Here’s the Buzz

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As we are in our first year of beekeeping, we are still learning about the cycles and actions of the currently very robust hive in our backyard.  At a local beekeeper’s meeting last Summer, I learned that August 15th was the start of Fall for honeybees in our area.  That date stuck and when mid-August rolled around this year, I assumed that the bees should be done with their gathering, foraging and buzzing.  We imagined they would be tidying up and tucking themselves in for the Winter. Well, sort-of…

Our hive has definitely downsized and is not as copious as it was at the height of Summer, but there is still plenty of activity going on in there.  We harvested a little honey in August, but left them with the majority of combs they worked so hard to build and fill–since this is their first year and we want to make sure they have plenty to get through a damp Northwestern Winter.  Then, we assumed we would let them be until Spring.

On very rainy days, we don’t see a bit of action coming in or out of the hive but during this recent bout of warmer, gorgeous, sunny afternoons, the bees have been busy.  We went to take a peek in the hive a few days ago and those gals have sealed things up nice and tight with the thick propolis they use to as a sealant for cracks and crevices.  There was no way we were going to undo all that hard work and open them up to any unwanted Autumn breezes, so we just took a peek in from the back and saw that there hadn’t been much growth in terms of combs since August and that was to be expected. Standing at the front of the hive, we noticed that most of the forager bees coming in had bright orangey-yellow saddlebags of pollen. Aha!  So this is one of their Fall forager duties…

We have been lucky so far this year with the bees.  As beginners, we knew there was only so much studying and reading and then we were going to have to jump in and learn as we went.  Our hive grew quickly and we had a strong queen. Since we live in an older urban neighborhood, with a nice array of parks, river banks, etc., there is plenty of diversity of trees, flowers, and plants for the bees to forage. We notice there are Fall dandelions and other flowers our bees are still feeding from on sunny days.  While we don’t think they are raising the big brood they were earlier in the year, they are still working to make sure they have plenty to eat through the Winter.  Our fingers are crossed!

 

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