Waiting

I haven't written anything here for over a month. I'd been waiting to write about a big thing that was supposed to happen, but was taking a while. That thing didn't happen. We are still waiting for that thing in a different form. I still can't tell you what it is, because it's special and uncertain and we are still waiting. 

So I had better just get to writing about other things.

image.jpg

Jiah and I put up the fence for the goat's pasture. They now have part time grass and weeds to munch on and run through. They look so excited play-butting and running around out there. Green grass makes everybody happy. 

image.jpg

Polly had her kid on Easter evening. He is a frisky white buckling named Luke. At first I was thinking he was St Luke because of the religious connection. St Luke is the patron saint of artists and butchers along with a few other things. But then I decided he was Luke Skywalker because why not? We are still waiting for the other babies to arrive. 

image.jpg

In the garden, peas are popping up, spinach still alive from last year (how!?), parsnips and carrots are putting up their curly tops. In the walipini strawberries are wearing their flower hats, the lettuce is leafy, and the mint is exploding. I love my garden. I think you can hear me exclaim "oh yay!" every time I notice a new seedling emerging. On my hands and knees, squinting at the dirt, waiting for seeds to sprout; that is how I spend a lot of the spring.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

We had a tragedy in the bee hive yesterday. It was completely my fault and I feel like the biggest jerk.

At the beginning of March it was warm off and on so the bees were going out to fly, but there were no booms open yet for them to eat. I wanted to open up the hive to see how everything was going, but the times I was around it was too chilly. I was concerned that they may be using up too much energy and honey stores being active with no food to be found outside. I bought them a commercial "pollen patty" and quickly lifted the lid of the hive and placed the patty on the top bars so they would have plenty to eat until I could get in there properly and give a proper inspection.

Everything seemed fine for a month with bees going in and out of the hive happily on warm days.  I had meant to check in on them many times, but I have many other things to do in the spring as well, the bees kept being pushed to the back of the list. Besides, they were strong in numbers and flying all over the garden. Everything looked ok. 

All seemed well a few weeks ago. 

All seemed well a few weeks ago. 

2 days ago while Michael and I were out touring the garden with one of our CSA members, I noted that there were very few bees out even though it was a warm evening. The sun would be going down soon, so maybe they were just mostly tucked in, I thought. I decided I had better check on them in the morning. 

Yesterday morning I opened the hive to lethargic, starving bees. There were many that were simply dead on the bottom of the hive and head first in the empty honey chambers, but many hung in clusters over the brood in a stupor. There was no honey, the sugar water was long gone and they had only eaten half of the pollen patty. 

I quickly searched for the queen through the frames of comb. I found her clinging to a group of workers stiffly. She appeared to be dead. I gently pulled her out and onto the top bars in the warm sun. I was devistated. I had neglected my bees and they were leaderless and starving.

As the queen lay in the sun she started to move just a tiny bit. It was just her antenna, but she was alive. I placed her on the pollen patty, gently put the cover over the hive and ran inside. I quickly got sugar water heating on the stove. I didn't wait for the sugar to be completely dissolved. I threw some ice cubes in to cool it off and ran outside with my makeshift honey to feed the girls, splashing it all over the kitchen in my haste. 

When I got back more bees were on the patty. Was it just placed in a bad spot? Did they not see it? I poured the syrup into the feeder and took the clumps of unmelted sugar and spread them over the top of the hive. The bees quickly woke up and started eating the sugar drops. I picked up the queen who began cleaning up the sugar off my sticky gloves. I sat and watched them fill themselves for a while. I promised to make them a higher priority, put the queen back with her daughters, and closed up the hive. I'll go check on them again today.

The buttercups don't give up much pollen to the bees. 

The buttercups don't give up much pollen to the bees. 

Why did I wait so long? I hope they survive. Learning lessons is hard.