It’s sunny and positively balmy with temps in the 50’s as we trudge through the snow to get to the bees. Some parts of the yard still measure six inches of snow. This snow is not uniformly melting so much as it is receding, like a slow moving glacier. Or, to think more positively towards warm beach days, like the tide going out. Winter tide.
Down in the bee yard, we are delighted to see three hives busy, with bees coming and going and buzzing and sunning and enjoying the day. We have exited winter with more bees than ever before. Red maples are budding and these bees are ready to charge into spring.
Today’s task is to unwrap the hives from their winter protection of roofer’s tar paper. Mr. Beekeeper also wants to set up the hive feeders. The bees are ready to go, but there is not much for them to get to yet. Red maples are the first flowering tree for the bees. Fortunately, in spite of the semi-glacial look around here, the maples are waking up right on schedule. Why are humans so desperate for spring to arrive and then so surprised that it actually does?
Lids come off the hives to remove the tar paper. We get to peek in at the bees. They look so happy. They buzz around us, landing on our jackets and hanging out on my camera. Are they as happy to see us as we are to see them?
The golden burr comb is a delightful contrast to the snowy ground and the emerging mucky mud of March. Yet, here and there, single bees lie frozen on the snow. I wonder, do they die because they landed on the snow? Or did they land on the snow to die? I watch one crawling slowly across its frozen landscape, slower and slower, and finally not advancing. I lift her off the snow. She warms up and takes flight.
Hive D, which went through winter with two boxes, is going gangbusters. Mr. Beekeeper decides to go ahead and switch the boxes. The top box–where the bees have been clustered all winter–gets moved to the bottom. The bottom box gets put on top. This will encourage the bees to build up. Literally. Soon, Hive D will get a honey box. Maybe next week.
Back in the house, Beekeeper Man orders another package of bees to replace the hive we lost over the winter.
And another season of beekeeping begins.