Storm!

Thursday February 25th. If you take a look at the photo below, you can see I put up a wind break on the north side of the bee hives, and a heavy block on the top to keep the lids from flying off in a strong wind. But last night, we got a very severe storm! I could not sleep, lying there imagining that the wind was going to whisk off the lids anyway (while the rest of the family couldn't sleep for fear the wind would blow our house away!) The internet warned for "multiple hazards", with wind speeds around 16-18 mph, and wind bursts that could reach 46 mph! And our fields tend to be even more windy than anywhere else! Not only that, but the wind was not a cold, northern wind, but a warm one from the south. No wind break in that direction. I tried not to think of the lids blown off and bees getting soaked and miserable, exposed to the elements! I had a few fleeting thoughts of fighting my way out there in the storm to check, but abandoned the idea when I realized there was quite a lot of lightening going on out there. Besides, what exactly would I do when I got there? No, I would just have to hope for the best and go and take a look in the morning. Meanwhile, I had my two, six year-old twins to comfort...

So I was relieved to see them the next morning, still standing and completely unfazed! Phew! And all the snow is gone! I almost couldn't reach them, though, since the little stream I have to cross had flooded! (see photos below.)

  Feb 25th Day after storm.  I had to wade through a swollen stream to get to the hives!

Feb 25th Day after storm. I had to wade through a swollen stream to get to the hives!

  Feb 25th day after storm.  Lids did not blow off! Phew!

Feb 25th day after storm. Lids did not blow off! Phew!

Not only were the hives fine, but the day was warm and sunny (though windy), and the bees were out! I took a close look and saw many returning to the hive with pollen sacks! Pollen? At this time of year? Where were they getting it from ? I know that skunk cabbage produces flowers very early in the spring, and that they are an important source of pollen for honey bees, but it seemed way too early! Sure enough, when I wondered around the areas where I know skunk cabbage comes up, the flowers were poking up through the ground. Didn't see any bees flying to and from the flowers, though.

  Feb 25th The day after the storm.  Bees coming in to land on the landing platform of their hive. Note the one near the center of this image has a yellow pollen sack attached to its leg. It probably got the pollen from skunk cabbage flowers that are the first things to come up in spring, or rather, end of winter.

Feb 25th The day after the storm. Bees coming in to land on the landing platform of their hive. Note the one near the center of this image has a yellow pollen sack attached to its leg. It probably got the pollen from skunk cabbage flowers that are the first things to come up in spring, or rather, end of winter.

  Feb 25th.  Skunk cabbage flowers coming up. The bees go in through a little slit in the center, and gather the pollen on the spadix (a "head of flowers", the actual flower part of the plant which you can't see inside - the part you can see is a modified leaf). This flower is about 40 ft away from the hives.

Feb 25th. Skunk cabbage flowers coming up. The bees go in through a little slit in the center, and gather the pollen on the spadix (a "head of flowers", the actual flower part of the plant which you can't see inside - the part you can see is a modified leaf). This flower is about 40 ft away from the hives.