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Beekeeping, Crows, Food, Wasps

It’s our turn for new roommates….

First the bees get new roommates when we combined hives way back in August, now we have. They’ve just moved in over the past month or so…..

A little obvious, but still able to attract lunch into the web

A little obvious, but still able to attract lunch into the web

Although on the outside of this our dining room window, we still felt like this Garden spider was our roommate as we had front row seats to all the activity in the web.  This was especially so of the second roommate who took up residence outside our living room window which is behind the TV.


Spider woman or man--of the garden variety

Spider woman or man–of the garden variety


So, while we were watching TV, we would all of a sudden see it dart out from a corner of the web (it didn’t often hang out like this, too obvious) when it felt the web vibrate. Then it would start packaging up its meal. If you look closely at both photos, you will see little black blobs in front of the spidery mouths (I presume they have mouths…?). That’s the packed lunch or dinner. We seldom saw them chow down immediately; they always seemed to save their meals for later.

If all this happened while we were watching TV, we would inevitably have to rewind what we were watching as our attention would immediately be drawn to the spidery hunt!

One thing I learned about these garden spiders is that they would weave a brand new web every night, destroying the old one. Also, the bigger spiders were females, and the smaller males will build webs near to the females they would have the temerity of approaching to mate.

I am not a big fan of spiders in the house. In fact, I am inclined to send them to squishy graves as they are in my territory (and they wouldn’t take me on were I in theirs?). My husband politely escorts them outside. But, I find them fascinating to watch outside, on their turf as it were. And they do help keep the bug population down in out conservatory.


Spiders aren’t the only ones to invade the house about now

For the past month or so I have been gainfully and respectably employed, necessitating the donning of work clothes and the joining of the legion of commuters into London. On one dark morning, I reached for a black cotton shirt (what other color would you wear in London?). As I was sliding my arm into the sleeve, I felt the tell-tale pin prick-not quite painful but annoyingly there. Upon examining the sleeve, I dislodged a queen wasp, who drowsily and angrily started buzzing about the room. Yes, I had disturbed her in what she thought was a warm, dark, comfortable nest for a winter’s sleep. We come across these sleeping beauties every winter, I suspect, when some warmth or light (or elbow) disturbs their rest. I trust she has found some place else to settle in the house.

They are definitely still awake

Because of our respective work duties over the last month or so, the garden has started to look shabbier than it normally does. So, finally free from respectable work I started tackling the shaggy lawn and troublesome weeds yesterday. I had completely forgot something that my husband had remarked upon when he had mowed the lawn about a month ago. As I was blithely mowing away, contentedly reacquainting myself with my territory again, something all of a sudden stuck to my face. And then I remembered: my husband had had to wear his bee suit the last time he mowed. It is that time of year again when garden bees get a little bit tetchy about things like loud rumbling machines coming too close to their homes (read: food). I immediately flipped on the hood of my sweatshirt and continued on my way. She harried me once or twice more but then seemed convinced that I wasn’t about to steal anything. But we are on notice.

That respectable work

For the most part, I make what passes for a living in front of a computer working from my own home (oh, the occupations that conjures up, but I will not indulge your curiosity…). Every once in a while I am lured from comfortable surroundings (I was going to say ‘lured from my lair’ but was shy of the alliteration, and it made me sound too much like that queen wasp) to join the ranks of flesh and blood humans in the pursuit of respectable work. And so it has been for the past 6 weeks during which time I have been remiss with my blog writing and reading. To all those bloggers whose blogs I subscribe to my sincere apologies for not keeping up with the reading and commenting (perhaps you liked the rest from my usually tart commentary? And no that is not an allusion to my web-based employment–I don’t even own a webcam and never use the video option on Skype). I will try to catch up, but fear I will only be able to wade back in mid-stream, having missed some gems I know (like ivy bees!).

Anyway, as punishment for my neglect, I had to train and tube into my work place in the deepest, darkest touristy section of London. I did try to appreciate the opportunity to work in London again, even for just a little while, among the iconic landmarks, for I do think London an exciting place to be. And I am not the only one: walking down Whitehall one evening, I noticed a crow standing on a low stone wall in front of one of the buildings. It was obviously majorly pissed off as it had had to jump out of the way, away from its happy hour snack to avoid pedestrians. I stood for a while to watch it, to see if it would fly away. But it stood its ground, getting majorly pissed off at me because I would not move on, and even more so because I had caused others to stop and look at it.

