Bogs and Bees

This morning we again pottered down to the allotment ready for a couple of hours work in the sunshine. Although the weather was finally clear, it will take several days of sunshine before the allotment stops being a bog and dries enough to properly dig over.

Both of us got spectacularly stuck at various points as we battled to remove as much of the offending grassy tufts as possible. At one point, my husband went down in the mire so deeply that the mud got to within a few cm of the top of his wellies! It took a good few minutes of tugging before he successfully extracted his feet with wellies intact (something of a miracle!).

We also managed to plant Geoff’s blackcurrant bush in front of the other fruit bushes to keep all the fruit together. I am dithering about buying either two more large fruit bushes or a couple more fruit trees. Maybe a red gooseberry and something else?

We have also been given 6 new strawberry plants to go in our now clear strawberry bed. The little plants I uncovered seem to be doing well and growing bigger so it looks like I saved them from being strangled by weeds just in time!

This year we have planted our potatoes along the length of the allotment contrary to all previous years. We chose this rather desperate measure because our entire potato crop failed last year. Let’s hope the trench complete with manure and different (less water-logged) soil will work. Watch this space!

And so, as we worked, Steve called by and asked did I want to help check the hives. He had barely finished speaking before I said yes and disappeared off to find my bee suit.

We tackled the feisty hive first – this hive faired far better over the winter and already has more bees than the other colony. Currently there are two brood boxes on this hive, double the space for the Queen to hide in. We thoroughly searched the bottom brood box and decided as a group that she wasn’t in there.

The next box we went through twice before I spotted the Queen. She is really elongated and thin compared to the square shape of the drones and tictac shape of the workers. This Queen is really black with barely any colour on her at all which makes her harder to spot. Once we found her, we reassembled the hive and added in the Queen excluder on top of the second brood box.

Moving onto the other hive which only has one super and one brood box. This hive suffered from dysentery over the winter so numbers are low. We searched twice for the Queen before spotted her hiding in a gap by the edge of the frame. This Queen is a golden orangecolohr fading to black at the end of the thorax. Fortunately in this hive there is a lot of brood which bodes well for the colony’s recovery!

So the plan for the rest of the week is to hope that the soil dries and u can finish digging it over. Then start planting onions and the last few potatoes. And urgently fixing the greenhouse which is having major structural issues….

….and buying my husband some new wellies as the sole has cracked!

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