After a number of seasons where the start of Spring has been either cold, wet or even both it makes a pleasant change to have a warm and settled period of weather to the start of a season. This year, 2014, looks to be about 4 weeks ahead of last year and about 2 weeks ahead of what could be considered an average Spring. The bees are certainly active when the mid-morning temperature gets above 12C and it has been getting to 17C on quite a few days. What has been interesting to observe is that my strongest colony, Aqua, has raced ahead of the others. It’s been expanding at the rate of one additional 14×12 frame of brood per week. So it has virtually doubled in size in the space of 6 weeks, which means I can add a second brood box and use it for queen rearing. The other colonies are expanding much more slowly, probably about 1/2 a brood frame a week.
Also what has surprised me has been the emergence of drones very early in the season, at least this means that if the bees do start to show signs of producing new queens they can get mated.
The other issue that appears to be one that will need to be tackled is varroa. As the Winter was very mild this means that the colonies were rearing brood over the whole of Winter giving the varroa ample opportunity to continue their breeding cycles in the larval cells. I haven’t started to remove capped drone brood yet. I think that because it’s a bit early the bees have been drawing the comb out as worker cells rather than drone cells. I will put in the varroa slides to monitor the mite drop and see how bad the problem is likely to be.