Winter is a fretful time for beekeepers in cold weather areas. We pretty much have to leave the bees to survive on their own, hoping we did everything possible to help them get through the cold months. We worry if it's too cold for too long and worry if it's too warm for too long. After a cold spell the first day that's warm and dry enough for checking on the bees finds us peeking in the hives to see how they fared.
When it's too cold for the bees to break their winter cluster for too long they can starve to death even though they have plenty of food available. On the other hand, a too warm winter will enable the bees to move around the hive more freely which means more bees can access the food supply at a time. That can lead to the winter stores you left them not being enough to get them through until the first plants start producing nectar and pollen.
So what's a beekeeper to do? Give them candy to eat and plant anything that blooms in January close to the hive to help feed them on those warm days they can get outside the hive.
Agarita - Nectar and Pollen
Bethlehem Sage - Pollen
Blue Lungwort - Pollen
Bodnant Viburnum - Nectar and Pollen
Chinese Witch Hazel - Pollen
Common Lungwort - Pollen
Darley Dale Heath - Nectar and Pollen
Florida Pennyroyal - Nectar
Galanthus - Nectar and Pollen
Heath - Nectar and Pollen
Higan Cherry - Nectar and Pollen
Hybrid Witch Hazel - Pollen
Japanese Mahonia - Nectar and Pollen
Laurustinus - Nectar and Pollen
Mahonia - Nectar and Pollen
Red Maple - Nectar and Pollen
Snow Crocus - Nectar and Pollen
Snowdrops - Nectar and Pollen
Viola - Nectar
Winter Aconite - Nectar and Pollen
January blooms are necessary not only to keep the bees going until spring but are also the beginning of the food supply needed for raising brood.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to see some of these plants blooming in your yard during January? Just remember, if you see bees out working right now, do not distrub them while they work. They will be aggressive until they have stored enough food to feed their young.
(Editor's note: If you click on an image you will be taken to that plant's database profile. This is a nice new feature for All Things Plants!)