‘A bee is never as busy as it seems; it’s just that it can’t buzz any slower.’*
I normally do tend to pack a lot into my time, but I think that this last week, being Half Term, really did buzz! We had arranged, during the previous week, to help out a local family who had discovered some bees in their garden shed. Guessing that it was a swarm, and that they may have been there some time, I took expert bee keeper Thomas with me in case they had become well established in their new home and required specialist removal. Of course, ‘You never can tell with bees’, as Winnie the Pooh famously said, and it was only upon opening the shed door that we discovered not a swarm of honey bees, but a nest of buff tailed bumble bees happily inhabiting a bag of hay for the guinea pig. Whilst this is not usually the prize for a bee keeper on a swarm call out, we helped the owners (one of whom is very allergic to bee stings) by removing the nest with a dustpan, Thomas did that bit, and have brought it back to Hen Corner in the hope that the bees will pollinate our tomatoes and strawberries. It’s safely tucked up warm under a big old flowerpot allowing the bees to explore the garden as they please.
Our Sunday morning surprise was a text from Andy’s brother, Richard, saying ‘When you’re up, give us a call – we’ve awoke to find bees all over our shed roof and filling the back of the garden’! Andy and I packed up the car/swarmobile with our bee suits, spare hive and other handy bits of equipment and went off to investigate. Our concern this time was that the bees had ventured under the corrugated roof and were nesting in a cavity, naturally, we asked Thomas to help again… Whilst we were watching the bees on the shed roof slowly seek the refuge of a cardboard box, we heard a tree branch spring back into place and were privileged to see another large swarm, that had been clustered in a nearby tree, receive the ‘Go’ order to move en masse to a new home as discovered by their scout bees. It was amazing to watch a cloud of up to 30,000 honey bees flying as one unit focussed on the goal of their new home, they followed the lead of the scout bees and were off, away and out of sight in less than a minute. I hope they found a bait hive, like Thomas’, and not another garden shed…
Both of these bee adventures fell on the Bank Holiday weekend that we had earmarked for decorating and gardening projects. We’ve been keen to get the kitchen and conservatory, our main training areas, along with the garden in tip top order ready for a good run of courses. With children on holiday, we had planned several sessions for the week and were pleased to welcome seven guests to Family Feathers and Fun! on Tuesday followed by an Urban Hens course on Wednesday. We had the bunting up to give it that holiday feel – it was also a great boundary marker to ensure that our young guests didn’t venture too near to the bee hives…
Our final course of Half Term was Pizza Together where adults and children alike got their fingers in the flour to learn basic bread making skills before designing our favourite toppings ready to be baked for lunch, with extra portions taken home for supper. Our next Pizza Together courses are in the Summer Holidays on Tuesday 28th July and Thursday 27th August. Budding bakers can practise pastry, bread and cakes in our Baking Together course on Thursday 20th August.
Coming up at the Corner…
We would love to welcome you to one of our courses that we have running right throughout the year. The next few weeks brings Intro to Bee Keeping, Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London and some new courses, Bread: Sweet & Savoury and Scones and Jam
- Sadly one of the chicks has died, but the other 9 are growing fast
- We foraged for elderflowers and have made loads of cordial and Elderflower Delight (a bit like Turkish Delight)
- The supers are on the bee hive and the bees are starting to fill them up with honey
Jobs for this week:
- We are training an entire primary school to look after their new chickens
- Sara is visiting the London Kitchen Project in preparation for their new Cooking Classes
- Popping down to a pick-your-own farm to search out some strawberries for our Scones and Jam course
Join us on the Journey!