I recently checked on one of the hives that I had set on the property of some friends this last spring. When I set it, it looked like a good location. But, as I learned on this last trip, the configuration of the land and trees creates a wind tunnel that I was unable to discern on the calm, beautiful day when I set the hive there.
When I checked on the hive the other day, it was lying completely on its side. And, because of the condition of the ground under the hive, I could tell that it had been like that for a few days.
Thankfully, because I always strap my hives together (I live in bear country) the hive was completely intact. And, the bees were still there, going in and out.
But, there was a real sense of despondency around that hive. It was as if the colony had entered into a mode of grim determination to survive... but without any real hope.
I righted the hive and scouted for a better location.
Early the next morning I went back, closed up the hive, and moved it to the new location that I had chosen. After setting it there, I opened it back up and strapped some leafy branches in front of the entrances so that they would be more likely to reset their internal compass for where home is as they began foraging from that new location. And then I left.
The next day, around mid-morning, I went back to check on them.
The aura surrounding the hive was completely different. It was now one of joyful hope. There was so much more energy and vibrancy to their activity.
[I hope that you are not put-off by my choice of the word "aura;" it simply means, "the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place."]
Although I greatly regret that this hive got blown over, and that the bees had to endure that time of despondency, I am so thankful for the opportunity to see the difference between these two states of being for this colony. I believe that this experience has greatly enhanced my ability to discern the morale of a honey bee colony. And, of course, I am very thankful that I found this hive, and corrected its location, as soon as I did.
The bees keep teaching me.