Tuesday 14 July 2015

Bees and Books

The bee situation got worse but has now improved a bit. My one remaining hive swarmed, while I was not there, and when I looked at the brood chamber in early June there was no sign of a queen or any capped or uncapped brood. I thought that maybe they had an unmated queen, so I waited to see if any brood appeared. It didn't. So I sent off for a queen, who came by post, and I put her in the hive, hoping the bees would accept her. When I looked a couple of weeks later there were wonderful broad slabs of capped brood on five frames. I have been feeding them candy since then, as there does not seem to be much forage around.
Last week I bought a 6-frame nucleus for my second hive from Roger Payne's Bees, which came by overnight delivery. They are now safely installed and are very beautiful, with golden stripes that glint in the sun. Also very gentle.
I shall collect a nucleus for the third hive from Mr Jakeman in Staunton, Gloucestershire, on Saturday. So with luck I shall start next season with three colonies. The honey yield this season from my one operative hive was miserable - not much more than 40 lbs. Fortunately I have some boxes of last year's honey left
In October I'll be at the Garden Museum Literary Festival at Hatfield House, talking about gardening in Eden in Milton's Paradise Lost. The Festival is on 3-4 October. Then on 11 November at 7.30 p.m.  I'll be interviewing Claire Tomalin at the Richmond Literary Festival.