Isn’t it amazing how we all respond to sunlight and warm days? We feel energised and ready to tackle the tasks, which seemed impossible to do when the dark winter days held us in their grip.
When out and about, particularly in the garden, the beautiful sound of bees buzzing lets us know that they are responding to the warmth and the small pickings from early snowdrops, crocuses and any flower that will provide a taste of nectar or a few grains of pollen.
Looking at the ground underneath any beehive which has an open mesh floor, it is evident that activity within is on the increase.
Honey stored in honeycomb is always sealed over with a wax capping
A carpet of wax bits amongst other debris can be seen as bees access the honey store to meet the demand of the ever increasing number of bees.
Honey stored in honeycomb is always sealed over with a wax capping, hence, the bits of wax come from the uncapping of this honey which is kept within the brood area. Hives with solid floors will show signs of this activity around the entrance or on the landing board if one is fitted.
Rising temperatures encourage brood rearing, which, places a heavy demand on the resources within the hive. As brood hatches, and the bee’s transition to hive duties, such as cleaning, feeding larvae or foraging, they have to contend with the diminishing numbers of their older sisters, who, have carried the colony through the long winter and are now rapidly dying off.
Beekeepers give their hive floors a spring clean
We have all heard of spring cleaning and the more senior ones of us will, no doubt, have experienced the old houses being given this treatment. Beekeepers give their hive floors a spring clean. This is especially important with solid floors, which, will be covered with a mix of wax bits, dead bees, perhaps some wax moth larvae amongst the gunk and even a couple of slugs for good measure.
Having spare floors on standby makes life easy when it comes to cleaning them, since it is only a matter of exchange.
When brood rearing is peaking in May and June, with warm days, bees will be seen gathering water
Floor debris should never be scraped on to the ground but instead placed in a container and taken home for disposal. The reason for this is that pathogens may be present in this material and if left in the apiary may attract bees and be a source of infection.
Bees will be out collecting water from now on. They need it for diluting overwintered crystallised honey stores within the hive.
When brood rearing is peaking in May and June, with warm days, bees will be seen gathering water which they will use to keep the hive cool.
The long winter shadows have passed, giving way to the hope of a year where bees and nature thrive.
The bumble bee and all solitary bees will thrive if we continue to respect their habitat. If we are attentive to their requirements we will reap the benefits several fold.