Lying awake in bed, reading on the computer. It’s late, but I can’t sleep. It’s the first hot night we’ve had. An anomaly that is Spring here. The ceiling fan is on high and brings some relief. Something in the window catches the corner of my eye, but I keep reading. There it is again, … a bright flash in the distance. A storm is moving out there, somewhere. I turn, now distracted, and watch out the window. Another flash illuminates the clouds on the horizon. I pick up the computer again and pull up the weather map. Amorphous green and red blobs march in a string across the animated map. They’re progressing this way, towards the little “pin” that marks our spot on the map. I put the computer away and turn out the light. I should be unconscious by now. My body aches with the onset of spring weather and the yard work it brings with it. My mind refuses to play along, however. I roll on my side and stare out the window. The flashes are brighter and more persistent now, accompanied by the distant low rumbling of thunder. I close my eyes, willing myself to sleep. Through my eyelids I am still seeing the flashes. I resume looking out the window. Without warning, a blazing bolt of lightning arcs across the sky, strobing several times, revealing every detail of the low hanging clouds, the barn, the grass … and then it’s gone, leaving me momentarily blinded, my eyes searching in the darkness for shape or form, but only finding after images of that last flash. The thunder takes several seconds to arrive, beginning with a loud crack and tailing off into staccato booms.
I remember excitedly watching storms as a little boy. From our house on a hill, I could watch them roll off the Front Range, striking the dragon shaped Cheyenne Mountain in the distance. My enthusiasm for them has waned some with the responsibilities and concerns that are acquired with adulthood, so the show outside now makes me restless. I think to myself how different this is from last year when we had a snow storm on this day. Then again, who knows what next week will bring.
Soon rain begins to splatter on the windows, the wind throwing it in spurts against the glass. A loud boom shakes the house. Wendy raises her head and looks over at us. Beth calms her and she lays her head down again. Eventually, the quick moving storm starts to subside as it passes by. I close my eyes again, thinking of the garden we worked on planting today. The warm weather had encouraged me to get things going, so we put most of the seeds in … peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, in addition to some flowers and borage for the bees. A bit more to follow when it really gets warmer, but a nice start. With the storm finally quieted down, I start to fall to sleep thinking of the garden and the nice rain it is getting now. A good beginning to this year.
The days are finally warming a bit. The usual spurts of cold rainy days are still here, for sure, but the days are getting longer and warmer. A welcome time for bees and barn cats too!
The bees really like these little crocus flowers. We have a small patch out front.
The crocus started blooming a few weeks ago and, when they could, the bees were on them. They had evidently found other things as well. Watching the hive I found a lot of pollen moving in and trying to track the path of the bees, I could see that they were busy flying off to the north and south where we have neighbors with something blooming. Not much is out right now, with the exception of some deciduous trees like aspen which can produce a bit of pollen. The collection of pollen is a good sign as it indicates the bees are busy feeding young.
It seems the number of bees has been increasing a bit and I have been feeding them with a feeder outside the hive when it has been warm enough. They suck down these quart jars of sugar syrup pretty quickly. I'm inclined to back off on those some now as things are starting to bloom more. Looking in the window of the hive, I can see they have been busy and not all of their activity is to my liking. They sometimes have a tendency to build comb across the bars in a perpendicular fashion. While this is natural for them, it makes maintenance of the hive difficult. Hence, it is time for some spring clean up.
This weekend, one year since installing this hive, I opened things up and went through the hive comb by comb. Here is an example of cross combing. A kitchen knife is use to slice off these comb spurs. They will repair the cut ends and, hopefully, avoid the crossing again. I also finally took out the old queen cage from last year. I'll melt this wax down and do something with it. It smells quite good actually.
There was a fair amount of capped brood ready to hatch out, as well as the puffy drone cells that hold the males. I did not directly see the queen, but that's not unusual for me. I miss half the stuff I'm looking at anyway, which is why I take lots of photos. I took out the feeding station I had placed in the hive previously (see here), and moved the combs all down to one end of the hive to open up the rest of it for the anticipated summer bounty.
All in all, the bees were in good behavior through the whole process and I think we are now ready to proceed into the rest of the season.