Wednesday, 13 March 2013

badgers ate my beehives

Something has been eating my beehives.  Corners on two of them have been gnawed away from the floor to where the galvanised roof protects the top of the brood box, exposing the nails that hold the boxes together. I presume it was badgers.  I can't think what else could chew through solid wood, and the damage seems too serious for it to have been muntjac with itchy horns having a little scratch.  Certainly there are plenty of badgers in this part of the world, and they are getting more intrusive in the meadow, scraping up the grass and digging among the roots of shrubs.

I spent the first hour of the morning screwing L shaped steel section on each corner of every hive, after the Systems Administrator had kindly cut it to length for me and drilled holes in it.  Jobs like that irritate me, since I had perfectly good beehives before the badgers took it into their heads to start chewing them, and now it has taken me nigh on forty pounds worth of materials and an hour of my life just to restore the status quo.  I've had to buy a couple of extra brood boxes to move the bees into, as soon as the weather is warm enough to start moving frames around, so that the damaged boxes can be repaired properly.  So little material remains in the damaged corners that I'm not sure if I could lift them in their current state without them disintegrating.

It must have been stressful for the bees, to hear something attacking the outside of their hive, and feel the vibrations.  Bees tend not to like being vibrated.  I had a very quick peek under the roof of each, not lifting the crown board that covers the frames, and could see live bees through the holes in the crown board, so at least I know they are alive, which is something.  The vile weather is not helpful.  They ought to be out, foraging on the crocus flowers and the daphne, instead of confined to barracks.  Spring is a key time in the life of a colony, when the queen bee should be laying eggs full tilt, to build up bee numbers for the season.

Then I went and bought some bags of spent mushroom compost from the local garden centre that sells it on a bag-your-own basis at £1.50 for thirty litres.  The SA has promised to take me up there in the truck sometime, for a big load, but I needed some to keep me going.  I'd used all of it by just after lunchtime, mulching the entrance bed and planting a winter jasmine.  I have tried Jasminum nudiflorum in the back garden without success, and am starting to think it wants better drainage, or more sun, or both, in order to be happy, since in the back it grows grudgingly but doesn't flower.  I could probably have found a small piece in the back garden that had rooted where it touched the ground, and moved it to the front, if I'd been a patient and frugal gardener, but I am going to use it as ground cover and I want it to start covering the ground as quickly as possible, so starting with what was effectively a rooted cutting felt too slow.

A patch of lesser celandine has appeared in the entrance bed.  This is a noxious weed, though a delightful wild flower in the right place.  It grows in the wood and is fine there, but it is not something you want in a border.  I am fairly sure it came in with a plant that was given to me from a garden that I know had it.  The older I get, the more cautious I am about accepting gifts of home-propagated plants from anyone except people I judge to be skilled and hygienic gardeners.  Yes, you can save some money on plants, but if you value your time at all then it isn't worth it to acquire the free weeds that come with the plant.  I once destroyed a perennial sunflower given to me from a garden that suffered from ground elder, because while the donor said the ground elder in that area had been sprayed off with glyphosate and killed, examination of the helianthus roots revealed the presence of ground elder roots that didn't look sufficiently dead for my liking.  This garden currently has horsetail, sheep's sorrel, and some dreadful forms of running grasses, but not ground elder.

Addendum  I read on yesterday's Telegraph on-line that women constantly lie about life on Facebook to make their lives appear more exciting.  I don't, because I'm not on Facebook, but I don't embellish on Cardunculus either.  In fact, I tone down some of the more baroque episodes to avoid hurting people's feelings.  Perhaps I should sex up the dossier a bit.  After all, badgers ate my beehives, I bought some manure and spread it about, it started snowing again so I came inside and typed this.  That's not a very exciting day, is it?  I'm not going to impress anybody with that.  But if I did claim to have been to a luxury spa, or had lunch with Liam Neeson, or hobnobbed with Zaha Hadid at the preview of the RA George Bellows exhibition while wearing my new Monolos, I don't think anybody would believe it for a minute.

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