Oxford Bees

Forage

June gap: evidence on the base board

Submitted by will on Mon, 24/06/2019 - 04:57

My bee group talks about the 'June gap'. This is is the period where the spring flowers end and forage becomes scarce.

Many of the bee group are in rural areas of Oxfordshire where Oil Seed Rape is the primary crop. There are gardens and some hedgerows left, but their pickings are slim. In the city this is mostly not the case.

Honeydew falling from the Lime Trees

Submitted by will on Sun, 26/05/2019 - 05:30

The Lime tree (Tilia Cordata, or the Linden tree) is found all around Oxford. As I cycle under the avenue of them on South Parks Road I can feel the slight prickle of honeydew falling.

Honeydew is a sugar-water liquid secreted by the aphids who live on the Lime trees. They suck the sap and excrete the liquid which falls in a light spray from the trees. The leaves quickly get a shine where large amounts of this liquid has dried on them. I've seen this in other places around Oxford.

Bees flying and foraging at Headington Hill Hall perpetual hive

Submitted by will on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 13:54

The bees in the perpetual hive in Headington Hill Hall park were flying at 1pm today -- 13th February.

There were flights every 3-5 seconds and I saw one bee land near me which had dark red pollen baskets. I couldn't check that she was carrying pollen but it seems the most likely. There were red Hellebores nearby which I think were probably the source of the pollen

The flowers in bloom nearby were

Pollen Colours - Early June

Submitted by will on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 22:26

The monotone beige of the tree pollen has given way to more diverse colours. I think that there are 8 colours in the image. I haven't tried to identify the flowers which these pollen come from.

This sample of pollen colours comes from my apiary in central Oxford. There are parks and college gardens nearby so some of the flowers may be non-native.

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Pollen as food for the bees

Submitted by will on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 21:38

Pollen is the high protein food which the bees use to make food for their brood. If you see pollen coming into the hive then it's reasonable to assume that there is brood being reared in the hive.

The bees visit flowers and collect the pollen in 'baskets' of hairs behind their hind legs. We can see these 'baskets' as bright patches on the legs of returning bees. The lumps of pollen sometimes get dropped and fall to the floor of the hive where they can be examined.

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Flowers in blossom in early June

Submitted by will on Sat, 02/06/2018 - 22:19

The trees have finished their blossom: Hawthorn and Horse Chestnut.

In their place there is abundant Buttercup and Elder in flower.

There are also very many varieties of hedgerow wild flowers (seen near Stanton Harcourt). I've seen daisies, climbing roses and different Umbilifers. I doubt whether many of these are within the forage area of either of my apiaries.

New comb and high weather in October

Submitted by will on Sat, 14/10/2017 - 21:29

It's mid-October. The weather is supposed to be cooling but that's not what we're getting. Ex-Hurricane Ophelia is on its' way, bringing high winds and high temperatures. In Oxford we're forecast to get 40mph winds (fearties! fearties!) and 20C temperatures. The average October temperature is 10.1C (source: /node/191).