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End of the Season ~ The Buzz on Bees with Bee Butler Michael King (September 2015)

Fairmont Waterfront

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The long hot summer has now been punctuated by the inevitable rains and the not so expected storms of the past few days and with it the last of the summer nectar has been harvested and will now be stripped away from the frames where it has been sitting behind a curtain of beeswax at a near perfect temperature of 34C or 93-94F within the hive. It has developed a moisture content of 17% to become the syrup we know as honey. 
Here at the Fairmont Waterfront we will continue to offer our honeybee tours until month end but already our ‘bee team’ have helped inform and educate  more guests and visitors than ever before. Our current totals are 435 people with the rest of September to come !

The colony will be encouraged through a special feed supplement added to the sugar syrup mixture to stimulate the Queen to lay new brood that will increase the colony population and allow them to enter winter with newly born workers who will more likely survive the winter and then be ready to become foraging bees in the early days of spring bringing in fresh pollen and nectar for the growing colony.

While we were feeding our bees yesterday we observed the conflicts that exist in nature and that are part of the cycle of life in the form of small groups of wasps attempting to raid the hives to obtain food in whatever form it takes. We saw wasps attacking honeybees and bees repelling them at the entrance  to the hives and the inevitable life and death struggles that are part of the natural world around us. It is hard to stand and watch a bee being taken off by a wasp after stinging it to death knowing that that bee has spent it’s entire life serving the Queen and the colony it was part of and knowing it is now sacrificing itself for the hive just one more final time.

Soon the last of the wasps will die off leaving their Queen to overwinter alone and then emerge next spring ready to repopulate just as the honeybee Queens will do, but she will do so with her thousands of daughters protecting, nurturing , cleaning and keeping her warm through the dark, cold days of fall and winter which lie ahead.

There is something heartwarming in the knowledge that these few thousand bees remaining in these hives will stay together through the months ahead in a state of communal hibernation, their metabolisms slowing down to a crawl, exerting little or no energy from day to day, saving it for the day when sometime next spring they will emerge again into the world to begin the rebirth that occurs every year  and for which we should all be so thankful for and help provide our support in whatever way we can to ensure that this cycle never comes to an end.


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