Spring is most certainly here, finally! Just a few more weeks until we start moving our hives out to their spring sites! The bees are looking really strong and I’m glad to say we have only lost a very small percentage of them. Unfortunately, it seems many other beekeepers haven’t been as fortunate and based on early reports I’m expecting the national average of hives lost through winter to be higher than the past few.
The warm weather over the past week has really got the bees flying and many are collecting pollen from any early flowering plants such as Crocus, Snowdrops and Hellebores. We have taken the mouse guards off now so the bees have easy access into the hive without brushing the pollen of them as they climb through.
The big job over the past week has been painting a new shed we have positioned on the farm ready for our beekeeping experiences. If you have a voucher for a beekeeping experience the dates have now been released – HERE. Direction to the farm will be sent out in your confirmation email, it’s only 2 minutes up the road from Planters Garden Centre.
We will also be using the space for our queen rearing course that we are running for more advanced beekeepers interested in producing their own queens. We only have a few spaces left on this course and we are only planning on running one this year so be sure to book on ASAP!
Looking ahead over the next two weeks we will go around checking the sites we will be moving bees to, making sure they are safe and suitable. It’s also a good chance to chat to the farmers and see how the crops are coming on. Before the end of the month all our hives will be in their spring sites and ready to collect plenty of nectar and pollen from the oil seed rape!
Gardening for bees!
Its very easy to get lulled into the garden on the first beautiful day, it’s as though the winter is over and the sun will shine for months to come. However very quickly colder temperatures reappear and we are back into Winter before we know it. It’s the same for our bees, the first sign of sun and they’re out of the hive looking for pollen. We can help them find it by incorporating some early spring flowers in our gardens.
Spring flowering bulbs are a great way to feed your bees. Just like our Bees they appear when the sun is shining. Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Snakes Head Fritillaria and Grape Hyacinths are some of the earliest Bee friendly plants and just after they’ve flowered is a great time to dig them up, split them and replant them. That way guaranteeing even more for next year.
Complimenting the early bulbs at ground level are single flowered Hellebores (Christmas Rose), Primula or Primroses, Pulmonaria (with its pastel blue flowers), Ajuga (with its burgundy foliage and deep blue flowers) and Bergenia (with its bright green elephant ear leaves and pastel pink flowers). All of these will die away (only to reappear next spring) allowing you to plant your summer plants around them.
If you want something around a meter tall, there’s Rosemary, Ribes (or flowering current), Prunus Incisa Ko Jo Mai (Fuji Cherry, masses of Pale Pink flowers), Hazel for its catkins, single Rhododendrons, Pussy Willows, Mahonia (Yellow) and Berberis Darwini (bright orange). The latter two are great for security because of their prickly leaves.
Finally, if you want a tree look out for early flowering Almonds, crab apples and pears.
If all that sounds like a lot of work leave the dandelions until at least they’ve flowered and allow Comfrey to run riot. Comfrey also makes a great liquid food. Simply cut the leaves (after flowering) and allow to soak for days (even weeks) in water.
Thank you as ever for reading our blog, your support means a lot to us. I hope as things start to open up you will be able to come and see us at more markets and events. This month our only market will be at Market Bosworth on Sunday 28th March however online orders and click and collect are still available!
Holt Hall Apiary