Letter from the HIVE : May 2013
Almost into May and finally the trees and bushes have some colour.
Inside the hive progress is being made as the colony starts to grow, the eggs and brood are now spread over five frames and there is plenty of pollen and enough stores to support the young, emerging bees. Hopefully these will be strong enough to start working the ever increasing cherry, pear and currant blossom. The bees are still predominantly working the hazel and willow for pollen, and the dandelion and gooseberry for nectar.
May is a busy month for the bees; they need to produce a strong colony of flying bees to take full advantage of the first significant nectar flow, storing provisions for the less productive month of June.
A few marigolds planted between the carrots not only help to stop carrot fly but also provide a useful source of food for our pollinating insects. The planting of a few sweet peas and some lovely scented poppies give a wonderful bouquet to a floral honey.
A few bee facts:
- A colony is made up of one queen, lots worker bees (female)and a few drones (male)
- Brood comes in three stages: eggs, larvae and capped
- The bees are living in a type of hive known as ‘British National’, a popular choice in Warwickshire – see picture below
Kind Regards, from the HIVE
I have included unusual and first sightings of the year. If anyone else would like to contribute in the future then please let me know!
January brought snow and with it 6 goosanders arrived circling the reservoir for a while before landing. Waxwings from the mainland of NW Europe were seen on several occasions around the allotments, as were fieldfares and redwings feeding on the apples remaining on the ground. These last two stayed until the first week in April. Long tailed tits, siskins, goldfinches and both green and great spotted woodpeckers were regular visitors to bird feeders and fruit trees, along with our normal garden birds. Continue reading
Letter from the Hive : April 2013
With what felt like the first warm day in 2013 it was a welcoming sight to see the allotment under a sky full of sunshine, buzzing with activity. It was encouraging to see plots being dug ready for the planting of various seeds, catching up on the late winter chill, fingers crossed that they will start to prosper hopefully under ever increasing spring like warmth!
The same was evident in the HIVE. With over wintered honey bee numbers reaching a critically low point with barely sufficient bees surviving to maintain the 35 degrees temperature required to develop brood. Bees can only effectively forage when the outside air temperature is 10 degrees or above. The first signs that the queen has survived this long, hard winter is pollen from the crocuses, willow and hazel being flown in. The colony mixes this pollen with honey to make bee bread. This is essential for the queen to lay eggs and raise her new brood.
Over the next few weeks the colony should grow steadily in preparation for the pollination of our apple, pear and plum trees. A grateful thanks to those who planted snowdrops and crocuses as these are two very important early plants that our pollinating insects need to start their new families.
Kind Regards, from the HIVE
PS – Bees also love comfrey, poppies and lavender.
This photo from Miles Ferrante captures the impact of the 1999 floods on the St Mary’s site. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Grey Wagtail photo by Sébastien Bertru, licensed under Creative Commons
Paul Snell has produced a tick list of bird species that he has seen on the alloments over the last 20 years or so, including details about whether they are common or rare sightings.
It is a surpringly long list, helped by the close proximity of the reservoir! Continue reading