Friday, April 1, 2016

The Warrior Bees Are Early This Year

Flowers are out everywhere at the moment with some things blooming months early.  With the early warm weather and mild winter some things that usually would die back didn't and are picking up where they left off in fall.  To think just a few weeks ago I was saying how I would be worrying about swarms before I knew it, and now I am.  This is another early year and I've heard of a few swarms in the area already.  I will still try to stall the process in my hives for more reliably warm weather.  While I've had queens mate early in the year they never perform well.  I get reliably better queens if I can hold them off until a few weeks before blackberries start blooming and we are getting 65F+ days a few times a week.

After several years of looking at bloom times and different flowers I think I finally have figured out what plant makes this bright yellow pollen mark (not to be confused with the pale white one I've pointed out in other posts). Hyacinthoides hispanica has just started blooming and it's difficult for the bees to "hold on" to the flower and they appear to get the pollen all over themselves.  After they clean up they are left with a mark on their back.  I'm hoping to get some samples under a microscope to confirm soon.

This girl is getting a lot of attention from her sisters as she dances around.


Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) are just starting to bloom.


English laurel is in bloom.


Tulips are in bloom.


I found this nearby hardy fuchsia at over 10 feet tall and it was already in full bloom and will keep blooming through fall.  Usually they die back to the ground in winter and then the bloom cycle starts again late summer.  However our winter this year was mild so they are just picking up on last years growth.


Trillium ovatum is in bloom.


Raspberries are forming buds really early this year.


Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is in bloom.


Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana) is a native that likes shade.


Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria lanceolata) is another native in bloom.


California lilac (Ceanothus) is in bloom.


Rosemary queen.


The Quickdraw queen.  Notice there is a bee in the lower right part of the photo that has a varroa mite on her.


This frame looks pretty good for a hive in spring buildup.  Better brood patterns will come as the nights get warmer.


This is what backfilling looks like.  They should be putting those resources around the edge of the comb not in the center where the queen wants to lay.  By doing this they are forcing her to lay along the edges of combs.  If every comb looked like this then swarming would be soon to follow.


Lots of empty queen cups starting to show up along the edges of frames.  If the broodnest is backfilled the queen gets forced into laying here.


In the center of the photo is a new adult be emerging from the cell.  It's the only time you will see a head poking out of a cell.


Back to the bees,

- Jeff