Friday 18 July 2014

Bees settling in

This little toad was sitting in a seed tray. I haven't been posting much, largely because the plot is in cuch a humiliating state after being off with a bad back for much of last year. I'm getting it sorted slowly, but meanwhile I've no energy for the bits I'm not working on, and much of it is a jungle.

The broad beans have been a success in the main, and the direct planted ones did a lot better than the transplanted ones. I planted 17 varieties this year, and they should be well mixed up in the next generation. Many of the peas have also done well, though some of the last ones I planted are a bit stunted. I wonder whether that's down to summer heat? This one is Carlin Pea, the oldest known variety. It was first recorded in 1562, four years after Elizabeth I came to the throne, and may well be a lot older than that.

The Daubenton's and Taunton Deane Kales are planted out, and the tree collard x Daubenton's cross is now chest high, and buried in weeds. The one that flowered hasn't set much seed, but I'm hoping for a little once it matures out enough to harvest. Right now the flowering stems are all in a hessian bag hanging in the shed.

Butterflies are doing quite well this year; I just wish my camera was better adapted for that sort of thing. I have to get too close to get shots like this one of a small tortoiseshell, and it doesn't work too often. The next one needs to take something like the old-fashioned close-up lenses, so I can get them to fill the frame from further away.

The bees are doing well. I've acquired four swarms in the last month or so; three moved into empty hives of their own accord, and one came from another beekeeper. I'm still working on a video about them, but it's almost done. I've found and marked all four queens - the last one today - and all four have capped worker brood. I'm fairly happy with three of them; the last is a follower, yellow, with a broodnest shaped like a horizontal oval. That's not siomething I see much of; at the moment it's only using the top part of my 14x12 frames. Overall, I think it's one for requeening. I can't stand followers, and they'll scare my neighbour if they start bothering him on the other side of the hedge. They buzz about your head without provocation, in the most distracting way. I assume it's a type of threatening behaviour designed to intimidate and drive away large animals like bears and humans, and it's most unpleasant when they I'm on the plot and some wretched bee starts!