The journey to spring is on! While it may look like nature is still dormant, the return of light is triggering subtle changes. The bee hives are a great example of this. It appears as though there is nothing going on with the bees these days, but in fact there is plenty going on.
It’s late winter and that means Clustering, Cleansing and Clearing are 3 fascinating things that are happening in the hives right now.
Keeping The Queen Warm
The hives are quiet, but once you’re within proximity of the hive, you can hear a low hum. Inside the hive there are thousands of worker bees taking turns surrounding the queen, shaking their bodies to keep her warm. As bees on the outside of the cluster get cold, they will push themselves to the center, letting other bees take a turn on the outside. They’ve done this all winter long, fueled by honey as their energy source, which is why we always leave lots of honey in the hive for the bees over the winter. The Queen is the heart of their hive, without the Queen, the hive will die. She’s rested throughout the winter and will soon start laying eggs again. These eggs will hatch into worker bees.
A beehive is one of the cleanest and most sterile natural environments. Bees are fastidious and never defecate inside their hive. While bees can go months without defecating, they will take advantage of a warm sunny day, and bravely leave the hive just a short distance for a cleansing flight. A nice way of saying a poop flight. Then they return to the safety of the warm hive.
When not on a cleansing flight or keeping the queen warm, the worker bees are cleaning their hive. This involves pushing dead bees in the hive, out of the hive. These bees were pushed out of the hive and sitting on the bottom board of the hive. It’s astounding to see all the dead bees on the ground around the hive and at the hive entrance but this is nature and it’s a sign that the hive is functioning as nature intended.
If this sort of information about the bees interests you, consider signing up for the Learn to Beekeep here at the farm. You will witness these fascinating creatures firsthand throughout one full season. You will suit up and meander to the beeyard. Mark will guide you through the happenings in the hive. You will learn about the equipment and how to do hive inspections. You do not have to have any aspirations of being a beekeeper to sign up, just having an interest in bees is all that's required. There will be 6 hands-on sessions in total; one each month starting in May and ending with 2 sessions at honey harvest time in Late August/September. There will be a variety of days and times to choose from.
Beekeeping provides the opportunity to connect with nature, in a calm way (bees like slow and steady movements) while observing and assessing the activity inside the hive. You will never look at a bee the same way again. These fascinating little creatures will capture your heart.