Yesterday was a lovely day to wander around some of the parks in Louisville. We’re lucky in that we have several extremely large parks in this town, most of which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who practically invented landscape architecture in America. The Pastry family went on a short hike through Cherokee Park, the closest of the major parks to our house, and were pleased to find all the usual early spring suspects in bloom: violets, Dutchman’s britches, bloody nose, trout lilies, mayapples and field upon field of buttercups. And where you find spring flowers, you find bees.
Honey bees will fly whenever the temperature crests 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It might be January and the hive may be stuffed with more honey than the bees can eat, but it doesn’t matter, there’s no such thing as a complacent bee. One thing I liked to do back when I was a beekeeper was to pick a daffodil or some other early spring flower, hold it out in front of the hive entrance on a sunny morning and watch the foragers mob it. Nectar! Nectar! Spread the word! Spring is here!
Standing in front of a hive entrance sounds like suicide but it’s actually a fun thing to do provided you can stay relaxed (for generally if you’re relaxed the bees are relaxed). If it’s a nice sunny day there are lots of comings and goings: empty foragers heading out and fully loaded foragers are heading in. Except if you take up a visible position by the hive entrance, at which point the returning bees get lost and start hovering. The longer you stand there the bigger the cloud of confused bees gets until you finally move. At that point the bees’ view of the hive entrance again resembles the picture they have of it in their brains, and they all sweep in at once like commuters into the subway. But that’s bees for you, they have no concept of change. Which is why when you put a bee hive down you can’t suddenly move it even a few feet in any direction. If you do the bees will never find their way home again.
Interesting, no? They may be the geniuses of the insect world but they sure can be dense at times.