It’s cold

It’s cold. Sub-zero mornings followed by blue skies. By the afternoon it heats up to about eight degrees, so beautiful to walk in. However, I am glad we chose to insulate the hives again this year with an aluminium wrap as well as the usually top insulation.

Yesterday, 14 January 2022, we were out walking when we came across this patch of violets opening up in the sunshine at the edge of a wood.

I got down on my hands and knees and gave them a good sniff. They released a gentle perfume typical of violets. The air temperature never went above 8 degrees centigrade yesterday so although the perfume was not strong, I believe this would be because of the cold. Hopefully, we can return soon if the weather gets warmer and see if the perfume is stronger.

Another surprise was to see a few tiny snowdrops appear in the first few days of January. This has never happened before. I have tried over the years, I admit I never managed to find any “in the green” and at the beginning of the garden there were no Internet sites that I knew of, but I did plant any bulbs I could find. I have got some later snowdrops but last year I resigned myself to give up as we have lots of other lovely flowers. Kourosh, however, picked up a packet of snowdrop bulbs last year. I cannot remember where. Possibly a DIY store or a supermarket, but I completely ignored the purchase except to warn him that it was his job to plant them and find a place near the house as it was not worth planting snowdrops far away from the window. He obviously heeded my warning and the bulbs grew up – just to spite me!

Often the “wisdom” of nature and natural creatures is vaunted and compared favourably to our blundering passage through this life. I am not too convinced of the consistency in this innate knowledge. Two days ago Kourosh alerted me to a bumblebee asleep at the front of our house in the winter honeysuckle. It was early evening, the sun was getting lower and the temperature falling – and yet she slumbered on. We could not leave her there. If she has returned to her snug nest she would have escaped the sub zero temperatures but not staying out in the open.

I popped her into a plastic box and put her in an unheated bedroom and she did not move until I brought her into the dining room after midday the following day. I dropped some honey into the box. I would like to point out that the Bumblebee Conservation Trust advises not to use honey but to make sugar syrup but I was not sure she was alive at this stage – and it was easier. As she warmed up she made for the honey and mopped it up and took a second helping.

I took her into the sunshine and let her take wing, which she did with a disgruntled buzz rather than a thank you.

The Chimonanthus praecox is just starting to flower. It has more flowers this year. I hope it will be more impressive. We have put it in a shady position and do not benefit from its perfume as much as I anticipated. Once, more of the flowers are open I will cut some flowering twigs and bring them inside.

I saw my first Bombus pratorum queen, or early bumblebee, on 7 January 2022. That is early. The photo is not great but she is very quick and I was pleased to at least capture her with the date on camera.

I hope she did not misjudge the weather and has made a warm nest somewhere.

26 thoughts on “It’s cold

  1. I would not have known to rescue the bumblebee, I would have thought she knew what she was doing. We have had very similar weather here in Carpentras. Now I need to add looking for sleeping bumblebees at dusk to my list of daily chores.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We check on them if it is sunny and it is surprising at how low air temperatures they venture out. I’m sure it is not just their “vol de propreté” as they could hold it in until springtime. Either they just want their freedom from their nagging sisters or we have flowers for them just metres from the hives. We have seen them flying out at just 7 degrees if the hives are in the sun. They also like to take a promenade on the front board in the sun. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Janine

    Heavy rain has cleared the snow and temperatures hit 8c . Bees were doing cleansing flights and perhaps even collecting water on nearby foliage. Days have begun to lengthen here in BC. Janine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most people associate sun with warm weather but over here when we have the beautiful blue skies in winter it means that we have freezing overnight temperatures and it does not start to warm up until midday. The cloud cover overnight keeps the heat in like a duvet and we do not have frosts. What we need is cloud at night time that blows away mid morning :). Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Bees do not have to evacuate their waste products inside the hive. They go out for “cleansing” flights although some bees in northern climes can last practically a whole winter. This can be at a cause to them and they can develop a kind of “diarrhoea”. Apart from that it is the only problem I have heard they develop being stuck inside. Unfortunately, the varroa mites sit tight. It is true, though, that colonies often die at the end of the winter and not from starvation. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very glad to have this, what is for us. a long spell of cold weather. I am hopeful that it will reset the plants to know that it is too early to start flowering for the fruit trees etc. A lot of our problems come when the trees and plants go for it too early in the year. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have read that it is quite normal for the queen bumblebee to wake up if it is warmer and she will take the opportunity to stock up on nectar. She should then settle down somewhere cosy, in a shady spot that would prevent her being prematurely woken by hot sunshine. That is why I like to watch them stocking up on the nectar of the winter heather etc. during a warm spell. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s