Exclusive Advice with Beekeeper Kasper

Bees are starting to rear more brood as the weather slowly gets warmer. Willows, gorse and blackthorn are starting to flower this time of year, providing bee colonies with fresh pollen and nectar.

Bees don’t fly far away from their hives in the early spring (only around a 500m radius), so it’s a good idea to make sure your bees have a supply of fresh clean water near the hives.

On a warm day, I’m checking on the bees by hefting the hive to get an idea of how much food is in there before I open the hive. Using a gentle puff of smoke, I am lifting the crown board and looking at how the bees are behaving. It’s a good sign if they’re staying calm, it means they more than likely have plenty of food and all is well. If I see plenty of food all around the bees, I leave them to do what they need to. If I’m not sure, I gently move some frames until I see the brood. Signs of brood mean the queen is in the colony which is a good sign. There is no need to look for the queen if we see healthy brood in the hive.

Bees are using lots of honey to feed fast-growing broods so I always make sure they have plenty of food. When the weather is below 8 degrees during the day I’ll use fondant, but if the weather is warm during the day and the bees are out flying then I’ll use liquid feed but that usually isn’t earlier than the end of march. I keep most hives on a double brood chamber and feed them plenty in September and October ready for the winter so that this time of year they should still have plenty of stores left. I would recommend this to anyone as this seems to work well for me.

Pollen supplements give the colonies a boost before there is an abundance of fresh pollen available. I will usually wait to give the bees pollen patties until around two weeks before willow trees start to flower. Then I’ll put the pollen patties on the hives so that by the time they finish eating it there will be plenty of pollen available. I use this method on hives which will be collecting nectar from early flowering crops like rapeseed oil. This is to make sure colonies are in their best condition to make the best use of the crop.


March is the perfect time to start sowing pollinator-friendly plants to help our bees and pollinators, including our bee-friendly seeds from £1. Even a few extra plants in your garden or window sill will make a difference.

Before the season starts, I’ll try to have all the frames made up with foundation so I don’t have to rush when the swarming season begins. All my spare hives are scraped and sterilized using a blow torch. These are then stacked up in the shed ready to use.

March Honey Recipe by Gill Meller:

‘Whenever I eat goat’s cheese, I am transported back to summer holidays in the south of France, where the hot sun would stale the baguettes by mid-afternoon, and yet they would still seem perfect. I have an inedible image in my mind of an entire table of impeccably displayed, handmade goat’s cheeses. They were beautifully finished in flowers and herbs, ash, spice, leaves and seeds. It was the colour, contrast and care their maker had taken over the presentation that I loved so much. I use slices of rinded goat’s cheese in this recipe – you can find it anywhere. However, you might have a look a little harder for the wonderfully distinctive herb lovage. It’s unbelievably delicious with rhubarb, and works so well with the cheese.

Goat's Cheese with Rhubarb & Lovage

Servings: 4
Author: Gill Meller


  • 2 or 3 rhubarb sticks
  • 50g (1⅓oz) golden caster sugar
  • 4 or 5 lovage leaves, finely chopped, plus a few whole leaves to serve
  • 4 tsp runny honey
  • 4 slices malted bread
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 200g (7oz) fresh, soft goat’s cheese, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Trim the papery bases from the rhubarb sticks, then gently wash the sticks. Cut each one into 3-4cm pieces and place the pieces in a single layer, if possible, in a large heavy-based pan.
  • Scatter the sugar and the lovage leaves over the rhubarb. then drizzle over 2 teaspoons of the honey and 2 tablespoons of water. Shake the pan and plan on the hob over a low-medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook for 3-4 minutes or until the rhubarb is just beginning to tenderize and the syrup is thickening slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  • Toast the bread slices on both sides, then place them on a grill pan and drizzle over the olive oil and the remaining honey. Top with an equal number of goat's cheese slices and place the toast under a hot grill for about 4-6 minutes, until the cheese is lightly brown and bubbling. Carefully remove from the grill and place a slice of toast on each of four plates. Top each slice with some of the warm rhubarb mixture, dividing the mixture equally between each slice. Season with salt and pepper, then finish with scattering of fresh lovage leaves to serve.


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Photography: Andrew Montgomery (recipe), Paul Hayes Watkins

Header Image by Robin Sergi.