Leviticus 26:4 “I will send you rain in its seasons, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit…”
I know, I know we need the rain and with my allergies running amok I know the rain will help tamp down the pollen and will aid my bees in their harvest. But in my non-driving state rainy days often leave me frustrated and soggy. I either have to stay home unable to work outside, slosh somewhere on foot, wait on the bus in the drizzle or call someone for a ride. Today is Election Day and I had planned to walk or ride my bike to the polling place, to the library and hardware store today but seeing as how the high is only in the seventies and the rain is likely to continue all morning that does not look like much of an option now.
Where we live and how our property sits, in the elbow joint of creek and river, often means the rain holds a much more ominous place in the harmony of our lives. I have rushed home from work on several occasions to helplessly watch the water creep up through the back of our yard. There is nothing to do except begin systematically moving things out of the building and up to higher ground. Spring is often a double edged sword of joy and anxiety. The much needed rain waters our plants and provides our bees with a cooling drink but too much rain and suddenly we wait in anxiety and anticipation. Will it stop? Will this be the time it moves into the house? Are we going to lose everything? Must we move the hives to safety?
You see bee hives must be positioned just so to maximize the bees workday and temperature control of the hive. I did not realize these things when we first decided to get bees. I assumed you just stuck the boxes anywhere and let the bees do their thing. Like about most beekeeping things, I was painfully ignorant. Bees must have a relatively near water source, not only do they need water to drink like humans but they also carry it back to their hive to cool the brood and queen, to thin the honey and give their sisters a much needed drink. Hives must be positioned to catch the morning sun, if the hives are shaded they are slower to warm up in the mornings so the workers’ day will be shortened and the amount of pollen and nectar they gather will be significantly less. This is not only damaging to a beekeeper’s honey harvest but could potentially be the death knell of the colonies who are unable to store enough food to get through the winter. Another important thing to consider when placing a hive is which way the wind blows. Through the winter months a hive exposed to direct winter winds at its entrance could quickly chill and die.
Taking all these things into consideration greatly narrowed down our options of where to place our hives. One final thing that was of equal importance to me was: I wanted to be able to see my hives from at least one window of our house. We live in a neighborhood with many children and pets all around and I did not want to set our hives so far away that they would be temptation for the mischievous child with rock in their pocket or to for my bees to become the favorite crunchy snack of every local dog. As my dear dumb Louie has already made evident, procuring the possible crunchy snack that flies around is well worth the occasional sting on the nose. This narrowed down the location of our hives even more and we finally settled on the outside fence line of our backyard facing away from the house where they would be in the morning sun and within the view of all the back windows of our home.
The only real problem with this situation is not a problem on most days but is a potential disaster on days like today, when the steady drum of rain beats a soft staccato on the roof hour after hour. If the river backs up and the creek begins to rise it could be in our first hive before you could blink. They do not sit terribly close to the water but the way the creek angles the water pools it comes up in that odd bend first, quickly creeping into the building and silently snaking its way along the fence line. It could potentially ruin at least one hive before we would have time to gather the supplies to move it.
So as I lay here listening to the rain tap on my roof I wonder if I should instead be in the building finding screen to seal the hive entrances and straps to bind them together. The rain today is only supposed to last through the morning, probably not enough to cause any significant rise in the creek level, but it has still made me think. Unless we have days and days worth of rain I doubt any but the one hive would be in immediate danger but we need to design a plan of some sort on what to do in case the rains come swiftly as they often do in the spring. Short of dragging it with the tractor I do not know how I would move a hive by myself. I could take it apart and move it piece by piece but that would only enrage and confuse the bees and probably defeat the purpose of moving them out of the water in the first place.
Once a beehive has been placed you are not supposed to move it around in the yard. In fact, most books recommend it not be moved a distance of any less than two miles. This has something to do with the way the bees forage and how they can be confused if the hive is moved a few feet or yards from its original location. Apparently moving them outside of this distance leaves them outside their established territory and forces them to completely reprogram their home location instead of trying over and over to get back to the original location of the hive. So, I assume, to temporarily move them, say out of the path of rising flood waters, would mean we would have to seal them in the hive until such time as we were able to move them back to their original stand. That just puts me right back in the predicament of how do I move a whole stand of bees alone?
When Fred and I brought the bees home in the early part of the spring it was all we could do to manage the hives out of the bed of the truck together. These were light hives mostly depleted of their winter stores and containing minimal brood, larva and supplies. They still weight approximately fifty pounds apiece and while fifty pounds is not a huge amount of weight to move as an individual, remember the hives consist of boxes that are merely stacked together not fastened in anyway except by the wax and propolis of the bees this makes for an awkward burden. We can figure now, since the bees have been foraging for months, that the hives weigh significantly more and would be even more difficult to move together not to mention if Fred is at work and I am forced to move the hive alone.
So we will have to come up with some kind of contingency plan. I have not come this far to watch our bees drown or be swept off their stand and decimated. I wonder if we could not rig the stand somehow to attach it to a coaster so I could seal it up and then slowly drag it with the tractor. I do not know but it bears consideration. It was such a wet and snowy winter I fear we may be in for record rain falls this spring also.
I trust God to not give us any burden we cannot bear but we still have work to do. 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” Faith is one of those tricky things where you have to let go and leave it with God instead of constantly snatching it back to sit and worry over it some more. I am someone who often wants to snatch back their cares, as I get older I am learning to sit on my proverbial hands but it is often something I have to do repeatedly, sometimes more than once a day. I blame genetics :) my dad is a worrier. He has gotten better as he has gotten older but even he will admit that it is easy to fall into the trap of worrying about things and making stuff up to worry about.
I think the key is to give it to God at the first niggling of doubt or distress in the back of your mind. Now, do not misinterpret what I am saying, giving God our problems and having faith does not negate our responsibility or ability to be prepared it simply means that once we have made all the necessary preparations, when things have moved beyond our ability to control, we have to stop and trust that God will care for us and for all our need.
Have faith for He cares for you!
Thank you for reading, much love,