May We Join You?

| 20th May 2021

It’s May – and we can at last join our friends inside, for coffee, food, wine and more (what a relief!)

We’ve also got all our courses running as planned, both inside and out… Come and join us!

Above is Kate and Charlotte who were training as Bread Angels with us last week.

This week has ‘blessed’ us with all four seasons of weather every day! If you have been undecided as to whether an umbrella will help protect you from the rain, or bright full sun, recognising that it may indeed simply blow inside out with the gusty wind in between hail storms – you are not alone!

I’ve always followed the weather quite closely, especially since I’ve been producing food from our garden, and have sadly lost many of this year’s seedlings which thrived in the early spring sunshine positioned on a windowsill, only to have frozen/drowned/blown away in the more recent weather since they were moved outside to harden off (poor little things)…

Do you remember THAT REALLY HOT DAY, back in March, when the temperatures soared to 24.5c???? That was the day that my swimming lake opened again (after Lockdown III), that was the week that I ordered a sun lounger (last year’s birthday present), and that was when the bees told their queens that summer was here and there was lots of food around for new baby bees.

Since then, the weather has been turbulent, to say the least, and we’ve regularly glanced at the thermostat to see if it automatically flicks the heating on as we shiver in the evenings.

Well, at least we don’t have to water the garden and the lawn looks lovely and lush!

I know us Brits are renowned for talking about the weather, but when you are growing food and tending livestock, it really does make a difference. Our apple trees blossomed almost a month late this year, yet the extra rain has caused our figs to swell generously – let’s hope there will soon be sun to ripen them off. Whilst the weeds are growing quicker than the corn on the allotment, it’s the bees that I’m most worried about.

It takes 21 days, from the egg being laid, for an adult worker bee to emerge from its cocoon. This time of year, it has around 4 weeks of house work/training to complete within the hive, before venturing outside to forage daily during her last couple of weeks of life. The queen bee, the mother, can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day to increase the size of the colony when there is enough food to find locally and the right weather to facilitate its collection.

So, with this knowledge, I’m guessing that, on that record breaking day in March, many queen bees were told by their excited children ‘Look mummy, it’s lovely outside, there’s loads of food, it’s summer! Make more baby bees – we need an army to gather it all in!’

So queenie starts laying 2,000 eggs a day, resulting in 2,000 more adult bees, every day, that all need feeding three weeks later (not to mention the in between larvae stage that need a constant supply of nectar, pollen and royal jelly).

Colonies are doubling, trebling, and quadrupling in size within weeks only to discover that it’s winter weather again...

Reminiscent of rainy days on holiday shut up in a boat, caravan, or even worse a tent, trying to pass the time with a pack of playing cards, I imagine the message shouted back from the entrance of the hive. ‘Reverse, go back, it’s too cold, it’s too wet out there… Stand aside, let these poor foragers back in, make way, they are soaked through…’

By now, the hive has so many bees inside, and not necessarily enough food coming in, that they plan to split and rear new queens to head up the half that is to stay, sending the old queen off with half the colony to seek their fortune elsewhere.

Ideally bees swarm on a hot summer’s day, giving them lots of time to settle in to their new home before nightfall. I’ve collected 3 swarms recently, from around the local area, and on two of those occasions it was raining, the last time accompanied by thunder and hail. Not particularly nice for any of us…

Anyway, enough about the weather – I’ve spotted that the elderflowers are out at last! So if you’d like to make some cordial, here’s a reminder of how we made it last year for Country Living Magazine.

What’s Coming Up?

Other news:

Jobs for the week:

  • Pot on the last of our seedlings
  • Check the bees have enough space in their hives
  • Keep harvesting asparagus…

Here’s to some fun in the sun!


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