Early season bee activity
At the end of winter, every beekeeper wants to know if their bees have pulled through and are alive and well, ready for spring.
During the first couple of nice days , you will see your bees starting to fly again. Stretching their wings, and having a look for early pollen and nectar. In the UK, the crocuses, snowdrops, hazel and willow provide the first forage from early to mid February onwards.
Every beekeeper knows this time of year it is important to keep an eye on their hives – this is the time of year a queen will start laying again, the stores are running low, colony is growing but there is little forage. Starvation is just around the corner, this could be a cue for supplemental feeding.
Early season activity
We have an example here of a winter profile of a hive monitored with an ARNIA system. The graph below shows hive weight (green), brood temperature (red) and mean flight noise (blue).
Until mid-February you can see the brood temperature fluctuating. Combined with low flight noise and a steady weight decline, you can conclude that the colony is clustering in ‘winter-mode’.
Around 22nd of February, you see that the brood temperature starts to stabilise to 34C, an indication that the queen has started laying.
At the same time, you can see an increase in flight noise and activity (blue line) when the bees start to become more active. It perfectly shows the colony coming to life after winter clustering, without the need to disturb the bees.
The weight decline (green line) accelerates as the bees are using more food stores but there is no widespread forage available yet.
This information allows the beekeeper to make feeding strategy decisions without the need to open up a hive.