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.
The bees were coming home loaded today with pollen baskets. A soft snot-green colour- I wonder what is the source. Bees at the end of their workday were zooming in every few seconds with payloads, as the sun ran out.
They are still in winter wraps, but are very lively with this warm early spring we’re having, already polishing off bottles of syrup within a week and thoroughly exploring, sometimes a little too adventurously.
I do a fair amount of bee rescue, returning bees who have got themselves in trouble to the hive. I find them in buckets, or frantically lost in the house, raging at the windows. Half drowned, half froze, half exhausted- I run them back to the hive, transfer them from my finger to the doorstep, and watch as they wearily drag themselves back in the door, or are helped.
Today I had my face quite close watching a sodden bee (who could at first only wave one antenna to let me know she lived), pull herself back inside when a small black flying insect landed on the bee porch for a rest- just a little gnat. A guard bee dashed out, snatched the insect up with her bee forelegs, and then seemed to throw it. It flew away with alacrity, lucky to escape. A beat after she chucked it she zoomed at me. Hey git out of here! You’re too close for comfort too.
This was the very best day of 2015 so far, according to the chickens. A day above all days.
Freedom! Go go gogogo!
I’ve been opening the door for some time, but there’s just nothing attractive outside for the chickens. They don’t especially enjoy walking barefoot in the snow. The first really warm day, though, put a real dent in the white stuff, and the area in front of the greenhouse cleared right up.
Although we were late getting to it, the sap was late to run this year, due to this weather the Maritimes are having. So, we are right on time. First warmish, sunny day, it’s about to begin..
We tapped six trees, just using little 1-2 gal food grade buckets. Edit: Later we put aluminum foil hats on them (paranoid conspiracy buckets) with elastic bands. Wasn’t pretty, but it worked, relatively. Only lost two hats in the wind.
We don’t intend to boil down the sap to syrup, because we don’t have an outdoor cooking facility, so we’ll have to use it fresh. We’ll just drink it, cook with it, drink it….
There’s nothing more divine than cold fresh maple sap. Perhaps it’s even healing.
I was driving through town and I caught with the corner of my eye a huge group of crows, startling enough I quickly braked to look. There were maybe fifty, densely packed all in one person’s yard, each a foot or two apart, systematically pecking over the driveway and lawn. It was odd to me because I hadn’t seen such a big flock of crows together.
Then a couple of weeks later, a flock four times that size came through our yard!
I caught movement in the corner of my eye again and went to the window, to see crows everywhere, sprinkled evenly over the lawn and driveway, all calmly at work flipping leaves over, walking around, scratching and pecking.
There were over 200! I counted. Several times. My counting got less accurate around 230 each time because the flock would have shuffled too much by the time I got that high. Occasionally a group would flutter up to the tree and talk about something and then settle back down to the ground.
They stayed for about a half hour, and then as one they rose into the air and flew together – into the next yard!
Please excuse a small rash of “catch up” posts. Blogging is a two part process – writing and taking pictures, and posting – each of which requires different states of mind, or at least internet/3G. Many posts pass the first in a flash and wait long for the second.
All I want to do now is play outside. Aka, yardwork. Cleanup, cleanup, cleanup, the Sisyphean job you inherit with a new place that lasts, oh, pretty much ’til you leave it. I started out today raking up my “front lawn”, a bucolic task pleasantly accompanied by Saturday CBC. But pretty soon I was digging out ancient plastic that was laid down at some point in the past in lieu of landscape fabric (I guess), then I stepped on a wire and discovered it was one protruding inch of 6’ of chicken wire under 6” of dirt, totally enmeshed with the roots of the tree it was by. By the time I’d wrested that from the ground I was bleeding, sweating, and filthy, so I figured I’d just keep that theme going for the rest of the day, moving from random task to random task until the light and my energy finally fade.
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favourite way to work. It’s how I want to live, actually. Barefoot until November and moving constantly from thing to thing as I’m inspired to do it. Continue reading Rudderless→