Thursday, 31 January 2013

Well, that bit of winter didn't last long.

Well that bit of winter didn’t last long.

All the snow has melted and we have had a week of showery, mild weather with temperatures up to 14°C. The bees think it’s spring and at least one of the queens has started laying again. Her workers were bringing in masses of Hazel pollen on Tuesday, - a sure sign that they were feeding new larvae.

Hazel is not the best in terms of protein content but at this time of the year it is pretty much the only pollen available in bulk and it helps the bees start their population build-up as they try to get ready for the first big nectar flows later in the spring. They will still be using their honey reserves for quite a while yet and might need feeding if these start running low.

Hazel catkins start appearing after Christmas and some trees will still be in flower in March.

The bee crossing on to the hive floor from the landing board is carrying Hazel pollen on her legs 

It looks like the first Daffodils will be out within a week or so and already there are quite a few other flowers out such as Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, Primroses and Hellebores.

The Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A proper winter

This year we really are having a proper winter. Woke up to snow again this morning. Fox footprints everywhere including inside the duck pen. Oops! Must change the fence before there is no need for it any more.

Checked the beehives first thing, - all covered in snow and no movement. By lunchtime though, the sun was out, the hive entrances were clear and some bees were flying even though it was only 5°C. Several bodies in front of the hives where the undertakers had been cleaning up.

Chalet roofs ideal for these conditions

These hives are 10-frame Dadants with Nicot plastic floors and bases which I built myself. The bees in this group are all Caucasians, - very good at over-wintering and contrary to what you might read, do not propolise any more than my other bees and so far have not suffered from nosema. I make sure that they are well fed and clean and treat twice a year against Varoa mites.