This is a very unusual spring. About 2 or 3 weeks ago I heard of beekeepers checking hives and finding drones. DRONES! I checked a friend’s hive and found the same thing on March 12th. Finally had a chance to look at mine on the 18th and found drones, unbelievable. Last year I saw walking drones around April 6th. So the drones this year are appearing a month earlier. Everything is early except for the numbers of bees.
Flowers starting blooming a month earlier than prior years. This year, the maples started by the first week in March and were done by the 16th. Redbuds started blooming on Monroe Ave. on the 9th and dandelions were spotted on March 16th in sporadic areas. March 18th saw forsythia blooming in spots around our area. Bradford pears started blooming in Baltimore yesterday (22nd).
For contrast, in 2013 I posted April 8th as the Redbud bloom, the maples were almost done in my yard at that point and Bradford Pears in Baltimore on April 8th.
I suspect El Nino is the cause of this early bloom as the winter has been markedly mild.
I have a prediction: either the honey harvest will be non-existent (due to the disparity between blooms and foragers available), OR it will be very small and very early.
In addition to the drones, there were reports of queen cells in hives. That completely blew my mind. Well, check out my overwintered VSH nuc, a virgin queen who just emerged from a queen cell (found the laying queen as well):
The virgin is in the above picture almost exactly in the middle. And below is one of TWO queen cells with nice, neat openings. This hive worried me when I opened it because it had fewer bees than 2 weeks ago, now I know why. There is a laying queen and 2 virgins in here. Interesting, interesting.