The declining numbers of Covid cases suggests a return to “normal” but I tend to refer to it as a re-emergence of the familiar. Plexiglass barriers are disappearing. Gin-scented sanitizers are fewer in number. No one wants to see my vaccine passport before greeting me, but many people still wear their masks in public spaces and people stay a little closer to home as they count down the days to planned holidays; not wanting to miss it because of an unwanted illness. Restaurants are busy – but busy on fewer days of the week and the phone still rings at the desk of trades and contractors but does not promise that someone will answer. It’s all quite familiar but not quite the same. And doesn’t that quite sum up our current bee season.
New Beekeepers must forgive us if we are unsure of our advice this year. The cool weather has delayed the arrival of local nucs and created questionable flying weather for virgin queens. It is definitely not a normal season as plants bloom late and bees continue to draw on syrup supplies in the absence of expected nectar flows in May and June. That doesn’t seem to lessen the potential for swarms though. Every time the sun makes a brief appearance the bees and resident queen seem to make a dash for the door. There’s money in them thar trees if the swarms would just settle low enough to grab!
With cool weather and delayed sunshine this may be a year that backyard beekeepers work simply to keep a hive through to the next season and prepare to try again. If that is the case, then we must all pay particular attention to the impact of varroa mites. This month Don Lambert will take us through the practices that should be familiar to us all so that, collectively, we feel confident with our treatments and timing and can boost our hives survival rates.
Remember we are meeting in our new location: Central Saanich Seniors Centre 1229 Clarke Road, Brentwood Bay