This was not my first encounter with a crow during the time of my big-girl employment: I had walked to a coffee shop and noticed that a crow was hanging around a pile of trash bags in one of those movable open containers. It was hopping about them when I entered the coffee shop. When I came out, it was on the ground, next to the very bottom bag in the pile, and with the precision of a surgeon, drawing out pieces of food from a tiny hole in the bag. It noted me watching it, hesitated a bit, then continued to draw out breakfast. I couldn’t get close enough to see what had caught its interest exactly. But those trash bags had all sorts, from food to wrappers and other paper-type garbage. It took quite a bit of examination to tell exactly where the easiest accessible and delicious morsel was lodged, and extract it with the least amount of disruption.

You got to love a corvid.

I took away a few things from my London sojourn

That crow was the smart one, able to jump out of the way of pedestrians. Not so lucky me, as I have taken away a few dings from those pesky wheely suitcases. Now, I am not one to disparage tourists. I am one every time I am out of the UK or US. EVERYONE IS  A TOURIST WHEN NOT ON HOME TURF.  The people I disparage are those who think ‘tourists’ are beneath them: they are not tourists, they are travellers, voyagers, practically native because they spend 2 weeks, a month in the same place every year. WAKE UP! You’re a tourist!

Having said that tourists and hard wheely suitcases are a deadly combination. Reason why I try to avoid public transportation, especially train stations, in London during the summer.

Other things I learned during my autumn work holiday in London:  ankle boots are popular among women (not a bad fad actually); those padded looking jackets in blue especially, the kind you would only see Parisian men wear a few years ago, are very popular now among London businessmen; and if people are reading print books anymore it is most likely to be Gone Girl. Saw so many people on the train and underground reading this.

Oh, and most wonderful overheard conversation on the train:  a guy was ‘watching’ his laptop, only for the guy next to him to ask  if he could get up to retrieve his charger.  Guy No 1 (with the laptop): I know, those iPhones just don’t hold a charge. Guy No 2 (without the charge); Yeah, I’m always having to recharge mine. Is that the Bake-Off Final you are watching….

Must be all those padded quilted jackets….

Speaking of baked good

The best think I took away from London on a weekly basis was–did you guess–cupcakes! Each Friday I had to stop at the Lola’s Cupcakes cart at King’s Cross for a weekend sugar rush. Have only had one dud–the peanut butter cupcake. I would urge Lola to think about this. I was ready to love this because if there is one thing I could live off of for the rest of my life it is peanut butter.  But think, Lola: peanut butter is a fat, and if you also add butter or any type of shortening to the cupcake mix, that’s a lot of fat. Now I am not complaining about quantity. It’s just that the cupcake had a bit of a greasy aftertaste, like the fat at the top of natural peanut butter. I am sure this is just proportion thing.

Anyway, we’ve got through a lot of cupcakes, and for this, our last batch I went a bit experimental: green tea with pistachio, passion fruit. Oh, the dizzying heights of London life!


With my luck, George Osbourne will be levelling a cupcake tax next....

With my luck, George Osbourne will be levelling a cupcake tax next….




7 thoughts on “It’s our turn for new roommates….

  1. The queen wasp in the sleeve would have had me screaming! Eek. We often find them hiding in the top of our beehives. I commute to Central London every day and see a lot of people playing sudoku and candy crush on their phones. Haven’t seen anyone reading Gone Girl yet, will look out for that!

    Posted by Emily Scott | October 19, 2014, 5:15 pm
  2. Welcome back! On the matter of your unwelcome intruders, have a read of this: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/19/killer-spider-supermarket-shopping
    Worse still, the spiders aren’t even choosy about the supermarket they use.

    Posted by philipstrange | October 20, 2014, 1:44 pm
  3. There are so many jewels in the post, but the one that resonates most with me is the comment about Londoners wearing black. I remember visiting London when there was a bit of a heat wave (such that it is in the UK) and everyone was out in the sun, wearing black t-shirts. As a Texan, all I could think was “no, no, no”! When it’s hot–you wear light/white clothing, not black. So, I had to chuckle with your comment. Great post! Glad your bees are tucked in for the winter.

    Posted by Tina | October 20, 2014, 5:18 pm
    • It’s true, but to be fair it wasn’t heat wave weather this time. But as you say, may not make a difference. And, I have to confess that I quickly succumbed to travelling public transportation dressed totally in black. If you cannot be young/old and trendy, it seems your only option….

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | October 21, 2014, 12:48 pm

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