The weather forecast was calling for rain, but it cleared out early and the day was warm, humid and sunny with a light breeze. The bees were very, very active. Unlike yesterday, the bees were virtually ignoring the dry pollen substitute I had put out for them. A quick inspection of the activity told me why, they were gathering real pollen from somewhere. I was a bit surprised because the silver maple outside my door was not yet blooming.
Later in the day, activity at the pollen substitute had increased somewhat, but was not the thick cloud they would have been if no real pollen was available. I though the picture below was pretty cool as it caught most bees in flight as they had just flew up in response to my breath while I was taking the picture:
The source of most the the real pollen, probably a few maple trees that had started blooming. I did find one on my property that was humming, but not all of them. I’m hoping the others hold out till we have another warm day next week. This is the earliest I recall silver maples blooming in recent memory. In past years it has been mid to late March when the maples bloom. Normally I start putting pollen patties in the hives the first week of March, a week or two before the maples begin to bloom.
Nearly every hive in my yard had activity today, Including most of the nucs I am attempting to overwinter this year. I put most of them in groups of 4 to help provide a windbreak for each other. It will be interesting to see which ones did well when it gets a bit closer to spring.
Still, activity at the hive was not always a good sign. This following hive had a lot of activity. But it had no pollen gathering and the activity was more frantic and disorganized. It also had the waxy residue near the top fo the white box that is a sign of robbing. I’m not 100% certain, but my experience tells me this particular hive didn’t make it and had a lot of unprotected honey.
I’m not sure what this incredibly early start means for the bee season this year. It looks quite promising with a lot of live hives. But it’s still very early and we’ve been fooled before. At this point I’m most worried about starvation.