At this time of year, with the temperatures rising and the sky achingly blue, thoughts turn to spring cleaning, but the sight of dust motes in sunshine doesn't have me reaching for the vacuum cleaner....instead I flee out into the garden to see what's going on there.
Our bees are reacting to the warm weather the same way we are, out and about, stretching their legs (and wings), and I swear they are smiling - we've all had enough of the rain, thank you very much. I'm pleased to say that the bees seem to be thriving, taking lots of yellow pollen into the hives from the crocuses that are springing up all over the meadow.
Pollen usually means that the queen is laying, so the colonies are increasing in size, and that all points to the urgent need for more hives. When bees run out of room they look for somewhere bigger - before you know it, half of your bees can be swarming off in search of new accommodation! This year we plan to steal a march on them and split our colonies before they decide to zoom off on their own accord, but that means new hives and somewhere to put them.
You'd think we'd have plenty of space with three acres but you can't just plonk hives anywhere. The positioning of an apiary is key to the well-being of the colonies, and to the general safety of any humans who happen to be nearby...So, Operation Bramble commenced at the weekend as we attacked a huge section of wild brambles, the idea being to cut them back to create a space where our new hives could face south and were protected from the wind by trees behind.
Kevin was armed with 'man tools', a petrol-powered brushcutter and evil chainsaw, while I was the whirling dervish with a pair of shears. The picture above may not look that impressive but the cleared space is the result of three days of hard labour. We now have a clear site for our new apiary and are awaiting delivery of our new hives. Watch this (cleared) space for an update!