Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

Great Expectations:
My bee boxes were empty this winter. Both colonies bolted, as in the bees left. I suspect this occurred in September. I was very consumed with wrapping things up in Toledo and didn't have time to get back to the creek house and check on them at the end of the summer. Long story short, I ordered some more bees this spring. Two, three pound packages. One for the back yard and one for my brother-in-law's farm.
It is always a trip to transfer a package of bees into a hive. There is something that is very counter intuitive to opening up a container full of thousands of stinging insects and dumping them out. Mixed with this base, primal emotion there is a high level of attentiveness and care to do this adroitly and this is all tempered with the great expectation of a honey yield to follow.

Since last year's bees bolted they left a great deal of honey and I will be using this to help the new bees get established. These bees are enjoying the privilege of not only having honey in the hive when they arrived but they are also setting up residence in hives that have established comb. Creating or building comb takes time are energy so having frames with existing comb is a tremendous asset for a colony. Consequently it is certainly feasible that there could be enough surplus honey to warrant a harvest this fall.

I also picked up a bee gum this spring. That is a traditional term for a bee hive that is situated in a hollow tree or log. Phil and his crew were working on some trees in Madison and they dropped a big cherry that had a hive in it. The fellows cut the log into a manageable section and we got it loaded into my truck. Back at the house I was able to get the log out of the pickup with the little tractor and end loader. With a little bit of pushing and shoving I got it situated on a couple cinder blocks behind the barn. Cool!

There isn't that much room in the log and I am hoping that this colony will thrive. If they do well, they will certainly swarm several times this summer. If I keep an eye on them and I am lucky I might be able to catch a couple swarms and get them established in my commercial hives.
Yet another great expectation.

When I was driving back from picking up the packaged bees I witnessed something that I will surely never see again and I hope I will always remember when I reflect on my aspirations and expectations.

I was driving north and on the west side of the road was a hay field, on the east was a block of mature trees. A pair of geese were grazing in the field and a red-tailed hawk came floating out of the woods clearly on a stoop toward the goose that was closest to the road. Both geese flushed but the hawk was on a perfect Intercepting vector. At the last minute the target goose folded its' wings, turned sideways in the air and literally dropped like a rock. The hawk overshot its intended prey and continued flying aimlessly along as the other goose was well on its way to a safe escape.

This was a remarkable thing to witness. First, the evasive maneuver was simply mind boggling. The goose just collapsed in the air and fell. Second, I couldn't believe I saw a red-tail hawk attempt to take a goose! Talk about great expectations! Geese are big birds. And finally I have to wonder what would have happened if indeed the hawk would have grabbed the goose? Geese are not only big but they are tough birds. I have to assume that a goose would severely beat a red-tail up. The expectations I have for my bees have nowhere near the dire consequences of life or injury as those that could have unfolded if the hawk would have realized his mark. I suppose the moral of the story is some time it just might be best if our expectations are not realized.