Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring is Finally Here!

I've been waiting for a day above 65 F to check on the bees. So far Mother Nature has been loathe to cooperate. Seriously, it snowed on Saturday! Meanwhile, folks closer to the coast are reporting drone activity. What the heck? Drones?!

My daughter hanging out with the chickens on a glorious Sunday

Further inland, we got a couple of warmish days mid-Feb (warm enough for the bees to fly anyway), but not warm enough to open the hives. Just from observing the entrances at that time, I was pretty sure at least half of my hives had survived winter. A couple of them were difficult to decipher without any pollen coming in.

Anyway, Sunday and Monday got almost up 60 F, so the bees were out in full force. Elsa, Celestia, and Bubblegum were especially active. The others had fewer bees coming and going. At first, I thought they might have been robbing dead-outs, but then I spotted a couple of bees with pollen entering Buttercup, Peach, and Persephone. So my guess is that they're alive as well.

Elsa carrying in the grocery bags

I didn't see any pollen-bearers entering Hippolyte, but girls at the entrance seem engaged in normal activity. So there's a chance that one survived, too. Austeja is more suspect, and I'm not holding my breath for that one. Time will tell.

Yesterday also marked my first sting of the season. Contrary to popular advice, I frequently wear black or dark colors around the hives without any ill consequences. On the other hand, wearing a blue shirt in the early spring/late autumn is a guarantee that every bee I own will home in on me. I have a hypothesis that bees respond to scent as much as they do color. I think they know my scent and so leave me alone despite my clothing color, but why does a blue shirt fool them every time? Idk. 

Lost pollen means it's time to remove the mouse guards.

Anyway, I was sporting a black sweater in the bee yard. Plenty of bees landed on my hands without showing any aggression, but then one got caught in the knit. Unable to escape, she stung me, and her pheromones were a battlecry for the others, so I pretty much skedaddled on out. Note to self: Only woven fabrics in the apiary.

Hopefully, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, your spring has begun (or is just around the corner), and your bees are waking up as well!


  1. It'll be four years ago tomorrow that I wore a black shirt near my hives and things went south. Won't do that ever again :) Sounds like your apiary is in good shape! Can't wait to hear more as the season progresses.

  2. Glad to hear your girls are all doing well! Hope the warmer weather continues for you so you can get inside and see what's up. Love the chicken pic - hope you are having fun with them. I hear they love drone comb!

    I was out working in my garden by the hives the other day and normally the bees don't bother me. But I had one guard bee who came after me so I had to leave. At that point, I realized I had a black shirt on - DOH! Next time, I'll be more aware of what I'm wearing even when I'm not looking in the hives.

  3. Since you and Holly both have had bad experiences with bees while wearing black, I'll take your word for it. I've been mobbed wearing every color imaginable, including red, which they're not to supposed to see that well. Those girls are using something other than sight to find me. Maybe I eat too many bananas. :-)

    That could be a really interesting science project actually -- what color bee suit receives the least stings.

    1. My understanding is they see red as black. What would happen if you put a banana out by a hive? Think they'd sting it?


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