Monday, 5 July 2010

Video of bees marching into their hive

I transferred a strong colony from a nuc into a larger brood box this afternoon. It was a bit of a game as I was on my own and it involved a second colony (weaker) also being united. It always amazes me how the bees march into the hive to find the queen.

I tried to take a video - it wasn't terribly successful and as you can see I didn't know how to turn it off at the end. But if you watch you'll see them almost running out of the smaller box and into the bigger one. Enjoy!

Mange Tout

The peas have been a disaster this year. I think it must have been the seeds themselves because I have had no trouble with beans or mange tout. I planted the peas in two separate places and a total of three plantings (or sowings I suppose) and only about twenty came up at all (about 10 per cent so not good) and the crop on those has been bad.

The Mange Tout however are brilliant. They are growing so fast and producing so much that it's hard to keep up. Feast indeed but how to preserve them? Freezing isn't ideal but it does appear to be the only way so I did an experiment and we ate the result last night.

Basically I blanched them for 30 seconds and then left them to dry slightly in the colander. Into the plastic bag and into the freezer as quickly as possible. I only put in a small amount - enough for two people or three at a pinch. To use them I put them straight from the freezer into boiling water and just gave them another 30 seconds before removing into the colander.

There is no doubt that they were not as good as fresh mange tout. However they weren't bad as a side vegetable. By that I mean I wouldn't use them as decoration around a piece of duck but they tasted delicious. They were only in the freezer for 48 hours so perhaps they would lose more flavour or break down more if they were there longer. We'll see - I have so many that freezing will be a necessity.

Bee Season

Nature really is amazing. When our eldest son was here in mid-June I had a look at the hives and although all was well and as it should be the supers were mediocre. Filling but slowly. I had another look exactly seven days ago and the situation was just the same.

What a difference a week makes! We opened the hives yesterday and to my astonishment the supers were filling to the extent that all but one hive needed another super. Hmmm, shortage of supers then! I can't judge how the harvest will be in comparison to last year but at least there will be a harvest.

A few years ago I exchanged a stack of sailing charts for some 12 frame Dadants and other equipment. This meant that we were able to expand our apiary and they have served us well. However, Dadants come in two sizes, 12-frame and 10-frame and we had a mix. This isn't great as I seem to spend a lot of time needing the other size super regardless of what I've put on the trailer. So last week I bought two new 10-frame Dadants and have put two of the bigger ones up for sale, together with one of the nucs we created this year. This is the nuc when we opened it up yesterday:

It was very hot yesterday and one of the hives was busy taking a breathe of fresh air:

There is something unbelievably fascinating about bees. I know there's a stack of publicity about honey bees at the moment and that's wonderful because it means more people are becoming interested and more are becoming beekeepers. That's got to be a good thing and perhaps one day it will be quite normal again to have a hive at the bottom of the garden (or on the roof).