Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day #434 A Silly Mistake

Last April, ten days after my bees arrived, I decided to keep a log of what appeared to be their reactions to the weather. I wasn’t very consistent with it. In fact, after a while I forgot all about it.

But I pulled up the document this morning, thinking it was something else. What an eye-opener. My very first entry was this:

Tornados/hail predicted.
Morning clear. Bees normal.
4:15 pm Cloudy. Wind picked up. Countless bees swirling around entrance hole and hive, as if every forager wanted to get back inside at the same time. Both hives exhibited this behavior.
Bad thunderstorms and wind after midnight. No storm activity in afternoon, though.

When I read it, I saw right away what had happened. On April 27th, I’d seen a hatch-out. I was a beginning beekeeper, though, and I didn’t know a hatch-out when I saw one. There had obviously been a disturbance in the hive more than three weeks before that day, some event that temporarily stopped the queen from laying. Then, 21 days before all that activity I saw, the queen had resumed her egg-laying. You might remember that it takes 21 days for a bee to go from egg to hatching.

I thought about it, and remembered that there had been evidence of tornado damage when I drove to South Georgia to pick up my bees on April 17th. In fact, a tornado had ripped out part of the bee yard, and the folks there were still rebuilding the shed where they constructed their hives.

So this morning I Googled “georgia tornado march 2011” and found that a series of tornados had ripped through the state between the 18th and the 27th of March. I’m guessing, of course, but it seems logical that a tornado passing by a hive would be ample reason for a queen to shut down, at least temporarily. She must have felt more secure, though, by April 6th, in order to lay the batch of eggs that all hatched on the 27th and sent me into a flurry of concern.

I hadn’t seen any such activity in the 10 days I’d had the hives on my back deck, simply because there weren’t any babies ready to hatch yet.

Just goes to show you, there’s always something new to learn.

BEEattitude for Day #434:
       Blessed are those who pay attention to the world around them, for they shall see amazing sights.

p.s. from Fran -- blessed are those who pour over old documents, for they shall be pleasantly surprised.

The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.


AggiePete said...

That is simply amazing that bees have that 'intuition' when it comes to barometric pressure etc. where weather is concerned. They never fail to amaze me and I never would have known these things had you not wanted to become a 'keeper of the little fuzzies'.

Fran Stewart said...

Animals undoubtedly have inner barometers -- the problem for humans is to decide when the animals are responding to barometric pressure and when to something else entirely.

For that matter, people have barometers. We just don't listen to them. I have one finger joint that tells me when the weather is about to turn rainy. It took me years to make that connection, though.