Precious gifts

We are an acquisitive and almost avaricious world.  The height of news over the last few days being the fact that some energy companies may have overcharged for gas and perhaps we should all change before the winter to save money.  We have never changed electricity companies (we have no gas supply here).  The only time we have talked about ours is to praise them.  Luckily they were also the best ones when we came to install our pv panels and I don’t think any price checker yet takes in how much the electricity company pays you for power.  There has been no talk in the press of the fact that credit cards are still commonly charging 16-19% when interest base rates are actually close to zero percent.  It just shows how we let the press distort scandals and their relative importance.

I digress.

The most precious things I have been given of late are advice and knowledge and something I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time – drawn out frames in a super.  Don’t get me wrong – I did appreciate them but I am not sure I realised what a precious gift they were.

My bees seemed to fill those frames at the rate of a frame a day.  I had watched as they struggled to draw out and  fill the brood body frames.  Partly that must have been because the original colony was smaller.  I suspect another key factor relates to the effort it takes to make and draw out wax on the foundation.  No wonder preprepared foundation is the norm in most beekeeping worlds.  I will try to find some statistics about the various outputs from the bees to compare activities such as comb making, honey producing, pollen collection and such like in terms of the bee activity.  Honey production is very complex anyway – presumably I would need to break down into the process which reduces water content as well as the more obvious ones.  Now the colony is larger and presumably there is still brood to be fed but much less than earlier.  I think I may have seen teh first evidence of the drones being kicked out of the hive.  They still seem to be using syrup – but I assume that they would always go for the easiest food and they would want to keep their stores rather than start using them so early in the season?

One of teh things I ahd not comprehended – hence the value of knowledge – is the way the cluster keeps together in the winter.  I knew there was a cluster and I knew that if stores were present and too far away a colony could die of starvation even with plenty of stores close by.  But I assumed that some bees might go and collect the food and bring to the cluster rather than the cluster move en masse.  So the presence of a QE did not seem a problem and I thought might be necessary to let Paul have his super and frames back next season.  However, Paul has now imparted knowledge which leads me to assume it is much more complicated.  the cluster must more or less stay in a cluster and move to get the supplies so if the queen cannot go to an area neither will the rest of the colony.

The scientist in me would just love an infra red camera with time lapse that might be able to give me clues as to how the cluster moves and plans the use of their stores.  You’d imagine they might start at the outside but I have read of colonies that die with the outermost stores still present.  Perhaps the frames of honey round the outside act almost like an insulator so are left until later.  Please let me know of any research that has attempted to establish what happens.

I am not sure how you say thank you for the precious gifts of advice passed on from those who have more experience than I.  My suspicion is that the givers may be most pleased if in my turn I tried to do the same.  The world of hobby beekeepers seems to be populated by those who celebrate and foster nature and natural things.  This means they are probably generous in all ways that encourage others along the path.  If you are reading this because you are thinking of starting along this path I hope it encourages you.  If you are someone who needs a little peace and awe and wonder in your life then keeping bees must surely be a good decision.  The only negative is to remember the weight of a super full of honey.  great when you are calculating possible income but possibly not so good if you have a bad back.

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