I’m so pleased with the crocus patch in our front lawn that we planted last year. A couple of weeks ago there was no sign of anything and I was busy blaming squirrels for making off with all the bulbs…
I think that we’ll need to add to it this autumn – I must remember to mark our exactly where these ones are, so we don’t plant over them. I read the other day that the lawn shouldn’t be mown for at least 40 days after the flowers have gone over to allow the bulbs time to bulk up for next year.
We had had some beautiful days here over the last week. It is so good to feel some warmth in the sun and be able to work in the garden without a coat again. The bees at home have been very active – there are lots of spring flowers out around us at the moment, it is wonderful to see them taking pollen into the hives. Pollen is an important food for developing bees, so seeing pollen being collected can be an indication that there is brood in the hive. As well as pollen they are very busy collecting water – they seem to love collecting it from damp moss and droplets on the roof of our little greenhouse. The colony needs water at this time of the year, the nurse bees need it to feed the growing bees and they also use it to dilute honey stores that have crystallised over the winter.
Here is a recent picture from one of the Hendon hives, if you look carefully you can see some bright orange pollen being taken into the hive.
Another local feast for bees!
The camellias are just starting to flower in our area, although the ones we have on the north side of our house are still in tight bud.
This week has felt long – sick children and cold weather. Today the sun came out! The bees are out flying and some are bringing pollen back to their hives. The garden is stirring and the early spring flowers are beginning to open.
These are from our garden – it is so good to see results from the bulbs I have planted.
One of our neighbours has this spectacular display on their lawn – a real pollen feast for bees!
The last few weeks have been cold here, freezing overnight. I haven’t seen the bees flying recently – it is too chilly for them! The garden is stirring though. The Winter Aconites and Snowdrops have just started to flower. I planted them both a couple of years ago and it is lovely to see them doing well. Flowers like these provide bees with vital food on warmer winter days. The queen in each hive will hopefully be starting to lay eggs again soon after a winter break. The brood requires pollen to develop, so having these winter flowers around is important for their survival.
Last month I heard Dave Goulson’s fascinating talk about bumble bees at the London Honey Show. Since then I’ve read his book A Sting in the Taleand now I’m enjoying A Buzz in the Meadow. I’ve found both really inspiring and as a result have been thinking about how we can encourage more mini beasts into our neighbourhood.
At the National Honey show last weekend there was a stall by the company Meadow in my Garden. http://www.meadowinmygarden.co.uk They specialise in creating different seed mixes for various situations. I’ve decided to try out their shady mix for an empty patch in our north facing front garden. I’ve just sowed it, so with luck next spring and summer we should have some flowers. If it goes really well perhaps I’ll consider digging up some of the lawn!
This very mild autumn has meant that there has been plenty of forage for the bees. Yesterday I noticed that they were heading towards our neighbour’s garden – she has a couple of large Fatshedera which are currently in full flower.
My bulb order arrived last week and I’ve been making the most of the beautiful days to get them planted out.
I’ve put a few hundred crocus bulbs in our tiny front lawn, so I’m hoping for a good display! Early bulbs are a vital source of pollen for bees, with luck other people will be inspired to plant some too.
Earlier in the year there were bees all over this Fushia – we pass it most days and it was humming with activity. Now it has these deep purple fruits, which are really tasty. I only recently discovered that Fushia fruit is edible and I’m a bit annoyed that I’ve been missing out all these years. The closest thing I can compare the taste to is kiwi fruit. I’d like to find out which variety of Fushia this is, the other ones locally were not so attractive to the bees and consequently have very little fruit.
Today I went to inspect our Hendon hives. I was expecting them to be slowing down now that the days are shortening and the temperatures are beginning to drop. I had taken boxes to store the empty super frames, insulated boards to help keep the colonies warm and feeders incase they were needed.
The bees have other ideas though… One hive is absolutely bursting with honey and the bees are extremely busy. There is an abundance of ivy and asters in flower around the hives, which the bees are feasting on. In a few weeks I’ll split the honey so that it is equally shared between the colonies and with luck I shouldn’t need to feed them any sugar or fondant over the winter.
For the past week or so our home bees have been frantically foraging, the hive entrances are really busy with bees coming and going. They are arriving with heavy loads – sometimes crash landing on the landing boards! Most of the pollen being brought in is pale yellow/grey which means that the ivy is finally flowering. This is the final chance to fill their stores for the cold months ahead.
Sure enough, when we walked past Highgate Cemetery earlier we found this…