I'm not usually a worrier, but all this rain we have been having has turned me into one. When it is rainy, bees stay home. That means they are not out there foraging for nectar and pollen. Since I am feeding them syrup, they won't starve, but they need to collect pollen to feed their brood.
To make things even worse, while they are not out doing what bees do because it is raining, the rain is knocking the pollen out of the trees and early spring flowers. That's good news for allergy sufferers but bad news for bees, because when the rains finally stopped this week, the workers headed out to forage but there was no pollen to bring back to the hive.
How do I know?
I have been taking advantage of the break in the rain to plant in the ravine so I have been spending more time than usual watching the bees return to the hives. I spent about 30 minutes yesterday, just watching. In one 15 minute observation period in the afternoon, I saw a few bees returning with their pollen baskets stuffed but in the evening observation period I saw no pollen at all coming in.
So, I worried. No pollen means the brood isn't being well fed which means the population of the bees will not increase as quickly as it should which means there will be fewer bees to forage for nectar which means less honey at the end of the season, not that I was counting on much extra honey this year. The really worrisome question is will there bee enough honey in those hives to sustain the bees through the winter?
This morning I headed to the ravine with the last of my new woodland plants and my trusty trowel. As I watched my girls, I was relieved to see many of them returning to the hives with their pollen baskets full. I am less worried today than yesterday.
Thank you, Harvey, for finding the terrific photograph of the honeybee with her filled pollen baskets. Look at how cute her little bee butt is all dusted with pollen.