In recent days, I’ve frequently thought the heavens have opened, and a summer-esque thunderstorm is underway, so noisy and cacophonous has the Big Melt been lately – water and ice chunks continue to deluge off the roof of the towering Warehome, and we’re almost down to nothing but metal up top.  The driveway is a sheet of ice and a fjord, at the same time – I half expect to see Vikings wandering around, drinking mead in the sunshine, and rubbing Roy’s dead-moose-stuffed belly.  The snow has finally melted off the North side of the Warehome, revealing windows and allowing sunlight to warm the extracting room once more.  Daily, I see more construction odds and ends we didn’t get around to picking up before the snows arrived last October.  And then there is that bucket of ice fishing gear that appeared near the storage bay door to the Warehome that everyone thought had been lost out on Duck Lake.

Ah, spring.

All of these reappearing treasures, and trash, are exciting, but still, this is standard spring behavior in the muddy yards of Northern Montanans.

This, on the other hand, is not:

What the heck is that, you ask?

Why, it’s our home bee yard, the one we keep in the Big Field, of course.

Each fall, we ship the vast majority of our 1,000 or so hives of bees down to California for winter spa treatments and mai tais pollination season, but a few hives won’t fit on the big rigs, and so we keep them home with us.  Or rather, with me, since Honeydew goes with the fold.

Despite being buried by the near continuous snowfall of the past five months, these hives clearly survived, as the heat they produce has melted the drifts around them, producing tree-well-type pockets in the home yard.  Last fall, the bees battened down their hive hatches, so to speak, filling in cracks with beeswax and propolis and preparing for winter’s howling winds and frigid temperatures.  Then, as winter hit with a vengeance, they balled up together in their hives and worked together to keep the hive temperature at about 95 degrees, eating their stores of crystallized honey for energy.

Pretty amazing, no?

We are mighty pleased that these lovely ladies have survived this insane-negative-20-roads-closed-more-often-than-not winter with such aplomb.  Our bees are mostly Carniolans, hardy black stock that can handle the extremes of life on the 49th parallel, but even so, that they survived the past five months has Honeydew eyeing them as good breeder stock.  As he would say, these gals are clearly genetically superior!  Hang in there, girls, spring’s a’coming.

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