Posted by: Kate | January 5, 2010

No Oafs in Bee Land

Hey, did you know that Lovers Lane Farm sells honey? Well we do. You might think it’s just Pork Nation around here, but we are actually beekeepers AND hog farmers (and goat/chicken wranglers).

At the farmers market, we have a lot of people asking what the bees are up to now that the weather has turned cold. Aren’t they cold? Are they hibernating? Do they knit?

No, yes, and maybe.

Bees are fascinating creatures. They have an unparalleled intuition. They work constantly to maintain the hive and produce honey. They live short, frantic lives when there is a lot of work to be done, working themselves to death. They live longer in the winter when the hive needs them to maintain warmth. In the fall, some honey foraging bees die in order to get out of the way to save the hive from having to feed extra bees. There is no such thing as a lazy bee who gets in the way. Even the teenage bees!

So. In winter, the temperatures are too cold for bees to venture out and forage. There is not much nectar to find anyway, so they would just be wasting energy. The bees scale down to a small cluster in the center of the hive. They surround the queen and larvae, keeping them warm and safe. Occasionally there is a warm enough day in the winter when the bees can come out and stretch their wings in search of food. Right now in January, they are hunting around for California Bay (Pepperwood), Manzanita, Rosemary, and the honey we spilled on our countertop this morning.

They aren’t starving, mind you. We leave honey in the hives for them to eat, and then we feed sugar syrup to them if they run out of honey.

We still have honey left from the fall harvest, and it tasted so good on the oatmeal muffins I made this morning for breakfast. You need some. You can buy it at the Ukiah Saturday, or Willits Thursday Farmers Markets, or at Harvest Market, Corners of the Mouth, Ukiah Natural Foods, Mendocino Bounty, Gowan’s Oak Tree, and Mariposa Market. You can also come out to the farm and buy some here. You can check out our hives and choose which hive you want your honey from. Just kidding. That’s ridiculous.

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