Saturday, April 30, 2011

True Confessions

I have read about how beekeepers love their bees and I thought that was a bit of a stretch, but I confess I am falling in love with my bees.

I examined the hives today and found pollen being stored in some cells. It looks like colorful (orange) splotches. The workers are drawing out the comb on seven sides of the frames. I saw both my queens. Because I was reluctant to shake the bees off the busiest frames, I was unable to see what was going on in the honeycomb, but I am starting to see cells that are capped. It's too soon for capped honey, so I'm going to assume the capped cells contain developing larvae. The capped cells are so perfect, creamy smooth tops in perfect hexagons.

While seeing the drawn out comb, stored pollen and some capped cells is fascinating, that occurred early this afternoon and I was not yet smitten. I didn't fall down the rabbit hole of bee love until dusk tonight. I went out to water some plants and stood by the hives for about 15 minutes. Since it was close to dark, there wasn't the kind of energetic activity I see in the afternoon, bees zooming out of the hive and others coming in for a landing. What I saw this evening was bees homing in on their hives, not a lot, but a steady stream of workers coming in for the night. Many more of them are bringing home filled pollen baskets. I was standing about a foot away from their doors and they just sort of materialized out of nowhere, landed and went in. It reminded me of a magician plucking quarters out of someone's ear, except that's an illusion and this was truly magical. And while the hives are less than two feet apart, there was not a bee that didn't fly directly to her own hive. No guesswork, no moments to think about it, just a beeline (ha!) to the correct hive. Reflecting on their tireless work, clannishness, perfect understanding of geometry and their infallible GPS did it and I fell in love with my bees.

I accompanied Susan today to check her hives and am delighted to report no new stings for either of us. My sting count remains at 5.