Last Thursday some pretty strong winds came through. At night, we could hear the flag hitting against the house and trees in the area snapping. But we had long ago taken out the pines that could have taken out our house. We didn’t think much had been affected.
Then, Friday morning. I went outside to an awful sight.
Everyone who knows me knows I am notoriously awful at noticing things. Back when Mike and I first started dating and I lived in Pittsburgh, he came to visit me one weekend. I remember thinking, “He looks different.” Five hours later, he finally asked: “Have you noticed anything?” I paused–something was different, I knew. “You cut your hair?”
Not only had he cut his hair, but he had shaved off his entire beard and mustache. And I hadn’t even noticed.
But I suppose that I have gotten pretty used to the way things look around here. Not on a conscious level, as I don’t look at the beehives every day–at least not in a way that I ever took note of. Apparently, I can be more attentive than I thought, because when I went to let the younger chicks out, I stilled. Something was off, and I immediately knew what.
There wasn’t much I could do myself in the morning and Mike was already at work (it being 8am). Mind you, I’m still a bit terrified of our bees, but I didn’t want them to die. So I slipped the outer covers over each hive, and at least saw a happy sight: Even though the blue hive had been completely flipped upside down and the frames were falling out, the hive was alive. And that one box that didn’t get filled all season (we need to replace our queen) was overtaking the entire box. Not only were they surviving in the cold and the wind, but the hive was thriving.
Well, I covered them up and when Mike came home we had to take care of the rest. I have no pictures of our later work because it was cold and getting dark and, really, I didn’t want to spend more time with the bees than needed.
Mike managed to work on the platform for the beehives, to make it more stable. The stand legs are now screwed to a piece of plywood and the boxes ratchet-strapped to the stands. The yellow hive (which fell straight down) was easy for him to work on himself.
Getting the blue hive right-side up was more difficult. Remember, I have a terrified respect for the bees. Luckily, in this weather, I was able to wear my winter work bibs (unfortunately a nasty dark brown) and stay warm and doubly protected.
With a bit of ingenuity, we were able to get the frames of the blue hive inside by putting a piece of plywood underneath. Then the very careful, very slow flipping of the box before Mike picked it up and put it back on its stand.
Hopefully we will not have this problem again. And, surprisingly, the blue hive we didn’t think would make it to winter, let alone through it, looks to be the strongest. And our yellow hive–the hive that survived against all odds multiple times–may be abandoned. We didn’t see any bees, and getting as close as I could in a beekeeping hat, I couldn’t hear any buzzing. The hive may be empty or extremely weak or perhaps just very down deep.
However, after flipping hives upside down, with wind and 40-50 degree weather, and having dead bees all over our jackets and pants, we weren’t about to find out the status of the yellow hive on Friday. I suppose that will be our next adventure when swapping out sugar syrup.
There’s never a dull moment around here!