The last few months have been busy – in the garden and in life – and I haven’t had time to blog. Our early wet spring has become an early dry summer (the calendar says May, but it feels like June) and we are spending lots of time drought-proofing the garden by deeply watering and mulching both trees and shrubs and by adding a few extra rain barrels to collect any rain coming off the roof of the house.
Many of the over wintered vegetables such as fennel, Swiss chard and kale have bolted in the heat. The summer veggies including squash, pumpkins and beans are already coming up. This year I made the decision not to plant potatoes because they take up a lot of space and plus I had a few other things I wanted to plant this year. Well, nature had other thoughts and three of my garden boxes have rogue potato plants (forgotten potatoes from previous years harvests) sprouting in among the other veggies. The potato plants are growing faster than the peas and will likely crowd them out and are already over-shading the lettuce. I don’t mind very much as this means we will have some potatoes at the end of the summer.
Our hive, which Bryn dropped off just over a month ago, is thriving. The first time he came to monitor the hive, we were able to identify the queen (marked with a white dot on the left side of the frame in the picture below). The queen is laying lots of larvae and the population of the hive is increasing. At both visits the bees had built honey cells under the roof of the hive, which we scraped into a container for early-season consumption.
On the second hive visit last weekend, Bryn removed a few of the frames from my hive (which contain mostly larvae) into a box so that he can transplant them into other, less lively hives. He replaced them with empty frames which we expect that our bees will fill with larvae and honey. He also added another box on top of the hive to give the bees more space.
The bees in our hive are very docile and when Bryn opens the hive, I like to stand close to the hive and watch. If you stand still, bees land on you (especially in your hair) then fly off again. Although I am allergic to wasp venom (as I found out last summer when I stepped on a nest in the front) I had assumed I wouldn’t react to bee stings. Unfortunately, yesterday I must have brushed a bee when I picked up some laundry that had fallen off the line (line-dried laundry is my idea of a summer luxury). I felt pain in my finger, and there was a stinger and a venom sack on my cuticle. Although I didn’t get a full dose – the stinger didn’t penetrate very far and I didn’t have a local reaction- I started to feel my face swell and so I took a huge amount of antihistamines and was fine. This is going to seriously change the distance I stand from the hive in the future.
If you want to read more, click on this link to read about venom allergies. Big thanks to my Best Text Friend (BTF) for forwarding the link and talking me through my reaction.
Oh Chrystal — you’ve described a huge nightmare — and I’m not talking the rogue potatoes! I don’t think I’ve ever been stung by anything and I am very worried about an allergic reaction. (I get mud wasps on the boat a lot and I keep a very close watch for them and take care of the nests as soon as I see them — and before they get too big. I have Benedryl on board just in case — and I’ve considered an epi-pen, but they are by prescription and a physician friend of mine says best not to have one unless you know you need it and know how to use it… So, I’m relying on vigilance and antihistamines, and luck… )
I’m fascinated (from a distance — better yet, via photo) that anyone (well, any non-bee) can identify the queen… (I imagine they don’t have a white dot in nature…)
I have an epi pen somewhere in my house……..just in case!!!