The beekeeping year can start again in earnest now that April has arrived. It is wonderful to see the bees flying, bringing in much needed pollen and nectar to feed themselves and the rapidly expanding brood nest. Although April can be an unpredictable month where the weather is concerned, the beekeeper can take advantage of the occasional warmer day to have a quick hive inspection. This is done to check that the colony has come through the winter successfully, that the queen is still in residence and laying, that she has enough space to lay and that there is enough food. The books say that inspections should only be done when the weather is warm enough to be comfortable in a T-shirt. It will take the colony several hours to build up the heat lost during an inspection so you have to be pretty quick and not leave it too late in the day as the temperatures drop quite quickly at night this early in the year.
Beekeepers are delighted to see the oil seed rape coming into flower. The bees absolutely love the nectar and pollen provided by this crop. Watching them coming into land after foraging is quite funny. Their pollen baskets and honey stomachs are sometimes so full they almost crash land onto the landing board before discharging their precious cargo and hurrying back out. You can always tell if they are working a rape crop as most of them look like they have used a yellow powder puff.
Newbury & District Beekeepers Association