Though I’ve sat with bees all week it’s been fleeting each time. I’ve watched mystified as they’ve busily closed up their doorway. Just over a week ago they had added three new mounds evenly spaced along the threshold, though they were bright orange and red rather than bland yellow like the first one. Propolis, I think, and maybe pollen, rather than wax. The original mound remains and still seems to fulfill a communication function. For a moment I thought I had the answer as the mounds morphed into a wider wall and bees lined up as guards. But that lasted less than a day before their controlled chaos resumed.
They have almost completely closed the right two-thirds of the hive, leaving just a few openings through which they come and go. I knew they would do this for winter, but am surprised they’ve done it so soon. And accomplished it so fast! There have been a couple of quite cool nights, and plenty of wind, and maybe they know the monsoons are coming. These are, after all, local bees, with all the seasonal local knowledge in their super-organism consciousness. Both recent rains have wet the entrance, but Joseph’s roof with the extensive overhang has proven beneficial. Also, I have seen them fend off wasps, flies, and ants, and I know this makes it easier to prevent unwanted visitors.
As they began this endeavor, I filmed many bees sweeping, maybe scraping, the face of the hive and the threshold, moving up and back a quarter inch, over and over, sweeping their front legs. Were they gathering pitch from the pine box itself for their wall? That activity has pretty much ceased now that it looks nearly complete. There are still a couple of bees at this work, but mostly they are back to coming and going.
They continue to amaze me. They have filled the hive more than halfway with their comb and construction continues unabated, of course. It becomes difficult to photograph. I just might manage to make off with a little honey before winter if they keep up this pace. I have not seen any drones for at least a week. And the delicious smell that emanates from the grove when I pass by! Honey and warm wax.