Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Hoarders


Our Blogger friend Weese has become a bit paranoid recently because everywhere she turns there is a chipmunk invading her space. They are in her wood pile; they dart about nearly colliding with her. Though I fully understand her fear especially with the unpredictability of crazed chipmunks in the fall, but understand that it is the season that is doing it. The chipmunks are not out to get us.

When you reflect upon the seasonal behavior of all the animals you can think of there are only three animals to my knowledge that actually collect a larder for the winter. This behavior is manifest in squirrels/chipmunks, honey bees and humans.

Squirrels and chipmunks gather and hide food for the winter. This is where we get the term “Squirrel things away.” They know the foods they prefer to eat will be in short supply so they collect their foods like a farmer. It’s as though these animals know what they need to survive the winter in the worst case scenarios.

Humans put up, preserve, freeze, smoke, dry and can their harvests to hold them over through the winter and beyond. Though we’ve become accustomed to importing our food and going to the store anytime we run out of items, it wasn’t long ago in our past where we got anxious about getting our crops in and protected for future use.

Finally, honey bees often collect several times the amount of honey they need to survive the winter. This is why humans can take the surplus honey and the bees can survive when they are left sixty-pounds to eat through the winter. There is a certain panic with them as well when the nectar producing flowers are gone. They will often resort robbing weaker colonies to further build their larder. The robbed colony will usually starve.

This year will be a very hard winter for honey bees in Oregon. There wasn’t much rain in May and June which translates to very little nectar coming from the plants they rely upon to make their honey. Beekeepers will need to feed their bees all winter this year if they want their colonies to survive.

As one of the three animals that put up food for the future we all need to be sympathetic of other hoarders. We have it easy in comparison to those that can’t rely on the market for their survival.

12 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

Stupid question in the back here.... do you feed bees honey in the winter?

6:23 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yes. Sugar water and or bakers sugar. The big outfits feed them HFCS, but that stuff bothers me. In the winter one can also supplement their protein with pollen and or brewers yeast. It's good when you don't have to feed them, but you will increase their chance of survival if you do.

9:06 AM  
Blogger g said...

My office is located on a walnut tree orchard. It's great to watch the squirrels in action collecting the nuts that are just now falling. I've managed to collect a few myself!

9:59 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I love squirrel. :)

11:25 AM  
Blogger lakeviewer said...

I'm using Microsoft Explorer and getting through, I think. Glad to meet you. I'm down the coast from you, similar temperatures.

11:29 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

g, if you've got walnuts you had to have bees there in the spring as well. You've got the entire collection of hoarders in one spot.

Auntie, behave now...

Lakeviewer, Somehow I Port Orford was in Washington State. I've only been as far south on the coast as Coos Bay to do a lecture once. I would love to drive all the way down to Brookings some day. What a state we live in...

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They did an experiment with squirrels and the effects of pot. The result was that after ingestion of a few joints, the squirrels became unconcerned about the laws of self preservation and started playing with their nuts instead of storing them...they also found that if you beat a squirrel with a bale of mmmmmmarijuana, they were likely to die...

Moose

7:39 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I keep hummingbird feeders out all summer; After I brought them in for winter, I happened to see a little bird at my flowerbed. So I filled one of my feeders and put it out. I don't know that he ever found it, but the bees did! I'd had an occasional wasp at the feeders, never bees. They swarmed it until you could hardly see it! Cliff went out after dark to bring it in, and there were still a couple of bees there.

4:37 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moose, Did "They" do the experiment or was it "You?"

Donna, count yourself fortunate that you have a feral close to your place. They will hit feeders when the temps are above 55 degrees. They don't fly below that temp. Some humming bird feeders come with bee guards so bees can't get to them.

6:02 AM  
Blogger weese said...

I would gladly run out to stop-n-shop for them.
Its not so much their presence that is at issue. They are cute. But they are wreaking hovac with our foundation - not to mention they have eaten all our bulbs (or stored them away).
Also - we had an 'incident' last winter which I elude to regarding rodents in the house. It was not pretty... I think I am still a little jumpy from that.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Guy said...

Weese, having had rats, mice, bats and flies invade my house in the past I learned how to eliminate each one. You need to focus like a Ninja.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I was cleaning up some clumping bamboo in my disaster of a back yard and I kept running across nuts, hidden by the myriad squirrels. I think their memory must not be very good, because those had been there a long, long time.

12:06 PM  

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