I’ve been away in Somerset for five days, helping some friends do some work to prepare for selling their Smallholding, and arrived back after dark on Monday. This Morning was my first opportunity to see how things were progressing with my bees.
The first thing that I noticed was that a lot of my willow was now flowering. It was too early for my bees to be out, but it was a real relief that finally there was a large source of pollen and nectar. I also had Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) in flower, and a few crocus left. By the time that I had finished my first round of morning chores, the willows were alive with bees, including some Bumble Queens. My new camera wasn’t as effective at really close up shots, but that’s probably my lack of expertise. I’ll try again tomorrow, if the weather allows the bees to forage. It was great to see the bright yellow pollen being taken into the hives.
Most of the willow varieties that we have locally are not yet in production, but I noticed one in flower, whilst walking the dogs. It’s in quite a dry part of the village, and is quite substantial, so I’m going to take some late cutings, and nurse them until they develop a good root system, before planting them out in the Autumn. The Pulmonaria had plenty of flowers, the other willows are starting to produce catkins, and there is a lot of flowering currant locally, which will be out soon, so I suspect that there will be plenty of forage before long. I also noticed some early ornamental cherries in flower, and when I checked my fruiting trees, the buds are starting to swell on them.
I decided to top up the small entrance feeders with a bit more feed, laced with my essential oil mix. I felt that it would help to cut back on the varroa problem, and keep the colonies more healthy. In order to help that along more naturally, I’ve planted one hundred Creeping Thyme plants along the swale banks. As Thyme is the basis for many of the commercial varroa treatments, I hope that getting some into the hives naturally will also help in the same way.
The swale banks are now starting to fill out. Plants include Thyme, Creeping Thyme, Welsh Onion, Chives, Musk Mallow, Wild Rocket, Poached Egg Plant. I have some rogue garlic plants to move, and I’m not sure whether I should grow them for us, or add them to the swale banks, to flower for the bees. With all of the onion/garlic, I wonder if the honey will be affected?
Whilst my priorities over the next week or so revolve around growing vegetables, I also need to get to work on this year’s bait hives, and chat up some of the villagers, for more locations away from my own hives. This is wet weather work, and we’re forecast rain this week. I’ll let you know how I get on.
All of the best