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It has been a few weeks since we last had rain. It feels almost too long and the garden was starting to show a bit of wear as a result. I always feel slightly worried when I notice a change in the weather patterns. I wonder is this the beginning of something new. A new normal. The weather seems to be also impacting on the bees. This season has been bonkers. We have never had a swarm season like it. Four swarms have been caught. We have lost at least double that and yet they keep going. Most seasons we might have a couple. Something has changed and I wonder if it will only be in time we will understand what that is fully. It makes me nervous.
Bee keeping has given me an awareness of the natural world and I am very grateful for this. I notice now when things flower that feed the bees. The hawthrone seems late this year. There isn’t a dearth period which normally follows the hawthrone - the bees keep bringing food in. We put more boxes on hives to give the bees more space. The hives keep growing despite the swarming. It all feels confusing and we keep trying our best to understand what is happening but we seem to be chasing our tails. What we would normally do for swarm management this year is just not working.
With beekeeping we are taught that a Queen hatches after this many days, a drone after that many and worker on day this. It is our formula which we work by. To manage a swarm season we look for eggs to ensure the queen is active. We remove any new queen cells (swarm cells) that have been generated. We check our hives ever 10 days to keep on top of the swarm cells. But this year despite doing all this they still they fly away. It makes me wonder what subtle things are happening in a hive that we don’t notice because we follow the prescribed formula of swarm management. The human desire for logic I think might be hindering us. I think we have to change how we do this. I think we need to be more subtle. Listen to our hives more.
I am home. Working in the garden. We have three hives here at the moment. Normally we have one. Two are swarms we caught recently. I have planted roses near the hive which have started to bloom. Of course the most prolific rose is closets to the swarm hives and I want to take photos of it. The bee traffic flying into the hives is high due to so many hives and at such an angle I can’t get in close to the rose to take a photo without having bees fly into me. They are nice bees and won’t hurt me but it does feel unnerving having them hit you are speed. I ask the other half “when are the swarm hives going?”, the answer is non committal. I look at the hive that has permanent residence in the garden. It is taller than me. I feel like it is going to be a long bee season.
I think at this point in the narration something is suppose to happen that will make my beekeeping woes into a positive, the lesson learnt, the turning point. For the moment I have none. We are in it. We are learning and trying to understand. Our main goal as bee keepers is the well being of our bees, honey is a bonus. At the moment we feel like we are battling them rather than working with them. This is not how we want to bee keep. Maybe that is the lesson. Surrendering to it all and just observing, hoping that at some point all of this makes sense. Maybe we need to forget about our human formula and instead listen to nature better.
I picked up the camera to make a film for the first time in a number of months. The last proper film was made just before my Nana died. Somehow in the grief of losing her I lost my desire to film make. As the garden grows and fills and we make future plans I want to capture this space before it changes. So here is my first film in a while and I wanted to share it with you. You can find it here and I would love to hear what you think. So comment away.