When we talk about the bee hives we get a little weary of referring to them as the ‘one in the middle’ or the ‘one on the left’. As we have been referring to the original hive as Grelder’s hive we thought it only fitting that we choose names for the other queens. The obvious name for one of the queens was Tooter, but she is lost to us now. I hope she is hanging on with her tiny entourage in a hollow chimney or a small forgotten corner of a roof somewhere. Choosing names for the other two hives is not easy as they have no personality to speak of yet, nor any notable history. Names were chosen anyway.
Tonight I took a look into Danu’s hive and found plenty of sealed baby bees. The baby bees are all female worker bees and this is a sign that she has probably been well mated. Danu’s hive is the weakest of the three hives and is the one that is probably least likely to see the winter through, special care and attention will be needed with them.
Beira has now been laying for a couple of weeks and her hive are doing very well. Although, they have taken drastic action towards the males in the hive. Today I discovered the area around the front of Beira’s hive to be littered with dead bees. Initially I was worried until I took a closer look and realised that they were only males. The male Drones have a strange and interesting life. They hang around the hive for most of their lives getting fed by the females. On sunny days they head out to find the Drone congregation areas which are the equivalent of singles bars. There they wait for a queen to appear and raise their chances of mating. ‘Get Lucky’ is a term that should be used lightly here as their penis snaps off and they die. The unlucky ones simply return to the hive and wait for the next sunny day. As the Drones serve no purpose other than reproduction, a hive does not want to go through the winter with extra mouths to feed. Therefore, the end of the summer is the time when the drones are dragged out of the hive by the females after having refused to feed them prior to the eviction.
Grelder’s hive may have evicted the males too? Her hive is not here at the cottage and so we need to wait for a visit to see. She is our best hope of a honey harvest this year and our fingers are crossed for a week or two from now.
This evening was spent with fungus. First a yeast was mixed in with the most basic of ingredients; flour and water. Then, after crucial timing and kneading, the cottage was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread. A different strain of yeast was then put to work in a new batch of wine. It reminded me that we have a demijohn of elderberry wine still un-bottled since it was made last autumn. We are curious about its taste, if we get round to it, the bottling stage is the perfect opportunity to sample it before it matures for another couple of months.
Tonight I stood looking at the dead bees by torchlight and pondered their brief existence before shuffling over to the sleeping hens and stealing eggs from them. The eggs were shovelled into my pockets and rolled in my hands as I watched the moon begin to set on the horizon. It is filling and will be full soon. The evenings are longer now and the moon and stars will begin to pull at us again as summer has past its middle and autumn is not too far away.