Monday, 19 July 2010

Z goes to a tea party

There was cake and there were meringues and strawberries dipped in chocolate and everything.  I manfully resisted the lot, mainly for fear that I'd drip it down my front.

Did I mention the time, during the interval at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when ... oh blimey, this is going to turn into one long question if I don't stop now.

Right.

Some years ago,  during the interval of a concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when an elderly lady passed me.  She was accompanied by a middle-aged man and woman.  On her way towards the door, she started to put on her jacket, which she was quite competent to do, but the younger woman lunged over-helpfully towards her and grabbed it to shove her arm into the sleeve.  She shoved me too, and my glass lurched so that I got red wine all over my cream silk top.  The interfering bat didn't even notice and I was too startled to yelp, though I received speakingly sympathetic looks from other people.  Anyway, not to be overly discomfited, I repaired to the cloakroom, dabbed water over my top and got the marks out, and then swivelled it back to front so that, at least, the wetness didn't show face to face.

So, the tea party - it was a celebration of jolly good effort from Years 9 and 10, and their parents came along and afterwards we repaired to the hall where they were all given sustificates.  They get gift vouchers and suchlike too, from helpful local sponsors.  It's a jolly occasion and I sat in the back row while another governor gave a short speech and presented the certificates.

I haven't mentioned Al's bees recently.  I told you about the honey he extracted a month or so ago - Blue Witch wondered why he blithely destroyed the comb.  I asked (he wasn't at all surprised, having read the post and the comment) and explained that they actually wanted some beeswax for candles and suchlike.  Anyway, since then the bees have been manufacturing huge amounts of honey, so he had to order a *machine for extracting lots of honey without destroying all the honeycomb*. I don't know anything about it, but no doubt I'll find out when it arrives.

He had a bit of a worry recently.  He's got his three hives, which he intends to keep, and had three more spare, two of which he sold and the third he promised to someone else.  He'd checked that there was a newly-hatched queen, so gave it time for her maiden flight and to start laying, and then checked again.  He was alarmed to find very few eggs, which weren't in the right place in the cells.  He reckoned that a worker had started to lay unfertilised eggs - this occasionally happens and, when it does, the worker kills a newly-emerging queen and this will lead to the demise of the hive, as the eggs all hatch into drones - idle males, darlings, so unlike real life.

It was late in the season to try to save it, but he thought he'd give it a go - the theory is that the laying worker is a house bee, not a forager, so she's never learned her way back to the hive.  So, you put a sheet down a good way from the hive, then take the bees over there, shake them all off the frames and most of them will fly right back.  But not the laying worker.

A queen is still needed, so he put a frame of eggs from another strong hive, so that one would be raised as a new queen.

The theory was all there, but in fact it turned out that it wasn't necessary.  He always says that he's a complete novice (general opinion is that it takes at least five years to not be completely clueless) - anyway, next time he checked he found that there was loads of healthy brood.  He's checked up, and apparently the first few eggs a new queen lays are not quite up to scratch.  You know, like the first pancake that gets given to the dog.  Fortunately, she was such a new queen that she was able to fly back home.

So, yesterday the nuc was taken to its new home.  It's not really far enough away to be sure that they won't return, so he checked last night.  There were seven bees!  Probably quite old ones (foraging bees only last a few weeks) whose instincts had been too strong when they crossed a former flight path.  He sprayed them with sugar water and introduced them into one of the other hives, to give them a chance.  Sentimental?  Well, why not?  Anyway, he'll keep an eye open and hope that the others will settle down.

By the way, a friend called in to say that he has seen a large fox in the next field, where it's living in the maize.  I thought I hadn't seen so many rabbits recently.  They are still easy pickings, but I'm afraid that when the maize is cut, the fox will look further afield.  Unless he's stopped first.  I'm afraid his days are numbered.  Sorry.

There has been an annoying mosquito whining around me, which I hadn't managed to slap.  Then the sound stopped, and I saw it had landed on my arm.  I smacked it dead, and found a smear of my blood on my hand.  Honestly, it can't have been there for more than a second.  I've smeared my arm with anti-histamine cream and am very glad that I spotted it.  Horrid thing.

11 comments:

lom said...

poor Basil

Z said...

Boom Boom, I'm afraid, Helen.

Poor creature thinks he's on to a winner, comfortable field and a lot of bunnies to eat, but sooner or later he'll fancy a nice killing spree in the hen house. It's his nature. Like the mosquito's is to drink my blood.

Dave said...

'The first pancake that gets given to the dog'!!!

Not in my house they don't.

Z said...

Okay, Dave, the first pancake, that always goes wrong, will be reserved for you.

badgerdaddy said...

I just learned how to make pancakes the other night. Great fun. None went to the dog, either, though the second one went slightly awry and had a touch of the Jackson Pollocks about it. And no, that's not rhyming slang.

Pat said...

There's a lot to be said for sticking to white wine.

Z said...

I'll resist using the word tosser then, Badge.

It was always very jolly making pancakes when the family still lived here - we'd all make them for each other so that no one got stuck with all the cooking, and everyone had a chance to toss a few too.

True, Pat. I learned my lesson.

sablonneuse said...

Bees were on my wishlist (together with goats and/or sheep) but beekeeping sounds much more complicated than looking after chickens.

Scarlet Blue said...

I've done that with a flea - cracked it between my nails only to be smeared with my own blood... well I presume it was my blood... I suppose it could have been the cat's blood...?
Sx

Z said...

There's a lot to learn, certainly. And it's all jolly expensive to start with, although I suppose once you've got the hives and equipment, it's not so much after that.

Yes, so have I - it was the speed of it that startled me, I'd have hardly thought it would have time to pierce the skin, let alone start drinking!

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