Many of us in the bee club suffered through the summer with our new nucs of fledgling colonies doing very little to prepare for winter.  Every spring the hives are supposed to awaken at around 60 degrees, to start the 6-month rush to make enough honey to live on over the next winter.  That's the annual cycle.  Supposedly. 

My first colony two years ago went gangbusters from the start, with lots of excess honey in the fall to share with humans.  This year, my four colonies will be lucky to make it through the looming winter with enough honey.  They need that energy to beat wings all day, all night, every day, clustered around the queen to keep her at 92 degrees even when it's 20-below outside.  Good luck, Ms. Queen and all the attendants. 

Here is how they looked on September 18, 2011, over three months after receiving the shipment from a new supplier in Nebraska:

After 3 months, almost nothing to show.

Seem to be in no big hurry toward the white plastic frames.

But, they are avoiding these wood frames, too.
They seem to avoid the plastic frames, building upward to the feeder instead.
Bottom of feeder

Detail of feeder bottom



The fall season’s first chill was in the air on October 8 and autumn leaves were abundant on the trees.  It was time for the Black Hills Explorers’ (First) Annual Fall Foliage Photo Fling.  And few places better to find colorful outdoor scenery than Horse Thief Trail, from the lake of same name to Mt. Rushmore. 

Horse Thief Trail is a short three-mile route deep in the forest, mostly in ravines and draws with trickling brooks, and surrounded by towering granite pinnacles.  But mostly, the Explorers were on this particular route on this day, in search of the yellows, oranges and reds of fluttering fall leaves.  And they weren’t disappointed.  For three delightful hours the club strolled among the flashing rainbow colored leaves, while protected from the chill wind by giant grey granite monoliths.
Vern Thorstensen, Bev Schlosser, Stan __, Cathy Schofield, Gigi Kern, Jim Kern

A photographer's dreamscape

Jim and Gigi Kern stirring up leaves

What's a hike without a quaint bridge?

and a beautiful mountain brook?

Cathy Schofield scouting a meadow

"Kinnickinnic"?   These berries were prolific.  They are quite tastey, but with a strange texture.  Vern Thorstenson seemed to know all about them.  
Photo by Bev Schlosser