So far this winter has been mild but wet and windy. There has been flooding in several parts of the country, with huge waves breaking over the coast. No snow yet. Today brought sunshine, blue sky and fluffy white clouds.
The apiary was peaceful. It felt good to walk amongst the hives, looking in at entrances and being amongst the quiet of the bees. And from the ground, tips emerging – shoots of hope. Snowdrops and crocuses are on their way.
Looking back at my blog, last year the crocuses showed off their orange pollen in mid February and we had snow the week of 10th February. I expect we will have some snow to come.
I noticed something unusual – small wasps investigating entrances. I checked inside our hives to make sure they haven’t eaten their fondant yet and found a couple of drowsy little wasps amongst the insulation. Not the big queen wasps which I’ve found hibernating over winter before, but wee ones. Has anyone else found little wasps in their hives?
This nucleus had dead bees at the bottom and felt very light. I suspect the colony may have been dead for some time, but I didn’t have my hive tool with me so I didn’t try to open it up. These bees look more yellow than black to me; it always seems that the yellow type Italian bees imported from New Zealand do not overwinter so well. Tom Bickerdike has written about this a bit in his latest blog post on making his own oxalic acid solution.
Below, beautiful sunlight falling on our hives.
For those of us who celebrate Christmas in England, January can be a bleak time. The feasts and presents of Christmas have passed, leaving our bank balances dented and our bellies swelled. Added to this, January is often the coldest month of the year. But us beekeepers have something to look forward to – every day of the winter that passes brings us closer to being able to spend time with our bees again.
Hope those snowdrops show their petals soon!