Early spring is a critical time for our bee colonies. The stores of honey and pollen collected last year are running low and the low temperatures with changeable weather make every foraging trip very risky.
This is why small trees such as winter-flowering mahonia’s or willows and hazels that produce “catkins” full of pollen are life-savers for honey bees and other emerging pollinators at this time of year. They proportionally provide a lot of food in a limited space unlike single plants spread out over a wide area. This is important as all flying insects expend a lot of energy when flying and foraging - the shorter the distance they have to fly for food at lower temperatures, the better their chance of survival.
If planting early-flowering plants for bees, it's important that they are planted in groups close together. Two or three Crocuses on their own aren't going to give much of a feed for a hungry bee, so try and grow these important plants in tight clusters.
Bumblebee on Hazel flower
We try and plant early flowering trees close within or close by our apiaries to ensure that our bees get an early source of pollen. It provides bees with a mixture of fats, protein, vitamins and minerals and is essential to help feed the new generation of many hundreds of worker bee larvae that are being raised now. They will become flying foragers in about six weeks, timed with the emergence of the bulk of early tree blossom and flowering plants in April/May that will provide the bulk of the colonies food stores for the rest of the year.
We’ve been feeding several of the Bee Good colonies through the winter in order to ensure their survival following a dreadful season last summer which left many colonies very low on stored honey by the Autumn.
This sugar candy should ensure these bees get through winter
So far we have managed to keep all our colonies alive and hopefully, with the arrival of warmer weather this month, the bees will be able to forage further as the plants in local hedgerows and woodlands start to flower. So as you think about plans for your gardens this year, why not think about planting a small willow or hazel to help your local pollinators get through this critical time of year...