It happens every year. And now it’s that time again.
A month ago, I got a tinge of intellectual pessimism. And it was especially strong this year. My hives were in terrible shape when I last saw them October 25. In fact, I’d never seen them in worse shape. They were struggling with complicated viral infections. And they had been sprayed twice.
In my commercial beekeeping days, I would have shaken all but two hives out on the ground. And if I’d had a good hive to compare those last two hives with, I would have probably shaken them out as well.
But I’m not a commercial beekeeper anymore. And the condition of my poor bees four months ago is an extreme aberration of what has become normal since I started natural beekeeping more than a decade ago. Last year, I chose not to be the deciding factor. And I’ve let nature take its course.
Today, the sun’s rays have warmth. The days are longer. And something inside my being says, “Spring is coming.” There’s still snow in my backyard. And there’s more snow yet to come. I’ve always cut lilac blossoms during a wet spring snow. And lilac blossoms are still a couple of months away. Those spring snows provide water throughout the summer and are welcome. Without them, there is no bee forage or municipal water supply. But today, it’s warmth and sun, the possibility of spring, and not snow or the problems of the past..
With spring comes hope. It’s a necessary characteristic all beekeepers must have. For the work is just too hard, and the risk of failure too great to keep a less than hopeful person engaged in beekeeping. Yep, most beekeepers are a little bit romantic and somewhat goofy when it comes to bees. I’ve often wondered if the bees produce some kind of benumbing pheromone that beekeepers become addicted to?
It’s not spring weather here like it is in the rest of the country with beekeepers talking about queens, splits, swarms and such.. But even in Wyoming, there is a window of opportunity to visit my bees. The temperature should approach 60 degrees F for a day. And with a little luck, I should be able to get through the snowdrifts and the mud to my beeyard.
There won’t much I can do. No broodnest work. It’s still too cold and windy. Hives can be separates to soak up some of the sun’s warmth. Frames of honey can be fed where needed. And any dead hives can be cleaned up and the equipment brought home.
What will I find? Did those 100+ mph winds blow that lightly propolized, new equipment apart in spite of the rocks I piled on top? Did the horses or other varmints get to them? Did they succumb to viruses or starve to death?
I am hopeful and anticipate this visit. Heck, maybe most of them survived and will surprise me yet!