Thursday, April 30, 2009
A quick look showed them close to capping 4 queen cells. Plenty of drones around.
Hive is full of bees and brood of all ages. Not showing any interest in the super.
Nectar and pollen OK.
So we did an artificial swarm into a 14x12 hive. Making sure we moved the queen and NO queen cells.
Today I revisited (08:00). Bees were very easy to spook this morning. Lots of them jumped onto my hands.
Didn't get stung though.
I took one frame with two Q cells from the donor hive (Queenless since yesterday).
We now have a (homemade) nuc with two frames of sugar stores, about 50% stores on each. The rest empty cells.
One frame with 2 sealed Q cells.
One frame with sealed brood on one side. The other side has some fresh nectar.
After making the nuc I went through the donor hive and I found:
frame 2 has a sealed Q cell.
frame 3 has a sealed Q cell.
frame 4 has the two cells we saw yesterday right on the edge of a frame. One is sealed one that is not sealed and they may be tearing down.
I removed the porter escapes on all hives for better ventilation.
Flo asked for photos. I forgot.
I think we will try the mating nuc at the weekend. Taking another Q cell from the donor hive. A cupful of nurse bees, some syrup and a sealed Q cell is all that is required.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Raggedy and Wench's amazing recycled outfits on the Sheep Walk.
Everything from old lining to brocade and a felted jumper.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Only a short clip, but my kind of carding!
It's going to be a very crafty week: weaving lesson tomorrow, where I will finish threading up 4 shafts on my teacher's 8 shaft loom, before learning to weave. And then at the weekend I will be off to WonderWool!
I haven't done any crafting for a while, but I'm finally beginning to use up the toffee brown alpaca fleece I bought last year in Hay on Wye, mixing it with some Finn sheep wool dyed in spring greens and autumnal oranges, to make a beautiful brownish yarn with subtle changes in colour...maybe good for an warm jumper, hat or scarf. I'll put up some pics when I've finished a skein.
I'm also reading up on making cosmetics etc., thinking about what to do with last year's beeswax harvest, and I have a few ideas in the pipeline for some wearable art...now all I need is my sewing machine fixed!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
First of all, the modern take on the age-old practice of "forest gardening" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_gardening) and the Transition movement (http://www.transitiontowns.org/) both stem from PERMACULTURE, so to start with let me explain what PERMACULTURE actually is.
Permaculture (from PERMANENT and (AGRI)CULTURE) was first dreamed up in the 70s by two Australian ecologists, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Since then it has spread from Australia to New Zealnd, Europe and the US, as well as other parts of the world; there are projects in Asia, Africa, South America...Permaculture is still not as well known as some other environmental ideas (see the post below, Pondering Eco-ness) but in my opinion it deserves to be much more widely practiced, and could help us out of this whole load of trouble we've got ourselves in.
Permaculture started out as a model for sustainable food production - gardening and farming - although as it is a set of principles rather than hard and fast rules, you can apply it to any situation, in any climate!
Perhaps the basis of Permaculture could be summed up as working in harmony with nature, instead of against it. There are lots of green theories that claim to "work in harmony with nature" - such as organic farming, for example (although of course, this is actually working against nature, as even in organic farming you're trying to prevent nature from doing what she wants to do, by turning the land into field systems rather than allowing it to revert to natural woodland etc. but more on this later) - but Permaculture goes beyond these. It encompasses ideas from all sorts of fields - organics, conservation, low-impact living - and puts them all together.
What really distinguishes Permaculture is that not only does it work in harmony with nature, it seeks to actively imitate nature, the theory being that we can bend the rules of nature to meet our own needs. Permaculture works on the same bases of natural ecosystems: each element performs many functions, each important function is supported by many elements, etc. ( from Permaculture Association Britain's website - see useful websites below).
This is where systems such as "Forest Gardening" come in. Forest gardening is essentially producing food by imitating the natural forest, i.e. you grow apple trees, currant bushes and perenial vegetables in the same way as trees, shrubs and undergrowth grow in natural woodland. We can make our food production systems (in fact, any system) operate in the same way as nature does, and this means that everyone wins: we get to eat, and nature's happy because we're playing by her rules! (Needless to say, this takes a lot of designing, so much so that there are accredited courses you can do to help you get your head round it all!).
NB: When I refer to "natural woodland", I mean the landscape's natural climax. In Britain that means woodland, but even if you live in a desert you can still live by permaculture principles by bending the laws of the desert towards food production, etc.
