I was very surprised. It took *hours* for the chickadees to discover the new bird feeder. And then, it was only one, who hogged that knowledge and had exclusive access for days.
Finally the grosbeaks made the discovery, and brought their drama to the squirrel-proof swivel bird feeder. There was a great deal of open beaking at each other, hustling the prime perch on the arms, and squatting inside in the feed pile. Grosbeaks have their population numbers threatened, I hear. At home, between 7 and 10am (they keep a schedule), there is a substantial flock, but there are fewer than last year.
Happily, they are doing very well. Not bad, since I thought this hive sat on the edge of 50/50 winter survival chances. They are vital and exploratory, polishing off a jar of syrup every few days, and making appearances at the neighbours’. The pollen du jour is now bright orange. Dandelions, perhaps?
Even though I can’t inspect them thoroughly yet, I gave them an empty super, sure that they were gonna bust their seams any moment. All that pollen has to go somewhere.
H.W. has taken more of an interest in them, watching them every day, and reporting that the bees HATE the “door” (the entrance limiting stick). We’ve been having warm days, and the inbound flights start bottlenecking at the entrance mid-morning. Then he pulls out the stick and “the bees BOIL out!”. It takes a few minutes to rebalance, like traffic after an accident is cleared. Then the bees come shooting in and out like a time lapse video of La Guardia at 16x speed.
The bees have decided to share the chickens’ canteen. I don’t understand; they have their own perfectly good bowl. But they line up on the edge, drinking. Every night I have to go and fish out (usually three) soggy bees and deliver them to their doorstep. In the day they can pull themselves out of the pool and dry off and warm up in the sun, but at night they are too chilled to fly home. I hold my finger with three bedraggled bees by their door. The evening arrivals are zooming in and they land on my hand on their way in. I can feel the warm sweet air of the humming hive coming from the entrance, and the grateful swimmers perk up in the warm draft, drag themselves off my finger and indoors.
I tell H.W., who is sympathizing with bee frustration, that the stick still has to go back in at night. “But they hate it!” As it turns out, the bees are more than capable of opening the door themselves. They just don’t shut it.