Updated: Nov 4, 2018
I am hopeful that this prolonged cold spell is coming to an end. It has now been chilly here in NE Wales for March,most of April and the first 3 weeks of May with dipping night time temperatures and cold winds. As a result the bees haven’t brought in very much nectar at all and consuming last years stores to feed the strong and growing populations.I have been adding back in frames of stores that I took out of heavy hives in April to give the queens room to lay.Lesson learnt….don’t thieve frames of stores out too quick but better to wait until you know fresh nectar is flowing in.This must be the trick with beekeeping…to learn from ones mistakes and try not to repeat them.
This week I have been adding a gallon of thick syrup to last years nucs to draw them up into the top brood box of foundation.If the weather was warm this wouldn’t be necessary. Be careful that your hives aren’t running out of stores…they should be good and heavy at all times and don’t underestimate the massive tonic that syrup can give at times like this.
Drawing out fresh wax is very energy intensive and the addition of syrup will speed things up considerably. On Tuesday evening at 6pm I noticed honey bees foraging on the poached egg flowers [Limanthes]. It was 12 degrees C. Hardy bees these near natives are and I am glad to have them in a spring like this one. I wonder how the imported Greek and Italian bees are managing our spring…not quite the climate they’re used to.
Many of my colonies have been constructing swarm cells along the bottom of frames but very few furnishing them with royal jelly which means they’re not considering swarming yet. Too cold.I notice frames of drone brood still predominantly sealed [pupating], 2 frames in strong hives and they weigh heavy. It makes me realise what a huge investment in terms of energy the colonies expend on production of the boys at this time of years. I have been moving the drone frames to the outside of the brood nest so they don’t get laid up again this season.
One of the best things about this cool weather is that the proliferation of wild flowers and how long they last for just goes on.