Willow and I went for a walk around Swan Barn Farm this afternoon to take a look at the woods, all the rapidly opening Hazel Catkins in the coppice got me to thinking about my bees.
Hazel pollen is a vital food source for them just as they are recovering from the cold of the winter. The bee’s have been having a really tough time lately and winter is always a worry, I never believe they are really through it until the Willow trees start to flower as well, but I went along to my apiary to see how they are coping and check if they needed any extra feed to get them through until there are some more flowers about.
If you open the hives at this time of year you have to be quick as you don’t want to chill them. I am glad to say that apart from one very small colony who I didn’t think were going to make it throught the winter all of my hives were doing really well.
This colony was looking particularly healthy, I was really pleased with how they are doing, they were my best honey producers last year too and if all goes to plan I will breed some new queens from this hive later in the year. Hopefully they will pass on their good genes.
This year we will be setting up a new hive at Swan Barn Farm, I hope some of our volunteers will get chance to learn some beekeeping skills. The hive will be going in our new orchard and should mean we get really good pollination of all our fruit tree’s.
This is the new hive, kindly bought for us by the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters Group.
We built it last year with a group of volunteers who came to help out with the Speckled Wood project.
As soon as spring is here for real it will be back into beekeeping season again and I will get a colony installed in the new hive.
They are such fascinating creatures, and are a really good way of keeping in touch with both the local landscape and the changing seasons. I am glad mine have come through the winter so well, they have had a rough time the last couple of years, I am looking forward to seeing them more in the coming months.