The apiary snowdrops had progressed a little further in their journey up and out of the earth this weekend, but it was a bleak damp day for us beekeepers to be huddling round our cups of tea. No bees were flying. I longed for the hum of a summer’s day.
Bought a jar of pollen collected by a local beekeeper for £4. I plan to feed it to my bees, to try and help them out as the queen starts laying more brood. First I must mix the pollen up into a patty, but finding a recipe is proving difficult. Most I can find on the internet feature pollen substitute rather than pollen itself. This recipe looks quite good, except that I would need a lot of brewer’s yeast. Anyone know a good recipe?
I have been revising for the BBKA Module 6 exam I’m taking in March (eek!) by reading hardcore bee biology textbooks. No pretty pictures of bees on flowers in these; instead about twenty scientific studies are referenced on each page and the only pictures are anatomical diagrams or graphs relating to developmental time scales. I must admit there are times I find it hard to concentrate; there are so many different numbers to remember and the chemical names of pheromones (e.g. 9-ODA – 9-oxodec-2-enoic) are not named for ease of remembrance.
But even if I fail the exam, which is quite possible, at least I will have learnt lots. The more I learn the more fascinating yet mysterious bees seem. For example, each year Drone Congregation Areas, where the drones eagerly await their queen, exist in the same place. Drones do not survive the winter, so this knowledge can’t be passed down from drone to drone. We still just don’t know how they pick the areas, with theories including topographical features and even magnetic effects, as drones develop large quantities of magnetite in their abdomens.
A nice thing to end on – someone (thanks Mo!) sent me this fab link today: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-01/24/bee-feeding-dress. “Artist and insect-lover Karen Ingham has created a range of clothing covered with a nectar-like food source that attracts and nourishes bees.”