We got a break one day last week. The temperature has gone up to a little bit above 40ºF for a day, actually for a few hours. Then it dropped back down to below freezing again a day later. But just a few hours was enough to create activity at one of the hives.
Honeybees from hive #1, the strongest of all five hives, came out from the top entrance. Many of them flew around and did some cleaning after have been cooped up in the hive for months. Some old bees that knew it’s the end of their time have come out to die on the snow in front of the hive.
That was the only hive that became active that day, the other four hives remained quiet. I’m so glad that they survived -9ºF. I don’t know if any of the other hives still have a live cluster of bees in inside. They may try to conserve their energy and keep warm in there as a low 40ºF is not an ideal temperature to come out in, anyway. If the temperature reaches above 50ºF for a day or two and still no bee activity from these quiet hives that will mean they are gone. There is no guarantee that the one active hive will pull through either since the temperature has dropped even further, down to -11ºF the following two days. Hopefully only a few more weeks of winter to go.
But I’ll be happy if one out of five hives pulls through this harsh winter.
Not just bees took to the air that day. It was sunny as well as warm, so plenty of birds were around including a bird of prey. A Cooper’s hawk probably saw a conglomeration of fresh food coming around. I watched him chasing birds into a Barberry hedge where he got caught several times tangling his wings and feet. At one point in the afternoon he landed on the pool fence and sat there looking for anything that might move on the patio. He reminded me of a young hawk some years ago that used to wait in ambush on the woodpile on the patio, outside our kitchen window. He realized that he was in shadow on the woodpile. By the time a small bird saw him there, it was too late.