No …it’s not exactly Springtime, but there are a few wispy little intimations that if it has not precisely sprung yet , Mother Nature is girding her loins for a bit of a bounce sometime soon. There are a few forewarnings, of course ; those first green shoots and the longer days ; it was bright until half past five yesterday.It has already sprung in my world ,though. I’ve already peeled myself away from the keyboard a few days ago ,for an hour or so to delicately ease this old winter-crumpled body back into the world of flora and fauna …the birds and the bees…the flowers and the trees. I always start with a little weeding and tidying up and somehow always manage to practically fill the big brown bin with the winter detritus..even though I’d cleared everything away only mere months ago .Where does this stuff come from?
It’s that startup. Getting motivated. I hate starting every year , but once started I love it and the quiet meditation of the mundane work.The hunkered down, futtering, hoking and poking; the raking and sifting. There’s something very therapeutic about it .There’s the air and the exercise too . Like getting out for a walk , It’s never as cold or as wet once you get out there. It doesn’t take a lot of effort either ; an hour or so each week keeps everything in the garden ticking over and keeps the mind and body in some sort of order. It blows fresh ideas through your brain…..hopefully…..sometimes that’s a test to see if the old brain is still capable of new ideas..
A few of my honeybees are stirring too.They must think it’s nearing time for some really hard work ….maybe not just yet …but soon. I’m getting ready for that too .I think there’s life in six hives this year but I’m going to try and restrict them from doing what comes naturally, if I can . Controlling a wild creature like a honeybee is a nonsense of course. All you can do is vaguely shepherd their progress. That’s why an apiarist is called a “beekeeper” . you can keep them , but you’ll never really “own” them…..just as you’d never really own a fox or a tiger.
The nub of it is that I really don’t want them splitting and swarming too much this year ,so I’m going to experiment with the “double brood” system and give the queens twice the room to cultivate their families .This might work …or at least slow the process down. They have a mind of their own ,of course and are unreadably wild to the core , so I’d never take anything for granted .Turn your back on a lovely sunny day and they’ll do the least expected thing.They’ll swarm when you’re up to your neck in something else entirely…most likely up a ladder trying to fix a roof tile or painting the fence..or simply away buying a few groceries. I do expect them to swarm though. It’s a natural thing to do; a matter of literally not keeping all your eggs in one basket. It’s how they’ve evolved to continue the line .I just don’t want that many more bees ….that many more hives to buy and build .Somewhere you’ve got to draw a line in the sand. Then again, maybe I could sell a few hives.Who knows ?
Anyway ,Ive already lined up half a dozen of these new “poly” hive bodies . They are seemingly very robust and very easy to build and maintain. There is also a whole new system for the wax frames which make them very easy and fast to put together.; no more nails; the hives just interlock with tongue and groove joints and they are as dense and as strong as timber .A guy in Liverpool was telling me all about these new ideas, last year, so I’m looking forward to trying some of them out. He said that he had great success with them. He reminded me that the honeybees would glue everything together with propolis anyway. He’s right ; they gather up some sap from the trees and convert it into a gluey disinfectant that fills every draughty little crack. . A whole new season then.
This is when the year really begins….when the days warm up all those wee honeybees take to the skies….but as I look out of the window , some snow flakes are beginning to squall and tumble in the cool air . Maybe old Mother Nature is not yet ready to relinquish her grip on Wintertime just yet…..