This year I had my first call about a swarm in mid-April, probably a month before I usually start to get any. It’s very much prompted me to wonder what’s going on with the bees. I think those in towns and at lower altitudes barely slowed down over the winter thanks to the very mild (though exceptionally wet) weather and colonies have built up far faster than they might otherwise have done.
If there’s plenty of nectar and pollen available during this extended season then I can see there may well be an increase in honey production. I’m far from certain that will be the case however. Extending the season at the end of the year may well increase the demand on stores at a time when there’s no forage to replace them. A reduction in the time when there’s no brood may have negative effects from the point of view of IPM and queen longevity too.
If this is going to be the nature of our climate over the next few years then we may well be in for a difficult time.