What’s flowering now: mid February

Last week we had another brief flurry of snow, and it was back to huddling with my coat on in the office. But then this weekend brought sunshine, and it was wonderful to see the bees pinging back and forth into their hives, and even bringing back pollen!

Crocuses

Crocuses

Every year I like to photograph the purple crocuses that shoot up from the apiary floor. This year’s photo is blurrier than I’d like, but hopefully you can spot the traffic-colour orange that nestles within. Ted Hooper says of crocus: “excellent source of early pollen. Low on the ground, and therefore sheltered, it can be worked at low temperatures.” Look out for its cheery orange in the pollen baskets of your bees.

You can see these crocuses are partially open; the time of day was around 3pm and crocuses are usually fully open around midday. I was interested to read the following information in ‘Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships‘ by David Aston & Sally Bucknall (2004), p69: “Tulips and crocuses show thermonasty, a response to a general, non-directional temperature stimulus; the crocus is sensitive to as little as 0.5C change in temperature, and this change will determine the opening and closing of the flower.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

The snowdrops also offer hope and a source of food to the bees. Ted Hooper sees these as “The real harbingers of spring, a patch naturalized in a lawn will delight the bees’ senses as well as your own.” Bees collect the nectar from grooves on the inner surface of the petals.

Some other plants which will be flowering now – hazel, willow, aconite. Emma discovered a sweet post by the National Trust’s Osterley Park blog on the catkins of hazel, which are essential food for emerging bumble bee queens:

 

Bees in fondant

Above, our bees on their fondant – some have died within the packet. Perhaps of coldness or tiredness? Emma noticed that our hive feels worryingly light; I can even heft it one-handed. As we are already feeding fondant there is nothing more we can do now – just wait, wait and hope.

Are your bees finding pollen? What’s flowering where you are?

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper living in Ealing, west London. I have been keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary since 2008 and created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully - future successes. Busy taking the British Beekeeping Association module exams too!
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39 Responses to What’s flowering now: mid February

  1. disperser says:

    Nothing’s flowering where we are . . . maybe by late May . . .

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  2. I’ve planted any number of aconites in the last few years with nothing to show and this year – one solitary flower. I take some solace from the fact that at least it is established and perhaps next year I’ll see more! We have winter flowering cherry in flower (given by a friend for our wedding as he said it would always be in flower for our anniversary, which is 20th Feb so he was right). We have lots of snowdrops, some pink ?Viburnam and a Mahonia that looks as though it is getting ready. I think I will put some crocus close to the hives when I can – I think you are right about their value to bees given their sheltered position. I didn’t get all my alliums planted in Autumn so finished planting them yesterday – put in about another 60. You cannot have too many alliums!

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  3. hencorner says:

    A fab post to read this evening as I’m recovering after planting 40 odd flowering bulbs next to the Beehaus… Orange & purple crocuses, snowdrops and some unusual white, multi-headed daffodils… All collected from the fab team at Cultivate London on Friday…
    My girls are bringing in pollen, always an encouraging sign, so bringing it closer should help them and pretty up our woodland corner…

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  4. Kernowspringer says:

    In Northumberland, I suspect we are about two weeks behind you ( weather forgiving ) – snowdrops are just appearing, I have one crocus, but aconite just appearing, however Helebore in sheltered spot out.
    Hazel and Willow just coming and Mahonia has been flowering for a month, but too cold or the bees to be out.

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  5. Flowers already! I’m jealous…it is still -13C here…during the day.

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  6. Alex Jones says:

    Snowdrops. Some daffodils are in bloom.

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  7. cindy knoke says:

    Lovely post & photos! Thank you~

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  8. cecilia says:

    What is fondant made from,, can I make it myself? excellent post, i love the snow drops, wish we had some. i am still miserable at the loss of my bees, but i am starting again this spring, with more knowledge! c

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  9. No flowers here yet. Lucky you! Hope your bees are OK.

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  10. Oh now, I don’t like that the hive is so light. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you and your bees.

    Here it’s mid-summer which isn’t as good as spring but my bees are busy busy busy. The gum trees are in bloom and the bees carry back white pollen in their baskets. Plus bunches of yellow that I think they might be getting from vegatable gardens in the neighbourhood. Or anywhere actually – there is a LOT in bloom in Sydney. I could just have the luckiest bees on the planet.

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  11. No snowdrops here yet. Just snowfall. First blooms of anything are probably still a month off.

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  12. Thanks for a nice post. Last week, on a sunny day here in Devon I saw some snowdrops by the side of a lane with a beautiful fat bumblebee (possibly a white tailed) taking pollen.

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  13. It’s lovely seeing the snowdrops and crocus. I’ve yet to see any bees or bumbles on them, I would love to though. What a great photo that would make!

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  14. P&B says:

    No flowers here. Still more snow to come next week, but I fed them fondant. I don’t really like bulbs, but I’ll put some crocuses in this fall just for the girls.

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  15. willowbatel says:

    We’ve had a rhododendron in bloom all winter oddly enough. The crocus popped up a few weeks ago, and I’m sure I’ve seen a dandelion or two in bloom…
    Slightly unrelated; we had a pea sprout up of its own accord in one of our raised beds, weeks before we’re “supposed” to plant them, and have dozens of carrot starts in a different raised bed. Apparently the bees are doing an excellent job of pollinating things around here.

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