Well, here we are, at the beginning of winter. I always seem to dread the cold weather but when it gets here it really isn’t so bad after all. This past season turned out to be all-right “honey wise” Some yards did real well and others had no surplus at all. New york was the winner this year but due to a back injury this spring, I didn’t have as many hives there as I usually do. I also had a few disappointing years out there so I kept more bees home and invested my efforts here in CT. Of coarse, that’s when I had a banner year in New York! Some colonies produced 240 lbs each! In any event, Fall has become winter, the bees are clustered and I am doing other things.
In mid November I left for my annual deer hunting trip to New Brunswick. I love being in the North Woods at any time, but during deer season I get to spend hours in a tree stand and quietly observe nature. From my favorite spot “over the brook, past Fin Mountain”, I sit on the top of a ridge in mixed balsam fir and hardwood trees. As an avid birder, it is nice to see a different group of birds than what we have in Ct. Nothing says northern boreal forest like the Red Breasted Nuthatches , Cross-bills, Brown Creepers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Grey Jays, and Ravens. The Mammal population also is a different mix. I have seen Black Bear, Moose, Bobcat, Pine Martin, Red Squirrels, Long Tailed Weasel, and of coarse, White tailed Deer. The further north you go, the lower the tree diversity. My favorite spot is dominated by Balsam Fir, White pine, White and Red Spruce,White Birch, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, Poplar and Beech. There are some huge White Pines and White spruce on the steep slope leading up the ridge. Each year, I fear that Acadia Timber will come in and clear cut “my woods”. This is a real worry because they have cut very near to there in the past few years. When they cut a piece of woods, there usually is nothing left standing. They truly are brutal! Any thing that is not suitable for lumber or pulp is chipped for “Hog Fuel”.
On Saturday, my last day of hunting, we experienced the first lasting snowfall of Winter. It started about nine AM as light flurries and gradually increased to a light steady snowfall. Snowfall usually quiets down the woods and it was very peaceful watching the forest floor being covered up, probably until April. I tried to imagine what it would be like with twelve feet of snow on the ground and 30 below zero. Two years ago Northern Maine and New Brunswick experienced such a winter. The deer were unable to get to feed and starved by the thousands. Additional thousands were hit by cars as they used the roads to move around. Some areas lost almost all of their deer and most locations lost more than half of their deer. The reduction in the deer herd is most noticeable in the woods as the remaining deer feed in the fields, not needing to venture into the forest for suitable habitat. It will be years before the herd recovers. Needless to say I returned home without a deer.
What does all of this have to do with beekeeping? Absolutely nothing except that my beekeeping endeavors allow me to afford trips up North or out West or to Costa Rica, wherever. In this season of Thanksgiving I need to say that I am gratefull for all the hard work of my Honeybees and all of the rewards they give me. Adam Fuller, Hampton CT