My friend Nichol sent this picture of her backyard hive. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? A quintessential image of winter in Canada. Besides being a great photographer, Nichol is a woodworking artisan. She handcrafted the hive equipment in her workshop.

It’s winter here in the north. Today is the day we get the least sunlight – less than eight hours. Even while the sun shines on the bright side of the horizon, it hugs the edge, casting long shadows, even at noon.

Tomorrow will be different. Helios will hand us four seconds more sunlight. But I won’t notice the gift. I wonder if the bees will. They are much more attuned to nature’s whims.  In a week, each day will be almost four minutes longer; in a month, nearly an hour. Surely, you, I, and the bees will appreciate that.

Many forces affect our bees – wind keeps them home; flowers draw them out. In cold, they cluster; in heat, they stretch. What about the increasing daylight as winter’s solstice passes? That affects them, too. I kept bees in Florida for a dozen winters and saw egg-laying escalate in early January – even in chilly dearth years when pollen from red maple, willow, and live oak was scarce. Even without a good pollen flow and without warm weather, the days lengthened and the bees responded. We witnessed this in January, in Florida. However, only a sadist breaches a Calgary hive in January to investigate a colony’s welfare. (Which was fine until the irresponsible lout intruded.)

My thanks, again, to Nichol for sharing her wintery photo. I hope that the next few months of cold and snow (for you northern readers) passes pleasantly. Spring is just 91 days away.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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6 Responses to Solstice

  1. Thank you for your always interesting posts. Here in Flatrock Newfoundland our family has celebrated winter solstice for the past 39 years, with a bonfire on the beach and fireworks to herald the sunrise. Many of our hive come and join us, and we all head up to the house for breakfast after the sun has come up. I think about our bees, and hope they are all in a tight ball, waiting out the cold weather and storms of the next four months. Happy Winter to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Emily Scott says:

    I like the paint style effect on the photo. If you hadn’t told us otherwise I would have assumed it was a painting. The snow clumped on the branches looks like flowers.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: Solstice | Raising Honey Bees

  4. Erik says:

    The weather calls for temperatures above 60 F this Saturday, so I suspect our bees will be flying. I am sure they detect the lengthening days and will start expanding their brood nests. At least, I hope they do….

    Thanks for reminding us of the solstice, I almost forgot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Solstice | Beginner Beekeeper

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