How are the bees doing this year?

The bees are getting started rather slower this year than the last few years. The weather is entirely responsible for that. When the sun doesn't shine, the temperature stays low, it's raining or there is strong wind, the bees tend to stay at home. Flowers tend not to produce nectar when the sun is not shining on them so the bees might as well stay at home saving their wing muscles.

The queen gets fed more when there is a flow of nectar and that makes her lay more eggs. So again the weather is affecting the colony, this time in the brood nest.

We had one colony in the Gillespie Apiary that somehow became queen less in April. I bought a Buckfast queen (they have a good reputation for rapid expansion of the nest and good honey gathering) - she went into the hive about the 18th of April. I have left the colony alone while they get used to the new queen so I haven't seen her since she left her queen cage. My fingers are crossed because queen introduction is not 100% reliable.

The other two Gillespie colonies are developing nicely, the darker bees, with a two year old queen, are doing best. they will be the honey producers this year. The other two are for showing to the visiting school children.

The colony near Clissold Park is looking very healthy and the queen, who is two years old, is laying well! I expect great things from that colony this season.

The bees on our bathroom roof are looking healthy but rather slow starting this year. I have ordered two new Black British queens to take over at the head of those colonies - they should arrive late May so with any luck they will make a difference to the size of the honey crop this year and be very strong next year.

The bees in Wales are healthy but the nests are still very small - that's not unusual for the Welsh Apiary.

The Oxfordshire bees are mostly going well. They are situated in the perfect place, in an orchard set in 76 acres of organic parkland. Two if the three colonies are developing strongly and the third looks very healthy but queenless. A frame of eggs are going into the queenless hive this week. They should create their new queen and she could be laying by the second half of May.