Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Bees are Back in Town!

Last week I took my car in for a service. It was supposed to be a chilly day - we've had over a week of winds coming from the north-west, north and north-east.  However, it was sunny and nicely warm. So I gave myself permission for some time out and took the opportunity to spend a few hours at Poppit Sands.  The tide was out, so I pottered along to the rocky end of the beach to have a look in any handy rock pools. Not a lot there.  Nice patterns in the rocks and sandy ripples, and sunlight glinting off water kept me entertained for a while. I had a nice chat with the lady in the RNLI shop, where they had some lovely things which made me want to redesign my bathroom.  Lacking the money for that, I settled on buying a couple of second hand books, which no doubt will be recycled in the same way when I've read them.  Then I treated myself to lunch in the newly and nicely refurbished beach cafe (local cheeses, fresh bread, salad, chutney, mmm!)
Near the lifeboat station, I was admiring a mound of brambles in flower.  Is it my imagination, or has there been a lot of bramble flower this summer?  We might be in for a good blackberry season.
Gazing at the insects taking advantage of the flowers, I suddenly realised I was looking at several honey bees.  I haven't seen honey bees for two summers and had begun to forget what they look like!  I love our various bumble, solitary and other bees, but was beginning to feel distressed about the lack of honey bees here.

A friend dropped in last night, having been at his neighbour's farm the other night when a swarm of bees flew in and started to settle around a wooden post.  A local beekeeper was called, who happily gathered the swarm to give them a good, new home.
When I first moved here in 1999, we saw a swarm in early to mid July every year for the first few years.  Our next door neighbour at the time had a colony of wild bees in a tree hole.  However, I think they are long gone and I haven't heard about any other wild bees.
This started me thinking about the old rhyme.  Why is a swarm in July not worth a fly?  (Goes off to Google it.) Ahha!  Thanks Biobees!  It's apparently because a late season swarm may not be able to build up enough honey reserves to overwinter.  However, as someone on the forum pointed out, if it's a choice between a July swarm or none, a beekeeper would go for the swarm, and give the bees TLC and supplementary feeding if necessary to help them overwinter.
Our friend has talked about wanting to keep bees recently and commented that my next-door-but-one neighbour (well, she is about three-quarters of a mile up the road, but that's how it is around here!) is also going to start keeping bees.  Very cheerful news over a cup of tea!

We've had rather changeable weather this week until yesterday, which was a great day for getting the washing dry.  So it slipped my mind that I should be doing some butterfly counting.  The sun came out this afternoon, so I went out to look.  The Big Butterfly Count only requires you take 15 minutes at a time, so it's easy.  Go do one!  There was quite a chilly wind and nothing much to see round by the pond, so I went out of the gate to have a look at the roadside buddleias. It started to rain every day as soon as they were ready to open their flowers, resulting in some rather tatty, browning blooms.  But they still smell and there were a few butterflies visiting along with ... yes!  Honey Bees!
(Goes off to do a happy waggle dance in honour of honey bees).

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