17 March 2024 · All five colonies have survived the winter.

Today was the first day of the year when the sun came out and the temperature went above 15°C. Spring has been a long time coming around here, so we spent the much of the afternoon touring pubs and beer gardens in the local villages, before finally heading back to the apiary to see how the bees are.

Our woodland bees have quite a few potential attackers, so the hives were covered in anti-woodpecker chicken wire and fortified with mouse guards. We removed both from each hive so we could take a look at what the winter had left us. As the headline says, all five colonies made it through the winter. We have three strong colonies, and two weak but viable ones. No colonies showed any immediate potential or need to split. None of them were exactly overflowing with honey either, but we'd left them with a lot of honey in autumn which we assume they've been using up in preference to the trays of fondant. Dan noticed signs of dysentery returning to one of the colonies but now sunlight and warmth has returned to the wood, we're hoping to see less evidence of the damp in the hives that causes dysentry.

The first inspection of the year often comes with some trepidation, given all the ways honey bee colonies can succumb to the harsh northern European winter. It's been wet and, at times, cold. To see they are starting the season healthy and with a good chance of getting stronger is great.