Yesterday, Eric and I opened our three beehives for the first inspection since the fall.
The good news is all three hives are still working. All had pollen stores and seemed to be finding some early nectar. Also, we found eggs, larvae, and capped brood in all three, which bodes well for the much needed population boom warm weather brings. We even saw the queen in the white hive, the weakest. It was good to see a queen wandering over the frames in there as the population of that hive is so visibly lower than the others. Even though she's off to a late start, the fact she's there indicates we might have managed to pull all three hives through the winter.
As we inspected, all three hives took advantage of the warm weather, and worker bees brought in loads of pollen of a variety of colors to store away. Before we kept bees, I had no idea pollen came in so many colors! I saw the olive greens and yellows of varieties of maple in abundance. The pollen forecast and counts from Pollen.com confirm that these trees have been producing significant pollen lately. A bee laden with pollen is quite easy to spot; she looks like she's wearing pollen pants!
|This isn't one of our bees, but the image shows what I mean by "pollen pants."|
But in addition to the loads of maple pollen, I also saw a few bees in two separate hives bringing in a vivid, almost blood red pollen. I'm pretty sure this was henbit, an early spring weed which has been blooming around the house. As the bees find more fruitful nectar and pollen sources, they will leave the henbit behind. Since we've not had a hive survive the winter in the last two years, this is the first time I've ever seen the vivid color of this pollen. What a sight!
When we finished, we smelled like smoke and bees. I don't really know how to describe the scent of healthy bees; it's a cross between honey and propolis, but that's not even a good description. It smells clean and happy to me, which I know doesn't do it justice.
Now that the sun is up later, I'm looking forward to watching the hives working. There's something wonderful about the hum of the bees and their swoops and dives in and out of the hives that soothes me.