Thursday, April 28, 2005

Two Colonies, Different Stories

Let's start with a pretty picture from inside. I am in awe of the girls.
empty comb

Eleven days ago, we opened the colonies for the first time since installation. It is going to rain tonight and through the weekend once more, and Colony 2 may be running out of room, so I went in again today.

Tell me I'm a brave girl, like the workers, because I opted to go in without gloves this time. It seemed better to brave stings than mash bees, since it was such a clumsy difficult session the last time, with the sugar syrup all over everything and the camera knocking about and the bees getting all upset. I could actually feel the frames, tell where the shutter button was, and handle the tools without dropping them, and no stings!

Good news first: Colony 2 is a roaring bee and honey producing monster. They have filled up all but one frame of foundation, started moving upward into the feeder, and it appears there are already new bees on the scene. When opening up their home, brace comb broke apart, full of light golden honey. I tried to put some in my mouth, but forgot there was a veil in the way. Sigh.

I brought one of the empty medium supers (the wooden thingies that hold the frames) up from the basement, and placed it carefully over the busy frames. Then I went to the feeder, cut off the brace comb that was extending down (and some that was in the middle of the feeder access) and placed it on top of the new frames. Put the feeder back on, filled it with more syrup (drink up, you greedy little piggies) and closed it up. Tried not to think about 150 dead gals. Start to really hope for maybe just a tiny honey flow for us (beekeepers, please tell me off about this!)

Worrisome news last: Colony 1 (which was actually opened first) has not made much progress in eleven days. If any beekeepers would take a look at the pictures and share opinions, I would be most grateful. Perhaps it's like this: no sooner does Queen 1 get started than the weather gets cold, her dwindling population of workers needs to spend their time bundling up, and both comb and brood production cease. But why no pollen cells, I wonder? Did I just not see them through the bees crowding what little comb there was?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bees at Fifty Degrees

This I give you up front: other people (*and* bees) have it much worse, but none of us flourish in 40 degree rain in late April, especially after several days over 70.

The weekend was as cold and wet as predicted, and while the garden needed the moisture – the bees were also having to work hard to get water back to the colonies – none of us needed the chill. Wondering what kind of hitch the weather may have put into the efforts of (struggling) Colony 1 sent me back to the beekeeping book, and to acquiring another little piece of the picture that may help me take better care of the girls on the roof.

Spring is the borderline time for bee colonies. Within the band of temperatures between 42 degrees F and 68 degrees F bees move from near dead and flightless to viable foragers: at 40 degrees F a solo bee is a dead bee. We've been bumping 40 every night this weekend. Luckily, the bees make their own environment inside the hive.

At 57 degrees they cluster together inside the hive bodies like a little ball o'bees and keep each other warm just by buzzing together. They need, however:
  1. enough bees to build that ball of warm;

  2. enough food to fuel those buzzing bodies through the brisk bit;

  3. food stores near enough for a solo bee to reach without perishing of cold.

The gals upstairs must have been in a ball all weekend, putting a firm halt to nectar, pollen, and water gathering. And what about all the new bees that the queens have laid? What happens to them in a cold snap?

OK, and what about poor Colony 1? Colony 2 clearly had lots of comb and food stores at hand before the rain came, but Colony 1 had just gotten its groove on. Another setback?

So another visit today, but not with the disruption of pulling off the top and looking at frames. I did open up the front entrances a bit more and peer in, though. Colony 1 lives on, though Colony 2 is living better. There is even a little pile of pollen at the entrance to Colony 2.It has fallen off the jam of energetic gatherers who fly in and out of there full tilt.

In this cool weather, they get a late start in the AM, and it appears that they are taking advantage of the comparative warmth (64 degrees) of this afternoon to extend the hunt. The pollen has changed from the golden brown stuff that probably came from the maples to something much paler and yellow. I tried very hard to get some pollen shots, and you can see what I managed at right.

I put in a little rule above this because this second part may be kind of tedious and it's not really bee-centric.

They say that every time the beekeeper opens the hive, about 150 bees die, and for a somewhat nonsensical city dweller this is the kind of number that rocks every decision about managing the colonies. We move from "casual interest" towards "morally charged maelstrom" with each decimal point. It's kind of dumb to get stuck on such a factoid: bees will die if they are not managed, too, but I want to be damn well sure I am going in there for a reason. Impulse is not good enough. My curiosity is not good enough. Having something to write about is not good enough.

