Well, here we are with summer slinking to a weary end. There wasn’t a lot to remember of this one really .It started well, looked as though it might be a classic like last year, but fizzled to a dead , damp conclusion with precious few warm, sunny days. On the streets they only got to complain about the heat for a about a week , as though there had been humid, sweat-soaked sleepless nights for months on end . “How much more of this damnable sunshine can any one person stand before they lie down and die?”…rang out as people gossiped at Post Office counters and in supermarket checkouts. That only lasted about four days before the thunderhead clouds rolled in low and we were all condemned to winter gloom throughout August. A grey skullcapped dome above our collective heads. A “Logan’s Run” of enclosed, cloudy opacity. They used to call this a “soft” day. The drizzle hanging and the blossom torn asunder.
I was gearing up for a fine honey harvest this year, just to prove to myself that it was possible to steal enough honey to take me right through the winter months . Every time you see the stuff being jarred -up on television it’s always the very best scenario . The amber liquid flows effortlessl from one or two hives and proceeds to rest in fifty or sixty shining jars all lined up like little regimented soldiers on a countertop. That may be the case in the warmer southern counties.It’s certainly not the case in the bleak north. I was only able to steal three fat frames from my seven hives at the end of this season without endangering their winter survival . I’ve been stockpiling sugar to feed them syrup for this next month in readiness of the leaves first falling. It looks like they’ll need it. The stolen honey tells you all you need to know about the summer and the local world. The honeybees weren’t being lazy . They were doing what honeybees do naturally . They were slowly working themselves to death for the good of their future genes .Altruism written large right down through their genetic core ;as sweet and undeniable as the writing rolling through a sugary stick of summery, seaside rock. No they don’t know how to be lazy.It is just that there was not enough sunshine and there weren’t enough wildflowers to help them to grow and produce any more than they did.They will search up to three miles in every direction around the hives but obviously they expend more energy the greater the distance flown…It’s like petrol in your car really.Then there are the long wet days where all work outside is impossible and the stores of honey must be used to feed everyone and keep the colony ticking over until the sun’s return.
That all adds up to lightweight frames on new and growing hives. The difference in weight can be quite extraordinary that first time a “super box ” of capped honey is hefted .The weight can really take you by surprise. If the box of frames are heavy with honey there may be in excess of twenty pound in weight in your hands, including honey wax and wooden materials.It’s quite a shock that first time to realise just how much work these little creatures can do. It’s like hefting a crate of ale. Not this season though. Maybe , if I can get the seven hives through the winter I’ll have better luck next year. It’s all you could hope for.Today the bees are very busy because the sun made a rare appearance ; for this one day apparently. They’ll think this is the way it’s going to proceed but the weatherman has already put his nib in and told us all to expect the worst tomorrow. The bees are landing with bright orange pollen.They may know the season is at an end soon though. I have already spotted some lost-looking male drones wandering helplessly around the front. I’ve even seen one being dragged to one side by a female worker. The intent is that he’ll not get back in to his cosy crib .He’ll die in his helplessness. He’s like some old guy who’s wife has just died and doesn’t know how to look after himself.
He’s still intact so he never got a chance to mate anyway. if he had , he’d already be dead , after all .The little hussy badgering him now , knows this is the end of the line for him in any case. He has been rendered useless by Autumn’s coming. His fellow drones will follow shortly, each prised from his now useless indolence. Surplus to requirements…one and all ….
What an inglorious end to his life though….