Sunday, 29 June 2008

The main beehive is building up nicely, and starting to move into the supers, where honey is stored. It's very late doing so, and part of that is undoubtedly the oversize broodboxes I'm using. I'm sometimes tempted to go back to standard Nationals, which may be more suited to this type of bee. Part of it, though, is down to hygienic behaviour. They detect larvae with something wrong with them, usually parasitisation by the varroa mite, and remove them. The cells are uncovered when they're at the pink-eyed stage, about 14 days after the egg is laid, then over a few days, the pupae are removed; either eaten on the spot, or dragged out and dumped on the hive floor. Some are bodily removed from the hive, but most appear to be eaten. This slows varroa reproduction seriously, and is probably, along with biting, the way we're eventually going to breed fully resistant bees. On the other hand, it does sacrifice a significant number of workers which would otherwise have been bringing in honey.

Most of the tender veg are now planted out, with only the butternut squash, chillies and aubergines to go. The two toms I tried to re-root have done so successfully, but several have been lost to slugs. I economised on the number of plants I grew, and ended up with no spares, which was a mistake. The overwintered broad beans have cropped really well, despite a lot having failed to come through the long winter. It won't be long before I have a few more crops coming in!

The GCSE marking finished last night, unexpectedly - I don't know how the last few thousand questions got done so fast unless a lot of people worked through the night, and I wonder about the quality of some of the resulting marking! However, it's a horrible job, and after a few weeks of it I end up climbing the wall.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Purple-Podded Peas and the Ne Plus Ultra are beginning to flower, and the sweetcorn and tomatoes are all planted out. The corn has been interplanted with onions; I haven't tried this before, but hopefully it won't affect the onions, and it saves on space. I made a mistake not growing spare tomato seedlings; I broke two off at the stem bases, so unless I can root them fast, I won't be getting any fruit of those two plants. Two have collapsed, with the stems appearing to have rotted partway up. I don't know what that is; I spotted it today, and the bases still look OK. The Big Max pumpkins are in, one of either side of a big soil mountain they can trail over, and the rest of the squashes and the beans can go out during the week. If I run out of space I can just pot some of the squashes up for a bit.

The first of the early garlic (Purple Wight) has fallen over, so I should be lifting that in the next week or so. It's about time as I find the stored bulbs only last till about April. One of the cardoons, which I've grown on from last year, has a bud. the original plant has now been divided into three, and at that rate I should soon have a good-sized clump. The walking onions, which I've been growing on for two years, are developing into shallot-sized bulbs, with big clusters of small bulbs at the tops of the stems. It's a strange-looking plant, and I've yet to taste one!

Meanwhile, grass is growing like mad, it's waist-high in places, and the flower beds are full of weeds. I'm bogged down with leading a team of GCSE examiners for one paper, plus marking a second, so time for the plot is decidedly limited for the next few weeks.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The hybrid hive had four frames of brood when I checked yesterday, so I moved one out and gave it to the other hive, as I don't want that one building up to the point where it produces drones. It wasn't in a good temper, and my cuffs were covered in bees angrily stinging the cloth. I've had worse experiences, but it's definitely not a strain I want to perpetuate.

I've pulled a muscle in my back, which slightly limits what I can do, but I've been planting out the Alderman peas. I'm using wigwams made with six eight-foot poles, with string spiralled round to allow the tendrils to grip. Looking at the ones I planted out before, I may have too many plants per wigwam, but time will tell.

The Aquadulce Claudia beans are coming along, and the first will shortly be ready for picking. The tips are covered in blackfly, but they never seem to do much harm so I'm leaving them. The Grando Violetto are just beginning to flower as the Aquadulce are finishing. Nineteen out of twenty asparagus plants are up, and I'm expecting the last to appear daily.