Monday 23 July 2007

The plot was flooded again on Friday; we've had over four inches of rain over the last few days, 90% of it on Friday. I did go down and check how things were, just before the stream broke its banks. I might as well have been standing under a waterfall.

I've split the big beehive, in order to raise queens. There are masses of drones, so I should get good mating. They got in a real mood with me yesterday; that's the second bad stinging I've had this summer. As far as the garden goes, this year's crops are pretty much a washout. It's so bad it's depressing, and on top of that I've overdone it doing the GCSE marking. I finished on Friday, just as I got to the point where I could no longer concentrate, and I was getting daily attacks of migraine, which are still happening.

Yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary. We had people saying we shouldn't be together, and people trying to sabotage the wedding. The then minister from church wrote asking me not to go ahead as a Christian shouldn't marry a Muslim, and I had one hysterical fundamentalist ring me tup to say I was going to hell. But we're still together, and where are they?

Sunday 15 July 2007

The rain never stops, the spuds have got blight so the toms will soon follow, and the summer is fast turning into a disaster. All I can say is that my plans for the bees are working out, with one big colony churning out loads of drones, and two small ones which have no drones, but which can be split into two smaller colonies for queen raising. The early garlic is good, as are the elephants, though the maincrops, which I have yetto lift, are dying from rust. I've never seen it affect plants so badly.

The main thing now is to make sure I'm ready in good time for next year, since in this new job I don't have much time off at Easter, and no summer half term, so that's a vital coupls of weeks lost. Meanwhile, I'm still bogged down with GCSE marking; they've roped me in to do the Roman Catholic paper as well as my normal one. It's an irritant, not merely because its a horribly boring job which needs 100% concentration, but because the denominational answer is taken to be the correct one, and that's bound to annoy me. I do get the odd gem though. One kid answered 'What does catholic mean?' with 'It's posher and more elegant than the Church of England and snobs go there'. Obviously, whoever it was doesn't like their (Catholic) school.

Saturday 7 July 2007

I hate hybrid Italian bees! Hybrids between native Apis mellifera mellifera and imported Italian queens have a horrible tendency to sting. I've been building up my native hive, which is now getting massively strong, while the two I bought have been building up slowly, despite weekly removal of brood.

My native hive is still the best-tempered of the three despite its greater strength. One of the new ones is OK, but the other is getting nastier by the week. Yesterday I had a really good stinging from them, with bee after bee going up my arm, and bees all over my sleeve, stinging it like mad. I got two stings from bees inside my veil, when mostly ones that get in there think about nothing but escape. Not nice at all, I don't want bees like that. I've always avoided the 'space suit' type of bee gear; it ought to be unnecessary with only a few hives. The way to go is to avoid the nasty bees.

The crazy thing is that back in the 1920's, Brother Adam, the most influential UK beekeeper of his time, concluded that the native British bee was, firstly, extinct, and secondly, nasty-tempered. My experience, and that of others who keep them, is that they are far from extinct, and reliably good tempered. Unlike the unpredictable hybrids a lot of bigger beekeepers seem to go for.