I know I’m a novice beekeeper, but I suspect the awe and mystery I experience as I open a hive will last for the rest of my life. Last Saturday Marie and I inspected our five hives. It was only the end of January, but we’d had a month of extremely unusual weather – no rain and daytime temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. Typically, our bees would be tucked inside their homes, waiting out storms and cold and munching on their stores of honey. But it was spring outside! Lots of bees were out and about and hauling in loads of four different shades of brightly colored pollen. The mustard cover crops in our biodynamic vineyard are flowering, as well as hedgerows of manzanita, willow and winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima).
Katrina and Daniel Frey in bee suits, holding up a honeycomb swarming with bees.
After opening the boxes we found to our wonder bustling activity – freshly laid worker and drone brood and lots of stored pollen, filling every available space in the hive. They had eaten very little of their honey since the end of October when the hives were shrunk down for winter because it had been warm enough for them to be out gathering nectar and making new honey. So we added frames and even a super (an additional box) to one hive and wished them well.
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