I'm hesitant to post here, but I thought maybe some of you could relate and comment about how you intend to spend your extra time at home. The full post (with pictures) is here: A Quarantined Beekeeper
. But I'm pasting the text below for anyone who doesn't want to click on external links.
As I write this on March 18th, we’re likely in the early swells of a COVID-19 tsunami that’s just arriving here in the United States. If Italy is a sign of things to come, things will get far worse before they get better. The responsible thing for us all to do right now is to stay put as much as possible. And while I’m in a low-risk demographic for becoming very ill from this new form of coronavirus, we all pose a high risk to folks that are particularly vulnerable to the severe affects of this disease. So we’re all responsible for minimizing the toll on those people. From a public health perspective, that means I’m staying home way more than normal, being extra careful about sanitation, and keeping my distance when I need to interact with others. From a more personal perspective, that means I’ve got many hours to fill. So what’s a beekeeper to do with all those hours?
I really need to inspect my hives. I haven’t done a thorough set of inspections yet this year, and I’ve been waiting for a rare combination of 60° temperatures, dry weather, and a day off. Well, I just got a bunch of unexpected days off and the temps are getting high enough, but the forecast shows mostly rain as my self-imposed quarantine gets underway. Since opening the hives is off the table for now, I sat down and wrote up a lengthy list of tasks I intend to accomplish during this hiatus. Of course there are tasks on the list that aren’t related to beekeeping; for instance, I already started to fix up the old mountain bike I got as a birthday gift in 1993. There are obviously beekeeping chores on the docket too, including prepping equipment, reviewing my plans for the season, and of course those inspections that are due. But I also conjured up items I’ll call “beekeeping adjacent.”
One thing I’m going to do with my extra time is get up close and look at my surroundings. Each year I try to keep tabs on when flowers are blooming. In the past I mostly happened upon these flowers by chance; but this year I’m going to seek them out. I’m lucky enough to have some acreage, but even if you live on a small lot I bet there’s value in exploring the (sometimes tiny) plants hiding in the nooks and crannies of your yard. When you do find something blooming, head over to Beesource and post your discovery in your state’s Bloom Dates forum. You’ll gain an appreciation for the flowers in your own backyard, plus provide useful information to other beekeepers.
Another “beekeeping adjacent” chore is to plant seedlings. Last fall, I pre-ordered a bunch of trees and shrubs, and some were delivered this week. These include one of my top three favorite trees—the tulip poplar—as well as persimmons, ninebarks, and a whole lotta figworts. So I spent a couple hours today scouting for good planting locations, and even got about 10 trees in the ground. I don’t know what the odds are that I’ll be around when these trees are providing meaningful nectar to pollinators. But I’m reminded of a Greek proverb that says “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”
With all the doom and gloom whirling around us right now, we must remember that what made our society good in the first place were generations of Americans who practiced the same kind of altruism we see in our honey bees. They—literally and figuratively—planted trees they knew they’d never get to enjoy themselves. If you’re a beekeeper, I suspect by your very nature you want to do good. So let’s fill our down time in the coming months with activities that will be helpful to flowers, fauna, and our fellow man. That could mean scattering some dandelion seeds in your yard, donating to an animal rescue, sharing your honey with food bank, or just staying home to slow the rate of infections.