I’ve not been down to check the bees at the Marsh since February, although Paul has dropped by to see how they are getting on. There was a chilly breeze and we were pleased to see the bees flying in with pollen. It’s amazing to see that they’ve survived the winter in one Warré box with no additional feeding. Here is a short video of them through the observation window:
They have started to construct new comb down in to the lower box. I am really impressed with the Warré and am tempted to get one for my apiary here.
We also checked on the trees we have within the apiary enclosure. We planted some willows last time we were here, although “planted” is a bit of a stretch: we plonked them on the ground and covered them with hay mulch. They have all taken root, and have healthy leaf shoots and even catkins in some cases:
Once we have some decent offshoots to work with, we will intertwine them so as to create a windbreak fedge to protect the beehives. The local spider population are loving the vertical structures of the hay bales so that they can bask in full sun.
Next, we checked our black poplars. Of the six whips we planted, two are fully leafed, three look on the verge of bud burst, and one looks a bit, um, dormant…
We are really pleased with how well they’ve taken, and hopefully this means we will be able to get some more from Wakehurst to plant up in the autumn. We also had a look round at the rest of the saplings and they are all now coming in to leaf. We are going to do an audit of the trees before the vegetation starts to grow up too much so we can then keep an eye on their progress. We also spotted some good pollinator plants, comfrey and mallow, as well as numerous geraniums along the pathways – clearly the small amount of trampling has given them an advantage.
Lastly, we baited the double-ended Kenyan top bar hive with lemongrass in each side. It’s unlikely that the Warré bees will swarm, but it’s worth baiting the hive anyway.
Hopefully the next visit will see the bees motoring on, and we can watch them grow their colony down in to the bottom box. I am so pleased that they’ve made it through the winter; we have a couple more cold days and nights ahead but then spring seems to be due to arrive properly!