By: Michaela Veljacic
The anticipation and excitement on that Christmas morning when you gently open your gift to see the unknown inside is the same magical feeling for beekeepers in the spring. After months of putting our ears to the side of the hive to see if we can hear a gentle buzz and pleading with mother nature to be kind with the wet and cold weather we get in the Pacific Northwest, we finally get our facts.
Did our girls make it?
Has our queen started laying again?
And if we have the misfortune of having a quiet a still hive – what happened? What caused the collapse?
Did they have enough food?
Too many mites?
Too much moisture?
There are so many pieces to this puzzle. This beautiful creation of nature that has such resiliency and yet such a fine line of balance that is so easy to disturb.
The spring sun wakes us just as it does to the bees and reminds us the season has shifted and will create different habits. The habit of staying home is slowly ending just as it is for the bees. With the pandemic around us, it has been a long and quiet winter. We are now fortunate to see some friends and loved ones.
It is the time of the year when we remind our neighbors is to let their dandelions grow wild in their yards (even if just the backyard!) and not to use pesticides. We ask others to do their part so we can do ours – give our bees a good start to their season. It is our time to give them a boost and feed them pollen patties, sugar syrup and treat them for their never-ending battle with mites that have been slowly populating over the winter.
It’s the time where they prepare themselves busying in the hive by cleaning out all the hard workers who have passed helping the queen all winter long. The elder bees whose backs are shiny and black from losing all their young fluffy yellow hairs. This is the time when the elders pass the torch on to these new spring bees which will only live a fraction of the lifespan their elders had over the winter.
Now is the time for me to sit outside my one colony that did survive the winter and enjoy watching them stretch their legs and wings as they leave for the first time in a long time. Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to see them returning with legs full of pollen and ready for preparation to make it into food for the new brood.
Happy Spring to all the beekeepers, gardeners, bee enthusiasts and nature lovers!