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.
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.
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!