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 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.