I am still looking out of the window to see frost on the ground, and the wind has been brisk and cold for a sustained period. We have had a handful of days where the sun has persisted for more than a few hours and although it is warm when the wind drops, it’s by no means springlike. It’s meant to start warming up to the mid-teens next week, but this – unsurprisingly – has meant the bees have yet to really start motoring despite the large amounts of forage from the hedgerow trees like blackthorn and willow which are now starting to go over. The oak and sycamore are now flowering, and the horse chestnuts are about to burst.
My little Warré seems to have fizzled out, although I had some strange behaviour from them a few weeks ago. At about 11am they would all fly out and cruise around the garden a bit like a mating swarm or scout bees. They were fanning at the entrance for about fifteen minutes, then all filed in again. This happened every day for three days. There is no more activity now but I am curious as to what was going on.
With my strongest hive I put an empty super between the top super and the brood box (I run my colonies on a brood-and-a-half where I can. This gives them room immediately whereas putting a box on top can still leave the bees congested – see my Patreon for video. I am checking the apiary twice a day but the other two hives are still filling their overwinter space. We have not had any swarms in my area yet but I’m sure that will change once the weather warms up properly.
My bees and I are fortunate to live near an area of land where there is a large swathe of permanent pasture which is grazed only by deer. There are mature hedges and lots of standing deadwood, as well as larger oaks and alder. It’s a beautiful place to walk but also a great source of forage. Owls, kestrels, and magpies hunt over the tussocky grass and there are plenty of nest sites for passerines.