Rebels with a Cause
Rebels. We’re currently loaded with them.
A couple of weeks ago, Paul and Brad were headed out for (more of) the summer ritual of cutting and splitting wood when they noticed bees swarming along the side of the shed to the rear of the sap house. Lots of bees. Honey bees (a marked improvement over the hornets who moved in a few years back). Since then, we’ve been much more cautious and increasingly excited for the possibilities these little free workers present. Paul and I have been separately craving bees for decades, but haven’t taken the plunge. Frankly, my reservation has always been the great responsibility for all those little lives. Adding that to an already loaded day didn’t seem prudent. But as the kids get older and more mature, I’m finding small slots of time which might be suitable for checking in and caring for bees. And with a swarm just showing up and moving in, Paul and I both thought this may be a sign…
Bees that take off in a swarm in late summer are, well, “not prudent” shall we say. Some sources refer to them as “rebel swarms” since they strike out against the better judgment of Mother Nature. They don’t leave the old hive carrying a share of honey, so they are left with the daunting task of finding a safe new home AND loading up on sufficient stores of new food that they can last through the winter without starving to death. And they apparently need A LOT. A new group like this one will need 30-60 pounds of honey to survive safely, according to our local honey sherpa, Mr. Bender. After a telephone consultation with said sherpa, I was quite discouraged that the bees had any hope of success, but an in person visit from Mr. Bender improved the assessment. The bees are in a wall cavity and working like bees. Busy bees. They’re generating enough heat that it can be felt through the wall, and the comb appears to run quite a bit further than we initially surmised. The honey is quite pungent and likely made almost entirely from goldenrod. If we don’t have an early frost to decimate the remaining flower population, the bees may be able to get their stores in line. We won’t be able to remove them from the wall this year, so we will cover either side with some insulation to hopefully improve their odds. If they survive till spring, we’ll open the wall and move them to a more traditional abode. For now, they will remain squatters.
The bees aren’t the only ones desperately working to prepare for the next season. Everyone has been pitching in to resettle Grandma Pat to Zoar Road. Wood is being cut and stored. Late summer vegetables are the star of every meal. Last minute painting, pointing, and other temperature-sensitive chores are being crammed into the shortening light of day. Life is good, and we are grateful for winged gifts and good souls. Enjoy these last days of summer!