September 25, 2008

It's not usually so busy at dusk.

The girls are usually all home by 7pm, so it's odd to see this much traffic so late. But they aren't actually flying away. Stepping off the landing board and immediately turning around, or performing a couple of ascending spirals then turning to face the hive and hover... these are tell tale signs of orientation flights. It seems our stimulative feeding worked, and we will be going into the off-season with a new generation of young, strong bees.

Unlike early-season bees, these bees have a long and lazy life ahead of them. The time for foraging has almost run out, so these young bees will spend the next few months huddled, waiting for the crocuses and dandelions to bloom. Breaking out of the cluster to forage in February is dangerous, though, so their carefree life comes to a perilous end if they're not careful. Our sunny days could trick them into thinking it's warmer than it is, and they could freeze before making it back. Just to be safe, we planted crocuses and winter aconite close to the hive.

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