06 Feb Early spring update from our apiary
So why do the bees think they are coming out of winter? Well the daylight hours are starting to get longer and the temperature here in North West Wales is rather mild for February. It means the queens in our hives are starting to lay some new bees ready for spring. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn cold because once they start looking after the young bee stages, they will need to keep the temperature of their nest at a very cosy 36°C! In warm periods in the middle of the day they are venturing outside of the hive – but are there any flowers around to take advantage of?
Well, one of the most important things they need right now and in the coming weeks is pollen rather than nectar because pollen is used significantly in brood rearing, so they will be particularly looking for fresh pollen as well as any nectar they can get. And there have been some good sources out for a while – snowdrops, willow & hazel catkins and mahonia for instance. Crocus, cyclamen, winter aconite and some Hellebores varieties are around as well. Some of the winter flowering clematis, honeysuckle and heather varieties are also out flowering in late winter and early spring. A great book to browse at this time of year is “Plants for Bees- a guide to the plants that benefit the bees of the British Isles” by Kirk and Howes. If you are thinking ahead about what you could possibly plant for bees in the garden this year then Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex has a 56 plant, ‘plants for pollinators’ list online (2020) and the ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY (RHS) has a “Plants for Pollinators” Plant List, both highly recommended!
– by Jonathan Garratt