A beautiful bright day at Berwick made me keen to see how the site was looking, and whether the bees had decided to make an appearance. At this time of year they can pop out for a few minutes for a ‘cleansing flight’ but it’s easy to miss and fear that your hive has died. Thankfully, both hives had signs of activity with a few bees lying in and out.
I took some photos of the Community Meadow, to highlight the benefits of leaving an area to its own devices. It’s so tempting to go in and “tidy up” at this time of year but actually this tangle of stems and grass provides shelter, food and warmth for invertebrates, mammals, birds and reptiles. A couple of plucky hazel catkins were releasing their pollen in the winter sunshine.
I checked the inspection boards on each hive to determine the activity and Varroa mite load. The white deposits from the second hive are crystals from ivy nectar which tends to granulate in the cells so the bees discard the white sugar crystals. As before, there was a fair amount of condensation and a few mites. The first hive had more lines of frass (hive detritus) so it will be interesting to see how that hive does this year as they were a local swarm.
All seems normal, and now we have some pockets of good, if chilly, weather in the next few weeks, the bees should be out and about looking for the earliest flowers: hazel, crocus, hellebores, willow, and snowdrops. Growing these plants in gardens and public spaces can really help early bumblebees and honey bees, as well as countless species of other insects that in turn provide food for animals across the ecosystem.