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They Have Been Working On My Last Nerve…

Can you spot the little madams? This is there second attempt in as many hours!

Ever hear of the evil eye?  Well, that’s what I called down upon myself a few posts ago.  Not so much the Evil Eye, as the Evil Hive.  Remember, that this is the hive that swarmed and unswarmed in early May?  Well, here is a little taster of what they have been up to since, any time the sun has had a chance to break from the clouds.

The Log of Frustration

18 May, Friday

1030 swarm, then almost immediately reswarm.  They never really settled, just buzzed around distractedly.

1100 All resettled back into the hive

1150  Swarm again!  A discernible cloud and clump around a tree adjacent to our driveway gate, facing the street.  However, there are still bees covering the hive, as if they had all decided to make a break for it, but some of them just liked prison life too much

1215  Nice big clump on the tree, so maybe they have succeeded this time
1245 Swarm clump on the move, but there are indications that it is in the hive direction.  However, there is not a commensurate quantity of bees ganging up on the face of the hive, just a few clumps albeit in aircraft marshall mode.  It doesn’t seem like an unswarm, but that swarm moved off quickly

To Swarm or Not to Swarm? Your guess is as good as mine

21 May Monday3:10  Swarm.  Large amount of bees, settled on fir tree on the opposite side of the gate in the driveway, again street side.  (God only knows what drivers and woman on horse thought).  Two clumps in tree.  Still quite a bit covering outside of hive, but seem to be slowly moving inside.

415 Swarm moving off diagonally across the field to a stand of trees.  Beyond that there are the houses of the village.  So, although I don’t like thinking where they headed, at least they have finally properly swarmed.

22 May
930  Swarm  landed in same tree at about 10am; cars whizzing by, trucks breezing through the cloud. neighbor walked by with her granddaughter in a stroller.  To her credit, she did not go shrieking off down the road, but matter-of-factedly stopped to talk.  She was under the impression it was hornets, but I did tell her they were bees.  Didn’t tell her they were from my hive.  My bad?

1115  Most appeared to have unswarmed back into the hive

1100 In between the swarming/unswarming in the second hive, I heard what I thought was a swarm at he back of the yard towards the main hive.  Nothing was happening at that hive, except bees getting down to business.  But there was the distinct sound of a swarm in the wood of the Manor House. Someone else’s hive?  Or am I just imagining swarms now when there aren’t any?

Noon  Swarmed again to same place.

100 Majority of swarm moved off acoss the field, in same direction as swarm from yesterday.  In both cases, a little clump of bees seemd to have been left behind.  I can’t help but be reminded of helplessly watching a tornado in the distance as it heads towards a house….

Note:  Main hive, although much calmed down from a few weeks ago-I was able to mow the lawn on Sat unmolested-have been a bit more defensive yesterday and today if I am in proximity to the hive.  One bee sent out to harry me away.  Are they unsettled by the commotion from the other hive at the opposite end  of the yard, are they preparing another swarm, or what?

23 May

1pm  Everybody out, air filled with hum of bees.  Ten minutes later, all back in and quiet

1:30+  Swarmy behavior outside the hive (most of front of hive covered, a lot of noise)

24 May

930  A very small swarm out to the opposite side of the gate.  They were there before I even knew it.  But because I had a meeting I couldn’t stick around to see if they went off or came back.

29 May
Got through the weekend without any swarms (at least while we were there).  So, as of Sunday that means two weeks since last swarm for main hive.  We will be coming up to a week for the second hive on Thursday.

1 June, today

Almost three weeks without a swarm for main hive, just over a week without for the second hive.  I am still not impressed by the pollen collection in the main hive, and fear there may be no laying queen.  We will be looking to open it up some time over the holiday to see what’s up.  Little to no pollen collection with second hive, but I think it still might be too early to expect a laying queen.

All this swarming has been ‘doing my head in’ as they say here in the UK.  However, I was able to mow unmolested on Tuesday.  And, a message from the Cambridgeshire Association saying they were having a swarmy time of it makes me feel a bit better about things.

I was a little concerned because last Friday I had the girls around for a bit of late lunch, which we ate outside as it was a beautiful day (although my big pine was raining pollen).  The bees had been fine all day, although we had been constantly walking by the hive and in their flight path.  But, at one point when my friend and I went into the kitchen for something, her mother was harried and stung by a bee by the clothesline (I really think they have a thing about the clothesline).  Embarassing what bad tempered hostesses they can be.

Anyway, let’s think happy thoughts

I have a mess of wild garlic in my garden, and so whipped an easy wild garlic soup (Angela Hartnett may not be as well known outside the UK as her ‘famous’ one-time boss, Gordon Ramsey.  A former boss of mine and now a good friend and I spent a boozy Thanksgiving lunch at her restaurant in London.  Courgettes are Britspeak for zucchini):

Angela Hartnett’s wild garlic, courgette and mint soup recipe, a superb soup, bursting with seasonal flavour


An old chef of mine, James Ferguson, now at Rochelle Canteen in London, had a version of this cracking little dish on his menu. It’s a deliciously fresh soup that shouts of spring. Cook it quickly to retain the vibrant colour and if you fancy, finish with cheese croutons.

(Serves four, as a starter):  2 tbsp olive oil, 1 small onion sliced, 6 courgettes sliced, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1 bunch wild garlic, 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Put two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan. Add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes. Before the onion loses any colour, add the courgette and the crushed garlic clove. Season and saute for another minute or two, cover with water and bring to a simmer to soften.
When the vegetables are cooked through (10 minutes maximum), remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped wild garlic and mint ? the residual heat from the soup will cook the wild garlic. If it’s too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
Blend, check seasoning, finish with a little olive oil and serve. Cool quickly over iced water if you don’t plan to eat it straight away ? this keeps the lovely green colour.

Last but not least, I loved this guy because his bees are as crazy as mine (witness their creations) and apparently stingless:

And that’s it!  Next post no bee talk, they’ve had enough attention.  I want to talk about our fledglings, foxes, voles, why Springwatch 2012 interests and pisses me off in equal measure, the Fuzz man, any thing but BEES!


3 thoughts on “They Have Been Working On My Last Nerve…

  1. I would find this post hysterically funny if one of my hives hadn’t just swarmed. Luckily mine seem a bit more decisive than yours (which isn’t hard to manage). I guess women are fickle and 50,000 of them can be out-and-out psycho!

    Posted by Laura Rittenhouse | February 1, 2013, 12:09 am
    • The thing is the year previous we handled our first swarm well and patted ourselves on the back about being experienced swarm collectors (that post is around here some place). But nothing prepared us for spring 2012!

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | February 1, 2013, 4:04 pm
      • What? Are you telling me it doesn’t get easier over time? Oh No Oh No Oh No. I’m going to have to have a long discussion with my bees about being considerate of others! 🙂

        Posted by Laura Rittenhouse | February 1, 2013, 9:26 pm

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