This is a good sign. When the winter solstice arrives on December 21st and the days change and start becoming longer rather than shorter, the queen senses this deep in the hive. She begins gradually to lay brood in preparation for spring. Usually she just lays a little at first and the build up is slow but sure. The pollen lets us know that there is brood in the hive that needs feeding.
At the same time a lot of bees have died in our recent cold and the bees spent yesterday and today hauling out the dead. Yesterday the side of this hive looked like this:
This afternoon here's what it looks like in the same location:
These are bees who have died over the recent weeks when it was too cold for the bees to carry out the dead bodies.
Tomorrow we are back to wet and coldish weather so they will be confined again. Tom reports that the bees at his house are flying (the two Bill Owens' cut out hives); the Stonehurst innkeeper reports that bees are flying from both of their hives; I haven't heard from Sebastian.