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. With a harsh June gap offering nothing in the way of food for the bees, the National Bee Unit issued alerts for beekeepers to check their bees to start feeding to avoid starvation. How different just one week can make to the lives of bees.
We've had brambles finally coming into flower in the hedgerows and in the past couple of days lime trees are amass of yellow flowers. Just stand under a lime tree when it's in flower and listen to the hum of bees. One of nature's delightful sounds.
Trees are an incredibly important source of food for bees and other pollinators due to their large size which contains thousands of flower heads giving the pollinators their important source of food in one place. Unlike some insects, honey bees are particularly loyal to one source of food. For example, a bumble bee will go from one different plant to another gathering food.
Our honey bees need to forage from early spring through to late autumn. Hazel, alder and pussy willow can provide early sources of pollen when few plants are in flower to provide protein that the nurse bees feed to the larvae. In the summer, you will see avenues of lime trees along verges and roads in our towns and cities. The flowers don't last very long, so the bees work quickly to gather the nectar.
I'll be keeping an eye on all the supers that have been put on the hives this week because lime honey is said to be one of the best flavoured honeys produced. It is also said to be very rich in vitamins (especially B1, also known as thiamin), amino acids, pollen and resin. It has antiseptic properties and can therefore be used to cure colds, flu, cough and bronchitis as it dissolves the mucus and cleans the throat. Now there's something I didn't know.