I'm writing this on the 'spring forward' morning, as I just finished baking a few loaves of bread for our church coffee later. But as much as I love smelling freshly baked bread, I can't get my mind off my bees, and even bees in general today. Odd? I think not. Yesterday, we had a glorious day of sunshine and temperatures in the fifties. I had hoped to see a few bees flying, but oh my! They flew by the hundreds and I spent my lunch hour sitting in front of the hives, eating a sandwich and watching them clean house.
Spring cleaning is quite the undertaking for bees - literally. I could observe worker bees drag dead bee bodies out of the front entrance, and flying off with them to dump them. Interestingly, they were not content to just give them a good push and shove off the entrance ramp, no, noooo! Not tidy enough! Dead bees apparently must be scattered around. It was very taxing on the worker bees to fly with such a load, and we observed several of them crawling around on the snow for a while, recovering from their task, before taking flight again.
We offered a spoonful of honey, and syrup in a jar, but neither was met with much interest. Maybe there are better things out right now? How could that be possible, we're still under a foot of snow for the most part!
Well, as I'm reading this most wonderful, enthralling set of books written by a woman beekeeper in Missouri (bought off thriftbooks.com of course, not amazon, according to my lenten resolutions.... I will have enough to say about those books for a whole another post), I'm learning that one of the earliest sources of pollen in our area might be skunk cabbage. My oldest daughter and I took a walk to the brook to check if we could find any. It seemed hopeless at first, so much snow, not a green leaf in sight. But as we climbed closer, we did find the beginnings of spring indeed.
And eventually, when she stuck her thumb in the fifth skunk cabbage we found, it came out all yellow-dusted! Pollen is here!
We were incredibly cheered by our good find, probably more so than a non-beekeeper could imagine, but I think everyone in these parts is just about ready for some good news about spring approaching!