Today is my three thousand, nine hundred and forty-sixth day of beekeeping on the island of Newfoundland. And in honour of this momentous occasion, I’m taking a break from the internet and any news with the word “Covid” in it. After this break, I might post something once a week on Wednesdays. We’ll see.
A variety of willow trees, wild and cultivated, provide an awesome hit of pollen and nectar for Newfoundland honey bees in the early spring.
I used to think Dandelions provided the first pollen for the bees in my climate, but it seems like Colts Foot might have the jump on the Dandelions, and Willow Catkins are a close second. When I see my bees bring in yellow pollen in the month of May (when it’s warm enough for the bees to forage), it could be from Dandelion, Colts Foots or Willow Catkins. It’s possible to see the difference between all these pollens as the bees bring them back to the hive, but that’s another story. Either way, willows are now on my list of honey bee friendly flowers in Newfoundland.
The first time I wrote about Colts Foot, I got it wrong. It was probably Meadow Hawkweed, which seems to bloom around July in my part of Newfoundland. Colts Foot (or Tussilago) shows up in May, even earlier in warmer inland areas of Newfoundland. In any case, the bees like it, so it’s going on my list of Newfoundland Honey Bee Forage.
I’m not a flower expert, so getting these things wrong from time to time is in the realm of possibility for me.
This is probably the first natural pollen my bees have foraged on this year. The crocuses popped up through the snow around March 21st — a month ago — but the weather has been mostly rain, drizzle and fog since then. People saw the sun today for the first time in weeks and freaked out because it was such a weird thing to see.
Other beekeepers on the island reported seeing their bees bring in loads of pollen a couple weeks ago. But that didn’t happen where I live. A great reminder of a beekeeper’s #1 lesson: All beekeeping is local beekeeping.
It might not look like much, but with the melting snow exposing my dead lawn comes the crocuses, the first hit of pollen my bees will get to taste this year — as long as the plants don’t get covered with snow before they bloom.
Not quite spring yet, but we’re getting there.
Today may be the first official day of spring, but that doesn’t count until my bees are bringing in natural pollen, which is likely another month from now.
It’s always good to keep in mind that seasons in Newfoundland are usually at least a month behind everyone else.
A couple days later:
According to my previous post, When is It Time to Harvest Honey?, it’s about time to harvest some honey now. Which means it’s about time to add some escape boards so my bees can “escape” from their honey boxes, which then makes it easier for me to steal their honey. You know, I think I might have a video of me from earlier today that shows how this works:Continue reading
An unedited visit to my beeyard that happened 30 minutes ago after a big rain storm we had last night, just me yakking and explaining a few things as well as I can explain them:
My last words in the video are a reference to the 1979 film Alien that probably no one will get, as is usually the case for references I make. I’m cool with that.
I took a break from screens over the past two weeks. Social media. The news. Who needs it? Here are some random slow motion shots I took of honey bees and other insects that were attracted to the Fireweed and Malva Moschata that’s been in bloom lately. I’d go into full screen mode for this video at the highest resolution setting to sit back and take in about three and a half minutes of silence.
One of the bees does something kind of gross near the end.
Here’s a honey bee colony that seems to have benefited from dandelions that weren’t mowed down.
00:15 — Burr comb beneath the inner cover.
00:47 — Fresh comb made from yellow from dandelions.
01:00 — A frame of capped brood.
01:34 — Beautiful brood pattern.
01:49 — Close up of capped brood.
02:10 — Open brood (little white grubs).
02:25 — A closer look at the queen.
02:53 — Yellow burr comb.
03:50 — Honey bees scenting.
03:55 — Close up on fresh eggs in burr comb.
04:18 — Summary of inspection.
Plus some bonus material for those who bother to watch the whole thing.
More slow motion shots of honey bees on crocuses. For people stuck at home looking for a break, it’s not bad to watch this one in full-screen mode in the highest resolution. No audio required, though you might like that too.
This time the bees are in better focus (though I’m still working out some of the kinks).
Don’t ask me what variety of crocuses these are because I have no idea. (Update: But apparently they’re commonly called Snow Crocuses. I’ve revised the title of this post to reflect this newfound knowledge.)
The video was shot on a pocket-sized camera called a Sony RX-100v.
A 113-second video of my bees waking up from the winter and doing they’re thing in slow motion, including collection pollen from crocuses. I’m so glad I planted those.
My friend, Little Bobby Hirchhorn, turned me onto some flowering plants last summer that he said my honey bees might be attracted to. First up are the willow branches that look like this:
I will be planting as many of these as I can next year to give my bees an extra hit of pollen before winter, that’s for sure.
First of all, photographing honey bees and doing it well boils down to 90% bad luck and 10% good luck. The bees in some of these photos are out of focus. That’s how it goes.
Second of all, the colour red in these poppies doesn’t seem real to me. On film, it looks almost fake. But it’s real.
And I forgot my third point, but check out these poppies (click the images for a better view):