For weeks it has been painful to leave the house. I have spent many hours standing hunched at bus stops, the wind whipping mercilessly at my hair. My hands have even started cracking under the cold, with little cuts appearing at the joints. This week we had snow blizzards swirling round the city.
And then today. Today the sun came out. And so did the bees.
This is the first time I’ve seen them flying since November. It was VERY exciting. They must have been desperate to feel the sun, to collect food, to poop. A buzz of excitement, of purpose, could be heard outside each hive. Lots to do!
Terrible photos I know, but Emma and Drew were not there. Below you can see some yellow pollen on the legs of the lower bee. Several of the bees were bringing back similarly garish loads. Does anyone know what this yellow pollen is? Ian suggested daffodils. I had a look on the Bristol Beekeepers Association’s interactive pollen guide (access by clicking on ‘Pollen guide’ along their top navigation menu) and broccoli and blue crocus look a similar colour.
Encouraged by the warmth, with the help of some excellent assistants I removed the chicken-wire around our hives, which was protecting them against woodpeckers. Now that the ground is softer and a few more insects about, hopefully woodpeckers will be going for easier targets.
I probably haven’t mentioned yet that recently Emma and I bought a hive from a beekeeper who has given up. So we now have two in place, lined up next to each other. I checked the fondant and the bees still had some left. It was still a little too cold for a proper inspection: we had coats on and inspecting should be done in t-shirt weather.
Beautiful flowers are out around Ealing apiary, including blue, white and pink hyacinths.
We also had some cake. This is a pistacho one, which we had today…
And this is a simnel cake, which is a fruit cake made with ground almonds, covered with marzipan and then lightly grilled – quite a bizarre experience for me, grilling a cake. The marzipan balls represent the eleven apostles, as it’s a cake traditionally eaten to celebrate Easter.
Perhaps spring is here at last and us beekeepers can start doing some actual beekeeping, rather than just talking about it. It has been a hard, long winter and many experienced beekeepers have lost several hives. I feel very grateful that our little bees have come through safely so far.