Today, I am preparing the frames to hold the honey that the bees will be making six months from now. In the temperate zone, the honey bee colony follows a pattern throughout the year based upon the length of the day, the weather, and the flowering plants. To manage the colonies, beekeepers must be prepared for a series of changing events. There are no bees flying today; they’re clustered together inside the hives for warmth. The winter survival of bees in managed hives is largely dependent upon the actions of their beekeepers in late summer and throughout the fall. If the hives have adequate ventilation and enough food located close to the winter cluster where the bees can access it, then they stand a good chance of living until the weather warms and flowers start blooming. While it is important to always be considering the bees’ future needs and planning for equipping the hives as needed, not all actions are taken so far in advance. There will be plenty of opportunities for the beekeeper to check on the hives and take corrective actions. An occasional warm day later in the winter will allow me to peek briefly inside the hives and see if any of the colonies are running short of food. If so, some emergency feeding can usually carry the bees through the end of winter.
Click on today’s photo of a large flock of snow geese in the Arkansas Delta. These winter-visiting birds employ an effective scheme of surviving the changing seasons by migrating many hundreds of miles from their arctic breeding grounds to feeding grounds beyond the snow-covered regions. For protection from predators, the gregarious birds congregate in large numbers. Half of the birds are white with dark wing tips; the other half is a dark color phase of the same species known as the blue goose. When the birds are feeding in an open Delta field, the ground takes on the appearance of dirty snow.--Richard