As we head to this year's shortest day (21 December) my mind starts to turn to the jobs still waiting to be done before the bees start busying themselves in the spring. It may sound a fair way yet, but with the speed at which this year has gone by, I need to get a wriggle on. So where am I with beekeeping?
For some beekeepers, the honey crop seems to be the most important goal of their beekeeping year but for me, I only take any surplus honey leaving a good store of honey for the bees. This year was no exception. While others were taking honey off their colonies in the springtime, I chose to leave their stores. There's good reason for doing this and it's all about the changing climate and helping the bees to get through their year.
This week we've seen a big rise in the temperature and the sun is shining in a glorious blue sky. That's good news for our pollinators and other insects because it means those buds on trees and flowers that have been just on the edge of opening are in full bloom. There's nothing like standing in front of a hive and watching honey bees darting out of the entrance and on their way to reap the benefits.
While out walking our dog along the country lanes, a certain whiff in the air caught my nose at the weekend and it's one that you don't easily forget - it was the distinct smell of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) growing in the hedgerows. Looking closer, the flowers were covered in honey bees and other insects gathering pollen and nectar as their reward.