Wednesday 18 August 2010


Our annual vegetable show, which I organise, was on Sunday. It's taken me this long to recover! The person doing the teas had to drop out on Friday due to work, and then we had a thunderstorm in the middle of setting up on Saturday. It all worked out on the day, though. We had 18 people enter - not a lot out of 80 plots, but we get a couple more every year - and as you see, we filled the benches. There were a few minor glitches, and I really must get myself organised and get coloured card for the certificates well in advance. This year I couldn't get any locally, had to print them off myself, and they ended up curling. I didn't get the thirds really brown either, more a brownish pink. I could do with putting the date on them somewhere as well. As long as I can get it a bit better organised every year, and get a few more entrants each time, everyone's happy.
It's not competitive at all, more a bit of fun and an excuse to get people together, and anyone can win something. I entered eight classes, and got a first for my onions, plus a second and two thirds. That proves it's not competitive!

Friday 6 August 2010


Hive 6 is back in a good mood, which is a great relief! Something must have upset it last week, as I didn't get a single sting today. There's still no sign of drone brood. I wish I understood more about the reasons why they do or don't produce it. I didn't have my camera unfortunately, but I potted patches of brood which were being uncapped, with the pupae sitting there looking at me. that's a good sign. It's known as 'hygienic behaviour', and suggests that this particular colony is good at detecting larvae with something wrong with them. If we can breed strains which detect varroa mites in cells and deal with them, we'll be well on the way to breeding a bee that can handle them without chemical assistance.

Hive 4 has a good patch of drone brood coming as long, but not as much as I thought. I'm always optimistic about these things. I need them to have a good big patch or patches capped over by the end of the month so I can raise a couple of queens. I didn't see any evidence of hygienic behaviour, but that could be because they haven't yet got enough bees to spare any for the job of removing sick larvae. Time will tell.

I repotted a Trillium recurvatum which I planted in 2005. It started germinating in the spring of 2007 - they tend to come up over several years - and it now has fat little rhizomes up to two inches long. They need a lot of patience, but it's worth it in the long run. My interest goes back about ten years; I was given several bin liners full of unwanted plants from someone's garden. They were a treasure, mainly Trillium kurabayashii, Cyclamen hederifolium and snowdrops. Some other species were stolen by a neighbour, but I still have those.

Monday 2 August 2010


Both those hives seem to have settled down. The first swarm to arrive - now Hive 6 - has a broodbox brimming with bees, and has reached the stage where its temper is beginning to show. The bigger the colony, the more older bees there are going to be in the hive, and these are the ones that sting. Yesterday they got up my arms and under my veil - a habit I loathe - and stung, so I won't be raising queens off that one unless it turns out to be a one-off. They don't have any drone cells that I can find; swarms often don't produce many in their first year for some reason.

The other one - Hive 4 - hasn't had so much time to build up, but it does have drone cells appearing. It's got a slightly bigger broodnest; 8 frames as opposed to 7. In a couple of weeks I should be able to start raising queens.

The wren's bringing beakfuls of insects into the shed, so the eggs have to have hatched.