Many days this week have been sunny and I’ve been able to enjoy sitting outside to eat my lunch, basking in the sunshine before descending back into what feels like a dark office. I have started spotting a few insects zooming about, including honey bees. Below is a photo of my latest discovery – magnolia trees have started blooming. The flowers were not quite open yet when I passed by, but the white candles were reaching skywards in preparation.
There is a sea of crocuses on the green in front of Ealing Broadway station, but the crocuses at the apiary are past their best now. Spring blossom will take their place; many white and pink cherry trees are starting to show off their pretty little flowers.
On sunny days I hear the excited chattering of birds. They sound happy to have the sun’s warmth around them. It is getting light when I leave work at 5pm now and sometimes I can hear a blackbird calling by Liverpool Street station, even above the noise of rushing footsteps and traffic.
Below is a honey bee I watched as I ate a huge burrito from a local food market. Getting food is so much easier for me than for her. If the burrito would have done her any good, I would have shared it.
Being the weekend, of course the sunshine turned to overcast skies and a chill wind when Emma and I went along to the apiary. We were hoping to take a couple of frames of brood from our stronger hives and use it to strengthen the two weak ones, but sadly even the two stronger hives, full of bees though they are, had little brood to take. We left them alone apart from adding Nektapoll, a pollen substitute that the bees love.
On quickly inspecting Chamomile’s hive I realised that the frames were extremely light and they had gone through nearly all their stores. We took a frame of honey from Chilli’s hive and gave that to them, as though they have syrup they may not want to leave the cluster to reach it. This may actually be part of the reason that Chamomile is not laying very much. It’s a difficult situation as the old winter bees cannot survive for ever and we need new young bees to replace them, but a weak colony is not going to be able to raise a large amount of brood. The hope is that slowly, slowly we can help them build up to a reasonable size.
We are using dummy boards to try to keep the smaller colonies warm, though they are not the insulated ones you can get. Does anyone have any recommendations for UK suppliers of insulated dummy boards?