The bees seem to have had a quiet winter – early winter was unusually mild followed buy a somewhat surprisingly extend cold snap in February. This is usually when we start getting the odd super-warm days, but this year we had the coldest days and week of the winter in the time when many things are already breaking dormancy. Many of the early wildflowers which had started to grow were killed off, and even some of the arugula in the garden died, which is usually winter hardy here and I let go to bloom in the fall to provide a bit of natural forage for the bees that venture out in the winter.
The weather is turning around though, and the later wildflowers are starting to come out. it’s been a dry winter, so nowhere near the floral profusion of last year, but at least the bees do have a few options to pick from if they get far enough into the open spaces. More domestically, my rosemary and thyme are in bloom and the bees are all over both of them.
Given that I ended last year having fed heavily through the summer in order to buildup a supply of drawn frames, and I left the super full of sugarwater based capped cells in over the winter for the bees to empty out, I haven’t had a maintenance need to go back into the hive. I had a couple of curiosity fueled spot checks during the winter to see if I needed to start feeding, but they still had ample reserves and the bees seemed to be doing quite well without me tearing their home apart. Given that there isn’t enough forage around for them this year to have much hope of a honey crop for me, my current plan is to leave things as-is until the heat of the summer dries out what flowers have managed to bloom, then repeat last year’s feeding approach with new frames.