OUCH! The bees let me know for sure that they do not hibernate for winter!
I had a sneak peek at hives recently, just checking that they had enough food after the long wet spell followed by the cold snap followed by the current mild weather. This hive seemed heavy enough, but I added fondant just in case they should run low over the next two months. I wore a bee-jacket rather than a full suit and I didn’t use a smoker as that only encourages the bees to gorge on their valuable honey reserves. Sure enough, a couple of bees found the chink in my armour and stung me on my thigh. It smarted but I was more concerned about losing the two brave precious winter bees than the inconvenience of the sting. I did my business a deftly as I could, closed the hive and retreated.
I called into the landowner (a wonderful grower of organic vegetables and almost self-sufficient elderly man) and between the chit and the chat he said, “There’s bees in the hive up there.” pointing in the direction of the upper field which has a panoramic view overlooking Galley Head. The last time I had looked I had considered that hive as a total loss it was so deplete of bees. I had left it then with no hope. I was going to dismantle the hive and take it away but I hadn’t the heart to so left it there, maybe I would make a good bait hive next year.
“Bees, in that hive?” I said incredulously and walked out on him and marched up to the hive, took off the hive cover and lo and behold, a healthy-looking, small but beautiful cluster of nonchalant bees greeted me through the Perspex inner cover. The hive has a chance. I had extra fondant so gave that to them. I’ve seen small hives that survive winter become the best honey producers. This is wonderful Christmas present for me.
My elderly friend was well chuffed too and delighted that he was the bearer of such good news. We’d have danced around the kitchen if either of us could dance 😊
Thank you all who support my beekeeping efforts, for your kind words and actions.
I hope you all have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas with the odd, unexpected gift, interspersed with moments of joy and contentment.
Relevant Rebel Bee blog post links:
- About fondant: Christmas present (for bees)
- About recent frost beeswax Frost
- A winter tale (fictitious story based on fact about a new winter bee)
- A winter tail (continued) – the excitement of the first flight
P.S. Mind yourself lifting presents, moving furniture, awkward Christmas trees, and hot turkeys (if you do).