However, the principles of permaculture don't just apply to food and other physical products (homes, medicine, beauty products, transport, etc). They can also apply to the way we act as communities and run our societies. The three core ethics of Permaculture are EARTH CARE, PEOPLE CARE and FAIR SHARES.
This is where movements like the TRANSITION MOVEMENT come in. The Transition movement was started by Rob Hopkins, a permaculture teacher, as a response to climate change and peak oil (the running-out of world oil supplies). It is a grass-roots movement that encourages people to work together as communities to begin the transition from the way we live now to a way of life that has less impact on the environment and that relies less on globalisation and fossil fuels.
So, as a quick recap:
- Permaculture is a set of principles that allow us to create a PERMANENT CULTURE (food, communties, etc).
- It can be applied to any situation, in any climate
- It works by close observation and imitation of natural systems
- It encompasses many different ideas - organics, societal models, all sorts of stuff
Three ways that I could implement permaculture principles starting right now are:
- Allow the chickens to go broody - it's natural for them, just go with the flow
- Allow my bees to swarm and supersede naturally (though I'd want to capture the swarm of course)
- Incorporate variety into my life - learn a variety of skills, grow a variety of plants, be versatile and be more resilient!
http://www.permaculture.org.uk/ - Permaculture Association Britain
http://www.konsk.co.uk/webmap.htm - Tir Penrhos Isaf - a permaculture smallholding in Snowdonia
http://www.permaculture-magazine.co.uk/ - Permaculture Magazine (really good)
http://lafermedesourrou.blogspot.com/ - La Ferme de Sourrou - permaculture smallholding in France (brilliant blog, I read it all the time).
http://www.pfaf.org/index.php - Plants for a Future (great for forest gardening)
http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/ - the Agroforestry Research Trust (great for forest gardening)
http://www.lowimpact.org/index.htm - the Low Impact Living Initiative
http://www.cat.org.uk/index.tmpl?refer=index&init=1 - the Centre for Alternative Technology
http://transitionculture.org/ - Rob Hopkins' site
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Elsewhere in the garden I want to try growing Good King Henry (edible leaves, flower shoots and seeds that can be cooked like rice apparently), a Nepalese Raspberry (Rubus nepalensis), some Fuchsias (all of which produce edible fruits), and some Day Lilies - highly ornamental, with edible bulbs, flowers... I also like the sound of the orange peel bush, Houttuynia cordata, which apparently can be quite ornamental and is used in Vietnam as a flavouring. As we like Asian food this could be quite fun to grow.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Firstly, I'll tell you the problems with the Strawbridges' particular brand of green-ness.
- separating people into "light greenies" and "dark greenies"
- trying to get people to go green by making them take a guilt-trip
- strawberries in December?!?!
- green-ness at any cost
In one episode of the most recent series of their programme, they were "helping" some poor bloke who was trying to create an eco holiday home, and rather snootily said that the wanted him to go much more "dark green" than he actually had. They were suggesting this bloke by organic cotton sheets, organic this and organic that...do these people know how much these things cost?! Are they actually aware that there's a recession going on?! The way I see it the "green-ness at any cost" attitude is counter-productive; part of living a greener life is living a more peaceful life, and this poor dude isn't going to get any peace if he has to stay up all night worrying how he's going to pay for his "green" organic cotton bedsheets!
The strawberries in December thing just makes me laugh - I'd much rather follow Hugh F-W's example and eat seasonally. Frankly I don't want to eat strawberries in December anyway - whatever the quality, they are just too cool and crisp for wintertime. Give me hearty stews and braised lamb shanks any wintry day.
The pigeon-holing of dark and light greenies and guilt-tripping thing really gets up my nose. Ever since I read The Transition Handbook, my whole eco philosophy has changed. Alienating people in this way doesn't change anything. They feel bad for a while, but carry on as normal, and eventually will probably ditch the eco-preaching person becuase they've become so boring. People don't like to be patronised, preached to and made to feel like they're the sole root of the world's problems. The Transition approach seems much better to me - the idea is that you INVOLVE all different sorts of people, including local councils, businesses etc., and that you make a green future look so APPEALING that people will work for it without being made to feel guilty. The whole idea is more positive and inclusive, and isn't that what we want from a green society? A low-carbon, inclusive, peaceful society. This is unattainable if you stomp around frightening people into using low-energy lightbulbs like some Green Gestapo.
