The weather has warmed up dramatically this week and so we were able to start looking through the hives to check on the colonies and see if they had got through the dreadfully damp winter. Spring seems to have sprung almost overnight and although its still cold in the evenings, we've seen temperatures up to 20c in the bright, welcome sunshine.
So, off the the bees and it's clear as we walk up to the hives that most colonies are alive as there are a constant stream of foragers leaving and returning with bright yellow pollen, possibly from the flowering hazels and willows in the woods nearby. We remove the plastic mesh that protects the colonies from woodpeckers (they have plenty of food elsewhere now) and lift off the roof to look into the colonies through the clear plastic covers.
It's immediately clear that the sugar candy food packs we left across the top of the frames in December have been virtually ignored which is a great sign as it means they have plenty of stores below and have not had to tap into the emergency supplies I leave on each hive as a precaution. A gentle smoke keeps the bees down below as we briefly lift up a couple of brood frames in the centre of each hive to see whats going on...
It's the same across all the hives bar one - happy, calm bees with an active Queen who has already started to lay eggs to create the first generation of this years workforce. It's a wonderful sight as we pull up frame after frame of sealed brood larvae and eggs, averaging about 3-4 frames per hive, which is brilliant for this time of year!
On one hive, we can't see any eggs, but the colony seems OK and it may be that the Queen is just a late starter. We will leave her alone for now, but keep an eye on the colony and if she does not get going soon, we may have to merge those remaining bees with an active colony to ensure their survival.
Really, really pleased that the Bee Good bees are happy, healthy and active this early in the season - it bodes well for a great years beekeeping!