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Welcome

Sow The Seed follows the ups and downs of me, Helen and my husband, Simon - a couple trying to live a simpler life in south-west Wales.

I hope this blog will not only be a good reference and diary for us over the coming years, but will give helpful advice and tips for people trying to do the same thing, or dreaming of doing the same thing.

Find out more on how we got here.

What’s Happening Today

Tasks: Sowing; pruning; weeding; pottering

Harvesting: Cucumber, lettuce, radishes, strawberries, broad beans, potatoes

Eggs this year: 394 (hens) 317 (ducks)

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You are currently browsing the archives for the Bees category.

Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

Bee in heather

Bee in heather

With February drawing to a close, and bringing an end to winter (meteorologically speaking anyway), there is a sense of spring in the air. Today, began with a frost (ending winter on a cold note), but has turned into a lovely sunny day. The birds and bees are clearly feeling the change in the air, with plenty of chatter in the trees and buzzing in the heather. Our bees seem to have survived the winter, with plenty of activity at the entrance and around the garden. We won’t be taking the top off the hive to inspect the colony more fully just yet, as that would be unfair to subject the bees to the cold, but there seems to be a fair number flying about, which is a good sign. I’ve also spotted the first frog spawn in the wildlife pond, and hopefully next year we might get some in a new pond. Bring on spring!

Close up of an exposed bumble bee nest

Close up of an exposed bumble bee nest

 

Whilst walking in the field this morning, I stumbled upon a flattened area of grass, with a shallow hole dug in the middle of it. We know we’ve got badgers around, so this is not unusual, especially at the moment with the young about, and they tend to dig little holes for their latrines. But on closer inspection I discovered a cluster of bumble bees. I can only assume the badgers had smelt the bumble bees nest and dug it up, leaving the poor bumble bees exposed to the world. They looked like they were busy trying to protect the wax cells, which contain either eggs or food.

I hope they’re able to move their nest and young, as the badgers may make a return visit tonight!

Damage done by excavating badgers

Damage done by excavating badgers

Common toad

The good! A (large) Common toad

We appear to have quite an active wildlife population setting up residence in the garden – some good, some bad and some ugly (depending on your point of view). We keep on finding common toads around the place, hiding in the silliest of places, like under a heavy plant pot, as this toad was. It’s the biggest one I’ve seen for a while – must be all the slugs that are emerging in this warm wet weather.

The bad!

The bad!

The slugs are munching everything in sight, despite the presence of the toads, so I’ve had to resort to putting some slug pellets down where new seedlings are emerging. Like every gardener I’m no fan of slugs, but you’ve got to admire their persistence and the variety of species. In this group I counted at least three species, of which one was the non-native Spanish Slug (top right). Read the rest of this entry »

Bees enjoying their new residence!

Bees enjoying their new residence!

Well we didn’t have to wait too long for some new bees to arrive. We’ve been checking the hive every day to see if there has been any activity, and other than the odd bee investigating everything was quiet . However, on Thursday we noticed a number of bees milling about the entrance. And during the day on Friday there was a lot more activity, and today, now it has hot and sunny, the hive is very active. We’re not sure where the swarm came from as we never saw them arrive, but hopefully they’ll like their new home for now, and get busy around our garden. Simon hasn’t inspected them, and will probably leave them be for a while, but it would be good to know what temperament they have (although no doubt I will soon find out if I get in the way of one in the garden).

Empty bee hive ready for bees.

Empty bee hive ready for bees.

After losing our bees last year for an unknown reason, we have decided to try again at “acquiring” some bees. We’ve really noticed the lack of insects this year compared to last year – this may be down to the cold spring, but it must also be due to the absence of bees, so it would be great to get bees back in the garden.

As we did the first year we moved here, we put out an empty hive containing some frames with drawn comb, to try and lure some passing bees. This time though, we’ve positioned the hive in the corner of the field behind the polytunnel, and faced the entrance to the east. If we do get bees, then hopefully they won’t be so much of a nuisance in the main garden as before, and by facing east, not only will they get the early morning sun, but their entrance will be pointing towards the field, and their flight path will not cross with humans!

We’re hopeful that we will lure a swarm to take up residence, having already seen a number of bees interested in the hive. In fact while we were putting together the hive, a bee arrived and was investigating the comb. Given the number of flowers in the field and hedgerows at the moment, there should be plenty of bees about, and they should smell the wax, and go and tell their friends!

So watch this space, and see if we’re lucky enough to get a new colony in 2013.

Bee hive with a view.

Bee hive with a view.

Bee taking an interest.

Bee taking an interest.

Some kind of bee… but not ours

A mysterious occurrence has happened in our beehive over the last few weeks. A few weeks ago, the bees became very active, getting up much earlier than normal and continuing to be out until sunset, and even flying in damp and dreary days. Normally our bees wouldn’t emerge until mid-morning when the sun shone on the hive, and would rarely be out (in any great numbers) when there was a hint of rain in the air. This went on for about a week, and we assumed they must have found a good source of food and were keen to build up supplies for the winter. Read the rest of this entry »

Swarm number two

At last some spring-like (if not summer-like) weather. And it’s not just us who enjoy a bit of sun on our faces – the bees become very active as soon as the sun comes out, and at this time of the year a bit of warmth can result in the bees swarming. Read the rest of this entry »

Thirsty work being a busy bee!

With the country basking in glorious spring sunshine in the last few days, hopefully everyone is out enjoying the warm days while it lasts. The bees have been very active, and have been making use of the bird bath. It’s apparently just as important to have a source of water in the garden for the bees as it is nectar-rich flowers, as bees do like a drink. We think they are particularly thirsty at this time of the year as they are using the water to soften their honey stores, some of which will be crystallised. There won’t be many flowers out yet (or the right sort for bees) so they have to use up their reserves of honey to survive until the spring flow starts. Read the rest of this entry »

Rum in happier times

We’ve had a bad start to the week. Yesterday, we decided to dispatch Rum, one of our Black Rock chickens. She hadn’t been well for the last week, and yesterday she could barely stand up. We gave her one last check over to make sure we hadn’t missed anything like a stuck egg or any swelling but found nothing, so decided to do the deed there and then. Read the rest of this entry »

This year's crop in the making

It’s been a busy few weeks. The start of spring means things are starting to happen in the garden, and there is a flurry of activity at the potting bench. The recent warm weather has seen shoots appear where they should and shouldn’t have. So it’s now the start of the battle against the weeds and slugs to make sure the garden is as productive as it can be. I usually start my morning rounds off now with a slug hunt, some of which are fed to the chickens, and the rest are given a salting. As long as I keep up the routine for the next few weeks I should be able to keep the worst of the slugs at bay. I’m also leaving a few strategic pieces of wood and rotten vegetables around the place, as the slugs will hide under the wood once the sun comes up, and also gravitate to the smell of the rotting vegetables so can usually be found in its vicinity. Read the rest of this entry »

Modified version of the Summer Polaroid Pics template