Friday, 24 February 2012

honeybees in february

The weather forecast suggested heavy rain on Wednesday followed by very warm temperatures later in the week. The much needed heavy rain did not arrive but thin and measly showers came in its place.

The bees were happier with the sunny weather. Here's one of the hives with its anti-woodpecker wire cover. The bees pass through the mesh easily and were doing so yesterday afternoon when we visited.

Trev showed me how to 'heft' the hives - lift one edge to judge the weight of honey remaining inside. This is a crucial time of year for bees and depleted honey reserves lead to weakened colonies. All three of the Cordwood colonies felt heavy when 'hefted' and a quick look inside each hive showed that the lozenge of 'fondant' resting beneath the metal cover had not been depleted. Fondant is given by beekeepers to supplement honey reserves should these prove insufficient.

The bees were returning with pollen - sometimes orange. Pollen intake indicates that the hive contains 'brood' - bee larvae. The source of this early season pollen could have been garden flowers such as snowdrops or cyclamen coum. Or it could have been gorse flowering in the quarry heathland nearby. Our new woodland garden is not established enough to provide bee sustenance but I was pleased to see a bee nuzzling into one of our newly planted Christmas Box (sarcacocca confusa) flowers.

The main omission on our site is water. Insects and birds need supply of water and we need to build this into our garden schemes.

An encouraging start to the new bee year.

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