Skip navigation

Tag Archives: honeybees

On Thursday I had to look at the calendar to remind me that it was only February 8! The temperature reached over fifty degrees, Fahrenheit! It was shirt sleeve weather when we should have been wearing down coats and heavy boots. Ken’s honeybees felt the warmth and flew out of the hives in great numbers, searching for something new to eat, fresh water, fresh air and goodness knows what else. The bees were everywhere and Luna didn’t like it. She had to go inside since she’s been stung more than once and goes out of her way to avoid any contact with the honeybees. Sky and I enjoyed the nice afternoon, poking around the yard, finding reminders of last summer, and she even posed for pictures.

The snow has been rapidly melting for the last ten days or so and where there was nearly three feet in late January, there is barely a foot now and none in the forecast. It’s colder today but with full sunshine, should be a nice day to be out and about.

Despite the heat and the valley full of smoke, animals are abundant. There is a mule deer with twin fawns that we see around our hill pretty often. All the young birds have fledged and are learning to forage with help from their parents. Ken’s bees are still out collecting pollen and nectar from our garden flowers. I do wonder how the smoke affects these animals and if they have shortened life spans because of it.

Four of Ken’s six beehives burned in the fire last summer and the replacement bees arrived last month. Ken and I went over to Dave’s house where other local beekeepers were gathered to get bees to start new hives or replace colonies that didn’t survive the winter or succumbed to other things like mites, pesticides, fire, etc. I think there were over 120 boxes of bees delivered to start their new lives in the Methow and Okanogan valleys.

We quickly brought them home and Ken got to work moving them into their new bee boxes. After that he checked the two old hives and discovered that one of them had died in the last couple of weeks. It had been the weaker of the two but after surviving the fire and the winter, it was a great disappointment to lose them just when things should have been improving.

Despite what the calendar indicates, Spring is bursting out all over. The animals feel it. They are out foraging for fresh food. Insect-eating birds have returned from their winter vacations and are having no trouble finding bugs to consume. A Northern Pygmy-owl spent a couple of days here eating the voles whose dirty handiwork is emerging from the melting snow. I’d hoped the owl would stay longer to put a real dent in the vole population but it has moved on. Both Western and Mountain Bluebirds have arrived. The Western’s are checking out nest boxes and making plans for the upcoming breeding season. It is fun to watch the pairs take turns examining a box and seemingly discussing the pros and cons of each one. ‘Look this one has a nice view’. ‘ Ahh but I like that one over there with the better perch’. Well what about that one out there?’ ‘Too close to the dog corral’. And on and on it goes. The Say’s Phoebe, a pretty bird with a soft, sometimes two-note call has also returned. It is a member of the flycatcher family and easily identified, unlike some of its relatives. And high on our hill I found a singing Western Meadowlark – truly a joyous sound of spring! Most of these birds were pretty distant for photography, except the ferocious looking owl. But that didn’t keep me from trying.

And on another note, Ken took the lids off of his two beehives and sure enough, they are still alive and ready to start foraging as soon as the flowers start to bloom!

In a normal year I’d have lots of blog posts from my garden. Needless to say, this hasn’t been a normal year and I have rarely been out to the garden except to do maintenance or harvest. Last week I took a little time to really enjoy it. It was a warm day and lots of pollinators were active in the sunflowers and catnip. I imagine they are building stores for the fast approaching winter months. I love seeing them all covered in pollen. The bees in the catnip moved quickly from flower to flower so they were much harder to photograph. In the sunflowers, they move slowly, savoring the abundance of the blossoms. Most of these insects are honey bees but there are some natives as well as a moth. Do let me know if you can identify them since I really don’t know insects very well.

%d bloggers like this: