Bees are contrary creatures. They’ve evidently never read the multitude of beekeeping books about how they are supposed to act.

And with all the contrariness of bees, Hive Veronica is building comb in November. There are a lot of bees in that hive, and they’re filling the top of the spacer box with comb and nectar. It's a mess in there with a big fuzzy pile of bees and gloopy, nectar-filled free-form natural comb all over the tops of the frames.

The thing is, it's nearly winter. Bees are supposed to cluster together in the center of their box, keeping queen and brood warm and fed during these days when the sunlight shortens. They're not supposed to build comb and fill it with nectar.

What's going on? And what should we do?

We emailed Tom Vercoutere, President of the Beekeepers Guild Of San Mateo County.

"Don't worry," he told us. "They're bugs." They know what to do.

Perhaps they are simply trying to fill in the 2.5 inches of empty space above the frames to keep that space warm. Or perhaps, as Kimberley suspects, Veronica is a hoarder, and the 13 full frames of honey she already has isn’t enough.

And this is the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is different here from the rest of the country. There's the weather, for one thing. Chilly days of rain alternate with short, warm, sunny days. There are plenty of flowers blooming. The brugmansia in our test garden is blowing gigantic yellow trumpet-like flowers, the Mexican sage is still unfurling fuzzy blue curls. The bees are dizzy with delight over this late season boon. And I just noticed the sweet scent of a citrus tree wafting over a neighbor's fence.

November, and already we, the bees and I, are looking forward to spring.

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