Another quote from a Sean Borodale poem.* But this particular poem, “10th February: Dismantling the comb” captures perfectly my mood right now. My mean garage bees have been out in force, gathering pollen, buzzing into the conservatory, generally the noisy little she-devils they usually are. This even on the now cold, now warm, now frost, now sunny days we have been having lately, with a bit of pouring rain mixed in. But nothing keeps them down. It’s funny, of our two hives I would have always said they were the ones most likely to suffer starvation, especially the first few years because they were always the smallest of the two going into winter. But after last summer, they seemed to have taken on quite a bit of muscle.
Ah, my two hives. When will I be able to say that again?**
I did not expect to see a bee’s point of death. I hope Sean will forgive me another line from the poem. But this is what I discovered in the main hive today–the corpse of a city. I had been alerted earlier this week, during another one of my regular tours of the hive, a sight a bit perturbing but no entirely unusual for this time of year.
And, I had finally seen them out and about the hive on 8 February, as per my previous post. Still, these past few days, when it has grown warmer despite morning frosts, the garage bees were all out but the main hive bees (for this was our first hive so they were always ‘the main hive.’ Geez, no wonder the garage bees have such an attitude…) were worse than not to be seen at all: I was finding them frozen all over the face of the hive. I knew I had to go in, and so took advantage of some sun today….
It’s definitely starvation, and it just goes to show how quickly it can happen. They looked fine at the beginning of the month. There was even signs on the frames today that the queen had started to lay as well as nectar in the comb. But there was waxy, crystallized honey sawdust everywhere…
Borodale describes this as well in his poem of the death of a hive (comparing it here to Pompeii): much like that gritty, accumulating, reduction. and this is our prognosis: starved house. She was laying in a warm spell, she was deluded.
Weren’t we all? It is because it is the main hive bees, the direct descendants of our very first bees living in the house we actually made (with a lot of help from our local bee association). They were always a good natured hive, laid-back group. Now, I see, probably a bit too laid back for their own good. Not like their beastly sister-cousins, the garage bees. They are too mean to die. I hope.
I hope this is not a sign that our beekeeping days are coming to an end…
Speaking of things too mean to die
Bought the humane trap, filled it with peanut butter. After a few weeks of seeing the rat cavorting about it, looked inside. Totally wiped clean of peanut butter. Not a smudge in sight. I have no idea. It makes an appearance every now and again, but not regularly. Now, we have put a fat ball smeared with peanut butter inside it. Watch this space….
And another living creature found in the hive, probably too slothful to die…
Attribution: See Bee Journal. I hope he doesn’t mind me using the odd line or two. People are awful sensitive about copyright nowadays, and he does seem to look a bit moody in his publicity photos…
**To all my forbearing readers, please accept my apologies for quality, or lack thereof, of photos. You know we are inept, or at least without the latest high-tech equipment. And yet you keep coming back. Bless you.