Not only are the nights dipping below freezing but the days are not far enough above for much, if any, foraging. That moved our indecisive selves to grab some scraps of pink foam insulation, left over from some home repair project or other, and cut some to fit over the top of the occupied parts of the hive. We would have preferred to cover the entire lengths but haven’t that large a piece. Nor did we, suffering from the dreaded lurgy, feel strong enough to go purchase a new sheet. Fitting Beatrix was quite easy and, thanks to the amount by which her roof comes down past the top of the hive body, her roof does not seem to sit too askew. Annabelle’s lesser overlap made things more difficult and we had to push some wood below the rear joist to level the roof.

As we fussed over each hive we kept an eye and ear out for signs of life. Silent Beatrix gave us none. We tell ourselves that she is merely in cluster and any sullen hum from the smaller colony would not be heard through her thicker walls, although that does not stop us from worrying. Annabelle on the other hand was obviously alive with buzzing bees visible through her entrance. As we watched, one came out to eject a dead drone.

She could not fly far carrying the drone’s carcass and fell to the ground a foot away. She then briefly and unsuccessfully tried to drag the body further before giving up and taking a few steps away from it to become a statue. She remained perfectly immobile as we scooped her up with a scrap of flat wood and wondered how we could pop her back into the hive. Thinking that a breath might warm her enough for a crawl back in if we then held the scrap near the entrance, we bathed her in a slow, gentle exhalation and were startled as she shot off the scrap to hover before the entrance for a beat and then dart within. A gratifying result since we were not about to attempt mouth-to-spiracle resuscitation.

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