Wednesday, July 13, 2011

They're a Humming

THIS PHOTO IS NOT MINE BUT BELONGS TO  I don't have one of a queen. Remember, I don't go through my hives unless I have to and so I've not run across the ole gals. This wonderful blog about bees had a wonderful shot so here it is. Go visit if you are curious about bees and think of signing of signing up to follow it. I've been reading it for the past couple weeks when I have a couple minutes and I'm impressed. He may live where the weather is a whole heaping milder but there is still wonderful information to be had and lessons learned. His latest post tells why he also doesn't go through his hives very often but just stands to the side, watches and listens. Oh dear, I posted this and forgot to tell you where the queen is. Good thing I checked back. She is smack dab in the middle with the more pointy behind and a bit lighter in color though that isn't always the case. Her legs are lighter and larger also.

That's what my hubby, grand kids and I did Sunday afternoon after church and our naps of course. We worked on identification of alfalfa and sweet clover with the kids as we drove down the country highways and we watched the ewes with their lambs in the crested wheat grass pastures.

Then we meandered back through a couple cattle guards to where the beehives were tucked against the fence next to expansive hay fields. Two different ranch outfits were busy cutting and baling hay. Our main objective was to make sure the ranchers hadn't cut too much of the alfalfa and left the bees nothing to eat. We having separate goals. The ranchers are worried about putting up enough hay for their sheep and cattle for the winter and I'm worried that they won't leave any blossoms for my bees so they can put up their own feed for the winter.

The pressure is on. Remember, my husband said the bees had to get off of welfare this year.
As I studied the activity around the hive, there wasn't any of this behavior as depicted in this photo from a few weeks ago. In fact, they were bringing in hardly any pollen and as for a small cluster of bees near the entrance - there wasn't any. The hives hum tone had changed too. There wasn't a nice idling engine sound  but instead, the noise was much louder and the hum was that of a highly revved engine. I sensed they knew their food supply was dwindling fast and they weren't stopping to chat but barking orders "Here take this, I've got to gather another load of nectar." "Hurry, hurry we're running out of time."

The revved engine noise I suspect was due to thousands of bees's wings beating rapidly to evaporate part of the liquid to thicken the honey. I didn't need to open the lid of the hive to know the bees were working as fast as they could go. Not surprisingly, the workers don't live as long at this time of year for they are giving their all for the survival of the hive.

Uncharacteristically, I didn't sit right in front of the entrance and just watch. Instead, I stood to the side so as not to be in the way. With the mood they were in, I could see them trying to move this irritating oaf out of the way of their direct flight into the hive. Bee stings aren't awful but still, I'd rather avoid them. 

The grand kids headed off with their papa across the cut hay field to the large stock tank as I watched bees flying in and out.

Soon I joined them with a plan to be back in a week and check to see if the bees needed more empty honey supers. That's just what I'm hoping for.

The water tank was full of moss and a variety of water bugs zipped here and there before diving out of sight into the moss. The kids had never seen the like and though I've watched this same scene many times growing up, I still delighted in the sight. We were all reluctant to leave but we had to get home and gather flags. The Boy Scouts in our church troop put out United States flags on, I think, ten holidays a year. Sunday, Wyoming was celebrating its statehood. The flags are set up at seven and down at seven, and since there are so few boys, the whole congregation takes turns helping. You just show up when your free. No assignments are given.

As a member of the community, you can have a flag flying in your yard by paying $35 dollars a year. The flags snap to a PVC pole and the pipe slides over a re-bar you pound into the lawn. The boys have around ninety flags and the number keeps growing. It's rather fun to gather as a congregation and work together. The church parking lot is soon full of people stacking poles, folding flags, laughing and chatting. The little ones like our grand kids learn respect and of course, how to fold a flag.

Did you know that more boys from Wyoming volunteer to serve in the military per population than any other state? Despite how distant our country has wondered from its roots toward socialism, we still deeply love this land.

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