Even though my hives are just across the road from me, I’m trying to limit my visits to the apiary in light of “The Restrictions”, and when I go, I wear overalls and take a hat/veil with me just to be on the safe side. However, I wanted to make sure they were ok and have a look at the boards.
The weather has been really cool again – down to a frost at night, and a bitter easterly wind. The blackthorn and willow are out in earnest, and dandelions are showing their cheery faces.
The first hive I checked was the Oak Tree bees from the National Trust’s Market Wood. They were flying well and loaded with bright yellow pollen. Bees have an electrostatic charge – it builds up when they fly and they become positively charged, so when they land on a flower (which has a negative charge, being rooted to the ground) the pollen grains jump on to the bee. So, it’s not just the colour of the pollen, it’s the abundance of it on the bees’ bodies which can denote its source.
To me, this looks too yellow for dandelion pollen, but it is certainly covering the bees in prodigious amounts so I could be wrong. It might be goat willow pollen, although this tends to be a more olive colour. The good news is, the bees have a plentiful supply and their provisioning is a positive sign the queen is laying as the bees need pollen for the brood.
Here is their inspection board:
Looking at the board, I am confident the brood is now covering 6 or so frames in the middle. They are in a National but they had not build out all the (foundationless) frames so I am confident they have enough room for now. I will probably nadir them with a super and then if they build up enough and we have a good summer, pop one on top to maybe take a little honey. They seem a very compact colony which, coming from a long-standing feral/wild nest, is no doubt a good strategy. The push is generally always for larger and more productive colonies, but colonies which operate in a compact manner are more thrifty with their stores and don’t get unmanageably big. Once the weather picks up I will take the lid off and remove the crownboard and take a look at their progress, but they have a lot of cross comb so I can’t remove the frames anyway!
I have 3 more hives, and I will put those boards and my resulting thoughts up on my Patreon site.