crane

Orientation...

Yesterday, while I was stringing up the sugar snap peas (which had tripled their length in just three days of sunshine and plenty of water), I suddenly saw a cloud of bees in front of the entrance.

I asked my boss at the 911 dispatch center (I just volunteer as a transcript person there once a week), Ken Nichols, keeps bees and is very experienced his opinion on when to inspect bees, and he dragged out the lovely old adage of "if you want a dozen opinions, ask ten beekeepers." But he gave a very reasoned argument against going in every week, and for doing a bit more management at the end of the winter, and into the fall.

I told him about seeing larvae forming the last time I went in, and he smiled and said that I'd probably be seeing orienting flights soon, huge clouds of bees right in front of the entrance. They are newborns that are figuring out how to fly and how to find the hive and how and where it is, and every once in a while, after they start to get born, they'll just come out and hover. Knowing what it was made me run inside to tell the boys and grab the camera.

They're all oriented toward the front of the hive, and they were all hovering just in a cloud all in front of the entrance. It was fascinating to watch.

The really fun part was that after the boys were gone and had taken their videos and done everything, I was just standing there, trying strings to a support and to my pea plants and watching all these shiny new baby bees learning how to fly. None of them bothered me, there was one old lady that buzzed me a couple of times, inquiringly, but she left me alone after not that long.

And it was amazingly peaceful to just watch them going out and in, out and in, and then, not that much longer later, they were all back in the hive and the usual traffic was going in and out.

Another thing Ken said was that you can tell a lot by just watching the traffic in and out of a hive. That if the workers are bringing in a lot of pollen, it means that they have plenty of brood to feed, because only the larva eat pollen. The bees only eat sugar water and honey.  I'm realizing now that butterflies only eat nectar when their caterpillar stages eat everything around them. And watching the girls there were lots of gold and yellow leg burdens on their back legs.

It was amazing fun to watch them. Mimi came by today just to see the girls, and she stood happily right in front of the entrance, with the bees whizzing about her on their flight path, and watched them going in and out and being quite happily busy with the summer-like day. I'll admit to just sitting outside the hive and watching them work. It's peaceful stuff.
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This is so interesting! It is so kind of you to document this.
A bees eye view into the hive is cool, and I am mesmerized by the
symmetry and beauty of this.
Thanks!
C