The lilacs are starting to bud out and that means it’s coming. The mason bees are still fast asleep – which is probably a good thing because it seems like not much is ready to bloom yet. Here is a snapshot of their little house yesterday. The two empty holes didn’t hatch already. They were never filled.
Speaking of bees, the honey bees are starting to move around more. Yesterday it was warmish and sunnyish and they were going crazy bringing in scant buckets of pollen. They have plenty of honey left in the hive. I left a heavy hive completely full at the end of the summer. In the great tradition of cold, huddled animals with very small brains, they aren’t eating it. I made some sugar candy cakes for them, following Rusty’s method, which they have been gobbling up. However, sugar’s not a balanced diet for people or bees, so I’m glad to see them bringing in some other food.
You can see in this picture that the hive entrance was a flurry of activity. Normally on a warmish winter day, they rush around trying to potty outside while the weather is nice and dragging out the corpses of their fallen comrades (which they mostly leave on their porch, yuck!). Yesterday was different, though. They were actually bringing in a little pollen. I haven’t noticed many plants in bloom yet, but the bees are better at finding pollen than I am. We can tell when they are actively foraging because they fly high up over the top of our house, not just around the backyard.
My beekeeping goal for 2010 was to have one hive survive the winter. Despite swarms and mites and crappy weather, this hive has been going strong for nearly a year now. Between January and April, a lot of colonies starve because the weather is warm enough that the bees are active but the food supply isn’t quite ready yet. But my bees have quite a bit of honey, and I am willing and able to feed them sugar cakes until the cows come home. I am feeling pretty hopeful about seeing this hive through to the start of the new year. My beekeeping 2011 goal is a little more complicated… More on that soon!