With honey dripping from the hive, the queen bee at the farm has been doing her job and I have watched in wonder. In the afternoon I had seen them congregating on the outside of the box and feared that it was impending swarming.

Swarming is a signal that for some reason the queen is taking her colony to another location.

But what they were doing was “bee bearding”. Brother Neil figured it out and just a bit of internet time and his instincts were born out. When the temperature gets above 90 degrees the bees must keep the hive cool, so the old bees congregate like a big heavy beard on the outside of the box, some of them fanning their wings at the entrance in further efforts at creating a cooling wind inside the dark box.

When Neil gently pried the frames apart, we looked at new bees just emerging, frames filled with honey, some with pollen, and others with distinctive drone cells, capped and tended.

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There had been a nectar flow and the colony hummed with good fortune, the fruits of early summer, and their labor.

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I still find it incredible how docile, how gentle is the honey bee. Collectively, they are of one mind, provisioning the colony.

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Did you know that prior to the middle 1800’s, our part of the world had no honey bees? They were imported from Europe. Just imagine. There were no secret honey stashes in the woods before then. And how would you have liked to be the one to bring a hive over across the ocean?

My garden didn’t fair well with the torrential, constant spring rains but the trees and pasture did.

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The Old Barn

OldBarnAnd the new barn

JohnJune2Photo credit: Johnathan Siefert