And hey, if someone out there is scoffing (well, if anyone is out there at all by now) remember, we have only a handful of months to turn 10,000 bees in each colony into at least 40,000 (that would be 80K total for those keeping score), or the winter will kill the ones that I missed. So every one of those girls is a bit of golden precious, besides being beautiful in my eyes.

So here is the odd segue: last night my husband and I and our friend Gerry went to a community Seder (for Passover) in our neighborhood, and at one point in the tradition – a part of which is a retelling of the story of Exodus – we read the bit about when the waves crash down on the Pharoah's army, and the angels in heaven cheer, only to be rebuked by God who says (roughly), "How can you celebrate when my creatures are dying?"

Now, I am no divinity (surprise!) but *NOW* I know what it means to want ALL of a big, well-armed, survival-oriented cast of thousands to make it, to neither be destroyed or destroy another (and yes, bees fight). Who cares who is right? I'd like them all to get the full six weeks of life that is a bee's natural due, and I know they all won't. I'm trying to take care of them, but their best allies are truly sunshine and peace.

Friday, April 22, 2005

What Are The Bees Eating?

I have some nerve even asking the question, because what the bees eat is An Advanced Topic. The choice of food depends on where, when, and at what stage of development the bee colony finds itself.

Bees can go up to 2 miles in any direction from the hive to grab a bite (and bring it back), but after trying to figure where they might be gathering food, so I maybe I could watch, it became clear that in this neighborhood, at this time of year, and with the limited population in the colonies, they hardly had to leave the yard.

The stairs to the roof are actually adrift with pollen right now:

steps with pollen

Nonetheless, today was my best chance to feed some more sugar syrup to the gang because it's going to rain and get cold all weekend, there are fewer neighbors around to get curious in the middle of Friday afternoon, and Colony 2 had gone through all their syrup in less than a week when we opened the hives last time.

It was a less than ideal day for this: it was only 54 degrees F, and there had been rain. Most of the bees were still home. But I went ahead.

On the good side: over-achieving Colony 2 had cleaned their feeder right out again!

On the less good side: Colony 1 had eaten nothing that I could tell.

I still added more syrup, and afterward wondered if that were a Really Bad Idea. Cold and wet are not friends to bees.

Deep dark worry returns.

You know, at some point it must be possible to get to know this beekeeping business well enough not to fear the worst with every move, or suspect that every step taken is a Terrible Mistake.

To perk me (and maybe you) up a bit, the photo area has pictures of several wonderful food sources right on this block. When it was sunnier this week, I tried to hang out in the hammock near the hives and watch where the bees went. They did this funny little spiral climb to a couple of dozen feet above the house, then shot off faster than I could follow. But the general directions were east and south, and that is where these pictures come from.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thirsty Bees

It's a hot day for early-ish Spring, and it has been rather dry. Today the bees found the bird bath in the back yard, and seem to be liking it better than the water feature out front. Funny thing, when taking pictures, a bumblebee was terrifically put out by my presence, but the honeybees focused on the rocks and water. Wonder if there is a bumbler brood nearby.

bees drinking in bird bath

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Two Queens Are Better Than One

(With apologies to our British friends)

It's Official

Two master beekeepers have now confirmed that the pictures taken on Sunday show the Queen of Colony 1 laying like a champ (well, they did not mention any championships, but I think she's a winner!)

So, to summarize:

We have confirmed that Colony 2 is its traditionally healthy self, with lots of eggs and larvae to show for a mere week in their new home. I wish I had done so well (not in the eggs and larvae production department, mind you, just getting the furniture arranged, etc.) I did not see Queen 2, but her handiwork is obvious.

The Master Beekeepers have confirmed that Colony 1 has a freed and working Queen, and that the upswing in activity is probably related to her laying out the good ol' pheromones for her new posse.

Time for a bee news bit: the Queen's scent runs the show inside the colony, but she does not spray it around directly. The Queen gets her aura out there by being groomed by (and brushing against) the bees who take care of her (she's pretty much stuck laying in one cell after another, so they bring her food and water, etc.) Those bees brush against other bees, and so on.

