For most gardeners in our area not much is happening in the garden this time of year. January does bring a harvest of its own though in the form of garden catalogs. They really do seem to have a way of multiplying on their own, sort of like when zucchini gets out of control. A few years ago we had dozens of catalogs all from different companies sprouting from our mailbox.
Like most gardeners Judy and I enjoy thumbing through the pages and imagining how much better this year’s garden is going to be. It’s not the same as actually being in the garden but it’ll do for now. I always say ” this will be the best year yet!” and it usually is at least in some small way.
Even though the internet has made seed and plant shopping virtually instantaneous I still like to peruse the catalogs first. Web sites have gotten better through the years but still have room for improvement.
I guess I still prefer the tactile feel of the pages in my hands as opposed to the feel of the key board and mouse of the computer. Plus a lot of catalogs have specific, detailed growing information tailored to each plant.
I have to admit however that when all is said and done, more often that not I end up placing my order on line anyway.
Honeybees and their beekeepers all around our area were delighted by the 50F temperatures during the day on New Year’s Eve.
During the winter honeybees are not dormant, various things happen inside the hive depending on what’s happening with the weather.
Consuming honey is the primary activity of bees this time of the year. The energy they get from their stored food allows them to generate the warmth that is needed to keep them alive through the winter. The heat each individual bee produces is not very much and if left alone by itself, a single bee will die from the cold.
Honeybees are not solitary insects. They cooperate with one another in running the hive, that includes keeping themselves at a temperature warm enough to survive the winter. They manage to do that by bunching together in a spherical cluster. This cluster will be smaller and tighter when the temperatures are cold so that the heat is held in. If temperatures rise, the cluster of bees will expand somewhat. If the temperature rises enough, they will break out of the cluster and begin moving around the hive.
You have to keep in mind that all of the honey that they consume is digested by the bee’s body and waste products are produced.
On New Year’s Eve, the temperature in our area reached 50F. This along with the couple of hours of sunshine motivated the bees to fly from the hive in what is known as a “cleansing flight”.
Honeybees will not defecate in their hive if they can help it. So they hold “it” for as long as they can waiting for a chance to take to the air and relieve themselves outside away from the hive.
The bees I captured this fall were out in large numbers during the day on New Year’s Eve. The air was filled with the sound of flying bees for a couple of hours until the rain moved in and forced them back into the hive.
This break from the winter weather helped them a lot. Hopefully this small colony of bees will make it through the winter and eventually become a productive hive.
The most uncertain period for them still lies ahead.