|Hives #1-4 after the February 9 blizzard.|
|Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus.|
In late February and early March, the Skunk Cabbage provided the first source of natural pollen for the bees. Skunk Cabbage inflorescences heat themselves up by oxidizing stored carbohydrates, possibly to keep pollinators active on chilly days as well as to melt away snow and ice. On sunny days when temperatures were well above freezing, the bees would be out patrolling the local swamps and streamsides, and coming back absolutely covered with pale yellow pollen.
|Worker bee covered with skunk cabbage pollen. The blackish growth on the bark is a leafy liverwort common in New England, Frullania eboracensis.|
|Hive entrance in early May. Note the drones (male bees) peeking out at left.|
|Nice frame of worker brood from hive #1.|
The bee populations are in good shape, with the queens producing reasonably solid patterns of new brood in all of the hives. There hasn't been any loss of bees to swarming yet, although I did wind up making make two splits from hives that were starting to make new queens, probably in preparation for casting a swarm. I hear that there have been a few swarms from other hives in the area. Varroa mites are the great plague of the modern beekeeper, and while mites are definitely present in all of the hives, mite levels haven't reached the stage where harsh treatments are called for.