The coming of the snowdrops

Each year I wait for this and it always fills me with optimism. The apiary snowdrops are now in full spectacular bloom, all white and green against the winter. Quite a few people were saying how much bigger they look this year.


Snowdrops 2

The apiary was silent and still, with no bees flying out to greet us. Only a magpie and a robin flew. Under the hive roofs I found our bees clustering round their fondant, their little eyes peering upwards at the blast of cold air. I did not peek long. Under the hives, the varroa boards had few mites on them – around 3-10 had fallen on the various boards during the week. The oxalic treatment has worked.

More snowdrops

Snowdrops and tree

The crocuses are out too. I suspect they must open for the morning sun as I always seem to find them closed for business. Their little clumps always seem more fragile than the cavorting snowdrops.

February crocuses (unopened)None of us had brought any cakes, so we had to make do with hot tea and soft biscuits. A cold has kept me sniffling this week and not in the mood for baking, but today I’m feeling better. Standing around the table, stories were told. A decorator who wanted to charge £450 to put up wallpaper in a small box room. Students paying £500 a week to rent a room. Poor Stan has had to deal with a new enemy – a fox who was seen knocking two of his hives over and eating the contents. Let’s hope more foxes don’t pick up this trick.

Crocuses semi-open


According to the Met Office, meteorological spring runs from 1 March to 31 May, whereas astronomical spring runs from 20 March to 21 June 2015 (see When does spring start). The 20th March is in four weeks time, so if all five hives are still alive by then we can truly say we have got all our bees through winter.

Looking back at my blog, we have shook-swarmed the bees before on either the 2nd, 3rd or 4th weekends in March, depending on which weekends turned out to be sunny. Alan was saying that he plans to shook-swarm his in the next couple of weeks, as he feels that if left too late you end up destroying more brood and it sets the colony back more. He did say that you need a good sunny location and a big colony, preferably in two brood boxes, to do it in February.

Once we do the shook-swarm the beekeeping year will kick off and the work involved in having five hives which need to be inspected weekly will truly begin.

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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20 Responses to The coming of the snowdrops

  1. pehling says:

    Yes, warmer is better. The nice thing I see is that it would be easy to do partial extractions several times a year. Traditional extracting IS a messy job….

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Simon Croson says:

    Tis great to see the bees in the garden taking advantage of the sunnier days and enjoying the delights of the late winter blooms – Spring is on its way and the blue touch paper of colony growth has been lit. We have snowdrops aconites and crocus in flower in the garden and tassels of both Hazel and Garrya close by – the industry of the bees in the sunshine is comforting.


  3. On a note of caution, wouldn’t it be a good idea to wait until there are drones flying before making a shook swarm?


    • Emily Scott says:

      You mean in case we lose the queen during the process? We usually find her first and put her safely in a cage while shook-swarming. I think once we were unable to find her, but she was fine.


  4. beatingthebounds says:

    Five hives does sound like a lot of work – and potentially a lot of honey too, I suppose. Your snowdrops look very fine. I shall look forward to the shook-swarming along with all the other treats spring has in store.


  5. You have a good crop of snowdrops and crocuses at the Apiary. I don’t seem to be any more ahead of you this year. There should be plenty of blossom and flowers ready for the bees this year when spring really starts going. Amelia


    • Emily Scott says:

      It has been such a mild winter that perhaps our weather has not been that difference from France! I have spotted one tree out in blossom, possibly a winter flowering cherry Tom tells me.


  6. Your snowdrops look very good. It’s been a good year for snowdrops down here in the West Country as well.


  7. Snow drops all over East Anglia as well. We have quite a big crop blanketing our garden and the wood next to us as well.


  8. TiaraBoomDA says:

    Currently driving through mid-Wales. Carpets of snowdrops all over the place here too. Your blog is a pleasure to read. You have the gift of a delightful turn of phrase and you pass on useful info. Thank you.


  9. P&B says:

    I’m happy to see snowdrops and crocuses even when they are on the other side of the Atlantic.
    They always give me hope amid freezing temperatures and a few feet of snow here.


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