Plan Bee!

| 13th June 2010

Summer’s here – Welcome to week ten!

As we said last week we have been progressing with Plan Bee here at Hen Corner…

Phase 1 – To introduce the whole team to the Apiary. This was accomplished with success on week eight. The lovely people at the Ealing & District Bee Keeping Association were fantastic at helping us all feel at ease as we walked through the curtain in our Bee Space Suits.

Phase 2 – For two team members to begin the BBKA Basic Assessment Training Course.

We started this on Tuesday night. 15 trainees sat at tables in an old scout hut for two hours of preparation for an assessment from an Ex- Bee Inspector… We are the only delegates who aren’t currently keeping bees so we can’t be assessed yet – but it’s all good learning!

Interesting fact: Bees don’t do denim… so get your jeans off!

Scary fact: the homework was to practise putting 30-40 live bees into a match box…. shame we’re not keeping bees yet – have to skip that exercise!

Phase 3 – For two responsible team members to attend The Big Buzz – purely for research!

This was so much more pleasurable than attempting the BBKA homework…. A wine & canapes reception at Battersea Power Station with a Jazz Band playing in the background. This great event in support of the British Honey Bee was hosted by those lovely people at Abel & Cole. It was great to chat to founder Keith Abel about how the business had developed and grown over the years – we started shopping with them over ten years ago and their produce and range has gone from strength to strength.  We also had a long conversation with Andre who is responsible for chilled food and talked fish, pies and houmous…. By the way – the beetroot houmous canapes draped with carrot curls were gorgeous. Oh, lest I forget; the main ‘event’ of the evening was presentations by Steve Benbow of The London Honey Company,  Barnaby Shaw from BBKA, and Dr. Anita Malhotra from Bangor University talking Bee Genetics.

Tips that we can all follow to help the British Honey Bee are:

1) Go on one of the courses to find out more

2) Plant some seeds to grow flowers for the bees

3) Buy the Honey!

We all went home with party bags of goodies – Thanks Abel & Cole!

Phase Four – Arrange a Home Visit.

We want to go and see how a bee hive in an urban family garden can really work… what are the risks and implications? We’ll write-up on this when we’ve done it…

Other jobs we’ve done this week…

Yeah, I did it! I cleared out the cold frame – this is the girls enjoying some over-wintered lettuce that I pulled out. I dug in some black gold (compost to you & me!) then a good splashing of Nematodes, which we also used throughout the kitchen garden, herb garden and borders that were suffering from slug damage.

Not only did I clear the cold frames… I also painted them! The tops are old Victorian sash windows and they needed a rub down and a fresh coat of exterior paint. Now how many Brownie points do I deserve for that? Tomorrow I plan to plant in the aubergines, peppers, chillies and cucumbers.

Aphid City?

Not only have we got black-fly on the  broad beans we’ve got green-fly on the roses and the plums! I think we bought and released the ladybird larvae too early? I’m spraying the aphids with soapy water and it seems to work…

Then I discovered white ‘cotton wool’ on the apple trees… Thank God for Google! it didn’t take long to diagnose it as ‘Woolly Aphids’; the treatment being to paint them with meths… ooh that smells! I think it needs a stronger treatment as these little mites can really damage the trees and go on to cause canker… so better safe than sorry here – some of our orchard trees are 150 years old!

No Eggs…

Ascot and  Butternut are still broody… how much longer should I give them? once this cycle is out I’ve decided that I’m getting a naughty cage if they do it again this summer – watch it girls….

Poor old Ruby is ill again… we don’t know what it is, maybe she’s just not as hardy being a rare pure breed. She won’t touch the layers pellets (usual food) but seems to like the mixed corn with cod liver oil & soya. She’s so weak, she can hardly lift her head off the ground – she’s staying in the pet carrier (in the bathroom) for her own safety overnight. I fear the next blog may be her obituary….

Ending in some good news!

We’ve had several good portions of strawberries and the first handful of raspberries this week and the chilli plant donated by our lovely friends Sophie & Paul looks like it’s about to flower… can I keep it happy?

Have a great week and remember:

Corners are not just for squares!

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