Spring in the Hives

(Written March 22, 2003) Today was a nice spring day and I opened the bee hives for the first time this year. It is always a surprise as to what you’ll find. The bees have been out flying, so I knew all 3 hives made it. Which is not a sure thing. Bees don’t hibernate, they just get in a tight little ball and eat honey to generate heat (that’s why they store so much of it). You have to be careful to leave them enough in the fall. And with the mites that are throughout the bee population now, they can become too weakened to make it all winter long (the Queen stops laying eggs in the fall and doesn’t resume til spring - so the fall bees aren’t replaced every few weeks like summer bees are). Even a well stocked healthy hive can die if the weather stays too cold for too long without a break. The bees need a milder day to move their “cluster” in the hive in order to get to unused honey supplies. I’ve heard tales of bees starving to death just inches away from ample honey supplies, simply because it was too cold for them to move to it.


Besides the 3 hives in the yard we have an observation hive in the study (the bees come and go through a tube in the window). It is really useful for seeing what is going on in bee-land. For instance, last January (2002) I discovered that they had loaded up with pollen on a couple of mild days. That was the third week of January! Where in the world did they find that pollen? We have a witch hazel, but it typically doesn’t bloom until February some time. I still don’t have an answer to that one. This year was different though - there were no warm January days, and no sign of pollen in the hive till nearly the end of February.

The three yard hives still had a surprising amount of honey left, which means I can stop feeding them sugar water - no more Easy Street for the Girls… All three queens were laying eggs again, although one was way behind the other, so I moved some brood comb from the more populated hives to the weaker one. That might also help things out a bit with swarm season rapidly approaching.

There are countless articles in the bee magazines about techniques to keep the Girls from swarming. I’ve tried about all of them that made any sense at all. I think I’ve finally figured out why none of them seem to work all that well - bees just don’t read. It doesn’t matter how clever this “master” beekeeper’s idea may be - nobody ever told the bees… Whoever wrote the Murphy’s Law Corollary - “under the most carefully controlled conditions of temperature, humidity and environment the organism will do what it damn well pleases” could well have been a beekeeper.
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So Many Questions (going into Iraq)

(Written March 22, 2003) I’ve been writing this message in my head for a couple of weeks now - maybe by finally writing it will help me sort some things out in my own mind, or not.

The only thing I feel fairly certain of is that Saddam would never disarm, regardless of how many inspectors were sent in there. They would find this, he would build that, and on it would go until the world/UN just gave up.

But, the question is - is Saddam with his weapons better or worse than war? I’m really stuck on that one. There are a *lots* of piss-ant dictators in the world. Why is it suddenly so necessary to go after this one? I’ve heard the “it’s all about oil” line - but that is too simplistic. It probably figures into it, but I can’t see it as the major motivation. The Bushman is spending a hell of a lot of political capital to make this happen - when he could be spending it on things like tax cuts, etc. I have yet to see him make a believable case for why he thinks this is so important.

Right now I’m not either for or against the war - fortunately I don’t have to make that decision - and I guess how it turns out in the end will tell the story. There are two possible equations as I see it, in terms of number of people that will die:

X=(# years Saddam remains in power without a war)*(average # people per year that die because he is in power)

Y=(# people killed in the war) + (# people killed in the political unrest afterwards).

These numbers are, of course, unknowable (we’ll know one, but never the other). But if it could be shown that Y would be less than X, would those who are against the war still oppose it? And if so, why? And why are all the protests against removing Saddam from power? Why aren’t there any protests saying he should disarm?

What really scares me is the Bushman’s rhetoric. All of this evil and ‘God is on our side’ stuff really gives me the willies, like we’ve got our own Mullah Omar in the White House. The problem with fundamentalist versions of any religion is that they seem to be all about killing and vengeance “for God”. And the Christian versions really like this Apocalypse thing - it’s their big revenge fantasy that they can’t wait for. Given that sort of mind set it scares the shit out of me that Bush is so eager to go stirring things up in the Middle East - where the Big End is all supposed to come from…

I was in the infantry in Viet Nam. Later I protested against that war. In recent years I’m thinking our bigger mistake was pulling out of Viet Nam when we did. I guess we didn’t have much choice in terms of keeping our own country together, but when you look at what happened to those poor people in the South when the Communists came in - they *really* got screwed far worse by the Commies than they ever did by us. Of course the government in the South was for shit and not worth defending, but what the South needed was a real government, not just letting them ‘unify’ under the Communists. So none of the answers were really right - but you can see why I am having such a hard time seeing this war as either Right or Wrong…