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.


  1. I just saw a program on the television about a serious problem that beekeepers are having in the states and in Pennsylvania alone, have lost 70% of their domestic bees. It has to do with the bees not returning to their hives as they are quite ill with a virus similar to AIDS. As I have a mind like a sieve, I can't recall the name of the disease, but it is a serious problem there, China and evidently, it started in Australia. Scary stuff! Susie Bunn

  2. CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder. It seems to be down to a combination of things; probably a disease called Nosema, plus all the chemicals people are filling their hives with, plus US commercial beekeeping, which puts ridiculous numbers of hives into close proximity. This, of course, creates ideal conditions for the spread of disease. Nobody really kows how many hives have been affected, but there undoubtedly is a problem. It's not happening on this side of the Atlantic though.