The sun is setting across the snow-covered rolling hills of the PalouIse of eastern Washington State . This is the region where I am spending the winter months with family members. Much of the country is experiencing an exceptionally strong winter storm, and beekeepers’ efforts to protect their colonies are being severely tested. Only in the spring will we find how effectively we prepared our hives for winter. The colonies relatively free of parasitic mites will survive if their hives are adequately ventilated, and the colonies have enough stored food that the bees can readily access. Healthy colonies generate heat by eating honey, the high-energy food that they make themselves, and vibrating their flight muscles. Bees can generate a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit in their flight muscles. While I visit the frigid Pacific Northwest, I am confident that my colonies in Arkansas are faring well in their stormy weather. Before leaving Arkansas, I measured their mite loads and ensured that they had plenty of stored food supplies. The bees are clustered in dry hives.
I am most grateful for the kind sentiments and words of support provided to me by beekeepers and acquaintances from around the country and even around the world following the death of Rita, one of the founders of Peace Bee Farm. As well as being a cheerful and devoted life partner, she was an integral part of the bee business. Now, other family members are learning the art and craft of beekeeping. In this cold, wintery holiday season observed by many of the world’s great religions and traditions, I offer warm wishes that peace be with you.