We celebrated the first of December by taking the muzzles off the front of the hives. A cold spell had at last stopped the hornet attacks.
It was good to see the bees free at last and flying unimpeded by the wire netting. We put on entrance reducers to keep them cosy.
Kourosh is very proud of his Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) tree and rightly so, as he grew it from the seeds we recovered from the fruit that we had eaten in the U.K, only seven years ago. We were looking forward to seeing the bees enjoying the flowers as they had done last year.
Then more cold weather and frosts hit, freezing the flowers. Our dry spell has at last ended and we have had rain. The days have been often cloudy and damp. Low temperatures and rain keep the bees clustered in their hives. We miss watching them and it keeps us out of the garden.
This last week we have had some sunny days and the frost and cold weather has not damaged the Loquat flowers.
What does surprise me is that the bees fly to the Loquat tree when the air temperature is no higher than 9 degrees Centigrade.
You can see the bee dipping her tongue into the flower to dab up the nectar that has been warmed by the sun. The flowers are also well insulated by the sepals which are covered by fluffy hairs.
The flowers also supply a plentiful pollen and you could see the pollen sacs growing as you watched an individual bee.
This bee is moistening the pollen in her front legs before passing it back to join the rest of the bundle stuck to her back legs.
Sometimes it all becomes too much and she has to sit on a leaf and have a good groom and retrieve all the sticky pollen in peace.
I noticed that at 9 degrees Centigrade the bees were only on the Loquat tree and the Winter Flowering Honeysuckle which are both very close to their hives.
However, yesterday when the temperature went up to 10.5 degrees Centigrade the bees flew further to the Mahonia and…
even the winter flowering heather which is in the front garden. A warmer couple of days must be making them more adventurous. I have seen no queen bumble bees at these temperatures. They should be hibernating in a shady spot that will not be over-heated by the sun as they are on their own and coming out at these low air temperatures would not be wise as they have no warm hive and cluster of bees to keep them warm.
I also noticed my first Hellebore in the front garden but the others have still a long way to go, so the bees will have to wait a bit for their next treat.