From a Brutal Cold Winter…To An Unusually Warm Spring

It does not usually get too cold here in North Carolina, or at least not for very long.  Except for this winter.
We had temps in the low teens and single digits for far longer than I have ever seen in the 30 years that I have been here.Now February has arrived and the temps warmed up.  They tend to warm quickly here and we have already had several days of high 70’s, if not low 80’s.  That big flux in temperatures has made everything POP!!  Not only did my daffodils shoot out of the ground, but everything that usually blooms a week or 2 or 3 later, is now blooming.  Over the weekend I witnessed Eastern Red Buds already in bloom.  Most of the years that I have lived here, Red Buds and Dogwoods bloom very close to the same time (around Easter).  That makes them about a month ahead of schedule.

It is very beautiful to see all of these things blooming, but I have all of these things so that my bees have a wide variety of blooms to forage on.  Having them all bloom at once could leave a dearth of forage at some point.

For example, there is now nectar sources of Red Maple and Eastern Red Bud.  This is great now, but what about when the Red Bud would normally bloom?  I do also have a wide variety of perennials and herbs that have been planted for my bees.  These might be the saving grace in my apiary to bloom later.  I have not seen the perennials and herbs popping with blossoms so quickly, like I have the trees.

Again, this is another reason to grow a wide variety of things for the bees and pollinators.  Each year that goes by, I see the weather rearrange when and what the bees have to forage on.  If you grow a large enough variety of trees, perennials and herbs, it won’t matter as much.

Here is a list of the plants and trees that I see as Bee forage in this warm spring:

  • Hen Bit - Pollen & Nectar
  • Purple Dead Nettle - Pollen
  • Red Maple - Pollen & Nectar
  • Dandelion - Pollen
  • Flowering Quince - Pollen
  • Bird eye Speedwell - Nectar
  • Chickweed - Nectar
  • Ornamental Plum - Pollen & Nectar
  • Hellebore - Pollen & Nectar
  • Willow - Nectar & Pollen
  • Eastern Red Bud - Nectar
  • Peach Blossoms - Pollen & Nectar

Of course, the bees will chose what is the best source of foraging, depending on the need in their hive.  They will forage on different things at different times of the day, putting away stores for another time.

Honey Bees on Purple Dead Nettle
Honey Bees on Purple Dead Nettle
Honey Bee on Bird Eye Speedwell (Veronica filiformis)
Honey Bee on Bird Eye Speedwell (Veronica filiformis)

A Little Poetry for the Nature Lover….

I’ve recently  discovered the wonderful quotes and prose of Wendell Berry.  He has some most wonderful writings.  In closing, I’d like to share this with you.

We have never known what we are doing because we have never known what we were un-doing. We cannot know what we are doing until we know what nature would be doing if we were doing nothing.

Wendell Berry, Home Economics

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