Yesterday’s mild temperatures saw the first bee flights in my valley for many days. I also saw my first bumblebee queens of the year–two separate species right on this colony’s landing board! I’m incredibly curious about what those bumblebee queens were trying to accomplish at the honey bees’ front door, but it was good to see solid flight activity and pollen coming in. Willow provides excellent early foraging in my area. The filberts have been blooming, but near constant rain has reduced pollen availability somewhat. Daffodils and skunk cabbage have been in bloom for a couple of weeks, with the one-day burst of light and warmth encouraging flowering plum, Indian plum, flowering quince, and tiny yellow wood violets to finally break bud.
Given the almost continuous rain of the last few weeks, and the fact that more is predicted, I chose not to inspect my hives, though the weather was warm enough (and I’m itching to get in there!) Knowing that my bees have adequate honey stores helped make the decision easier. This is a critical time in the colony; the population is building, but foraging conditions can be very unpredictable. Allowing my bees to take advantage of the day’s sun to gather pollen undisturbed seemed a good gamble. I’m also going to take the cue of the bumblebees’ appearance to start setting up my yellow jacket queen traps. Spring is just around the corner–come on, sun!