It's possible that being in the queen cage made it harder for Queen 1 to get the word out. But she's free, and she's OK, and two colonies of young'uns are on the way.

This News Makes Us Very Happy

I am not sure that my husband was happy for precisely the same reasons as me: his bonus may have been less hand-wringing around the house. But he likes the bees, and has started to name them. Thus far we have Buzzy, Sting, and Queenie. Only 19,997 more names to go (until the youngsters arrive).

Happiness like this needs company, so I started writing people.

The first note went to the BBC programme (on Radio 4) which caught my imagination. It was the usual "Sorry, we cannot respond to emails due to volume" situation on the bounce back. BUT...

The reporter who did the story wrote me back!

Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 18:04:08 +0100 (BST)
From: "Woman's Hour"
Subject: RE: /radio4/womanshour/2003_45_wed_03.shtml

Dear {Phang},

Many thanks for your message. I am so glad you liked the feature - I really enjoyed making it - up on the London skyline with the bees - all the best Sara Parker (reporter) sorry about the pro forma

We hope this answers your query.

Best wishes, Woman's Hour

This was delightful!

The second note went to Mark Bittner, who wrote "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," and whose example kept me going through a number of raised eyebrows. We have not heard from Mark, but the movie of the above (*highly recommended*) is really growing in release by word of mouth, and there IS only one of him...

Finally, there is a "web ring" devoted to urban wildlife run out of a park in the UK, and I asked if this blog could be added, and it was (check out the box at the lower right). Thanks, folks: it is good to be with friends.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Start of a New Generation

Today was The Big Check Up, the one-week-out first chance to look around inside the hive, actually pull out frames, and otherwise determine if things are going as they should.

The things to look for are:

  • Is comb being drawn?

  • Are eggs being laid?

  • Does the pattern of stuff – nectar, pollen, brood laying – look the way it should?

These things are, of course, in addition to my favorites:

  • Are any bees still in there?

  • Which feeder bay did all that leaking?

  • Did something else get messed up?

Judging from what was demonstrated on the class field day, my bees are not, shall we say, rocket scientists: while Colony 2 seems faster than Colony 1, neither one shows the kind of brood size that the demonstrator hives did. I do not know if they started from drawn comb though (which would give them a major head start over the girls upstairs, since they had to start from bare foundation).

But let's chuck all that aside for the good news: There Are New Bees In Progress!

One of the photos snapped of a Colony 2 frame during the work clearly shows both larvae and newly laid eggs! Rock on Queen 2! We have ourselves One Big Happy. The photo link here can show you what this all looks like. To us, it is just incredibly cool.

Colony 1 would not be the Colony 1 we have come to know and wonder about if it had not left things a bit more ambiguous. On the plus side, for the first time Colony 1 was absolutely busting out with bee activity at both entrances. On the minus, it had not even half the drawn comb of Colony 2.

However, in snapping pictures of the frames, I may have caught a picture of Queen 1 laying (it's also linked to the photo page). It's not for sure, so my master beekeeper friends just got emailed copies of the picture for comment. We'll see what they have to say!

After taking a look, putting in more syrup, and closing back up, there's not much more for me to do than to watch (anxiously) for two weeks, and maybe clean some of the sugar syrup off the camera (it's unbelievably hard to take pictures while gloved, veiled, sticky, and trying to crouch out of view of the neighbors.) The fact that there is anything to show you at all is a tribute to Nikon. Rock on CoolPix 5000!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Kids Are Alright. I Think.

At 1 PM today, I removed just the tops and the feeders of the two colonies in order to ensure that the queens were free, and maybe to get a bit of reassurance that all is going well (enough). This is what I learned:

Colony 2

Colony 2 is a bustling place. As early as this AM I saw lots of bees loaded with pollen on their back legs dashing in and out of the front entrance. Unfortunately, I also discovered that I had blocked the top rear entrance, and I am not sure that they will ever find it now.

Once opened, I found the EMPTY queen cage and quite alot of drawn comb. A bunch of it has been drawn into the empty space left by the frame that was removed to allow easier placement of the queen cage, and I am probably going to have to remove that at some point. BUT NOT TODAY!

