I inspected my two hives for the first time this year recently. The weather in Cornwall has been gorgeous since lockdown began, so I was expecting to find some brood and honey, maybe even brood boxes bursting with bees. Sadly, though both colonies are still alive, neither seems to have a queen.
I inspected Demelza without needing my smoker; her bees remain as gentle as ever. They had stores, and plenty of foragers returning, but no sign of any eggs or brood. No chaotic cells containing the multiple eggs of laying workers yet either. Just lots of empty cells in the middle of the brood nest where brood should be. It’s unusual for queenless hives to be good tempered, but something isn’t right.
Kensa’s bees were a very different and more nerve wracking matter, needing heavy smoking. I would have been stung from head to toe if they could have reached me! I couldn’t blame them for being mardy though, as they were low on stores and only had a couple of frames of capped brood. I spotted no eggs. I didn’t see the queen in either hive, though I was deliberately focusing on trying to find eggs rather than the queen. Kensa’s queen is presumably quite flighty as I’ve always found her hard to hunt down.
I don’t think I can do much to help either colony. They’re not in a state to start a Bailey comb change as I had hoped. Ideally I would get another queen from somewhere but it’s probably too early in the season for that, especially with everything going on at the moment. I’ve set up a bait hive in case I can catch an early swarm. For now I will just use dummy boards to reduce the amount of space in the hives and feed Kensa’s hive syrup. They were battered by a winter of rain and storms, which perhaps was too much for them. With baby Holly around I haven’t had as much time to focus on them as I’d like. Guess what though… the chimney bees are still alive!
I’ve been enjoying seeing the spring flowers come out in my garden and in the couple of local parks I can reach on foot. Below are some pics.
Below is Lithodora – a favourite with the little black local female Hairy footed flower bees. I think they nest in my neighbour’s wall, as I have seen them coming and going around there.
These cheery yellow flowers are lesser celandine, which grows at the edges of fields, hedgerows and in woodland.
Cherry tree in my garden. The petals fall constantly, producing beautiful confetti. Our mini apple trees have come through the winter well and are attracting pollinators with their freshly scented white blossom.