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May, 2007:

L’apiculteur cherche… and all that

Progress with acquiring an assaime sauvage last year was slow – but interesting! Three sightings of wild swarms. One visual, one audible.. (like a fly past of lancaster bombers) and one resident in an old oak tree just a kilometre or so from home.

Visiting our neighbours, we found that they have a resident swarm that the local pompiers treated a few years ago. Unfortunately for them, the swarm returned and re-established a fresh colony. So… it’s got to be worth a go.

A fortnight ago we installed the hive.. a few metres below the entry to the problem swarm and on their inbound flightpath. I was rather hoping that the allure of fresh wax foundation would be like crisp cotton sheets at the Hilton. Not so. Not even a whiff.

So… Along to our local bee-store for a chat and a bit of a discussion about bee capture. Our optimism took a bit of a hit when our prospects where pronounced as slim. Still.. we picked up a little tube of ‘Le parfum d’Ariste’, a bee attractant that you are supposed to smear all over the inside of a hive and the charming Monsieur Matisse went out the back and gave us a ‘loaner’ frame – full of established comb and dripping with honey.

Food and lodgings laid on all we have to do now is wait. If that doesn’t entice them into new lodgings then I don’t know what will. We have established a fall-back position though. As much as we’d like to capture our own swarm… our bee man may yet come to the rescue. He’s the long established man who can in the area and this time of year – as hives grow and start to chuck the odd swarm – he gets the call and off he goes to collect whatever is around and about. We went round to see his ‘nursery’ and he has five nucleus colonies under development so I suspect that this time next week we’ll be round there with our empty hive and one of them will get transferred in.

Watch this space

Woodland Wonderland

We have a group of acacia trees in our garden alongside the hedgerow which at this time of year are full of beautiful white scented flowers. Underneath these trees originally was just a pile of broken glass, cans and other bits of rubbish.

We arranged for this area to be cleared last year and once this had been done, we were left with a blank canvas. We decided that this portion of the garden would make a great woodland area.

After planting seeds, acquiring a few woodland plants and buying some hostas, I started to put the plants in place. This is the first year that the foxgloves have flowered and all the plants have established themselves.

Woodland GardenFoxglovesWoodland Garden
The area is now lush with greenery and really looks like a woodland garden.

In the spring the cowslips, primroses and snowdrops blossomed and now the cyclamen, hostas, foxgloves and heuchera are coming into their own.

What was once an eyesore is now a lovely tranquil part of the garden, full of bees and butterflies.

Two New Ladies at Bellebouche

Of the original 3 hens we have, only 2 are now laying. We don’t know how old the chickens are as they were given to us as a gift. I assume that one of them is now too old for laying so something needed to be done.

Re-housing the un-productive chicken in the freezer with our 2 pigs was not an option. So …….. (more…)

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