bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Sunday, January 16, 2005

No encouragement for tetchy girls

I visited one of my two apiaries late today bearing a gift of sugar for a colony that seemed a bit light in stores last autumn. They didn't get it though.

I'd noticed in the autumn they were a bit tetchy. It was about 8C today and I tapped the hive to listen for the comforting short hiss indicating that they were queen-right. Instead I almost got a faceful of bees. Most unusual. I think they may be a permanently grumpy (sorry, extra-defensive) colony so I may have to requeen as early as I can this spring. They didn't receive their sugar gift because I didn't want to encourage them and I certainly don't want them to produce early drones to impart their defensiveness to early queens in the area this spring.

The other colony in the same apiary was much more serene. I noticed that on the top of the grumpy hive there was an owl pellet, so maybe the edgy colony is having their patience tested each night by a hooting owl.

But there was some good news -- on the way to the apiary I noticed the emerging leaves of field beans in two large fields. Field bean nectar makes lovely honey. It will flower in June -- just as oil seed rape (canola) finishes flowering. And I saw snowdrops in flower for the first time -- usually regarded as the first nectar plant of the spring in southern England.


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