Colony 2 had also eaten up ALL of its sugar syrup, so I gave them a dollop more. The fact that all their syrup was gone and that they only had the one entrance may account for the high traffic at the entrance. Colony 2 also gets the first sun of the day, but it was also busier at evening, so...I just think this colony has its queen and is rocking along. It would have been great to see her, but this is not the time to hunt her out.

Colony 1

I opened Colony 1 second because I was scared. Now I am just a bit concerned, which is an improvement.

Colony 1 had not eaten as much of its syrup, and the feeder was really full of bees when I pulled off the top. A large resident population is good news. Funny thing; BOTH bays had syrup, so I guess the earlier leak was not very big, and either the wood swelled to close it, or sugar has gummed it up.

With the feeder out of the way, trying not to slosh syrup on the bees who refused to vacate even though they had been smoked at, I went looking inside the colony.

I found the queen cage, and it still had some of the candy in it, and one dead bee. GULP! Looking at her, she was probably not the queen, but one of the attendants. The remaining candy leads me to believe the queen got free (or was pulled out) only recently. The workers had drawn some comb, from what could be seen without moving frames around, but much less than the other colony. Interestingly, the workers had formed a chain of bees drooping across the frame opening – it looked like a telephone line between poles – and I think that must be the first step in making filler comb like that in the other colony.

Colony 1 bees were using both the front and the top rear entrances, and I did see a worker loaded with pollen go in at 5:30 PM, when I stopped by to worry a bit more. There are a couple of possibilities about Colony 1: I am seeing less activity because the queen has only just gotten free and the workers have taken to her a little later, and they have also still got syrup inside to keep them busy and two entrances to spread what external traffic one might observe. The second possibility is that Colony 1 has a weaker or an injured queen, but I do think she is in there because the behavior is similar to, but lagging behind, Colony 2. Keep repeating this mantra: "there were a lot of bees inside, there were a lot of bees inside..."

In the morning, I watched an undertaker bee yank a dead sister out the entrance of Colony 1. While that could be sad it also seems to me to be normal activity. Would you clean up a home you intended to flee?

Did They Stay Or Did They go Now?

By Monday AM, it was getting seriously important to figure out whether things were going alright. Or at least I thought so. If the queen was gone or injured, the colony would self-destruct or fly away. Other than the sadness of ending a few thousand lives in vain, it's not at all clear that I could find some more bees to victimize.

So how to figure out whether to try to get a new queen or two without ensuring the demise of the ones I got? Easy: flutter obsessively around the colony, look for omens, and email other beekeepers for advice.

Signs and portents

First, the dead bees. There seemed to be maybe a hundred, maybe two. But there had not been that many casualties in the packages, and the numbers did not seem out of line with the beekeeping book. Also, there did not seem to be an increase over time.

Second, bee poo. Oh I know this sounds absurd and funny, but what mother is not relieved to see her charges chowing down? There are little yellow spots all over the skylights on our roof – five skylights, and the yellow dot density increases with proximity to the colonies.

I'm calling this mixed, but leaning toward the positive. "(Glass one third empty)"

Emailing the Experts

I sent this email (more or less) to three beekeepers: one was a member of the local beekeeping association that sponsored my class, another was a teacher at the class, and the third was a state bee inspector.

Hi {beekeeper name} --

This is one of the students in the recent Beekeepers Short Course (the "cookie lady"). Because the weather caused a rescheduling, I missed the installation session and may have done a bit badly on my own. Would it be OK to ask if you have any advice for telling if things went alright?

On Saturday evening we installed two packages of Italians, and I had some trouble with the queen cages. This has made me worried about how to tell whether the queen(s) are injured or whether it was now too easy for the workers to get to them and ball them. It also turned out that one bay of one of the hive top feeders leaked, so it might (or might not) be a good idea to put more syrup in the non-leaky side. Opinions welcome!

There are online pix of the many mistakes at if that is any help at all. It's how we plan to keep notes, and it may just seem like a hilarious list of errors to an expert.

What do you think? Also, please let me know if you'd rather not get email in future!

Well, it turns out that beekeepers spend more time with bees than keyboards, so I did not hear back for a couple of days, but here is what they said, and it's mostly comforting.

The first person is a woman, who with her husband has many hundreds of hives and is a master beekeeper. She paints her hives pink and I think she rocks.

