Cold, Quiet Bees

First, a big shout out to Jennifer Tanner! Thank you so much for sending me the bee song! I love it! I have been listening to it all week. Go to Mirah and Spectratone International and download the song "Community" (it's free and legal). I now imagine the bees singing that while we're working the hives.

There's not a huge amount going on with the bee hives right now. We're feeding them, trying to get the girls fully stocked with honey for the winter. Today, the temps were in the forties and the girls were clustering together for warmth and moving very slowly. I even took a video to show how quiet they are. A month ago there would have been loud buzzing, now there is this:

Very quiet. Compare that to this.

We're feeding them a nectar solution to substitute the current lack of natural nectar sources to build up their stores. Olga is chock full, her hive is very busy, but I'm feeding her anyway because the book says I'm supposed to. Kitty is a different story. We didn't harvest any honey from her hive, but even still she is behind on comb and honey production from swarming this summer. Her hive is light. I don't know. If we have a warm winter with milder temps, she just might make it. But if we have the type of winter this part of the northern United States is known for, I'm afraid we will lose her. Ah well, we're doing all we can to keep her going and the bottom line is that this year is our first year beekeeping and it's all a learning experience.

I will say that Kitty has done an outstanding job of gathering pollen. In this undeveloped comb, you can see on the other side of the comb, all the many colors of pollen that is in the bottom of honey cells.

Since the bees were calm and we were feeding them, I had Mr. Neil try his luck at hand feeding the bees. The bees were happy to feed from his fingers. Non Birding Bill learned from the QI tv show that bees can recognize individual people, so this hand feeding business may prevent future stings. Here's the blurb from the Telegraph:

"Bees can recognise human faces. Given that many humans struggle with this once they have turned 40, it seems utterly remarkable in a creature whose brain is the size of a pinhead. Yet bees who are rewarded with nectar when shown some photos of faces, and not rewarded when shown others, quickly learn to tell the difference. Not that we should read too much into this. Bees don't "think" in a meaningful way. The "faces" in the experiment were clearly functioning as rather odd-looking flowers, not as people they wanted to get to know socially."

In a couple of weeks, I will have to close up the hives for winter. How long this winter will seem without being able to look in on the girls.