Beekeeper's Blog: February 13, 2013
Spring is well, springing in Southern Marin. The herring are running. Birds everywhere on the shore. On my walk today I noticed the Eucalyptus trees are blossoming. These are the really big Eucalyptus trees, Blue Gum (Eucalyptus Globulus) the "Widow Makers" (it's easy to imagine the death and destruction one of these massive tree trunks would cause falling over). Huge towering trunks of wood and peeling bark, standing over everything else that grows and often sprouting up from stumps and seeds in beautiful and fragrant teal green leaves.
OK, yes, I like them. Amazing trees. Just think about how much nectar one giant tree can generate. I believe that my bees abandon almost everything else and really focus on these trees. Even the rosemary with its tiny blue flowers sees fewer and fewer bees as the trees take over.
Next, plums, everywhere. They are a surprise tree. During most of the year they go unnoticed. Mostly just scrawny little trees with lots of leaves. But in the spring they pop out of the hillside landscapes in a burst of flowers, like lollypops. Of course the bees love them. Wouldn't you? The promise of fruity nectar beckons and delivers, if only for a very short time.
Then there are the wild flowers. Too many to list. I think the bees really get excited about the wild radishes. I see all kinds of bees on these flowers that line paths and trails along the waterfront.
And what are the bees doing? They are ramping up, starting to fill in all those empty frames that they abandoned during the winter. On sunny days there are clouds of young bees orienting around their entrance to the hive. Some hives, just a few, look like they could even be split (divided into nuc hives) soon. I will keep them crowded for now to stay warm on cold nights and rainy days. Always keeping watch for any signs of a swarming desire. The smallest hives will still get some sugar and pollen patties because their foraging forces are growing to support a queen that will be laying eggs like crazy soon. It's a time full of hope, excitement and dreams of hives filled to the top with bees boiling over when the hive cover is removed. Ha! There will be surprises too, there always are.