Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mild Fall Confuses a Few Plants

Fall has been pretty mellow this season in the lowlands around Seattle.  There hasn't been a good freeze yet and some early spring plants have started blooming early as a result.  Being in the city there are also lots of non-natives around the neighborhoods that are winter bloomers that could provide forage if the bees happen to be out flying.  The temperature has been hovering around 40F during the day and the sun is usually hidden behind low clouds and fog keeping the bees inside.

Pollen from a Winter Camellia bloom.

Winter Camellia is a good pollen source.

It hasn't been warm enough to do much of an inspection in awhile but I would imagine that all the hives are done raising brood for the next few weeks.  I've heard that after winter solstice they will slowly pick up again, but I haven't had an opportunity to confirm if that is the case in our climate yet.  I haven't seen much flying lately but I suspect they aren't too tightly clustered due to the mild winter weather.  I will likely need to keep feeding dry sugar in all the nucs until spring so the don't starve.  I'm not too surprised though as we usually have fairly mild winters here and the temps really only drop when the occasional storm system passes through.  

Schizostylis coccinea (fall - early winter bloomer)

Bergenia cordifolia (often will bloom both spring and fall)

A few Rhododendron blooms are out (a warm fall may confuse them into blooming before winter).  Some buds may stay dormant until spring, but the ones that have bloomed won't re-bud.

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Pink Princess Escallonia (usually a spring bloomer)

Snowstorm bacopa

Centranthus ruber (another confused spring bloomer)

Hive checks (12/1/2012)

It got up to about 50F today so did a quick check on the excess sugar supplies in several hives and found that all except the Rebel hive had cleaned up the reserves I left for them.  I added more sugar to Plum Creek, Geeks, Architects, Gluttons, Icon Daughter Nuc and Librarian Daughter Nuc.  All hives except the Librarian Daughter Nuc had good activity and I suspect the cluster in this nuc is just too small to break at 50F.

Hive checks (12/9/2012)

Checked the Surf and Sand hives today to give them sugar.  It was 40F and no one was flying but a few came back to see what I was doing at the back of the Surf hive.  I was also glad to see the moisture issue in the Surf hive was gone and the back of the hive was nice and dry.  The Sand hive got sugar as well even though they still had a little left.  No one came to greet me, but they have a lot of comb in that hive and I was much further away from the cluster.

Here is an old pic of the Geek queen in 2011 (upper middle of picture).  I don't recall if she had stopped moving here but it looks like she has 11 attendants around her.  A quality queen will have a decent number of attendants surround her whenever she stops.

Back to the bees.

- Jeff

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