Monday 28 July 2008

It's probably just me, but my internet connection has slowed down to the point where it's taking a couple of minutes to load a page. Infuriating!

We've been sweltering for the last few days, but I've only just recovered from a bad stomach bug, and not much has been happening. I checked the hives the other day; both swarms now have eggs and brood, and are looking good. Nothing had got to the point of being capped though, so I still lack the final proof that I have healthy workier brood. I've squashed that queen I don't want, and I'll be giving that hive some young brood from my best hive next weekend, so they can raise a queen of my own strain.

Tonight we had three separate thunderstorms over about two hours, with the sluicegates of heaven standing temporarily open. I just hope the allotment isn't too badly flooded.

Thursday 17 July 2008

I had a look at the two swarms today; neither has a trace of brood. This implies that both are casts, that is, secondary swarms headed by virgin queens. Hopefully the queens are present, and will mate with my drones, and start laying. I'll check again in a couple of weeks. If there is still no brood, no matter, as I'm planning to raise queens soon anyway.

I'm gradually feeling better, and more able to cope with the work on the plot. I don't know what sort of stomach upset it was that I came down with, but it's been about three weeks now, and I'm still not really feeling well. It's lucky we're into the school holidays.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

I acquired two bee swarms last week. On Monday, I had a phone call from another beekeeper, would I like one he had? Of course, I said yes. It turned out to be quite small, like most of this year's swarms, but obviously with the potential to build up in time. So that went in one of the empty hives. Then on Friday, I got to the allotment to see another, much bigger, swarm hanging on the side of the other empty hive. There's nothing extraordinary in that; they're attracted by the smell of old broodcomb, and I've had bees arrive and move in before now. So that one was soon hived as well.
They're both Italian/native hybrids, like most of the bees I come across, but they seem good tempered, which a lot of hybrid bees aren't. Both have a good sprinkling of black, native-looking bees, so they may be close enough to the original British bee to be worth keeping, despite so many having a yellow stripe.
Meanwhile the weather's warmed up a bit. Maybe we'll get a summer after all.

Sunday 6 July 2008

The weather has turned pretty nasty, with a thundery shower and torrential rain this afternoon. I'm not complaining too much though, as the ground was quite dry when I lifted the early garlic yesterday. The bulbs are really good; much better than last year. I've lifted the walking onions as well; some of the bulbs are three inches across. I'm going to plant them all, so I can hope for a good crop next year. The bigger the bulb, the more bulbs there seem to be in the eventual clump. I'm assuming they've now reached their maximum size, but time will tell.

I've had an upset stomach all week, and haven't got that much done, but the squashes are now all planted out. None of the tender veg is looking that good so far, doubtless due to the chilly weather. The peas, however, are looking magnificent, and the first pods are beginning to swell.

I've given the bees a frame of foundation to draw. That's just a sheet of beeswax in a frame, embossed witht a hexagonal pattern. The broodbox is stuffed with bees, so they'll draw it into comb in no time. If I keep feeeding them in, that'll enable me to get rid of some nasty old comb I'm still stuck with. I've got too much of it. I wanted to start doing this earlier, but it goes much better when there are lots of bees in the box. They've finally started putting honey in the first super, and after last year, it's a real relief to see it.