Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stretching their wings on a warm(er) winter day!

And maybe I should add that I was pooped on three times by my honey bees today! More on that below.

This has been the coldest stretch of winter weather we've had in my area in a long time. In years past, we've had cold weather, but nothing really like this frigid pocket we're in now. So far the lowest overnight temperature at my house has been 14.9 degrees, but we're still having lows ranging from around 20 to 17 degrees or do. Daytime temperatures have been just above freezing.  

As you know, I've been pretty concerned about my bees. Lately there has been very little activity if any at all. The girls that did bother to stick their heads out of the hive lately were dragging out the dead, and other than the sounds from inside (when I would put my ear to the side of the hive and listen) - there has been very little going on.

That all changed today. I went to the kitchen to make coffee and when I looked out the back window, the entrance to the hive was covered with lots of bees, and there was a constant flurry of girls flying around the front of it too. I looked at the thermometer and it said 39 degrees, so I knew that it was warm enough for them to break out of that hive and stretch their wings. And I was so glad that I had that craving for a cup of coffee...otherwise I wouldn't have paid attention to what was going on. Of course I grabbed up my camera and headed for the hive.

So as you can see, here is the results of cabin fever, or better yet, hive fever. The warm sun beating down on this hive warmed it up enough to bring the girls out of their winter slumber to stretch their wings.

Of course they were everywhere. This picture doesn't really do the ladies justice because you can't see all the ones flying in front of the hive. They would fly out, circle around for a few feet, then land back on the hive front.

By this time, maybe 10-minutes, I noticed that I was the focus of their attention. I looked down and had a handful of bees flying all around me, some landing on my arms and my clothing. If you look at the picture above, just to the bottom left, you can see one of the girls flying right at me. They didn't seem aggressive, just curious, although I did bring one in the house. I caught her in a cup and put her back outside. After all, if she's made it this long through this harsh mid-winter, she needs to go back to her house and help keep her sisters warm until spring.

By the way, when I got back in the house, I found that my bees, yes my beloved bees that I fret about so much...had pooped on me in three different places! So in addition to stretching their wings, the ladies were doing what nature instilled in them...taking their cleansing flights...and apparently yours truly was in their flight path! Does anyone know if they made Charmin-Ultra in honey bee size? Now its Tide with bleach to the rescue!

Until next time, bee warm everyone!

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