As a beekeeper, one of the more frequent questions I get this time of year is, “What are the bees doing?”
It seems like forever ago when those first spring blooms spotted the gray fields. When plump robins sang of sunshine and the mystery of bees was far less hidden. Buzzy bees were busy, out collecting sweet nectar and dusty pollen. Collecting, storing, and preparing for this very moment: the dead of winter. The honey they’ve made and that which we left after harvest will act as an edible, protective insulation.
Of course, we’ve made sure to minimize their exposure to the cold. We’ve added what’s called “entrance reducers” to make the hole to the hive smaller and the colonies less vulnerable. We even provided some extra food for the long months ahead, and all that’s left for us beekeepers is to wait for spring.
Many types of insects lay eggs in the fall, die off in the winter, and their offspring hatches as the weather warms. Bees are actually active year round, hunkered down in the hive when the temperatures are too low to venture outside. To keep warm, the bees cluster together around the queen. They vibrate, or shiver, and flap their wings to generate heat and keep the hive a nearly constant ninety degrees.
Sometimes bees and their keepers aren’t all that different. My family was hit with about every sort of sick symptom during the month of December. Christmas break was lost to long naps and extended walk-in clinic wait times. We hunkered down in our home, clustered on the couch, and minimized our exposure to the cold, hard world. Despite weak stomachs, we still managed to create a buzz with Santa’s bounty and strong imaginations.
Like the little bee, I’m already anticipating those warmer days and budding blooms. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy Queendom and insulating snuggles with my little honeys.
Stay warm and healthy, friends!
Neena is a Kentucky wife, mother, daughter, and beekeeper who does life in Owensboro. Her first novel, The Bird and the Bees, is a Christian contemporary romance set to be released in April 2020. Visit her at wordslikehoney.com.