Smoke has a strange effect on bees. It actually acts to calm them, which is why beekeepers use a smoker when working in the hives. However, too much smoke isn't necessarily a good thing, as a friend of mine, Lori, found out the last couple of weeks. I asked her to write about her experience...
"On September 9, 2011, multiple lightning strikes started a series of wild fires in my mountain area. I have a single hive of Italian Honey bees who are being kept in a natural habitat of native chaparral, wild flowers, pine trees, sage and oak trees. They also forage from my small apple orchard, black berries, lavender and other bee friendly plants. This is a very strong hive in its 2nd year. I have been filling their in-hive feeder with syrup made of organic evaporated cane juice about once every other week in the last couple of months, due to nectar flow being low.
When smoke filled the area on September 9, I had already harvested a full super of honey earlier that summer, and there was a 2nd full and capped supers on the hive. There was also a 3rd which was partially full, uncapped and unripe honey. My intent was to harvest more of the capped honey very soon, being careful to take only the surplus, so that the bees would have more than enough for the hard winter ahead. I had also planned to store some of the capped frames in my ice chest in the winter to have on hand for extra energy, should the bees need it in the dearth of winter. This has been my method of winter feeding and it has worked very well. Last year, in a very severe winter, they needed 6 extra frames and I could see that there was more than enough to do this again this year.
I find this truly remarkable and I wanted to share it with you to show how amazing these creatures truly are! I can't tell you how relieved I am... first, that they survived this terrible ordeal, but also I'm thankful that I didn't remove the honey before the fire. I had no way of knowing there would be a fire and that the surplus honey would make the difference between their survival and their demise. I believe that God is teaching me through the bees that He is the Maker and Master of all. We are mere observers and learners of His wonderful universe and what a joy it is to acknowledge His majesty through observing them."
This post has been linked to Farm Friend Friday!