Saturday 28 May 2016

A Huge Swarm

Hello All
Still busy here, but making progress with all the tasks that have built up. But as usual the best laid plans of mice and men etc...
Just about to attack the nettles around the outside of  the field when we recognised that familiar sight and sound of a swarm.
And it was HUGE!!!
Normally if it lands in a tree (which it usually does) David will climb a ladder up to the swarm and will knock it into a box, which I will hold underneath. He will cover the box with a cloth and I will hold onto it until David comes down the ladder and takes it off me. We then place it close to where they landed and leave it there for a few hours, giving all the bees that are flying time to join those in the box. HOWEVER..
There was no way that we could physically do this as the swarm was on a large branch of our old apple tree. It wrapped half way round the trunk as well as along the branch. The bees would have to be swept into the box and would weigh more than I or David could manage above our heads . Here it is...

So how to capture this valuable swarm? In good smallholding ( but NOT Health and Safety) practice, we used.. PALLETS!!
The photo shows David placing the box on the top pallet. He pushed it back closer to the trunk and directly under the middle of the swarm. David then stood on the ladders while I steadied him and, using a soft brush, he swept the bees into the box. It took several sweeps to get the majority in and be sure that he had the queen. When it was clear that she was in there, he partially covered the box and we left it for several hours. ....Until we got back from the quiz night at midnight. We then carefully bought the box down and carrying it between us we sited it at the bottom of the garden.
We are very pl;eased to have secured these bees, which is the largest swarm we have collected in over 40 years of beekeeping.

 I know that I have have been tardy posting recently. The gardens, Civic Society and various projects have been taking up so much of my time.
We are also now on countdown to our annual "Festival", the large family party that we host in our field each year. I have posted about it before, but if you are new to my blog it is a weekend when our daughters's and our friends join us for a two (for some, three) day party, when many camp (hence Festival) and we have games and races and friends and relatives who sing and play for us. We play rounders, dance, swim in our river and play huge games of rounders (50 a side). All very sophisticated, cocktail party it is not!
Making a smallholding a safe place for 150 people is quite a task, thus much of my time (when I'm not baking and freezing stuff) is being spent tidying up around the place. Our smallholding is nowhere near as tidy as some that I see in Blogland, so there is much to do.
  I have my youngest daughter's old black lab to look after for the weekend, while she and her daughter are walking the Yorkshire three peak challenge to raise money for "Labradors in Need" They have taken Coda, the young yellow lab with them, but Sammie isn't up to the walk.

All for now fellow bloggers, back as soon as I can. I may not be posting much, but I am reading your blogs. Before I close I must welcome Julie, Carol Flood and Jane Berry on Bloglovin . I seem to have lost a follower or two on the side bar, but can't work out who.
I'll close with a pic of Dixie, the bold explorer, skulking around on the bund in our neighbour's field.

Love Gillx

Thursday 12 May 2016

Grandslaves and Reynard strikes

Hello All
Here I am again a couple of weeks since I last posted. The time has flown by and much has happened and been achieved, especially in the vegetable gardens, which are now looking pretty good. David has nearly finished the pallet-wood fence, which will keep the dogs off the gardens and tidies up between two spaces
.Here is one of the reasons we have started to get on top of the gardens... grandchildren!

 I have questions about two bloggers-
Does anybody know why I am no longer following Frugal Queen? Have I missed some change?
More importantly, where has the lovely Weaver gone? She normally posts daily, but hasn't done so for well over a week. Her wonderful posts are missed.

When we were in Cornwall for a spot of sea fishing the blasted fox paid us a call. He dug his way through our (substantial) defences and slaughtered 13 hens. My granddaughter, who was looking after the smallholding, found them on her morning rounds. I feel so sorry for her, it must have been an awful sight! We have spent many hours beefing up the fencing and have changed how we lock up at night to add an extra layer of defence. Fortunately the hens have been in the orchard run and not ranging over the whole holding for three weeks as the gardens are being planted up or it could have been even worse.
If anybody tells me that foxes have to live I will not be responsible for my language!
 Just been out to gloat over the veggie gardens (the rest are in an awful state) and see that the b****y rabbits have trimmed the early pea row!
Need to go out and net the peas now.. back soon.

P.S I have been nominated for the leibster award thingy. Hope there is not a time restriction on responding, which I will do soon.