Aj and Bee swarm

The Queen is dead, long live the Queen.  Well actually, that’s not the case this time. She’s had the good sense to leave home with about 50% of the hive.  Working on about 5000 bees per pound (sorry,someone please convert that to kilos), somewhere in the region of 10,000 female workers have followed the old queen as a new queen is born to a very old wild colony in the wall of my children’s bathroom!

In no way as productive on the honey front, but no less fascinating and much to the family’s chagrin, we also have a thriving colony of masonry bees by the backdoor!  Masonry makes them sound quite construction, but in actual fact these diminutive solitary bees act collectively more like Fred Dibnah, taking down our house,
grain of mortar by grain of mortar.  When this persistent mining caused the door to the woodshed to fall out; action had to be taken.  In the spirit of housing the homeless, we cemented in segments of bamboo and spent rifle bullets, in the hope that this branch of the apidae family would desist with their demolition.  Before I could even cut the bamboo flush with the wall, the bees were in; the single egg laid, ends of said tubes sealed with mud – job done.  The brass bullets proved a very popular abode (.243 being the preferred calibre).

Vipers Bugloss

Further afield, on the other side of the farm, an impressive wild flower display is taking place, much to the delight of our third group of apian friends – the bombastic Bumblebees.  Viper’s Bugloss (Echium Vulgare) has created an almost electric blue carpet in a field corner. This happens each year where ground has been disturbed but not then drilled with a crop.  From the Greek Echis for Viper, this striking and slightly prehistoric looking plant was formally used as an antidote to the bite, but more surprisingly, when the seeds were boiled in wine, and consumed daily, was said to help the flow of mother’s
milk.  Surely Chablis alone would have the desired effect!

Bee crazy for Viper's Bugloss

Broxtead New Potatoes

Butter?  Well there has to be some mention of agriculture.  Started lifting new potatoes today.  Utterly gorgeous with a

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