Most species of bees and wasps spend winter in a state of hibernation. In some species, all but the queen die when the temperature drops. Honeybees, however, spend their winter awake and rely on food storages of honey to keep them going. When the temperature outside the hive drops below 50 degrees, the bees hunker down for a long winter. Their store of honey in the hive is the difference between life and death for these buzzing insects. If the honey supply runs short, it will mean death for some, if not all. To keep warm in the hive, the honeybees will cluster around the queen and shiver to create heat. They shiver by vibrating their flight muscles, but keeping their wings still. The bees on the inside of the cluster will feed on the stored honey while the outer layer insulates them. When the temperature starts to rise within the group, the outer layer will separate a bit to allow airflow through and will then switch with the bees on the inside of the cluster. Temperatures can get up to about 93 degrees! If the weather permits join a Sarett naturalist at Dablon Winery on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 1:30 p.m. for a guided snowshoe hike on the vineyard. For more information, or to sign up, contact Dablon Winery at 269-422-2846.
Fishing Fall weather in January is not being kind to the ice fishermen waiting to get out on the ice. A bit of ice in the channels of Paw Paw Lake and Van Auken Lake gave hope that the season was finally starting, but it did not last long and good, hard, safe ice did not happen. Unfortunately, the next week doesn’t give much hope for ice as Thursday and Friday are predicted to be 47 degrees. Saturday cools to a tempting 39 degrees and Sunday a hopeful 31 degrees, but Monday brings back 37 degrees. Cold nights and wind chill may help. Ellinee Bait and Tackle on Big Paw Paw Lake by Coloma has seen a trend of anglers giving up on the ice and putting their boats back in the water. Some nice panfish are being caught on minnows and many boat anglers are putting heated hoods on their boats for comfort from the cold wind. The best places to fish have been where there had been ice that brought the fish in. Anglers are making the most of it and a nice pail of crappie was brought in to the bait shop for display last week. A few steelhead anglers are still plying the rivers. Boats have been seen out on Paw Paw Lake, Little Paw Paw Lake and Van Auken. Learn more about lakes and lake shoreline protection. Healthy, functional lake shorelines do more than create picture-perfect views; they are critical to fish, wildlife and water quality. Fortunately, there are many things lakefront property owners can do to learn more about Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and the best way to protect them. The new Michigan Shoreland Stewards video series highlights several management practices – maintaining native vegetation, eliminating fertilizers and using “soft engineering” – that inland lakefront property owners can use to help prevent shoreline erosion, keep pollutants and nutrients out of the lake, and ultimately protect fish, wildlife and clean water. Visit the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership website to learn about inland lake shorelines and some simple action steps. For more information about any of these programs or resources, contact Joe Nohner at 517-284-6236. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Outdoor Skills Academy opens a year of classes with its Hard Water School session on ice fishing. The session covers everything from how to set up equipment and how and where to fish to safety and rules and regulations – January 25-26 in Cadillac. Another Hard Water School session is set for March 7-8, along with an advanced ice fishing clinic on February 21-23. Other winter classes include nature photography/ lighthouse history and bluebird and nest box basics. The Outdoor Skills Academy offers in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on-learning for a range of outdoor activities at locations around the state. For more information contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.
Hunting Hunters have one more chance to get out in the woods and harvest an antlerless deer this winter, January 9-12 on private land in southern Alpena County. The Michigan DNR’s Hunting Access Program (HAP) recently has made over 2,900 acres of quality private land available to the public specifically for this hunt. This is in addition to the existing 1,200 acres already enrolled in long-term leases. Contact the DNR at 517-284-4741 with questions about HAP properties and how to hunt them. Hunters can take antlerless deer with an unused 2019 deer or deer combo license or private-land antlerless license for DMU 487 or with disease control permits issued for 2020. Additional deer licenses can be purchased at any DNR license agent through January 12. For additional questions, contact Emily Sewell at 231-340-1821. The Spring Turkey Application Period for limited-quota license is open now to February 1. Drawing results will be available online March 16. Season dates are April 18 through May 31, 2020. Detailed information about spring turkey regulations, management units, hunting hours and more can be found in the Spring Turkey Digest. For a full list of regulations and legal descriptions see the Wildlife Conservation Order. The application fee is $5.00. Applicants selected in the drawing may then purchase a limited-quota license online or at a license agent. After the drawing, any leftover licenses will be sold until quotas are met. It is unlawful to obtain or purchase more than one spring turkey hunting license. Depending on how many hunters apply, leftover licenses may or may not be available for some hunt units and/or dates. Hunters who do not apply for the drawing may purchase a leftover license, if available, beginning March 30 at 10 a.m. Registration is now open for the Happy Little 5K Run for the Trees virtual race! No matter how you reach the finish line – walk, run or hike – you pick the pace and the place, anywhere outdoors. Just be sure to complete your 5K between April 17 and April 26, 2020. For $34.00 per person, your virtual race will make a real difference. All race proceeds go toward planting Happy Little Trees in Michigan state parks. Every participant will get a Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a finisher’s medal. To register go to Michigan.gov/DNR and click on State Parks. More information can also be found there.