I have seen the effects of a positive attitude myself; my Dad and I have been campaigning for a new allotment site in our area, and the council have been really supportive and willing to give it a go, which is wonderful. This wouldn't have happened if we'd excluded them and made them out to be the bad guy - by giving people the chance to be included in your green schemes, you may be surprised by the support you get from unexpected and welcome places.
Since discovering permaculture, every other green movement has seemed ridiculously ill-thought out to me. Other people may see it differently, but to me permaculture principles just make sense. And part of permaculture is Poeple Care - i.e. looking after people, as well as the planet. Although I rather envy the Strawbridges and their eco-lifestyle, their attitude makes me grimace. It's this behind-the-times preaching guilt-trippy attitude that makes people roll their eyes whenever someone mentions green issues. In their eagerness to get more people going green, they may just be putting people off such changes. Giving green issues a positive spin is the only way we're going to get anywhere. Just look at the Obamas and their new veg patch! Loads of greenies have been saying "well, that's not enough, they should be doing this, that and the other as well". Come on people! The Obamas are making growing your own seriously cool, and that's way more likely to get people growing and greening than Dick Strawbridge giving them a lecture!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Fruit starting to flower...
The book includes small projects to help the reader start to live and garden according to permaculture principles. It is illustrated with line drawings and diagrams, and the instructions are mostly pretty clear.
Ideas range from unusual uses for old plastic bottles to sheet mulching and building a herb spiral using tyres. I'm not sure that I would use some of the old tyre etc. ideas in my garden, but there are others that are both ornamental and practical. One idea that really caught my eye was that of "mandala" gardens - small circular gardens that allow you grow things around a tree or compost heap in the middle, and that allow for easy access when harvesting. I think this is an idea that could be applied to small and big gardens alike.
Basic explanations of the meaning of permaculture etc. are included. It is by no means very detailed in this area - there are plenty of other books with more information on permaculture and forest gardening. However, I really like the fact that Getting Started In Permaculture makes permaculture accessible to everyone with a garden or allotment, and that there are projects that take up very little space as well as larger ones. The book does exactly what it says on the tin - shows you easy ways to start using permaculture a little bit here and there. You'll definitely need to read more books on permaculture if you're interested, but this one will show you how you can get going straight away.
7 out of 10. Recommended to those interested in permaculture; people with small gardens; people who don't have time to go on permaculture design courses etc. ; those who want to get going straight away.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
- both varroa counting boards taken home to be cleaned
- both floors washed down and replaced
- lots of varroa on varroa counting board
- 6 frames with brood! Not full but a reasonable amount. 5 whole frames and 2 half frames
- nectar found and feeder removed
- no queen seen
- eggs and young larvae found
- 2 empty frames of foundation
- yellow and orange pollen going in, lots of pollen stored
- 5 frames with sugar. 1 frame with nectar. Feeder removed
- 3 or 4 frames of brood. Mostly healthy, some signs of chalkbrood (shrivelled yellwy larvae in a few cells, small yellow nuggest, called "mummies", found on floor
Some chalkbrood "mummies"
- queen (red - 2008) seen
- 3 empty frames of foundation
- small amount stored pollen, more coming in: dull green-brown, yellow and dull orange pollens
- hive 2 floor washed down, varroa counting board already at home
- empty hive 3 washed down and disinfected
- 1 1/2 yr old queen (yellow - 2007) failing - virtually no brood, only a handful of bees, queen's abdomen very short and thin
- 2 1/2 frames healthy biscuit coloured brood
-lots of bees
- queen found (red - 2008)
- altogether very healthy, pretty busy despite cloudyish weather, the perfect hive (except for temper!)
- we squashed the yellow queen in hive 2 and put the nuc frames and bees into hive 2, uniting the two colonies
- all waste removed in black plastic bin bag
- scrupulous disinfecting of gloves between hives and apiaries
- we now have 3 hives, all full-sized
- 2 healthy, 1 hive with chalkbrood
- all hives otherwise off to a good start
- disappointing to have effectively lost a hive, but at least very little disease, all colonies strong and doing well.
A fungal spore that causes brood to become "chalky" and die. Like other fungi it thrives in unventilated, damp conditions. There is no treatment for chalkbrood and it is easily transfered from hive to hive if you aren't careful. The best ways to treat are good husbandry, making sure there is good ventilation etc. Chalkbrood rarely causes serious problems for colonies - you just have to keep it under control. Apiguard does have some effect on chalkbrood. I am hoping that as the weather brightens up and it's less damp, better ventilation etc. that this problem will clear up quickly and cause us no more problems.