You asked for suggestions and help, I'll bee happy to bee there if I can bee. {My husband} does not even turn on the computer, just moans when I complain about it's erratic behavior. He is connected by telephone wires and the US Postal Service.
Don't use the leaky side of the feeder, any feed they get is better than no feed so one side is better than none. I don't know about installing your package in 2 hive bodies. (Actually I do know) Bees work UP and hardly ever = never, work down, especially when building comb. Your bees will build comb in the top hive body since that is the one you installed them in and ignore the lower one.
You may want to watch them very closely and reverse the two boxes when the top one is 90% drawn. (Please don't call me a liar if they prove me wrong. While I am female like the workers, they sometimes surprise even me. Unlike {my husband} who is surprised quite often and doesn't understand why. Men?!?!?!?!)
I do understand the benefits of the city hive. We have a jar of honey from the roof of the Paris Opera House that one of our summer students brought us a million years ago. Very sweet (of the bees and of him).
We have been to the Canal in {the city} in the summer and seen the Gazillions of Basswood trees. Excellent honey and the Boy Scouts on the hike had to watch {my husband} being dragged away from the flowers with tears in his eyes for the fact the trees were not within flying distance of his bees.
I think {my husband} will bee at the meeting of MCBA tonight. I have tax customers that are waiting until the last minute and wanting me to avoid getting a good night's sleep.
Enjoy the bees......they are getting a kick out of you! (Nice jacket)

P.S. I bought the jacket from her!

The second response came from the state inspector, who seems like a gentle, birkenstocky kind of guy.

I just installed some bees on Sunday from packages too - must be a same source supplier. Anyway.. the queen cage is tricky because if you are using foundation on frames and not drawn comb it's tight. My suggestion would be to only use 9 frames for a day or so 'til hopefully the workers release the queen. I'd left mine 'til today and then re-opened the colony checked to the queen cage by gently prying the frame apart I had the queen cage on and pulled it out to see if they had released the queen. They had not, so I gently pulled off the screen and put her on a frame.
They can't talk but I sensed relief - "Now I can finally lay all those eggs" - from the queen. Again, gently I slid the frames over and added the 10th frame and closed the hive. I'm also feeding my bees with inverted quart jars of sugar water - bees are already using it to make new comb. they won't drown on the hot days we've had, but tonight will be cold- and wet and cold are not good for the bees. Maybe seal up the bigger holes and limit the available drops of sugar water. Hope this explanation helps.

I consider this mixed (of course), but even more positive than the omens were. ("Glass two thirds full!")

Later today, when the field bees are more definitely out, I will go in to release the queens, if they need it, and to see whatI can about current status without doing any heavy manipulation.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Fingers Crossed

One of the things that interests me about beekeepers that really know these creatures (present company definitely not included) is that they all seem to be both reverent toward bees and absolutely at ease with the bee-y carnage that comes from working with them. It's just impossible for something as large and clunky as a human to deal with bees without sending loads of them off to the next realm, and this (for me) is very hard.

It looks, today, as if maybe we have two successful installations, however: bees are going in and out of both entrances, and I think I saw bees waving their butts around at the front door as predicted (they have Nasanoff glands on their stinger ends, and they wave them to emit a scent that says "this is home!")

But there are dozens of dead bees on the roof, and mysterious bee bits showing up in odd places, like the bathroom floor and the washing machine. I feel terribly sorry for each one. This, perhaps, is where an urbanite lacks the perspective of farmers and all, who see life through to death every day.

One funny thing this afternoon: the native bumblebees were out in force in the back yard. I had only seen one before this since Spring started, but I saw three simultaneously one time (and there was more than one time).

I was spying on the roof hives with my binoculars today, though we both ran into our charges many times during the day: I guess they are getting the hang of the landscape. There are also lots of yellow spots on the skylights: I am betting this is bee poo, and it makes me very very happy. There are lots more bees alive than dead. Let's hope we can keep it that way.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Happy Bee Day?

Today was the main event (so far): we picked up my newly arrived bees – two "packages," or six pounds, or 20,000 bees – and installed them in the rooftop hive bodies. We drove a car with a nice flat way-back, turned on the AC and deep sixed the radio, acutely aware of being in our biggest-ever car pool.

