That is, the end of summer and the beginning of cooler nights and the faintest of hints of fall and eventually winter. This is the time to check the hives for health and food. This is the time that the bees begin to make the last push, sometimes swarm (and die), or begin to ready the population for the winter period.
There’s not much one can do as a beekeeper except to watch for swarms, feed if necessary, and ready the hives for winter. I usually wrap mine in black roofing paper and add a layer of insulation under the roof of the hive. I will poke a few small holes in the insulation for venting, and try not to open the hives too much from now on.
This is, I hope, my first winter with bees but I certainly hope it will not be my last. Beekeeping is an adventure and as with all adventures there is a degree of failure. As I have learned, beekeeping is no longer a simple process which (depending upon your attitude) makes the adventure loathsome or more challenging.
These are, after all, my girls and I cannot help but care for the hives that I have. As I am reminded: I have done all that I can. However, it never seems enough. Perhaps it is the human condition that makes us continue to want “more”, to do “more”. We cannot fail; so we tell ourselves. But failure is part of evolution, both the evolution of us as individuals and the evolution of beekeeping as it has become.
In fact, often adventure begins with failure. I know that my short stint in beekeeping began with failure. But the important thing, as the platitude goes, is that we must learn from our mistakes. More importantly, we must continue to learn.
Bees are a good teacher because they never seem to worry. They act. And so, perhaps adventure starts with action, with acting within the moment and not thinking about it too much. Thinking too much is a euphemistic way of saying “worrying” too much, which is what I seem to do with my bees. I’ll do what I can, and have done what I could. That must be enough, although it never is and seems to be the one thing I cannot learn. There is always ignorance, and that is enough to keep one worrying all winter long.