And so we’re in 2022… another year for us… but the first and only winter for my bees. Huddled in their nest, resting their wings, winter bees tend to live longer than summer bees. But still their life-span is measured in months, not years.
On any dry day this winter, my colony has continued to be active, flying and finding yellow and orange pollens. In the photo below (taken a week or so ago) I’ve found one returning with bright orange pollen. I’m not seeing much in flower, so am not sure what this might be. Possibly willow or mahonia? Gorse flowers all year round here, but I rarely see bees on that. Bristol beekeepers have a good pollen guide showing the UK pollens available in different seasons: Pollen guide
I did an oxalic acid trickle over the Christmas holidays to treat for varroa (the bees were not feeling in a Christmassy spirit towards me!).
They still have plenty of fondant up above the crown board. I see some of them nibbling away at it when I check on them every couple of weeks. I also find wood lice and the occasional slug enjoying the warmth above the colony.
Something that surprised me recently was seeing honey bees visiting the moss on my roof. From my attic window I can lean out and see the different mosses up close. I’d never paid much attention to moss before, just seeing it all as soft green lumps. It took me a little while to realise that actually a few different species live up on the roof, with a variety of velvety textures and shapes you would never guess at looking up from the ground. This side is south facing and so even in these chilly winter months some of them appear to be flowering, with tiny light green flowers sticking up on stalks.
Were the bees finding tiny amounts of nectar? Or perhaps drinking from water collected in the moss? It’s hard to know.