The act of bringing these creatures into our lives has, of course, created at least some of the "omigod-what-have-I-done?!" feelings that have accompanied every other dog, cat, fish, or mouse that has moved in. It was also surreally satisfying to hold six pounds of buzzing life, handed to me in the same gesture that the bee seller crossed my name off the list: "here you are Miss, two packages of Italians, thanks for your business." But so it goes: momentous for me, a potentially critical turn of events for the bees, another 30 seconds for the world.

Installing the two packages may or may not have gone OK. I had a rough time setting up the queen cage: in each package of bees, there is a smaller separate cage that contains a queen bee and some "attendants." The worker bees in the package came from a hive that had bees to spare, the previous beekeeper just shook three pounds of them into a wood-and-screen container about the size of a shoe box. The bee farmer had to give us a queen, too, in order for us to have a successful colony, so a queen from a special hive that was developed to raise spares was introduced. Since she is, at least initially, a stranger to the 9,999 other bees, the queen in each package had to travel in a separate compartment that was nonetheless able to impart her smell to them (so they will eventually become a loyal posse).

The queen cage is set up to hold the queen in a couple of chambers, and it features another chamber filled in with candy, that is in turn sealed by a little cork. My job was to remove the cork so the worker bees around would get to chomping on the candy, and in a couple of days free the queen. By then, we hope, they will be used to her and ready to accept her.

I had a very very hard time with the little cork, and did some major damage to the candy (though let's cross our fingers that the queen was not smooshed a bit too). I hope the queens still have adequate protection from their new subjects, though only time will tell. If I killed – or caused the death of – the queens, the colonies will not survive.

You will can see the process we went through via the photos and mpegs here. Needless to say, any beekeepers who know anything are gonna shake their heads, and you know, I hope you tell me what I did wrong (but that I did it right enough nonetheless).

The whole thing was an awkward adventure: fueling up and lighting the smoker, prying the friggin staples off the package, trying hard not to squish bees, dragging gallon jars of sugar syrup to the roof, hoping like hell no neighbors were watching.

I got stung twice today: once in the "field" session that finished the beekeeping class offered by a local beekeepers association (because of weather and a schedule change, I had missed the field session on actually INSTALLING the bees, so this was my first time even seeing it done). The second sting came after I thought we were done for the day: we were sitting at our patio table on the roof, looking at the bees going absolutely crazy buzzing around, and wondering how it went. Then I got the tiniest sting on my left pinky. Hardly hurt me, but another bee bit the dust. Sorry sweetie. Really.

Little honeys, I hope I do better for you as we learn more about each other.

Friday, April 08, 2005

In the Beeginning

It's a sorry business to start with the pun above, but I'm likely to be so deadly serious and wide-eyed sincere that a bit of self-puncturing is in order. Especially since we're talking about bees, and getting a few painful pokes is part of the deal.

Did you know that city bees make honey that is sweet, unique, and prized? Most any bees do a great job – don't get me wrong – but last year it really rocked me (in a GOOD way) to learn that city bees benefit from the decorative trees and gardens of the urban world in ways that their country cousins don't. (Yet another reason to be thankful for the BBC World Service.)

Why? City people want window boxes with something blooming most of the time, front yard gardeners express themselves with unforeseen varieties and juxtapositions of plants – often stuffed in chock-a-block – and the bees chow down.

After this epiphany, how could I resist? It hits me right where dreams and discouragement choose to meet.

My husband and I have chosen to live in a beautiful city that is nonetheless the subject of what seems like 100% suburban derision, of the "What are you thinking, living in such a hell hole?" variety. The idea that crowding together the varied, the unlikely, and even the inadvisable could produce special golden beauty has now turned the deck of our city townhouse into a bee yard. I say both "Nyah nyah!" and "Want some?"

OK,this is where I get both weird and tiresome (i.e. the philosophical part). You can't live in a city without paying a price for it: congestion, crime, whatever. To select a city life is to face that, and to make a choice. Around here, I think folks – especially the suburban folks who have so clearly irked me – live in fear, avoiding risk like the plague, choosing to drive in tanks and live in tract mansions, to exist in an easily understood monoculture.

Come on, do you really think there's no price for that? Seriously, something worse than hours in traffic on the way to work or the mall?

Tell you what: give me the bill up front. I'll take my stings *and* my honey.