Splish, splosh, slide and glide, we sloshed or way through the mud visible in the headlights of my stationary car. The wind was picking up and a job that I could have done last weekend or even weeks before, had been left of course to the last minute. The storm was imminent.
“Don’t shine the torch directly at the entrance!” I warned “The bees will come out and make a beeline for you”. “They are in there.” I added. Bees do that, if you have a hive located near a light (street lamp, security light, torch light), the guard bees will go out and try and attack the light and anyone adjacent. Guard bees are relentless and will not give up on until prey or they die which is not a great outcome for the loyal guard bee.
Looking at the hive tonight you wouldn’t think there were bees in residence. No guard bee bothered to check out the entrance, the bees knew better than go out in this weather. I bent over and pinned my ear to the hive wall; I was reassured by the faint scuffling sound of the cluster of bees who never seem to sleep. I wondered yet again at my sanity… and my procrastination!”
I stood in front of the hive that was perched on the stony knoll, the entrance was at eye level. I quickly blocked the hive entrance with sponge then duct-taped it shut. How did humanity manage before duct-tape was invented? I climbed up to the small platform and ratchet-strapped all parts of the hive together before taking the hive off its stand and placed it carefully on the ground to one side. The last thing we wanted was the pieces of the hive separating. All hell would break loose, and the cold wouldn’t be good for the bees. Anyway, angry bees flying around us while unprotected sans bee suit would be only be funny in hindsight.
With one swift grab-and-throw I tossed the plastic milk crate into the darkness, that temporary hive stand had become a bit more permanent than intended. My long-suffering assistant hefted up the new purpose-built stand with is special legs. Each leg had an iron rod sticking out the end which we hammered into the ground. It would be a strong wind indeed to shift that hive stand.
Pitch black darkness, in the middle of a very muddy field, wellies, torches waving, coats billowing, leaning over a beehive on a rocky knoll. I re-strapped the hive securing it to the new stand, put a big lump of a rock on top which in theory should help keep the hive cover on but with it being so strapped up it’s more of a traditional thing to do than practical. Admiring our handy work we move on to check on the next (less exposed) hive. Even though already well strapped, I put a ratchet strap on this one too and a heavier rock on the lid. Who am I to argue with tradition?
Passing back by the first hive I hoped the bees had settled down enough and removed the duct-tape and sponge from the hive entrance. Not one bee bothered to come out to say hello.
I had heard their whispering, so I was happy enough.
For more on storm preparation shenanigans see my blog post:
The hive weather the storm well. As I was checking it, a couple of bees braved the cold to buzz me and say “Get lost!” Both bees and I were unscathed by the incident and they returned quickly to their warm hive.