It’s Christmas day but the weather feels more like mid-spring. The temperature has been hovering around 60° F and the bees have been busy feeding on sugar syrup. Some bees prefer fresh Chinese broccoli flowers which are the only flowers left in the garden.
I looked at all the hives and to my surprise they were taking in pollen as well. Not just one or two bees but many of them bringing pollen back to their hives. I have no idea where they are getting pollen from but it’s noticeably two different colors. I hope they are just bringing it back for storage and not for rearing a new brood. It’s the beginning of winter and next week the temperature is expected to drop down between 20-30° F and snow is predicted. We still have two or three more months to go before anything starts to bloom again.
Here are the busy girls taking in Nature’s Christmas gift:
Though the third hive is the smallest, they were busy as well. They widened the hole at the top entrance a little bit. I think it might be too hot for them in there so they needed more air circulation. Two days ago it was almost completely closed and it was a little too wet out side from heavy rain. I’m glad they are still active, since they appeared to build up the hive very slowly. If the winter continues to be mild like this I think they will pull through.
Our bees are still working hard and they still don’t have to go far for refreshment. There are some Echinacea left in the garden since I dead-headed some of them and left some for the American Goldfinches. The Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia) seem like a bar during happy hour with so many butterflies and bees hovering around in abundance. Goldenrod (Solidago), a native weed, still blooms nicely. As much as the honey bees like to forage on the Goldenrod, there are a lot of bully wasps chasing them. I left mint flowering for the bees, but keep my eyes on them. I’ll cut them as soon as the flowers fade. A lesson hard earned since I can’t get rid of these invasive mint plants. I let them set seed years ago and they have tried to take over the yard ever since.
I’m pretty happy that they have plenty of food they can store for winter. Watching them going in and out of the hive with pollen stuck to their hind legs becomes one of my moments of enjoyment in the day. There are a variety of colors of pollen carried back to the hive, ranging from off white and yellow to orange. Common colors for pollen. What surprised me last week was some of the bees came back with pollen so dark, a deep blue color. I couldn’t figure out what flower they collected this pollen from. The blue and lavender flowers in the garden and neighborhood are Salvia ‘Black & Blue’, Butterfly bush, Aster and Wild Chicory, but I don’t think they have blue pollen. Can anyone out there provide a clue?