Almost exactly two months ago I photographed a farmer spraying the oilseed rape (OSR) crop. At the time it was about 5″ tall, with perhaps 4-6 leaves. Here’s an image (below) from the same gateway – it’s now in full flower and should be providing an orgy of nectar and pollen opportunities for colonies within range. However, the spring has been cold and many colonies have yet to build up properly. Our local weather station reports that last week was 2.6ºC below the average temperature for the 18th week of the year.
Yesterday was warmer, but ended in rain and it’s chucking it down as I write … it looks like the OSR won’t give a bumper crop this year. However, it looks set to reach 15ºC or more next week and a bit of warm and settled weather – although it might be too late for the majority of the OSR – means some of my generous neighbours might be donating some swarms for my bait hives 😉
In addition, the hawthorn is preparing to flower … this can be a good source of pollen and nectar, but beekeepers often apparently mistake it (not the tree, but the source of nectar being collected) for sycamore which flowers at the same time.
So much for my queen rearing plans … that’s on hold for another week at least until the cell raisers are ready. In the meantime, I have identified some well-behaved colonies as a source of suitable larvae.