Monday, 28 March 2011

Spring Blossom

I had a wander around the village this afternoon. Another brilliantly sunny day. The cherry blossom at the church is out and was covered in bees of all sorts. This picture is of a bumble bee getting stuck in! The air was alive with the sound of bees buzzing and birds singing.
A lot of my bees had found there way up here and were grabbing as much nectar as they could carry away.

Here is a bit of video I took of the activity.

We had a group of 12 potential beekeepers over to have a look at our bees yesterday afternoon. They had had a days introductory course a couple of weeks ago and this was their first oportunity to experience the real thing. When I arrived to meet them, Chris, our training officer was over the road with them watching the bees working the catkins at the stables. I had a look this afternoon and they were still at it!

We walked down to the apiary fully suited (probably looked like some environmental disaster was in progress!). We had a good look through most of the hives and it would appear that we have four very strong colonies, two a bit on the small side (gave them a feed in the hope that it would tide them over till they have enough foragers), and one colony that didn't make it through winter. They were very small in autumn and I was probably being over optimistic.
On the way home I noticed the Grape Hyacinths were also receiving attention from the bees. So it looks as though there is plenty around to keep them busy.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring is coming along nicely

Spring seems to be coming a little earlier than usual this year and we are all enjoying a spell of warm sunny weather. There are lots of flowers blooming early, particularly the daffodils. The bees are also enjoying the weather and there are signs of an early start to laying by the queens. When eggs are hatching the nurse bees need lots of pollen and honey mixed to feed the new grubs so they will have been digging into what is left of the winter stores. As you will see in this bit of video I took this afternoon, there is plenty of pollen being brought in.

As the main nectar bearing crops arent out yet there is not a lot of nectar about yet so this can be a problem. If they are running short of honey then there is a real danger of starvation even in the warm weather. I popped down to the apiary to have a quick look under the crown boards and establish how things are going. There are two colonies that are very light so I will give them a supplimentary feed of 50/50 syrup (1ib to 1 Pint of water). The other 4 colonies are very strong and the brood boxes are heavy so they should be OK. One colony didnt make it through the winter - they were very week at the end of last season.
Of course the early start to the season may well mean an early start to swarming so we will have to keep an eye out for that and manage accordingly. We normally have first swarm around the end of April but something tells me this year will be a lot earlier.