Snowdrops. These slender, precocious shoots are primed to burst. For the bees, along with crocuses and winter aconites, snowdrops are like pollen canapés ahead of the bee-banquet which Spring will soon serve up.
When the snowdrop flowers, it chastely bows its face to the ground. Each snowdrop has three white leaflets, surrounding a green-streaked bell. And, inside, the clapper bears a sprinkle of surprisingly orange pollen. Soon burly bumblebees will start to visit, then warmer days will bring honeybees: this will be their first forage of the year.
New bee-life has started to fill the brood-box in the hive, whetting the appetite for new sustenance. And pollen is protein, fresh and fragrant, signposted by the snowdrops’ markings, more blatant in the scope of a bee’s vision than in ours.
Early and insubstantial, the eggs and larvae of honeybees are pearl-white, just like the snowdrops which nourish them. Right now, these budding bees are planted in their wax cells, but in three weeks’ time, they will emerge, fully-formed, furry and fantastically equipped for flight.
Flora and fauna: sometimes indistinguishable, sometimes incongruous. Always compatible.