Midwinter finds Seattle cold, dark, and wet...but with lovely chilly sunshine breaks in the weather that draw us outside; we've been meeting up with a gorgeous barred owl in the arboretum and our neighborhood Cooper's Hawk has been gracing our backyard often these last few days.
Missing the snow, but we are keeping our spirits bright with saunas, candlelight, and eggnog!
Crow, Cooper's hawk, and Stellar Jay feathers, left for me near our bird baths :^)
Party animals-my favorite coffee cup by Vicki Sawyer
We've been waiting for a sunny and calm morning to do our inside the hive inspection (and for me to model my new beesuit :^) Today was perfect with morning temperatures in the mid-60s. We gave the hive entrances a few puffs of sage smoke to keep the bees calm. Our goal was to make sure that the brood comb and honeycomb were being drawn out straight and also to make sure that the queens were laying both worker and drone brood.
Everything looked good: lots of brood and lovely drawn honeycomb. Can you spot the baby bee?
Bonus image: the day after we hived our second swarm we noticed freshly excreted wax under the hive; it looked like a pile of ice chips. Before swarming the bees the bees load up on honey so they are ready to draw comb when they find a new home. Apparently, they couldn't harvest it fast enough! This little pile fell through our bottom board which was why we could see it.
Bee Image from Flow Hive Forum
We are once again hosting bees! We hived a swarm captured from a neighbor's tree on April 30th, and hived our second swarm two weeks later-delivered by our friend Marvin. We are using our Danish Sweinty Langstroth Polyhives this year and so far our bees seem to be very happy with their new homes. This week we are seeing thousands of bees each afternoon doing their orientation flights. I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with the Life Cycle of the Honey Bee, and here is what I found out about worker bees. Click the link to read about queens and drones :^)
Life Cycle of the Honey Bee
The lifecycle of a honey bee consists of three main stages: the larval, pupal, and adult stages. Within a normal hive situation, a single queen bee lays fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs can hatch worker and queen bees, unfertilized eggs hatch drone bees. Eggs hatch after about 3 days, but development rates and processes vary among bees within the hive, as well as between species in the genus Apis.
Worker bees are female bees that hatch from a fertilized egg. After hatching, the bees spends an average of six days in the larval stage. During the first few days larvae are mass-fed a compound known as “worker jelly” or “brood food”- a mixture of fluids produced by the hypopharyngeal food glands and the mandibular glands of adult worker bees. Larvae are fed between 150-800 times per day for up to three days before the diet is changed to a less rich content and less frequent feeding schedule. During the larval stage fat bodies are built up that are able to store lipids, glycogen, amino acids, and mitochondria bodies for later use in the pupal stage. After eight or nine days, the brood cells are capped and the larvae molt. They begin to spin a cocoon with silk produced from thoracic salivary glands, this marks the beginning the pupal stage.
The pupal stage is when most parts of the adult bee form; the wings, legs, abdomen, internal organs, and muscles. Pupae draw upon the stores of the fat bodies built up during the larval stage during this period of growth. Stored lipids, amino acids, and glycogen fuel the continued growth of the developing pupa. After about 20 to 21 days, the pupa chews through the brood cell cap and emerges as a teneral or callow bee. These newly hatched bees do not leave the cell for three to four hours, as they have a soft skin, or cuticle, that takes time to harden.
Once emerging from the brood cell, bees must feed within a few hours. Without the bacteria and proteins that ingesting pollen brings, the development process and lifespan of the bee can be threatened. Young bees spend the first one to three weeks of their lives carrying out functions within the hive. These tasks include feeding and cleaning larvae, cleaning the hive cells, building comb, guarding, patrolling, accepting pollen from foragers, storing, curing, and packing pollen, and more. After about three weeks the glands that produce larval food and wax begin to degenerate. The bee moves from the brood nest and begins integration into the life of a forager.
Worker bees typically live 15-38 summer days. In the winter, changes in the bees anatomy- specifically well-developed hypopharyngeal glands and an increased supply of fat bodies, enable worker bees to live 140-320 days.
~from Evergreen's The Terroir of Honey, Spring 2016
Joyful * Playful * Curious
Queen of the Sea & Otter Saint by Christina Miller
What an excellent question!
Then, for those of us who have had covid and disagree with the MSM covid messaging: enjoy this animation "Being Selfish".
Keep asking questions~
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
“Starlings in Winter” by Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays
Wilding: the return of Nature to a British Farm
I devoured this book in three days and highly recommend it as a source of Earth Day inspiration.
Due to the fact that I need to go play in my garden, I offer you this book review from Amazon :^)
In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.
Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain – the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.
Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself.
Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.
I just finished reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and I’m halfway through The Wild Silence which is equally engaging. Raynor and her husband Moth have been whiplashed by circumstances out of their control: betrayed by a friend, they are evicted from their beloved home after a three-year legal comedy of errors--which is catastrophic--but dwarfed by the news that Moth is dying of an incurable degenerative disease.
What to do whilst figuring out what to do? As they are packing up their home they come across Paddy Dillon's guide to The South West Coast Path and they think "why not?" In their youth they were avid hikers and wild campers and the 630-mile Salt Path is calling to them. As Raynor recounts their physical and emotional journey along the Salt Path, you are drawn into their encounters with the seabirds and meadow animals, people on the path and in the villages, and the odd and unusual occurrences that she and Moth experience as they navigate their grief and plot their future.
Bookends: two years ago I discovered two books by Cheryl Strayed which came into my life at a critical time--Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Together, these four books have been like good friends supporting me on my own salted path. I am grateful for these women who write of loss, love, betrayal, truth, healing, and the transformative power of nature. "Loss sets you free. In the empty void it leaves anything can happen." R.W.
Note: I listened to the audiobooks which are read by the author(s). I also purchased the books and Raynor Winn's covers are illustrated by Angela Harding.