Preparing to move the bees.

The Missouri River just below Cooper's Landing

If the river gets as high as predicted in the coming weeks, it will in all likelihood take out our bees, so we need to move the hives before the field floods. When our friends Hank and Marie let us put the bees on their land (about twelve years ago now), I thought they said that the place where we put the hives was far enough from the creek that it had not flooded  in 1993, but they told us Friday at the dance that they weren’t actually at home that summer, so they’re not sure how much of the field was flooded.

They do know, however, that when the river hits 26 feet in Jefferson City, Hank’s brother, who lives down a gravel road past the bee yard, has to canoe in; they themselves have to park near their upper gate and walk in. That is the stage at which the creek that runs through their property overflows its banks and completely floods the lower field as water from the Missouri River backs up into nearby creeks and spreads out across the bottomlands. During the last major flood, in 1995, their 100-year-old farm house was only about four feet above the floodwaters, and the house is quite a ways up the hill from where the bees are.

From what I can tell by poking around various websites for the Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atsmospheric Association, news releases from cities upstream, and other sites that post river levels along the Missouri River, it takes approximately eight days for the additional water to reach us from Gavins Point. The current flow rate is about 80,000 cubic feet per second; the flow rate could go as high as 150,000 by mid-June. The resultant flooding is expected to last for six weeks.

Even if the flooding turns out to be less dire than predicted and the water doesn’t reach all the way across the field to the bees, the field will most likely be too wet to drive in for a while and the bees won’t have anything nearby for forage. (I wonder what it does to the bees’ sense of navigation when all their usual landmarks are covered in water.) At last reading the river at Boonville was at 23.4 feet (21 is flood stage). Cooper’s Landing cancels all events when the river hits 26 feet in Boonville. It is odd to have flood warnings out when the skies are blue and my garden plants are in need of water.


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