I took a Ginkgo walk around Van Dusen Gardens yesterday and the bees were up and out of their hive! My first clue was splotches of yellow goop in the snow. Yes, it's bee poo and it's all over the snow around the hives. So if you go up to the gardens to see the hives, now you know that after a long winter's huddle in the hive, the bees are desperate for the loo when the weather warms up. Too bad the batteries in my camera died or I would have taken lots of poop pictures. Well, maybe it's for the better. I'll never forget that day last summer when I was bee-watching in a my garden and a bee hung her hind end over the edge of a leaf and made a plop. I giggled.
The pussywillows are out and they are a very important source of nectar and pollen for building up the brood at this time of the year. If you have a chance, take a look at this document from UBC Botanical Garden's Botany John site which celebrates the life of John Davidson. There is an excellent paper about nectar and pollen sources from native plants in B.C. I was heartened to read his belief that "wildflowers constitute the foundation of success for the beekeeper." He believed that willows were the most important plants for beekeeper and that the bees could store 8-16 pounds of honey from this single source. So if you go out bee-watching in early spring, look for bees landing on pussy willow catkins.