Saturday, December 06, 2008

Up close and personal

Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched?
The girls were out earlier today exercising their wings. I could see them from my window. When I stopped by later, though, just a few were hanging out on the stoop.

"What are you looking at?" they seemed to be saying.

I told them I was just there to admire them, and they said, "Oh, well, OK, then. We'll go back to grooming each other."
If you click on the photos above, I left them large-ish so you can see them close up.

Most any bee you're going to see will be a working girl. The workers live about six weeks, and they have a set series of tasks they progress through as they age: Cell cleaning, brood incubation, feeding larvae, grooming and feeding the queen, hive cleaning, comb building, honey ripening, guard duties, air conditioning and foraging.
The air conditioning is important! I've realized that with our warm days still, insulating the hive is not such a good idea, especially with plastic over the top. Hives need to avoid moisture build-up inside.

So I'm going to put a slightly elevated wooden roof on instead (to keep snow and rain off), and just insulate around the hive when we have cold snaps.


  1. First, I love the bee pix. Second, I'm amazed at how close you get to the bees (and how close the bees seem to let you get). Third, your devotion to saving this hive is really incredible.

    I know that some beekeepers harvest honey - but can you, with the hive being in a chunk of tree the way it is? Or is this something you're doing solely for the benefit of the bees, and perhaps local plants?

  2. Glad you're enjoying the pix, Beatrice.

    Honeybees as a rule are not aggressive. Unlike wasps and hornets, a honeybee's sting is suicide, so it takes some provocation, either by actively threatening/disturbing the hive or by causing an individual bee to panic by getting it caught in your hair or clothes or accidentally squishing it.

    So if you move very slowly and calmly around bees, they stay mellow. All they really want to do is get on with their business.

    I've learned it's a good idea to keep your hair covered, too.

    As for the honey, no, I don't expect to recover any from this tree. If I intend to keep these bees, I will need to get them out of there and into a bee box that does allow for inspection and honey harvesting.

    Had it been spring, I would've done that immediately, but in November, their best chance of survival is in the space they'd already set up and stocked for winter. So right now, yes, it's solely for their benefit.

  3. Well you are turning into quite the little beekeeper, aren't you? I admire all this dedication!

  4. I didn't realize bees had such cute faces.

  5. Summer, they're just cool to watch! It's kind of a neat opportunity to have a wild hive right at eye level.

    JGH, they look like Japanese cartoons, don't they? Those big Speed Racer eyes ...