First Spring Pollen

It was only about 7°C in the backyard today (45°F), but it was enough for the bees in one of my hives to bring in some pollen for the first time this year.

I like this photo because it shows how fuzzy all the bees are now:

I didn’t expect to see the bees bring in pollen for another couple weeks. Natural sources of pollen and nectar are scarce. The bees must have discovered some flowers like this growing in someone’s flowerbed nearby:

A friend of mine gave me these crocuses today. The bees were on them as soon as I put them in the ground, but the bees were bringing in loads more pollen than could be had from the few flowers in our yard. One of my neighbours must have planted a forest of flowers.

I noticed the pollen on the bees today while I was adding some peppermint oil to the syrup in my newly installed jar feeders. I noticed the bees didn’t seem interested in the syrup from the original hive top feeders I had installed and I could tell they hadn’t touched a drop of syrup from the jar feeders. So I decided to add pure peppermint oil to the mix in the hopes that it might entice them to sample the syrup. (I also gave one of the hives a pollen patty and a candy cake just for kicks.) The next batch of syrup will have anise seed oil, which apparently drives them wild.

April 19th, 2011: The sun came out today after some heavy wind and rain that washed away what I hope is the last of the snow. The temperature went up to 11°C (51°F). I scraped out some dead stinky bees and debris from the bottom boards of both hives. One hasn’t been too active around its bottom entrance this year. The other hive is a different story.

I still don’t know where they’re getting the pollen, but I’m impressed.

6 thoughts on “First Spring Pollen

  1. Your girls are lovely!

    We spotted a few honeybees on some colts foot flowers on the weekend. So now I’m wondering if someone nearby has a hive or if they are wild. Because capturing a wild swarm in my yard would be really cool!

    • As far as I know, wild swarms don’t exist in NL — but yeah, that’s would be the coolest.

      Someone must have a hive nearby. I know of hives in the west end of St. John’s, some near Indian Meal Line, and another near the university. It doesn’t require a permit to have bees in St. John’s. They could be anywhere.

  2. It was 11°C in the backyard today and the bees in both hives managed get out while the going was good. We’ve had high winds and heavy rain to wash away most of the snow. The bees in Hive #1 come and go through the bottom entrance more than Hive #2, which hardly touches its bottom entrance. I cleaned away more dead stinky bees from the bottom boards of both hives, along with various bits of debris including wax paper from pollen patties and fragments of candy cakes. I still haven’t seen much cleaning away of dead bees yet.

    Both hives should still have some pollen patties and candy cakes on the top bars. Neither has hardly touched the syrup from the jar feeders. My guess is it’s been too cold for them. It’s April but it’s freezing most of the time.

    I’m way too busy with work for the rest of the month to repair the leaky hive top feeders. They won’t come into play again until some time in May, if I ever do fix them up.

    I want to get out of the line of work I’m in so I can have more time with the bees. I was working all weekend, 14 hour days, and I’m moving around like a lump of dough today.

  3. I bought my little bottle of “Pure Anise Extract” this morning. Woo ee! Potent stuff. Can’t wait to try it out in a couple weeks.

    P.S. to Jeff: I picked it up at Bulk Barn. It’s made by a company called Loretta. 100 ml clear bottle, about the size of a small cough syrup bottle. The ingredients listed are: Ethyl alcohol, water, anise oil.

    The bees will be literally buzzed after drinking this stuff down.

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