(December 2014) It is likely to hit 50 degrees here in the not-so-frozen North next
Normally at this point, they would be nicely encased in a robe of snow. That prevents the considerable heat inside from dissipating to the outside. Their need for food is less when they are crammed into a ball, not moving much. When it warms up inside the hive, they get more active and move around more, eating. It means there will be less food in the cold weather when they really need it. Winters like this, they starve.
I took no honey off them this year, wanting them to live through the winter, so I have done all I can. When I open them up next week, I may find them to be aggressive and to have “broken cluster.” They are good bees, and I’d like to have them make it.
I’m not ready to lose my first backyard hive to winter. I already lost one this Spring, possibly because they swarmed, possibly because they drifted. Possibly because they were poisoned. This summer I saw unmistakable signs of pesticide poisoning in bees returning to the hive - or rather trying to. They convulse on hard cool surfaces before dying. Surfaces like concrete, and pavers.
Also, not ready to lose my new-found cousin. Spouse to my third cousin, he was a fisherman from Unalaska, and continues to be a vital presence in the lives of all who love him. He is one of those forces who clearly only inhabits a physical form, and is not altered by what ever condition that physical form may be subjected to.
I never finished this post. All sorts of things sloughed off my plate while we waited for Vern to live his last moments. Bills, yarn, work, artifacts - many things went missing in the weeks before he died. I am still recovering them from hidden places. His widow has moved on and away, living the life she put on hold for so long, under the sea. I come away with a freezer full of venison, a remote connection to a kindred spirit with whom I share blood and spirit though not a life. Some one who propels my thoughts about inheritance in eugenic directions that makes me uncomfortable, or perhaps simply more comfortable with supernatural explanations of a few threads of commonality.
But mostly I am left with a self-absorbed fascination with her - is this what my life would have been without the moderating influence of my life?