Monday, 18 April 2016

little creatures

Yesterday's efforts must have exhausted Our Ginger, who spent the entire morning asleep in a cardboard box in the hall.  The box measures nine inches square and four and a half inches deep, and when Our Ginger is intent on looking very asleep he is capable of curling himself up in it so that none of him sticks up above the rim.  The last time he had to go to the vet he tipped the scales at a stone,  and how he fits all of that cat into the box I have no idea, but I wish my back was as in as good a state at his.

Meanwhile, last night's camera footage showed one rabbit hopping about in the rose bed and nibbling on the patch of Viola cornuta.  I suppose one rabbit is an improvement on two, but it's still one too many, and I darkly suspect there are more on the other side of the garden.  I have set the camera tonight on the sloping bed where the damage is worst to try and discover the worst.  I may be becoming mildly unhinged about the rabbits.  At least I have read Michael Pollan's Second Nature, and his awful warning about his battle with the woodchucks.  That way madness lies.

I very quickly lifted the lid of every beehive this morning.  It wasn't warm enough to take a proper look at what was going on, but I was concerned that they might need extra space by now.  One colony had started to build and use free comb in their eke, the shallow extra box that made space for a packet of fondant when I thought the hive felt a bit light and needed feeding.  They got their first super, as did a second colony that had spread all the way across the brood box.  Three others looked well enough but not out of space yet, two of them coming from a strain that always seems to get going relatively late in the spring.  One hive had rather few bees in, but they will get going or they won't.  Bees are strange things.  I had a tiny colony that spent a full year in a half sized box, always looking healthy but refusing to get any bigger, before suddenly expanding back to a normal size.  The seventh colony appeared to have died.

I'm not too worried about losing one, since I didn't want to start the season with seven colonies anyway.  I should have united some of them last autumn but never got round to it.  I think the weather was iffy, and the time I did try I couldn't find the queens, even though they were marked. Perhaps at heart I was reluctant to mess with them.  They were all treated for varroa over the winter and fed as necessary.  Beyond that it's up to them.  Natural selection should leave me with the strong colonies and the ones that do well under my style of beekeeping.

Addendum  I am not really writing this blog at half past eleven at night.  I wrote most of it before going out for the evening, of which more anon, but didn't have time to make the final check and press Publish.

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