. Bees seal off drafty cracks with “propolis” which is a resinous mixture they collect during the year from tree buds, sap flows & other botanical sources.
4. On sunny days, bees make “cleansing flights” to eliminate body waste. Honeybees are very clean!
5. Winter is, as you can see, far from hibernating, is a hard working and difficult time for bees when most losses occur due to starvation, poor or failing queens, wet hives due to poor ventilation, disease or dwindling.
6. For those who steward bees, good winter management techniques should start months before the first frost, giving them the best chance of survival.
More on this tomorrow on Super Bowl Sunday!
Yours in discovery,