It's throwing it down today, but at least yesterday was OK. The bees in Hive 3 were flying freely, bringing in a bit of pollen, so I grabbed the opportunity to do an early inspection. Hive 1 has died out. It had plenty of bees a couple of weeks ago, but there were only a few left, all dead, not a sign of brood, and stores still left in the comb. That's typial of the winter losses I get, and as there's never any brood, I think these later winter dieouts are down to queen failure. Queen mating is a constant problem. So that's two gone. The last one, thank goodness, had bees and a little patch of mostly young brood the size of my palm. So it sems to be OK at least.
I planted the broad beans, a bit late, and I'm doing my seed ordering this weekend, again a bit late. Most of the veg come from the Real Seed Catalogue at http://www.vidaverde.co.uk/ , who do proper varieties, not F1's, and offer plenty of good quality seed ina packet. I also put in small orders from Marshalls at http://www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/, where I found a couple of heirloom peas, Purple-Podded and Ne Plus Ultra, Plants of Distinction at http://www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk/ , who have loads of interesting vegetable and flower varieties, and Chiltern Seeds at http://www.edirectory.co.uk/chilternseeds/ , who again have a really interesting selection. I've ordered Couve Tronchuda, an interesting heirloom cabbage, and a couple of other things.