A quiet time for bees. I've been up to the hives once or twice around Christmas, and even taken a peep inside the roofs when the sun has been shining. On Christmas Eve when I lifted the covers over the bees in my new colony I could see them taking in candy quite eagerly from the pack I had left them. They seemed fit and lively so that's a good sign. The mild weather means bees are eating more than usual so checking stores regularly is important. Fields of oilseed rape around our cottage are astonishingly advanced. When we went for a walk on Boxing Day one field had self-sown oilseed rape plants at the field's edge already in flower. We have violets, snowdrops and primroses out, clematis budding up, and a big subhirtilla autumnalis cherry in magnificent snowy flower for the last three weeks. A neighbour told me there were bees foraging in her garden at the weekend. Hope they were mine.