Of Dearth Vader Bees and Bears

Seemingly, every June, the old men in my county will begin the annual ritual of lamenting the rain deposits in their rain gauge. And that’s if we even make it to June. Sometimes it turns dry and hot in May, at which point the sound of old men talking about dry rain gauges is the first indication that the Dearth has officially arrived, that nothing is blooming, that nectar has dried up, that the bees are getting ready to break bad and turn to the dark side. 

Dearth Vader bees, I call them. Angry, menacing bees that strike fear into even the bravest beekeepers. Not that I’m claiming to be one of them, but don’t let my trembling hive tool fool you–bravery is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear, trembling action included. 

Also, I just want to point out there is no shame in bravely running away from a boiling, raging Dearth Vader hive. Discretion is the better part of beekeeping. However, I’m pretty sure I have scientifically proven that bees can fly faster than an out-of-shape man can run, so you’re better off just laying down on the ground and playing dead–plus, that will save you from any Dearth Vader bears in the vicinity. Bees and bears alike, nobody likes the ninety-plus degree days of summer. 

Recently, a man spotted a large black bear in his fenced suburban backyard in our county, and it made front page news in our local newspaper (we don’t get many bears this far down the mountain). This particular bear was merely trying to empty a bird feeder of its contents. However, the man felt the need to confront the bear, armed only with a pot and large spoon. He said later, “I have read that that is what you’re supposed to do, but in retrospect that was probably not the best thing to do.”

I’m not sure what is more intimidating–Dearth Vader bees searching for any drop of sugary liquid or Dearth Vader bears that are willing to breach backyards for mere bird feed? All I know is that the Dearth is upon us, and bees and bears alike are hot and hangry. 

6 thoughts on “Of Dearth Vader Bees and Bears

    1. May not be him, but could be his kinfolk. We have recently found the old Little Bear cartoon which Thomas is not quite fond of. I suspect if he saw a bear outside, he’d probably try to go play with it.

  1. We’re just heading into the dearth, and I’m not looking forward to it. Our monster hive (two deeps, three supers is monster to me!) is already hard to inspect. Still, once we actually hit the dearth, we tend to become minimalist beekeepers.

    1. For monster hives in dearth, I usually just do a quick check to make sure they are queen right and maybe steal a frame of brood or stores for another hive. Plus, I always save the big means for last, in case things get squirrelly they won’t poison the yard with alarm pheromone till the end.

      1. We’ve been stealing from it every time we peek in. And we are in the midst of treating with formic pro. Have to wait for second strip until Sat when it falls below 90 again. We do it with one strip at a time because we lost queens in the past when we did both strips at once. Timing isn’t ideal, but sometimes it’s the lesser of two evils. And I take your point on doing the big hive last. Now we’re retired, it’s easier because we can do a few on one day and the rest on another day. Beekeeping – it’s never boring!

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