Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Week in the Life (& Tales to Tell....)

The WillOaks Campground has been building to a crescendo all May and we're smack dab in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of Summer.  We're all filled up with happy campers here, in spite of the dodgy weather, and it's good to see all the campers ready to switch from swimming suits and shorts to jackets and hoodies because between heat, sun, rain, hail, and wind, we've had a little of everything over the past week.

When I'm into this mode, that is, the camper life mode here at WillOaks, I really do seem to notice nature with more detail than during "everyday life."  Last weekend we had a unique occurrence that seemed scary at first.  But on closer inspection, and after a few phone calls, the amazing phenomena made me very very happy:  A honey bee swarm passed through and chose to pause for the night on the southwest corner of the only building in this part of our acreage: the bath house.  It took awhile to realize that yes, it WAS just honey bees and not the dreaded wasps which are also all around in early abundance.   The bee "cluster" built slowly, bee by bee, over the whole afternoon until it was, by dusk, the seething mass that I captured in an iPhone photo here.

Problem was, in the bathhouse proper, a few bees wandered in through cracks in the window frames and so there were also a lot of worker bees flying around in the Men's Room.  Ah well, we closed it off and declared coed bathrooms for an evening.  Meanwhile, unwilling to kill a single honey bee, I worked the phones (in spite of the fact that it was Saturday night) and found a very helpful and knowledgeable beekeeper, Frank Reiss, who keeps bees in Genoa, Illinois a little ways southwest of here.  He helped us comprehend what we were seeing here, and gave us good information about what it all meant and what would probably happen next.

Frank predicted that 1.)  the bees would not be aggressive because they were swarming which means they are on the move to find a new home, but were NOT defending a home just then, 2.)  were focused on protecting the queen in their midst and were just resting for the night and 3.) would probably be moving on at daylight the next morning, as they continued their hunt for a new hive.  It all came true and in retrospect, this was actually thrilling to me because I had read about "bee swarms" but have never witnessed one and also because I've noticed the general demise and even absence of honey bees around here the past couple of years (speaking as a gardener) and to see a healthy population of them, even if it may have been a relatively small one, was a very hopeful sign.

It's a double!
Speaking of hopeful signs, I'll conclude my nature post with a series of photos made by a friend, Teri Vandenboom, who frequents the campground, typically pointing her camera at almost everything.  And it's another special natural occurrence:  a spectacular double rainbow, that faded to a brilliant single rainbow, all thanks to that special convergence of sunlight and rain--a prism, to the nth degree.  The visions that myths are made about that pot of gold?  I hope the bees found their new home somewhere nearby and that the pot of gold is a brand new hive chock full of healthy bees and honey, all ready to keep our local ecosystem hale and hearty!

We'll conclude our WillOaks Campground recap with a new image for the "Camping Cats" file.  In this chapter, Purrmeister reenacts that line from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, where the sheepdog is referred to as an "unmade bed."  Uh huh, that unruly mass of fur? It's one of our local unmade beds, I mean, one of our camping cats.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and do remember our fallen heroes who defend America and all her highest ideals.  Happy Memorial Day!


Ann said...

hooray for the unofficial start of summer :) Lucky for the swarm of bees that you had the notion to make some calls. I don't think I would have thought of that, I would have chose to
Beautiful double rainbow.

Marg said...

How terrific to have a swarm of bees. I have never seen that either. Love the rainbows and also love getting a glimpse of Purrmeister. Good to see you. Take care.

Lin said...

That was great that you didn't panic and start spraying something at them. That was a smart move calling the bee guy!! HOORAY! Glad they didn't stay at the bath house permanently.


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