Splitting hives and planting

I got down to the allotment early this morning to find several people already down and working. Steve caught me and Phil and suggested we split the hive today before the weather closes in.

We made a start by cleaning out the nuc box and collecting frames to replace the ones we would be taking out to go into the new hive. Bee suits on and the smoker lit, we opened up the big hive on Phil’s plot. Considering we split this hive mere weeks ago, it was massive. Both supers were full of honey and weighed an absolute ton.

Once we reached the brood boxes, we found the Queen and kept an eye on her whilst we decided which frames to transfer. We needed about 5 frames, one of each of the following: eggs, larvae and capped brood plus a honey frame to feed them. It took ages to find a frame with eggs but eventually we chose one. The new nuc box set up, we replaced the frames and left them all to settle.

Next I ambled off to feed Emily and her chicks. They seemed very active this morning and hungry. Poor Emily doesn’t get a look in with food anymore. I took pity on her and fed her out of reach of the chicks.

I moved up to the shed and got distracted halfway through checking the worm towers. I haven’t fed or watered the towers for about a month and I was quite worried the colony may have died. Fortunately, they haven’t. In fact, I observed lots of pale translucent wiggly tubes which are actually baby worms. This shows the worms are comfortable and doing well. I added in a layer of weeds to each wormery before topping it off with a bedding layer of shredded newspaper. I watered the worm towers before tweaking how I had set them up. The worm juice (Rachael’s term) hasn’t appeared yet despite the worm castings growing massively. So I removed the lid of the worm juice box and placed the active compost box on top. Next I removed the lid of the compost box and placed the unused one on top. This should mean that as the worms work through the next couple of layers of food and bedding, they will move up into the next box through the holes drilled into the bottom.

Worm towers sorted, I returned them to the shed and put over their covers. I will check them again at the weekend and empty my home kitchen compost bin to keep them busy! As I finished the worm towers, I heard the joyous sound of the tea bell and adjourned to the clubhouse for a drink. Everyone was there including Dave the Plod who I haven’t seen in a while. The talk was mainly of bees and of Propensity David who had been in touch with questions about chickens. We all miss him, he always had such interesting ideas and stories.

Before Phil left, I borrowed his handle for my hoe and he generously offered me a selection of marrow, courgette and pumpkin plants. I accepted two of each and planted them in the bottom section of the plot. I left large spaces between each in the hope they will grow massive and cover the soil so I have to do less hoeing.

Steve appeared and offered me some Pay Choi, something I have never grown before. I planted a full row of it and look forward to tasting it provided it survives! I have planted it near the remaining damp patch as I was running out of room.

After all this planting, I remembered that Phil had also given me half a dozen flowers. I decided to plant them in front of the broody box to add a splash of colour at the bottom of the main section. For completeness, I also planted another honeyberry and an anoria bush in the fruit section. Happily all the other fruit bushes seem to be flourishing so here’s hoping for a bumper fruit crop this year!

By now it was rather hot so I retreated into the greenhouse and spent a while watching Emily and her chicks. I found some more weeds to give them to scratch and play in. Yet again I emptied tons of sawdust from the water bowl. Emily will insist on filling it with sawdust then shout at me for not providing her and her chicks with water – idiot bird!

I sat for a while enjoying a rest before I headed off home. Plan for tomorrow is to water the plants, do a bit of weeding along the edge of the plot and dig over the coop.

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