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Assorted Wildlife, Beekeeping, Bumblebees, Drones, Honey Bees, Latin Literature, Queens

Let Summer wane and yield her place by slow degrees

More of Kitty's jewels-but which are these? Sapphires, perhaps?

More of Kitty’s jewels-but which are these? Sapphires, perhaps?

Anne, bonis coepte auspiciis, da vere salubri apricas ventorum animas, da roscida Cancro solstitia et gelidum Boream Septembribus horis. mordeat autumnis frigus
subtile pruinis et tenuata moris cesset mediocribus aestas. sementem Notus umificet, sit bruma nivalis, dum pater antiqui renovatur Martius anni.

Ausonius, Decimus Magnus, with an English translation; Evelyn-White, Hugh G. (Hugh Gerard), text to be found at the Internet Archive

Summer Wane?
Not so much around these parts where there always seems to be a rather harsh demarcation especially between summer and autumn.  One day, a few days back, it was sunny, hot.  The kind of day where you can sit outside into the evening and feel everything grow quiet around you, except perhaps for the little splashes of bathing birds taking advantage of the lull between day and night.

Next day-bam!-autumnis frigus.  And not just cool but cold, rainy, dark, the kind of day taking place outside my window right about now.

And a little bee shall lead them
While the weather shift seems sudden, there have been other signs as early as August demonstrating that, although we humans are clinging to summer, our fellow-travelers elsewhere in nature are not.  For instance, I received more than one message from friends remarking on dead bees, honey and bumble. And to top it all off, Jo’s bees, those of the scintillating film footage of the last post, up and disappeared, leaving only the legacy of yellow tape to mark their presence. More than one bee blog reported bee mortality; Emily’s photos over at AdventuresinBeeland aren’t for the soft-hearted (a quality certainly not to be found among the inhabitants of a hive). We know that most of the dead honeybees we see around now are drones that have outlived their usefulness and are considered excess weight by their sisters, slimming down the colony for the winter.

Puttin' on the winter fat Another Tony John original

Puttin’ on the winter fat
Another Tony John original

The bumble queen starts to produce fewer workers and more queens and males which leave the hive. The queen is the only bee left of the original hive going into winter, and as the workers are relatively short-lived anyway there can be a bit of a bumble body count.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust puts it this way

The reason why dead bees are often found in gardens and near nest sites is simply because that’s there they’ve been living. When bees are close to death, they often cling to flowers and look quite lethargic. When they do die, they then drop off the flowers, and you may find a number of these in your gardens, especially near the most bee-friendly plants. Also, you may find dead bees and larvae near nest entrances, because dead and dying bees are removed from the nest so that disease does not spread.

Of course, it’s not all death and dying as it’s during this time of year that the new bumble queens are mating, before going into hibernation and then laying their eggs in spring.

You know summer is over when
it’s varroa-treatment time.  And, if you think the sister-bees look a bit too gleeful when  kicking their brothers out of the hive, then you ought to see their faces when you slap a cereal-box piece of card with a slab of stank on it into their midst. Talk about being on the business end of a good bee-kicking!

Of course, those evil buzzies can eat fabric when faced with an Ultra Breeze–the rocket science of bee suits.  Deborah at Romancing the Bee got one. These bees have got to learn that fair is fair! (Three Stooges come to mind:  “That’s fightin’ talk in my country!  ‘Course, this isn’t my country…”)

Translation

Year, that beginnest with good augury, give us in healthful Spring winds of sunny breath; when the Crab shows at the solstice, give us dews, and allay the hours of September with a cool north wind. Let shrewdly-biting frosts lead in Autumn and let Summer wane and yield her place by slow degrees. Let the south winds moisten the seed corn, and Winter reign with all her snows until March, father of the old-style year, come back anew.

Ausonius, Decimus Magnus, with an English translation; Evelyn-White, Hugh G. (Hugh Gerard), text to be found at the Internet Archive

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