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.