Waiting for Spring

 I'm not an advocate of wishing away one's days.  I believe in making the most of your time.  Living in the moment and enjoying spending time with the people around you.  Trying to cherish every day!

Easier said than done I hear you cry - especially now. What with home schooling, national lockdowns, freezing winters and working from home everything can become a bit Groundhog Day-ish.  Every morning the radio doesn't wake me up with Sonny and Cher but I do feel like my toothbrushing routine time comes around very fast.  Maybe I'm getting old...

Saying all that, I have been optimistic about my beekeeping.  I have been re reading all of my beekeeping texts, I have been joining in at the beekeeping association zoom talks, I have been making plans for how I will expand my amount of hives and how I will sell all the hundreds of lbs of honey that the bees will make this year (fingers crossed!).  But it wasn't until yesterday that I really knew that they had survived the Winter.

I don't think I am alone when it comes to fretting about the bees over the Winter. My beginner beekeeper facebook groups are full of people worrying that they haven't done enough for the bees and will they survive?  In fact a lot of beekeepers buy devices to check inside the hive without opening it up.  I have seen people using doctor's stethoscopes and heat sensitive cameras to see and hear inside the hive.  I personally just shove my ear up against the side of the hive and listen to the distinctive hum of a cluster of bees flexing their muscles to stay warm.

So, yesterday on the first warm day of 2021, I was eager to get up to the orchard to see if the bees were flying and to see if they were collecting pollen.  A very clear sign that they are raising babies and that the queen is laying eggs and the colony is expanding once again. To see if they think spring has arrived too! 

I have been spotting signs that Spring is here.  The snowdrops have started poking up in surprising places around the brook's edge and the daffodils have appeared like green spears through the mud that snow left behind.  I saw in my neighbour's garden crocus growing up around a bird feeder and hoped that the bees would find them as the bright orange pollen is a great early protein source for the bees.



And there they were,  buzzing away.  I saw bright orange pollen flying in! What a sight. What a relief.  They had survived the coldest winter we have had in years.  I also saw them doing other important Spring cleaning jobs.  I saw undertaker bees dragging dead winter bees up the face of the hive before dropping them unceremoniously in their final resting place.  I saw bees taking orientation flights.  They fly in concentric circles progressively getting wider and higher remembering where their hive is in relation to everything else around them.  I found bees drinking water in the bird baths - they will no doubt be using the water to dilute the rock hard winter stores to free up some sugary carbohydrates from within their hive.



This is all well and good but as experienced beekeepers know March is the month that can really make or break a bee colony.  In March the queen will be laying more and more and with more mouths to feed a short cold blast when the bees can't fly out and collect the much needed spring nectar, this can mean the starvation of the colony.  This is when hefting is essential and keeping a regular eye on stores.  I like to make sure that there is always surplus baker's fondant on the top of the crown board until at least the end of March.

So here is to Spring, the end of winter and the start of my favourite season of the year!



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