very brave cats and beehive by klara kim

The day started lazily and continued at this pace for quite some time.  Even though a lie-in is just a fable now or even a thing of folklore, the morning can still be leisurely.  The little man has developed the habit of tunefully singing with the birds at dawn.  We believe this to be a random fluctuation in genetics as this trait is not an inherited one.  We had only a few objectives for the day other than the regular chores.  Cheesecake and Banoffee were on the lovely Sharon’s list and, as a family, we had the aim of heading out for lunch.

Making the little man’s tiny pureed packets of apples and pears was on the list of chores

The bees were not on the list as they need time and space on their own for a while.  As I cleaned out the chickens I had an opportunity to lean on the brush shaft and stand for an eternity and watch the antics at the hive entrances.  The hive with the baby queen showed some encouraging signs as several bees were doing orientation flights.  They change jobs from nurse bees to flying bees and the first thing they do in this new role is make circular flights around the hive in ever increasing circles.  In this way they imprint the surroundings of their new home into their mind.  This hive has very few flying and so every one of them is essential to bring in the pollen and nectar to feed the hungry mouths.

The other hive seems to be a mirror image of this.  It has a ridiculous amount of flying bees and few nurse bees.  This hive has the queen we have now named Grelder.  I am not a fan of naming animals that are not truly pets.  I named the chickens only as a joke (Roast, Lemon, Szechuan and Rosemary) and never use the names or can ever tell them apart anyway.  But, after the artificial swarm adventure we thought she deserved a name and Grelder seemed fitting as GRound ELDER is something we have to deal with a lot here; just when you think it has completely gone it suddenly appears again from an unknown hiding place.

If I had been a more experienced beekeeper I would have put the hives closer together to make evening out the number of flying bees a possibilty.  This is achieved by swapping the hives to each others positions over a couple of weeks in a strange ball-in-a-cup type manoeuvre.

After lunch I found myself in a well known bookshop in the ‘town’ and bought yet another book on beekeeping.  At the desk the lady asked me if I was thinking of keeping bees to which I replied (half embarrassed, and I do not know why) that I already do.  Then came the classic next question of’ “do you make your own honey then?”  I am sorry to say that my reply is always the same very annoying phrase, “no, the bees do that.  It would take me too long to make my own honey.”  I can’t help myself.

One of Grelder’s daughters


the pointy bit


a bee’s bum

 the sting in the tail

Looking at the wing of one of Grelder’s daughters can apparently reveal how close she is to the pure Irish Black Bee family tree.  One day I hope to figure out how to do this.