With the unseasonably warm weather in the 70's the bees are building up quickly and flowers are well ahead of schedule. Based on pictures from last year (Specifically the picture from the blog post Buzzing Trees with it's picture of a pear tree taken last year) the blooms are about 2 weeks 3 days ahead of last year. This all means it's time to begin grafting, just in time to be perfectly on schedule for this years queens (the first graft was actually this past Sunday).
I've talked to a number of beekeepers over the past weeks and the results of the winter are quite mixed. Some did quite well and have mostly strong hives and few losses. Others did poorly with 50-75% losses. Unlike past bad years where almost everyone did poorly, there doesn't seem to be a pattern by area, size of the beekeeper or experience. Fortunately most of our bee yards fall into the mostly strong with few losses category. I chalk it up to good stock and the extra effort in winter preparations we made last year. Still, if our winter had been a few weeks longer some hives may have run out of stores and would likely have starved out without assistance as some of the strong hives were getting light.
A good start to the season so far but we aren't out of the woods yet. The last time I recall such a great start to April ended with snow the last week of April. So keep your fingers crossed.