Our Beekeeping In April
A Busy Beekeeping Month
So far this month we have had a spell of hot sunny weather and the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is in full flower. This is the plant that in the autumn will bear the Sloes, so it should be a bumper year for Sloe Gin. However there is a down side, for this is the period that is known as the Blackthorn Winter and usually coincides with a spell of cold wintry weather, not good for our beekeeping.
At the moment they are out and about foraging from the wild Cherry and the remaining willow catkins. The danger is if the weather suddenly blows cold the girls can’t get home. The other activity they are busy at is gathering water. They need this to dilute their stored honey and we try and make this as safe for them as we can. We use large plant pot saucers with large stones inside close to the apiaries so that the bees can fetch the water without using up too much energy or drowning.
We have started inspections in earnest now, checking that all have a queen that is laying well or to use the correct terminology that they are ‘queen right’. The queen needs to be up and going now because the winter bees will be dying off and we need a good hatch of summer bees to ensure a good honey crop.
Other types of bees are also out and about. Some of the most fascinating are the mining bees that busily dig out their little nests in our old cobbles. I find that having a cup of tea and sitting watching them going about their business is one of the most relaxing things one can do. These bees along with other solitary bees are amongst the best pollinators we have. They leave the honey bee standing in the pollination stakes and these are the creatures we should be cherishing. They don’t sting either!
A Bit Of Bee Folklore
According to the folklore of this country, if a bumblebee buzzes around your house or at your window, it brings news that a visitor will soon arrive, but if anyone killed the visiting bumblebee, the visitor would bring nothing but bad news (which serves them right).