Marching Forward

March is a crazy-making month in Western Oregon; sunny days in the sixties often are followed by freezing hail and snow. In Portland I planted a plum-tree whose blossoms were knocked off by hail six of the seven years I lived there.  Google maps shows the new owner was smart enough to put the poor thing out of its misery. I never could, always thinking “next year” in my head.

My new house came with three plum trees, and one now sits in full white-flowered regalia while a snow storm threatens Friday. This plum has done well so far  likely due to my southward migration. Living across the 45th parallel  for the first time in my life I am now closer to the tropics than the arctic. Apparently here we may have plums from time to time.

More than the plums are on my mind. My first beehive was taken out by a late March snowfall and while I have one hive that’s doing well the weather bodes ill for next week and I will likely have to feed them for a while if all the blossoms freeze. I am so unlike a bee our relationship amuses me; being not particularly well-organized nor a team player. It is a joy though to watch them in the early spring as they resolutely forage at the very edge of their temperature tolerance. When spring really hits the bees will explode forth but for now they so intent on survival and getting back to the warmth of the hive they do not mind my peering into their world closely. workers laden with pollen for the new brood land heavily while others seal the cracks in the box I added. The day is barely fifty (farenheit) but they come out and work before returning to the hive. At forty-five they can become immobilized and each passing cloud is a threat.

I lost a hive this winter, they were always the “B” team to the first hives A. They suffered from a series of unfortunate events from having escapees in the car on the way home from the store to getting inside my pants while I was inspecting the hive. This caused some damage to their comb which they repaired by sealing themselves out of their own food supply; they starved inches from thirty pounds of honey. They were ill-tempered and less fecund so I am not exactly sorry to see them go and they left behind two and a half gallons of the sweetest lightest mixed wildflower honey I have ever had. In animal husbandry I have learned that you often get to eat your mistakes.

Spring looms so close I can taste it; on warm days the nascent blossoms waft on the winds; the crocuses and daffodils are almost done and the apple blossoms are nearly bursting forth. Next year is now; time to plant and grow.  Commence!


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