What’s blooming now in Winter for the honey bees?

It is incredible what blooms here in wintery New England. We have had an unseasonably warm spring with 70˚F days in January, and now rain in February (@50˚F). It turns out several things are early this year. All the honey beehives were active on these warm days with cleansing flights, grooming on the landing, and some scouting.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.) blooming in Mount Auburn Cemetary

I know where three stands of Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis) are, so in January, they are checked. On the first warm day (Jan 11th), the shrubs had not bloomed but on the second all three sites were blooming. There was the occasional bee on two of the stands, scouts, I think, but not much action. On subsequent warm days, there are only a couple of bees that visit the flowers.

Snowbells (Galanthus sp.) blooming on 3 Feb 2020 in Mount Auburn Cemetary

In February, I found some Snowbells (Galanthus sp.) blooming on a dry sunbathed pine ridges. The temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s for a couple weeks during the day. Supposedly because they are never seen at this time in my area. However, the snow cover has been fleeting lately. It was the afternoon and too cold for the blooms to be open, and I know the bees weren’t flying that day. I know areas in Mount Auburn where the snowbells carpet the ground, and none of them have shown themselves yet.

The Honey Bees use the Snowbells as an early source of pollen, and it often kicks off a brood cycle. Usually, Snowbells don’t come in force until March or later in my area. I’m curious to see what happens in 2020.

The next flower that is due is Scilla (pronounced “squill“) and more Snowbells. I wish I had a local reference to help me predict the blooming order. Perhaps, the creation of a Perpetual Blooming Calendar is needed. The kind of calendar where one records anniversaries and birthdays on but repurposed for tracking blooms. People’s memory is unreliable, and a written record is best. People keep giving me these anniversary calendars, and they disappear conveniently, but now one is needed, and no spare is to be found.

It should be of interest when flowers in your area bloom and memory being what it is, or is-not we might get the order reight, but the dates for me slip a slide across the calendar. If you look for your local blooming times or ask gardeners and beekeepers, you will get a whole lot of unverified info. Did have a conversation with a beekeeper, and his garden 10 miles away is not doing anything yet. I have a bed with crocuses come up already, no blooms, just the greens tips.

Go to the Pollinator Partnership website there are free guides and calendars for all sorts of local native and plants under the Resource section. I downloaded the free PDF guide for the North East, and it’s is a good jumping-off point for what to expect. Their site is beautifully done and full of valuable information. (Gosh free stuff is grand!)

Happy Beekeeping

Bees Swarm Berlin, Where Beekeeping Is Booming

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

When is enough Honey Bees too much? What an exciting problem to have. This New York Times article looks at the issues of urban beekeeping being too hip. Like many people, they underestimate the responsibilities of actual husbandry of livestock and can have a detrimental effect on biodiversity they are trying to protect. Read more at the New York Times story: Bees Swarm Berlin, Where Beekeeping Is Booming.

Beekeeping on the roof, Berlin, Germany

The article doesn’t seem to offer any solutions, but like most trends, bee having will wain eventually. Then the true enthusiasts and diehards will remain. Though, I have met several people that just like watching their hives; I wish to be doing that now, but I haven’t asked if we can have an observation hive in by office building yet. One will dream…

Happy Beekeeping!

Visited a Foul Mouthed Beekeeper…

I found a Nuc Beekeeper on YouTube.com and drilled down to to the video that earned him the moniker “Foul Mouthed Beekeeper”.

“He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end, without enthusiastic admiration.” ~The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

“He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end, without enthusiastic admiration.” ~The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin from grovegreenman.com

I’ll tell you what! I don’t give unicorn rainbow wing beats how the man communicates his bee knowledge as long as it is true, understandable, and and useful. I am very interested in his Nuc keeping and some of the finer points of that method. There are several other videos on the Nuc Method on Woolie’s channel. We are all going to get older and will not want to life deep boxes full of honey anymore some day.

PG-13: The FoulMouthed Beekeeper shows his enthusiasm. What’s wrong with that!?!

Happy Beekeeping!

Appalachian Headwaters Newest Beekeepers

The declining coal industry has left nearly 100,000 former miners unemployed in West Virginia. A new nonprofit, the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective (ABC), hopes to bring beekeeping as a revived Eco-friendly industry to the region.

The charity was funded using some of the $7.5 million settlement from a lawsuit against coal mine company for violating the Clean Water Act. Some of this money has been used to fund environmental restoration projects and to develop sustainable economic opportunities in the once-thriving region that now has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

So far, the collective has trained 85 former coal miners as beekeepers with more to be trained this year. Graduates of the free class “Introduction to Beekeeping” can receive free or reduced-cost bees, equipment, and access to ongoing beekeeping mentoring and training. The students can opt to maintain between two and 20 hives.

The trained beekeepers have harvested their first honey from this Spring of 2019. The non-profit then will collect, bottle and sell the honey for them, paying them market rate about currently $7 a pound. With the potential to earnings of around $700 per hive, 20 hives could earn $15,000 per season. The organization also are also offers training in making candles, lip balm and other wax products for additional income opportunities. For very part-time work from home, it provides a decent supplemental income for people struggling to make ends meet.

Plus, beekeeping helps ensure the survival of threatened honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations by supplying colonies a place to live, and improves the health and biodiversity of local ecosystems.

“It’s not common knowledge that the honey bee can only survive in many parts of the world due to the beekeeper,” writes beekeeper Paul Webb and continues to say, “Wild colonies have dwindled to the point of extinction due to modern agriculture. Huge expanses of land which now grow a single crop were once home to thousands of plants providing nectar and pollen for the honey bee and many other insects. Woodland has also disappeared, where traditionally a honey bee colony would find its home in the hollow trunk of a tree. This reduction of biodiversity, and decrease of animal populations has a huge environmental impact.

Sustaining honey bee numbers means the pollination of crops which otherwise could not come to fruition or have reduced harvest. it is true that some plants will be visited by many insect types, and others can only be pollinated by the honey bee. Honey bees are incredibly effective pollinators, when a source of pollen or nectar has been discovered by a scout bee, a large amount of the bees from that hive will soon visit the same planting multiple times. The bees will always pollinate the whole flower, which produces perfect fruit.

For more information see the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective (ABC) website, and the following:

Happy Beekeeping!


In Sweden, McDonald’s has sponsored the construction of the smallest McDonald’s restaurant with very important staff. A Bee colony resides there. It’s a publicity stunt at best, but it is nice to dream about a world where every McDonald’s in the world had hives on there roofs.

What does it look like with supers on it?

The world is buzzing with excitement over the creation and many have taken to social media with bee puns. One person wrote, “They will become oBEEse….” Another said, “I bet it will always be ‘beesy’”. Yet another posted, “I bet the ice cream machine doesn’t work.”

All joking aside, this idea is fantastic and hopefully will be implemented in all countries. McDonald’s has nearly 38,000 restaurants around the world. Just imagine if each one added a bee hive to their rooftops. Together we can make a difference.