You may have guessed how deeply I love spring by how much I have been talking about it recently. On a recent weekend walk, I noticed daffodils blooming bright yellow and pussy willows and trees starting to bud. I immediately thought of the bees here at Skidompha and made a mental note to check in on them when back at the library.
I’m happy to report that our bees are doing very well! The warm weather and stronger sun have sparked them to life, and, pardon the pun, the hive is buzzing! (Groan!) Spring is a time for the hive to wake from its winter somnolence and begin building again. The hive needs workers to bring in pollen and nectar, and the Queen starts laying to meet this need. She fills the combs with eggs that will grow into larvae, pupae, and finally, honey bees. A new bee population to build the hive over the warmer months. I find it so fascinating to watch new honey bees chew and push through their cell’s cap to emerge into the world for the first time. They are adorably fuzzy, unsteady at first, and easy to tell from mature workers. They soon get a handle on things and begin their first job in the hive, to clean out their cell in preparation for the next egg. The young bee will then act as a nurse, caring for and feeding the larvae and pupae.
Workers who have overwintered are busy as well. They are taking advantage of the weather when they can (they prefer it to be over 50 degrees and rain-free) and are searching for pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive. There will be many new mouths to feed on the way! The bees were taking full advantage of just such a day earlier last week. Traffic was so heavy that they had formed a line from the hive’s entrance to the top comb to drop off their groceries. The hive was vibrating with waggle dances from excited bees, informing their co-workers of just how good a supply they found and where it was in relation to the hive. I followed one bee with particularly pollen-laden knees as she made her way up the hive to comb. She reviewed a few cells carefully until she found just the right one and then lowered her abdomen down to where she could kick the pollen off her legs. Job done, she danced wildly.
I find it thrilling to observe the bees in real-time. The things I read in books become clearer and more real as I see behaviors occur live and in front of me, and my joy and fascination with the natural world are renewed. I hope you will take some time to stop by and celebrate this next stage of our hive.