The Queen's genetic inheritance, her age and mating experience are all significant factors governing the colony's Spring recovery. The weather clearly affects the colony's foraging activities, but poor flying conditions can sometimes increase the Queen's egg laying. Foraging bees depend on blossom and flowers being available in the neighbourhood, without which the egg laying will diminish and then halt.
Stephen spent some time on the topic of supplementary feeding. Hefting or weighing the hives can immediately alert the beekeeper to lack of stores. But colonies may be tempted to break out of the Winter cluster configuration too early, and suffer from the low temperatures. In addition, there is also a danger in over-providing the colonies resulting in too little space on the brood combs being available for egg laying. Nutrient balance was also discussed, with carbohydrates (from nectar) needing to be accompanied by proteins (from pollen).
In all there was a lot for beekeepers to think about! Many thanks to Stephen for an excellent start to this year's club events.