Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brain-eating larvae

I won't say too much more about all the bee activity this week. 

Well, maybe I will.

I've included a blurry photo of a swarm taken out of Tom's redwood tree in Auburn.  Thank you, Tom!  They are very nice bees, and seem to be doing well. 

In collecting the swarms, it's been pretty sweet talking to folks about the bees-- neighbors and passersby get curious to see us in our protective suits, and creep up for closer inspection.  People seem to have a natural fascination with bees.  And with some information, seem less afraid, and appreciative.  Bees ARE pretty amazing. 
Tom's bees venturing out from their swarm box in the orchard.  I later moved them into a wooden hive box.

Almost all seem to know about colony collapse disorder, and the troubles bees are having these days.  One in two hives do not survive each winter, sadly.  Is it pesticides, or the 2 kinds of mites that parasitize them, the wax moths, or hive beetles, or nosema, or foul brood, or that crazy zombie fly that lays brain-eating larvae that destroy a bees' ability to orient home?   

It's not easy for the honeybees these days.  Scientists are doing great work to puzzle out the issues.  We rely on the bees to pollinate many of of our crops, so our continued health may require prioritizing this issue. 

 The copper top roof Grace painted for Tom's swarm (pretty, right?)

A few of the bee-curious neighbors we encountered this week thanked us, which is sweet.  It's been our good fortune to collect free bees (3 swarms so far), which we hope will work our vegetable gardens, and God willing, produce surplus honey enough for us to take a little.  Beekeeping appeals to our do-it-yourself, homesteading impulse.  It's been fun to collect local bees, to build/ assemble the hive equipment as a family, research their natural history, peer into their boxes, see them working the flowers...I'm feeling quite passionate about bees this Spring.   They have been MY home school topic of choice.

On other animal fronts, Joey caught an (adorable) snake we identified as a sharp tailed snake.  It uses it's tail spike to grasp the slugs it eats.  It's head was the size of a pencil eraser, so we all held it without fear of a bite.  I wanted to keep it, but the children said no, it would be happier set free again.

As the days lengthen, they've become even fuller.  I get breathless sometimes, thinking about transitioning back to our 'regular' life.  I've been so happy here.  But I was happy there too.


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