Mystery pollen

Our weather has continued bouncing around like a drunk pony on a seesaw. (How would that even work? I don’t know.) After the POLAR VORTEX — which just always seems like it should be in all-caps to me — we had several lovely 70-degree spring days earlier this week. The bees came out to do their housecleaning, and the ground outside the hive was soon littered (literally…. or should that be litterally?) with scraps of extra paper from their pollen patty*. If you don’t follow the blog’s Twitter or Instagram account, now is a good time to check those out: I caught the bees just at the right time to capture a video of them removing a particularly long scrap of paper through the narrow winter entrance to the hive.

I imagine the bees thinking: Why, why is the entrance reducer still installed? It’s spring, two-legged alien interloper! Let us out! No, little insects, it is not yet spring. In fact–

–WHAM, yesterday the temperature dropped from 70 back to 24 degrees. Welcome back, winter.

What’s strangest to me is that every time the temperature pops up on a warm days and the bees venture out, they somehow manage to return with pollen. Where are you getting pollen this time of year?!? I know we have a lot of decorative non-natives like camellias in my neighborhood, but I’m fascinated that these plants still have functional flowers, despite the intermittent hard freezes. It’s nice to see the bees returning from their forays with an unexpected treat, though. It’s like they went on a treasure hunt and came back with pirate gold. Arrrr!

At this rate, I’m going to need a whole lot of tiny, tiny eyepatches.

*Commercial pollen patties like the ones I’m feeding from Dadant & Sons are not solid like suet, and are shipped layered between sheets of parchment paper — or something very like parchment paper. Mostly, the bees seem to just gnaw it into nothing and ingest it to get to the patty in the middle, but obviously there can be too much to suit their tastes. Maybe they’ve embraced the current Marie Kondo craze, too. “Does this paper spark joy? NO IT DOES NOT.”

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