Thursday, June 13, 2013

What a Ride

There is such a delicate balance to nature.  Even with the most conscientious of care, it can be hard to predict which things will thrive, fail, or endure the slimmest of odds.  It can be all at once disheartening and uplifting, and we find that as we nurture different things, we become very connected to them.

Most days we walk the homestead three times, early morning, mid day and evening.  We peruse the garden, check the bees, plan for future crops or animals, let the chickens out into the yard, harvest, water, pet the bunnies, weed pull, dream, and simply enjoy.

There are ups and downs to this process, because we will notice even slight changes that lead us to investigate and sometimes worry.  Both of our bee hives have been vigorous all spring, so much so that we had to add an additional box to each of them.  This week we had slowly warming weather, then a sudden very warm day.  I noticed that one of our hives had a large number of bees congregating outside, and some beginning to beard there.  This sent me into a little bit of a panic.  Are they going to swarm?  Are they unhappy in their home?  Are they just too warm from this crazy weather and getting some air?  We watched them carefully over the last couple of days and they are hanging in there.  This morning B noticed that the other hive seems to have many fewer bees, and we wonder whether this hive swarmed.  This second hive though robust,  has not been nearly as active as the other.  Maybe it lost its queen, and they are in the process of making a new queen.   It could be the other just had a huge brood hatch and by comparison it looks much more populous.  It looks like we will be examining the boxes in more depth to see if we can see a problem, or detect a new queen cell. So many possibilities, one of which is hives sometimes just swarm, period.  We will be setting out our bait hives this weekend, hopefully looking to catch a wild swarm, and not one of our own!

There is something about relying on mother nature that is very rewarding and humbling.  Hard work can be rewarded or punished by such simple things when you are relying on the elements and ecosystem around you.  But wow, what a ride!

 **Update.  After I posted this B spoke with our bee keeper friend who is very seasoned and been doing this for many years.  It seems we anticipated everything right, and it would be unusual for one warm day to cause a sudden swarm, especially since this hive was not the one with the excess of bees.  He thinks it sounds more like a mass die off due to some contamination/poison.  It happens these days.  We will inspect the hive this weekend to see if there is still a queen, and if the numbers continue to die off.  It leaves me sad, this was not necessarily mother nature, it was man made.  Big Ag may have created crops and insecticides to increase yields, and make for cheap hybrids (where the nutrition has all but been removed; ie. today's grains).  But I wonder what the true cost will be?  We already see effects in the health of the natural ecology.   The long term health effects to humans is yet to be seen, though I think he tip of the iceberg is emerging.

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