Our Colonies in March
At last the gloom of the last few months has lifted and so have our spirits. Most of the colonies seem to be ok and on a sunny day they are bringing in pollen. This is a good sign, it shows that the queens are beginning to lay and there is some brood. So it’s off with the mouse guards. If we left them on the pollen that the bees carry in their baskets could be knocked off as they return
It is still too early to do a proper inspection. The rule of thumb is to wait until the flowering current is in flower. This indicates that the temperature is around 14 C and the girls will not get chilled. If they do they could kill the queen and then all is lost.
Inspection at this time is always fraught with worry. Is there a queen or has she died during the winter? Can we see any eggs? The colonies have to make enough young bees now to take over from the winter bees that will start to die off. The sign of pollen coming in is good so fingers crossed.
A nice sunny day last week brought the steady drone of queen bumble bees coming out of hibernation and feeding off the crocus to gather strength. Having feasted on the nectar they set off in search of a vole hole or similar in which to start their new colony. They are attracted by the smell of vole or mouse urine and in our garden this year, they are spoilt for choice.
Plant of the month
The Oso Berry (Oemlaria cerasiformis): This makes an erect, loosely branched suckering shrub about 3 m in height. The light green leaves come early and are quickly followed by greeny white bell like flowers with a delicate scent. It is very happy in quite dense shade and the bees love it.