The days just keep on coming – cold, wet, soggy, cloudy, gloomy. Occasionally it’ll be sunny and warmish and then we’ll be at work. So it’s been impossible to do a proper inspection of the bees for weeks. No chance to do a shook-swarm or Bailey comb change yet.
Leaving me awful grumpy. It has been six months since we stopped inspections – October, November, December, January, February, March. And now it is April and still too cold. The time we get to spend with our bees is so short.
I went down yesterday and topped up their sugar syrup – some of the colonies are still low on stores after winter. They ate up their honey and haven’t had enough of a chance to collect new nectar yet, what with the slow start to spring. I am still worried about the two weak colonies, Chili and Chamomile, but as I was shivering in my bee suit didn’t want to disturb them.
Just as I was leaving the apiary two young men approached me at the gate. Looking uncertain of themselves, they asked me ‘Are you… a beekeeper?’. They had been wandering down the road trying to find our well hidden location. I showed them round the apiary and our hives and I think they enjoyed it. Oliver works at a magazine in central London which has hives on its roof looked after by Luke Dixon, a theatre director/part-time professional beekeeper and author of ‘Keeping bees in towns and cities‘.
Jonesie and Alan arrived so I left the two visitors in their capable hands. A couple of bus stops and a short walk later and I arrived at Perivale Wood for a wildflowers walk led by flower expert Nic Ferriday. Here’s some photos of the flowers brave enough to show us their faces.
Above is lesser celandine, a type of buttercup. It comes out early in the year so is good for bumble bees.
Primrose. The wood had some enormous clumps of these.
Wood anenome. Pretty little flower.
And then these last two were tweeted by David Howdon, @BlotchedEmerald.
“@BlotchedEmerald: @SelborneSoc one of these I suspect. pic.twitter.com/F5QNBpPfqd” depends on where we look!
— The Selborne Society (@SelborneSoc) April 4, 2015
This huge plant is a Butterbur! So called because its big leaves were once used to wrap butter in. It likes damp soil and is fairly rare.
@SelborneSoc we found some of these. Turkish Squill I believe. #Botany. pic.twitter.com/RVCbYEtHzV — David Howdon (@BlotchedEmerald) April 4, 2015
And finally a sweet little Turkish squill.
David also showed us a Peacock butterfly overwintering in a shed. He thinks it will be leaving soon. And the first few bluebells are out, getting ready for the magnificent annual Perivale Wood open day at the end of April. Their leaves already carpet the wood’s floor. The bluebells are coming!
The long winter that seemed to start in December is certainly dragging me into the ground. I was taking photos in the garden today, with temperatures at 9 degrees Celsius, and the dark thought passed through my mind that today was the best it would get this Summer. Everything is unfolding slowly around me, the adverse conditions has made everything late. I hope your bees survive this challenging current climate.
Thanks Alex. Today was a little better here in London, sunny and a bit warmer, didn’t take my coat off but considered it! It seems bleak now but I’m sure it must improve and we’ll get our summer.
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As you enter my apiary at Horsenden Hill, Emily, there’s a bank of damson just coming into flower, underplanted with a swathe of lesser celandine. At 3pm today the bees were in their element, busily working both!
Great stuff! We did get some sunshine today and I had a grand time in Kew Gardens watching the bees on the trees.
Lovely flowers, especially those primroses. I haven’t inspected yet this year but was able to peek in enough yesterday that there are tons of bees in my one hive and the supers feel heavy. They’ve been bringing in pollen so expect to see a lot of baby bees when I do finally get to look inside for real.
That’s really good, glad they’re doing well.
You have anemones – ours aren’t in evidence yet. The celandines are just starting to flower and we have some squills in the garden (I think). It has been persistently cold here, but two days ago we had a mild day and I saw my first butterfly of the year – a brimstone. Almost always the first kind I see, but usually much earlier than this. We’ve had thick fog for the last two days, but today we went up to the Lakes and escaped to glorious sunshine. Hot. Sunburn hot. There were loads of butterflies and bumblebees about. And lots of skylarks, meadow pipits and wheatears busy displaying. Hooray! IS spring finally arriving properly.
P.S. am part way through Meadowlands – another very good read. (A Buzz In the Meadow is still my favourite recent nature book read however.)
What a wonderful day at the Lakes that must have been, I can hear the buzzing and beating of wings. Thanks for the Meadowland recommendation.
I hope you get some sun soon. The flowers don’t mind the cold as much as the bees and they are holding out their nectar at the ready for them swooping down as soon as it is warm enough for them. Roll on some sunshine. Amelia
Thanks Amelia, that is a comforting thought. Me grumbling about the weather obviously worked as today the weather was warm enough for a picnic after work, our first picnic of the year.
The large rosemary bush in our garden was covered wth honeybees yesterday in the warm sunshine.
I can understand perfectly what you’re going through. Until last weekend, it had been either too cold or raining on my days off and sunny on my work days. I finally had my chance to inspect the hives last Monday. Love your Primrose.