Neither of my bee hives made it though the winter.
To add another layer of insult, I’m pretty sure that I’m worse at overwintering hives now than I was when I started this whole apiary thing ten years ago. It could be the genetics of the bees, it could be mites, it could be funky winter weather, or it could just be that I’m easily distracted by fluffy white flakes and warm fires and I’m a terribly inattentive winter bee keeper.
Next year, I tell myself once again, I will do things differently.
But for this year, there is nothing to be done but clean the hives in preparation for new bees.
I set the girls up and then watched from the sidelines as all three girls jumped into the project together.
They poked through the hives figuring out what happened (one starved, one froze), evicting the mice (serious excitement), comparing moldy bee colors, searching for the dead queen, and (helpfully) sorting the good frames from the bad.
Next year I’ll do better.
But this year, despite my dead bees, I couldn’t help but enjoy the process.
I got pooped on today, but it’s all right.
It was just a little bee.
And I was wearing John’s jacket.
During the winter bees won’t defecate in their hive. Instead they wait for a bit of mild weather and then fly out on “cleansing flights”. Which is a very polite way of saying that if you are out walking near the hives when the snow stops and the sun peeks out for a moment you might be lucky enough to get pooped on by bees!
The Bee Carol
by Carol Ann Duffy
Silently on Christmas Eve,
the turn of midnight’s key;
all the garden locked in ice —
a silver frieze —
except the winter cluster of the bees.
Flightless now and shivering,
around their Queen they cling;
every bee a gift of heat;
she will not freeze
within the winter cluster of the bees.
Bring me for my Christmas gift
a single golden jar;
let me taste the sweetness there,
but honey leave
to feed the winter cluster of the bees.
Come with me on Christmas Eve
to see the silent hive —
trembling stars cloistered above —
and then believe,
bless the winter cluster of the bees.
Merry Christmas and a special thank you to Annette for sending us this poem!
For months Clara has been telling me that she wants “everything bee” for her birthday.
Happy 6th Birthday Clara!
A Friday ritual.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
I spent some time watching the wrens feed their babies.
And I spent some time watching the bees come and go from the hives.
The bees, with their thousands of young waiting to be fed inside, still looked lazy compared to that Mamma wren.
And I? It suddenly seemed that I had a life of leisure, feeding my children only occasionally throughout the day. Now I’m hoping my girls get a good look at just what those babies get fed for dinner.
Perspective, it’s an interesting thing.
It was one of those long circular discussions but in the end Clara agreed, no pet bees would be living in the house.
Had Jane been paying attention to our conversation, rather than cowering and screaming each time an escapee honey bee from the two packages in the back of the truck whizzed near her, she would have been relieved.
Clara inspects the two packages of bees.
Even I, the one who brought the idea of beekeeping and then the bees into our life, draw the line at house bees.
But neither of us could stop Clara from dreaming and wondering… What if she could hold still enough that one would land on her… and maybe stay on her hand during dinner… and she could feed it some honey… and if it was there at breakfast she could give it a little more…
“What if… Mom… What if…”
Clara holding up the queen bee in her cage for inspection.
Needless to say Clara was a willing and enthusiastic helper when it came time to hive the bees that evening. (Jane stayed in the house with Ivy.)
Clara listened to what needed to be done. She watched as John and I installed the first hive and then grabbing her own little hive tool, did it herself on the second.
Clara dumping the bees into the hive.
As the final bees got shook out of their box and into the hive, she caught some on her glove, “What if just one of them stayed on my hand Mom…”