We are almost a month into our meteorological spring and over a week into astronomical spring but archetypical spring, verdant and blooming, is yet to be seen. The weather is still largely cold, windy, and snowy with only the occasional warm, sunny day. The Eeyores and Puddleglums among us are reminded by the persistent cold weather that early spring is also called the starvation season, as the stores that have seen us through winter near depletion while our forests and fields as yet feed us only promises.

Annabelle entered winter with what we had been told seemed an adequate larder. This was augmented by an inheritance from the late Beatrix and then a sheet of fondant, just in case. But it has been such a cold season and bees have been known to starve with food just a comb away when it was too cold to extend the cluster across the gap. So we have worried through each cold stretch until a warm day again saw the girls flying even if only far enough to do the necessary. Then we would be briefly gladdened until we remembered that the increased activity would increase consumption of stored honey. There is just no pleasing some fretful beekeepers.

Bee poop on a warm winter day

Speaking of the necessary, someone asked what bee poop looks like. Here is a fresh sample on the hive roof. It is usually smaller when they have not been saving it for weeks.

Yesterday was such a warm day and with the last drop of snow mostly gone they seemed to be out foraging but there is still little to find and that too far from the hive. Certainly we saw no pollen being brought back. Perhaps that is just as well. Pollen might encourage them to begin raising brood in earnest. Then with the next cold snap when they should return to cluster they would not, refusing to abandon their brood, keeping it warm until they themselves grow cold. Spring can be crueler than winter.

But let us draw hope from the crocus in our lawn. A week ago one bright bud rose above the grass preparing to unfurl when it was buried under several inches of snow. Today it bloomed.


Edited to add moments later: Today being even warmer than yesterday we should have checked Annabelle before we posted. The girls are out in even greater numbers and bringing back pollen, mostly a very pale, slightly dirty yellow (maple?) with a few finding some orange (crocus?) plunder. This can only lead to brood and there are surely cold spells yet to come as spring and winter continue to wrestle.

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