Towards the end of this month, if the weather starts to warm up, you should start to see your bees bringing in pollen. The flowers they will be foraging from at this time of year are crocus, snowdrops, helebore, mahonia and pussy willow. It is a good idea to have some of these planted in the vicinity of your hives as while the weather is still cool, the bees cannot fly too far, about 100 yards maximum, before getting chilled and then they are unable to fly back to the hive. They won’t be bringing nectar in until the temperatures get to around 15degrees C, so keep hefting your hives and feed fondant if necessary.
Those of you who attended Celia Davis’ excellent talk on using Nucs in beekeeping may be thinking about trying out her ideas for using Nucs in doing an artificial swarm so a visit to Tradex at Stoneleigh at the beginning of March would be a good time to pick up a spare Nuc. I have bought and used poly nucs and although they do seem to be very effective for getting a small colony through the winter because they are better insulated, I think we should all be considering how these pieces of equipment are adding to the global proliferation of plastic waste. I have also found them very difficult to clean as you really need a tub large enough to emmerse the whole hive in a solution of washing soda. Cathy has mentioned that she used a steam cleaner and this worked well.
Talking of Cathy, many of you will know that she and her partner Peter have purchased a house in Spain where they will be spending a large part of the year, so Cathy has given notice that she will need to retire from the post of Secretary which she has so successfully filled for the past 4 years. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm for beekeeping will be sorely missed as I always knew I could rely on Cathy to deal with difficult swarms or problematic situations involving bees. She has now also left a big gap in the committee because the secretary is a pivotal role in keeping us on track and dealing with the regular input of information from the County and BBKA nationally. So we wish Cathy and Peter well in their new venture, and I hope that anyone who is interested in taking on the role will come forward at the AGM.
After the AGM we will be holding an equipment ‘Bring and Buy’. Anyone who has equipment they want to sell is welcome to bring it along. For larger items you may want to bring a picture, or a written description. Please also label items with a price and your name.