Wednesday 29 August 2007

Once again, good weather. I'll actually get something planted again at this rate. I'm looking forward to getting the plot back to normal, but it's taken me so long to get back to normal that it's taking forever.

One hive which I'd left queenless has produced what appears to be a good laying queen; I need to see the workers she produces to assess her better, and she's not really much good till she's survived the winter! She started laying very fast, which is a good sign; no problems getting that one mated. Apart from that, things went wrong. I put cells into a hive with a laying queen, hoping the bees would replace her with a new one; it usually works, but this time it didn't. I split a second hive, and gave both halves queen cells. The original queen moved back into the original hive, leaving a weak, queenless split, which I've now united with another hive. That left me with a decidedly nasty-tempered hive to deal with for the second time. I'm not happy, but I've got that queen out this time. The original hive is currently raising a second batch of queens. For the first time ever, I've got no honey at all, but I should have more hives going next year, at least.

Sunday 19 August 2007

The weather has, of course, turned foul again, it's really depressing. The plot's a real mess, and while I'm steadily making progress sorting it out, it's hard to keep myself motivated at the moment. The Cambridge Gage is cropping well, with small, green plums which put the shop ones to shame. There's a decent apple crop as well, the Egremont Russet id particularly good. The fruit are pretty small though, due to the lack of any June drop this year. I'd have done better to have thinned them. The bees look OK, with plenty of pollen going into the hives; I'll check them next weekend, to see whether there's any sign of the new queens laying.

Friday 3 August 2007

The weather seems to be brightening up at last, not that there's much left to appreciate it. The squashes are sitting doiing nothing, and the floods wiped most other things out. I've just finished lifting the garlic; the actual cloves are fine, but some of the skins had rotted, and most of the stems. I won't be making plaits this year.

The walking onions produced single bulbs and small clumps, but they were grown from small bulbils. I think I'll do better planting the bulbs, along with the bigger bulbils. They're strange things, the bulbs are like shallots, and clusters of nulbils form at the tops of the stems, where you'd expect a flower. Come to that, garlic flowers I took off ended up trying to produce little clusters of bulbils.

I split the big beehive last week, and yesterday I took out some of the resulting queen cells (from the queenless half) and put them into the two bought-in hives. I split one of them, and gave cells to both halves. I had meant to split both, but didn't have enough cells. Previously, I've done this with swarm cells, which are nicely built, hang free, and are strong enough to handle comfortably. These were emergency cells, converted from worker cells when the bees picked the young larva to become a queen. The walls were thin, and they were difficult to cut out and difficult to handle without squashing them. Hopefully they'll hatch; each hive has two, to provide a backup.