The last few months have been really challenging, for me as a beekeeper and for bees. The primary cause of this has of course been the weather, or low temperatures and rain to be more precise. Just being able to get out to the apiaries has been difficult, fitting visits in between work and bad weather has been near impossible. The aspirations and plans for the year are rapidly being revised.
At one point in March with the short spell of warm weather, it looked as if it could be repeat of last year. With oil seed rape beginning to flower in March, supers at the ready, in fact 4 of my hives had supers that were being filled and i had expectations that swarming may begin by the first week in April.
Then it all changed, the wettest April in more than 100 years has put colonies at risk of starvation. My colonies all came through the winter looking strong and in late March food stores filling 2 or 3 frames in the brood box along with the honey in supers. I managed to visit and check stores later in April and begin feeding 3 colonies that had depleted these stores, but i was too late, the size of the brood nest had reduced dramatically in these colonies as a result of lack of forage, the result is so frustrating, the richest nectar flow we have in the year is sitting in the fields inaccessible due to cold and wet weather and has been for the last 4 weeks! I noticed today that this is now going over and i am sure will be gone in the week or two.
Still the bad weather has allowed time in doors to build hive stands and other equipment. Let’s hope the weather changes very soon.