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Assorted Wildlife, Beekeeping, Birds, Blackbirds, Brood, Chaffinches, Honey, Honey Bees, Latin Literature, Magpies, Robins, Woodpeckers, Wrens

Let me introduce you to my little friends….

Fuzz reporting in for work

otherwise known as my work colleagues when I am working from home, who have inspired me to go back into my Mediaeval Latin Lyrics book (trans Helen Waddel, Norton 1977)  for this little ditty which I have edited a bit (translation at the end of post):

VESTIUNT SILVE (Mss. of Canterbury and Verona)

…Hic turtur gemit, resonat hic turdus,
pangit hic priscus merularum sonus;
passer nec tacens, arridens garritu
alte sub ulmis…

Velox impulit rugitus hirundo,
clangit coturnix, gracula fringultit;
aves sic cuncte celebrant estivum
undique carmen.

Nulla inter aves similis est api,
que talem gerit tipum castitas
nisi Maria, que Christum portavit alvo

I liked this selection as it not only mentions bees, but others of my flighty colleagues, such as blackbirds (mostly territorial females, and one of a very distinctive red hue), wood pigeons, sparrows. However, it doesn’t mention the likes of my friend, Fuzz, whom you see perched on the clothesline a micro-manager if ever there was one;  the teeny wren which had been trapped in our conservatory but seems to have survived; a distinguished looking chaffinch; and of course magpies, which go stomping around the garden and with whom I try to make peace as I do ascribe to the predator/keystone theories of ecology.  The most concerning are the two woodpeckers which visit the garden occasionally.  I am hoping they are not recce-ing (even a word?) bee territory, but I am on my guard after the attack on the hive last December.


31 July

Main Hive:  about 7-7.5 frames of brood; a few dots of drone; fewer cups than before; good
stores; good mood; maybe about 2 frames of capped honey in super (but not the entire
frame), all but two drawn out; I think we must have been mistaken about amount
of honey last time, hardly enough to warrant centrifugal force.  Maybe we will have to do cut comb.

Swarm hive:  4.5 frames of brood, but at least 4 frames on either end untouched, which is very
concerning (although I have to say the main hive with this queen this time last year
was in about the same state); good mood,  we didn’t even smoke them.

But we will have to put another feed on (and as of the beginning of this week we did, which they have sucked dry).

Both hives taking in a good amount of pollen, water (still happy hour at the rock pool, birdbath.  Note:  it was at the end of July, but seems to have tapered off these first weeks of August). And, there are  bees all over our marjorum and calendula. Nice to see the girls enjoying a bit of home produce and cutting back on those bee miles.

We got some Apiguard and had been planning on putting it in the hive this week….until we got THE BEE INSPECTOR CALL (s).  Of course, that should be even more of an incentive to apply the Apiguard, so that we have mite-free (albeit smelly) bees.  But we didn’t want to cheat…

Wish us luck!

That translation:
…The doves make moan, deep throated sings the thrush,
The blackbirds flute their ancient melody;
The sparrow twitters, making his small jests
High underneath the elm….

Swift darting swallows utter their low cry;
The jackdaw jargons and clear cries the quail;
And so in every spot some bird is singing
A summer song.

Yet none among the birds is like the bee,
Who is the very type of chastity,
Save she who bore the burden that was CHrist
In her inviolate womb.

(well, they are medieval lyrics…)


5 thoughts on “Let me introduce you to my little friends….

  1. I like the poem too. If the medieval writer knew what the virgin queens get up to at mating time they would have been shocked! But lovely descriptions of the bird songs.

    Posted by Emily Heath | August 12, 2011, 11:33 am
  2. Of course,whoever wrote it might have been thinking of the workers. They are a pretty chaste lot. But the reference to Mary might suggest queen bees. It is on my list to research exactly how much the likes of Virgil and the medieval poet actually knew about bees…

    Posted by mylatinnotebook | August 12, 2011, 2:37 pm
  3. By the way, you can find the whole poems, and others from the book, at

    I left out a few stanzas which are actually quite beautiful, but not applicable to my menagerie…I’d love to see a jackdaw. Reminds me of a Dylan Thomas poem which mentions nightjars and ricks, which I would also love to see. (not a twitcher, though, not that there is anything wrong with being a twitcher…)

    Posted by mylatinnotebook | August 12, 2011, 4:57 pm
  4. I really like your translation of this lively little hymn. Thanks for publishing it online!

    Posted by Wayne | February 7, 2013, 6:01 pm

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