At last we had a proper spring day that was very bright and sunny and a whole 9C! Even the Easterly winds from Siberia had finally abated and so for the first time this year, we were able to visit the bees and spend time in the apiary with my two not so little helpers, Elsa and Lewis.
We decided to risk removing the plastic anti-woodpecker mesh around the hives and rolled them up and away for what feels like the actual start of the beekeeping season here in Hampshire.
All the colonies were busy with foragers flying and many were returning with a pale yellow pollen that might be early blossom. It was still too cold to perform a full spring inspection and so we limited ourselves to clearing entrances and seeing how much of the candy had been eaten since our last visit by looking through the clear plastic hive covers underneath each roof. Most colonies had consumed just over 1/2 the candy, but one had eaten the lot and so we quickly swapped in a new pack of candy before shutting up the hives and clearing up the apiary, cutting back brambles and the like.
The weather looks to be improving over the next couple of weeks and so we should be able to conduct our first full inspection soon when we will also do a number of Bailey comb changes to remove the old combs that are now coming up to their third season. This process greatly helps to reduce potential disease but requires either a strong nectar flow or a lot of syrup to be fed to the bees and both of these aren't going to happen unless it warms up a bit more.