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Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Sunny Winter Day in the Valley…

GroundhogThat rodent of prognostication, that marmot of meteorology, that whistle pig of weather, that sage of spring, Punxsutawney Phil scurried back into his burrow today, shivered, pulled his shadow back in after him, and curled up in it. If you believe such East Coast nonsense, better wait six more weeks before you switch out that union suit.

February 2, 2012: Groundhog’s Day, and a beautiful day it is, too. So, you ask, why aren’t you outdoors enjoying it instead of pecking away at the keyboard? I was. I did. And here’s my report. The first crocus of the new year blooms a tentative yellow in the backyard. early crocus

As Gladys and I wobbled along the upper Loop Road we spied the Cambodian flower man at work in his field and were given the first friendly wave of the year. He must anticipate an early spring else he wouldn’t be afield this time of the year. I had some business to discuss with Jeff Miller at Willie Green’s Organic Farm, and as I was looking for him, I couldn’t help notice flats of vigorous seedlings sunning themselves in one of the  greenhouses. Seedlings—a harbinger of spring, certainly.

The bees were flying today, too. A week and a half ago the hives had eight inches of snow piled on top and the outside temperature registered in the high 20’s; yet this afternoon the entrance of the colony was a flurry of activity. That a hive of bees can survive the ordeal of winter has never ceased to amaze me.bees seeking the sun

I have my hopes set on this one hive, was told it most likely wouldn’t survive the winter in a single box (a standard colony should have an extra box of stores to sustain it during a West Coast winter), but in fact it may be the only one of my overwintered colonies that does survive. A summer swarm, a gift from Mother Nature, these little gray bees hung thirty feet up in the neighbor’s fir tree for almost a month. That little ball of bees seemed to grow smaller by the week until they finally tired of hanging around and moved into an empty hive I had set out. I nurtured them along all summer, fed the colony two gallons of sugar syrup last fall, and they took it in to the last drop. To see them looking healthy and flying out and about on this midwinter’s day is encouraging to this struggling beekeeper. If this spring-like weather continues, these little survivors will soon be gathering the first pollen of the year. I noticed, to my surprise, the hazelnut tree next door has already sprouted its catkins, yellow pollen pendants, protein packed, just waiting for those little gray pollinators to work their magic.pollen pendants

I know my spring thoughts are most likely wishful thinking, so slumber away the next six weeks, Phil. We may be shoveling snow here next week, but we’re living in the sunny moment for now.

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1 comment:

  1. I was so surprised this morning at how much it felt like spring outside. Unfortunately, Mr. Woodpecker also must have felt spring in the air, as he's returned to drumming on my chimney cap. Say, I saw an interesting tidbit on wintering bees indoors & how CO2 levels can possibly help the health of the honey bee. Did you happen to see it?