Thursday, 18 April 2013

Blossom and bees

On Saturday, I saw the first blossom of the year. It is late due to the late running winter and sadly it was about 30km from my hives so was no use to my bees. And then, in the past couple of days, the blossom on one of the plum trees near our allotment has appeared. The bees have had a good few days as, though it has been very windy, temperatures have been modestly warm, enough to encourage the bees to leave the hives. Until the recent cold spell ended, the impact on the bees was playing on my mind. My fear was that we would end up with a repeat of last year when the rotten weather meant we had only a tiny honey crop. It is early days but now things are looking up. The bees are clearly finding pollen sources as I can see them carrying it back into the hives. And if they are finding pollen, they are presumably finding nectar as well. Bringing in the pollen is also likely to mean that the queens are laying and larvae are developing (adult bees can't digest pollen which is fed instead to the larvae which need it as a protein source).

Honey is important for us. It is a replacement for sugar and it is also a valuable "export" for us, earning us money and creating a high value product that can be swapped for other people's produce. We are also hoping it will get us into farmers' markets as well. We have invested a significant amount of money in our bee venture and the investment needs to pay for itself and then give us a return. When I think back to this time last year, with the rain pouring down day after day after day, I feel a bit more confident that things will be better this time. Certainly the weather couln't be worse than it was in 2012. Hopefully soon, we will be experiencing the sweet taste of success.

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