I still can’t tell when foraging honey bees are returning to the colony weighed down with nectar. Apparently that’s a thing people with good eyes learn to recognise, but I’m not there yet. I probably spend too much time in awe of honey bees to slip well into scientific observation mode. But I’m pretty sure I know what orientation flights look like. I better.
My favourite hive component beyond a moisture quilt or ventilation rim is a rim with a hole in it. In the winter, the rim makes room for emergency food such as sugar cakes or pollen patties and provides an upper entrance for the bees.
In the summer time, the rim provides the bees a place to cool off when the hive is humid or congested, sort of like bearding but inside, and similar to the function of a slatted rack, except it’s on the top of the hive instead of the bottom. Some of the bees, usually young bees that haven’t foraged yet (I’m guessing), will cluster underneath the inner cover and — because of the rim — will have 2 or 3 inches of space to just sort of hang there. It allows them to get out of the way of the foragers. It unclogs the frames and allows for better ventilation and regulation of the brood nest temperature too. All good stuff. And all due to a wonderful thing called a rim.
This collection of cell phone clips from July 2017, when I had only one hive, is a little over 30 minutes long. It’s the latest instalment of the scintillating Cell Phone Chronicles. I’m not sure who the audience is for a video like this, but unboxing videos are a thing, so I guess there’s an audience for everything.
I still think the best way to “save the bees” is not to bother with packs of wild flower seeds. Just take a pile of dirt, leave it alone and let whatever wants to grow in it grow in it. The flowering plants — like wild mustard — that grow in exposed soil are usually more attractive to honey bees and native pollinators than anything I’ve seen come out of seed packets.
I’ve spotted honey bees on this yellow weed that has 10 billion names including wild mustard and Yellow Rocket. Continue reading →
October 2019 Postscript: These video clips and photos were taken on my cell phone at a time when I was just beginning to emerge from the cave I’d been living in since December 2016. The medical community calls it Post-Concussion Syndrome. It’s about as much fun as it sounds. The best therapy, better than any physical and neurological therapy, was being outside. In silence. With my bees. Whenever there was a calm in my neurological symptoms, I went outside to enjoy it while I could. I’m slowly digging through those cell phone videos and posting them when I can.
On this Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada), I’m thankful I’m not a male honey bee.
Canadian Thanksgiving Day is the traditional time of year when drones are expelled from honey bee hives, pestered to leave until they die, though I’ve seen drones kicked out of the hive as early as August.