March is the month when beekeepers start to get excited about the new season. The temperature picks up and the bees start to become active. However, it is still not yet been warm enough to open the colonies and make our first inspections, I will need to wait until it is around 15 degrees. Hopefully it will only be a few weeks more!
I'm writing this on the official first day of Spring - and it definitely feels like it. The range of forage for the bees has increased dramatically in the recent weeks moving on from the early bulbs like Snowdrops and Crocuses to a much broader range of tree pollen and lots of early spring flowers like primroses.
Pollen is really important for
the bees at this time of year
because it will help the bees feed the number of young needed to build up for the season. Over the next few months the bees will go from 20,000 up to 50,000 bees at their peak. A interesting fact (to me at least) is that at the peak of lay the queen bee will lay more than her own body weight in eggs every day.
Whilst I haven't been to open up the bees, I have been busy preparing. This has involved moving the equipment from its winter storage out to the Apiaries ready for use, and painting some of the hives to make sure they have a long life. I have also set up a new apiary site where I will be putting a number of colonies. So far I have put the hives into location and the next step will be to make some splits of my existing colonies to create more bees to fill them with. It is a beautiful location, hopefully with lots of forage for the bees.
I have had my eye out for other types of bee as well as the honeybees in recent weeks. The number of Bumblebees seems to have exploded - everywhere I go I'm see the large round queen Bumblebees flying around. I mainly seem to have seen Buff Tailed Bumblebees and Red Tailed Bumblebees. They will start by looking for a food for themselves to revive from their winter hibernation, then they will hunt for a suitable place to build their nest. I have even seem one gathering lots of pollen and carrying back to its nest in the "pollen basket" on its back leg - this one will have already built a nest and will now be starting to raise young. The next few months we should see an increase in the number of the solitary bee species.