My child, eat honey, for it is good,
and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. (Prov. 24:13 NLT)
We do have a couple hives of bees at our greenhouses for honey production. More on that later. But something happened at home that I thought some readers might find interesting.
Sometimes in life, you get a free-bee.
European honey bees (Apis mellifera) quickly became naturalized on the American continent after European contact. My understanding is that many indigenous communities found (and exploited) these strange new insects before they even knew of the existence of the white man. They were known as the “white man’s flies.”
Most native bee species have a few individuals hibernate underground, while the majority of the colony dying off as the chill advances. Honey bees overwinter as a whole tribe by consuming their stockpiled honey and vibrating their wings for warmth. If they survive and enjoy a good spring with ample nectar flow on the landscape, they can split in two hives (or sometimes one just decides to move).
Like many hive-hosts, we’ve had mixed success getting ours to overwinter. Our last colony died and our supers (boxes) just sat empty. But I saw some activity at the entrance the other day. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I presumed it was just more pirates from another colony looking for a free honey snack stock-piled from the previous set.
But my friend Michael from Vintage Honey Bee confirmed that a new hive had indeed moved in. He found several indicators: dead bees and old frass (poop) were found ejected at the entrance, lots of drones (stingerless males apparently good for nothing except sperm), female workers arriving back at the nest laden with full pollen sacs, and guard bees patrolling the entrance.
I’d like to think that the flower-buffet we’ve laid out in the yard made the spot more attractive and put these boxes on their new home short-list. Either way, it’s just a free gift of abundance from the sky, swarming with excess.