Today is Groundhog Day, otherwise known in the Christian tradition as Candlemas Day. Amongst many ancient observances of this mid point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, beeswax candles were brought to the local church to be blessed. On this day of unseasonable warmth and sunlight, I went to visit our beehives. Some of the hives were active, with honeybees daring to venture out on a cleansing flight. The cleansing flight of the honeybees is a miracle to witness, especially when snow is on the ground. Worker bees, taking advantage of the warmth, will take on the task of spring cleaning their hive; this means that all waste will be ingested by the bees, transported out of the hive, and released as droplets onto the earth around the hive. The droplets are vibrant in color – not very evident in an open New England winter – but when snow is down, they become splashes of red, orange and vermilion, thrown against the snow. It is an artist’s palette in full view.

As with each winter, I wonder how the honeybees are faring; hoping that we have left them enough honey and reserves to exist through the cold weeks. It is a complicated environment that they need to endure, not simply that the weather is warm and snowless… for there are many factors that come into play in honeybees being able to survive a New England winter. As the groundhog will have undoubtedly seen his shadow today, farmers’ lore says that there are several more weeks of winter to go. Let’s see what happens!

Nicki Robb
Land Stewardship Program Director