I’ve just been out to check on the girls. Finally there are more flowers blooming as we have a few warm days. Becoming a beekeeper has changed my perspective on what I look for as a harbinger of spring. I’ve always loved dandelions and now I know bees love dandelions too. Other early spring things that bees love include some very unobtrusive plants (for some these will be weeds) such as ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea). Unfortunately many plants (ornamental) preferred by us aren’t beneficial to bees–they don’t produce enough pollen or nectar. One of the “harbingers” here seems to be the Bradford Pear–they are everywhere–and not for the bees. Fortunately, there are some plants/flowers that are good for both the bees and us though they may not be what we consider most glamorous or desirable–for many ornamental flowers we’ve bred out pollen and nectar production which bees need.
With my new perspective on blossoms, I’m noticing things that are likely to be considered weeds by many–especially those who want a lawn that looks like AstroTurf! Not my cup of tea at all, and not for the bees.
Even though things are starting to bloom, we still have cool days or periods of rain (when the bees cannot forage). This is a time of population explosion in the hive as the bees get ready for nectar flow–maximize the workforce. Rearing brood and drawing comb is energy intensive and though there is honey still in the hive, I’ve added some “feed”–aka granulated sugar–to help them over periods when foraging is impossible. The maple trees are breaking into bloom and the bees bring pollen from them back to the hive, but they are not a major nectar source. Bees are not like the postal service–some things do prevent going out to forage, hence the sugar that I put into the hive this morning. If the bees are getting plenty of nectar and pollen, they will ignore that stack of sugar and go out and bring back the good stuff.