OK, spring might not be here quite yet, but after what seems like months of gloom and cold, we’ve finally been greeted with a day of sunny, (relatively) warm weather. In mild climates like ours in Northern California, January is the time when bees spring back into action after clustering for most of the winter.

Bee foraging from a fava bean blossomWe’ve yet to open up the hives to see what’s going on inside, but the area around our hives is buzzing with bees coming and going, many of them heavy with yellow pollen. During the cold months, bees must rely on honey they’ve stored in their hives, or what we feed them, and their stores are significantly depleted by January. They’ll still cluster on cold days and nights, but as today proves, they’re quick to begin foraging as soon as the weather permits.

Floral sources can be a bit scarce this time of year, and according to “Beekeeping in Coastal California,” in our area bees rely heavily on eucalyptus, manzanita and California pepper trees. Eucalyptus we have in abundance, but I was curious to find out what other floral sources our bees might have located. A quick walk around the property showed that our citrus trees (also an important source in early spring) have yet to bloom, but I did find three or four bees tucked into some fava bean blossoms in the test garden. Will our spring honey have subtle hints of fava beans?

We still can’t disturb the bees during cold weather, so we’re hoping for another warm day sometime in the next week when we can find out what’s going on inside the hives.

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