Sunday, 29 March 2009

I was stung twice while I was planting potatoes this afternoon, one on each eye. That's Hive 5; I can't wait to get rid of that queen!

The bees are flourishing despite the cooler weather last week. Hives 2 and 4 now have big patches of brood on two frames, and look as though they're about ready to expand onto a third. Once they've got bees hatching from three, they build up pretty fast.

Hive three is also on two frames, but only with small patches of brood. It's expanded a bit since last week, but the number of bees is dwindling as the winter bees die off, and it's looking pretty weak. Hive 5 has five frames of brood, which is ridiculous for March. If we get a wet April they'd be in danger of starving with a decent amount of stores, never mind this year. The silver lining is that there's a good bit of drone brood now. The plan is to start queenraising at the beginning of May, by which time there should be plenty of drones in the hive.

The resulting queens will be crossmated, but never mind. Drones come from unfertilised eggs, so when I do my main queenraising at the end of August or the beginning of September, I'll have loads of drones of my strain, and no foreigners. So I should get well-mated queens at that point.

All the early spuds are in (Duke of York, Arran Pilot, First Earlies, and Charlotte, Second Early), and I'm about to start on the maincrops, Cara and Pink Fir Apple. I'm using a bulb planter, which is OK as long as the soil's not compacted, and a real pain to force in where it is. I'm putting loads in this year, and using them to sort out a rather weedy area. I'll get most of the ground elder out as they go in, and the rest when I lift the crop.

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