Busy beekeeping on a June weekend

Today is the first day since Saturday I’ve really had time to sit down and write, but Saturday seems a long way away now. A rainy morning had turned into a sunny afternoon when Emma and I met to check our five (five!!!) hives.

We are trying to inspect more quickly recently, both because we have more frames to inspect and because we hope if we keep the hives open for less time ultimately the bees might do better and we’ll get more honey. This is tricky as obviously at the apiary beginners are often watching; they want to try inspecting for themselves and have plenty of questions to ask. This is good and I enjoy answering the questions, but at the same time we need to balance their needs with the wellbeing of our bees, plus our own desire to enjoy the beekeeping we do.

One of our queens - not sure which!

One of our queens – not sure which!

Luckily our five hives weren’t particularly naughty this week. We have been feeding over the last fortnight as the June forage gap hit London; also the hives had been weakened after Chamomile and Chilli’s colonies were split when they produced queen cells. Obviously we would rather not have to feed sugar syrup – it’s a lot of work to keep making it up! – but eating syrup is better for the bees than eating nothing. As Emma said to a beginner who commented “I’ve read that feeding syrup is bad for bees?” – well, starving is bad for bees too.

Queen in cage

In the photo above we had put one of our queens in a cage in case we needed to do anything with her later, for instance if we had found any queen cells whilst inspecting the colony we might have wanted to do an artificial swarm and split the hive. I liked how quickly the bees surrounded the cage, drawn to her pheromones as if engaged in a rescue attempt.

We managed to inspect all five colonies with only one sting received, which was caused when I accidentally squashed one, so my fault. Myrtle’s ladies continue to be the sweetest bees on the planet, while Chamomile’s and Chilli’s are rather more feisty. It’s too soon to say what the two new colonies created by the artificial swarms will be like in temperament. Although we’ve spotted a new queen in both, neither queen is laying yet. We are giving them a couple more weeks to prove themselves.

Allotment apiary

Of course, there is a sixth hive too. All is going well at the allotment apiary. I enjoy how easy it is to ride my bike there, my equipment in my basket. The bees there are fairly low on stores too, but luckily not so low they need feeding. As this hive is all my own now rather than shared with Emma, I’ve decided to name the queen after my favourite great aunt, who passed away a few years ago. She will be Queen Stella.

Queen Stella’s bees display a remarkable behaviour that I’ve seen two weeks running now and previously had never seen before in our hives. It’s the  DVAV (dorsoventral abdominal vibrating dance). When I was revising for my Module 6 exam on honeybee behaviour, I learnt that this is believed to be ‘get a move on’ message. A worker will mount or grab another bee and vibrate their abdomen on top of her. It’s used to recruit more foragers during a nectar flow and also on queens just before a swarm exits the nest.

As the colony was low on stores, perhaps Queen Stella’s bees felt it was about time some foragers went out shopping. I saw a few of them going around, grabbing other workers and vibrating them for a second, then letting go and moving on. I tried to discern some pattern to which bees they chose to vibrate, but all the bees looked the same to me. In reality perhaps they were choosing to buzz older foraging bees rather than younger nurse bees.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of bees and flowers I took around the allotment.

Bumble on bramble

Bumble on bramble

Bumblebee on blue flower

Tiny bee on wildflowers

Bramble flowers against the sky

Big pink and white flower

Foxgloves

Poppy

Beasts of Borneo

Some photos taken by Drew on our honeymoon. Disclaimer: no bees or cake, just plenty of fascinating animals.

Our first proper destination in Borneo was Danum Valley, a rainforest in Sabah (Malaysia, North-East Borneo). We had hikes organised for us in the jungle, which we wore special ‘gaiters’ (leech socks) for. A leech did get me once, but it didn’t hurt, just left a big mark after I wrenched it off. It was very hot, but bearable because the huge trees provided shade. In the evenings the eerie sound of cicadas throbbed round our ears, echoing far around the forest.

Fish

Fish under water, Danum Valley. We had climbed high up a steep hill in the rainforest to an ancestral place of burial for the local people, panting and sweating all the way. We were rewarded on the journey down by stopping to swim in a pool beneath a waterfall inhabited by these fish. As soon as you stuck any part of your body in the water, the fish were upon you nibbling away with rather sharp teeth. They were a lot bigger than the fish used for foot massages in spas!

Elephants

On the final day we left the rainforest, we were excited to spot a small herd of pygmy elephants. As we watched from the car this mother and calf quickly headed into the dense trees.

Our next destination was the village of Bilit, along the Kinabatangan river. Our hotel ran a morning and evening boat trip to see the wildlife along the river – here we saw orang-utans, long-tailed macaque monkeys, pig tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys and silver languor monkeys. Lots of birds too – rhinoceros hornbill, pied hornbill, oriental garter, blue-eared kingfisher, fish eagle, crested serpent eagle, storm stork and purple heron.

The monkeys in particular were hard to photograph as they were shy and high up in the trees. I like this photo of a sleeping monitor lizard – it looks so comfy, doesn’t it?

Monitor lizard

Monitor lizard

Hotels in Borneo tend to have open air restaurants, so that you can eat and watch the wildlife around you. The night time revealed huge beetles, moths and butterflies drawn to the lights. In turn predators were attracted to the flapping insects – bats whooshed past, lizards darted and this huge spider cast a wide net. Very successfully, judging by the size of it! Although its underside is white, its front had dramatic yellow and black markings.

Spider!

Spider!

Trees by the river

Trees by the river

The morning mists make the river look especially beautiful.

Gomantong caves

Gomantong caves

We also took a trip to Gomantong caves, where thousands of bats and swiftlets live. The cave is guarded day and night because the swiftlets make the valuable nests of solidified saliva that go in Birds Nest Soup! I felt sorry for the guards inside as it’s proper stinky, but apparently they are paid well.

Before going in we made sure to have hats on. I wore my rain jacket and pulled the hood over my head. I was careful to look down whilst walking and only look up whilst standing still, as the floor was extremely slippery with guano. Torches were needed, both to see and to scare away the cockroaches that scuttled round our feet. The cockroaches feed on dead birds and bats that fall to the cave floor. It was a majestic sight but amazingly disgusting too.

Cockroaches on the wall

Cockroaches on the cave wall

After our stay in Myne Resort by Bilit we moved further down the river, staying by the village of Abai. When we put our hand in the water, it was as warm as a bath!

River

Crocodiles lurk deep down below, but, even better, we came across more pygmy elephants. As we were on the boat we could get really close, close enough to look them in the eye as they ate. They made low rumbling noises that would have terrified me had I been standing by them on land.

At night the magical sight of hundreds of twinkling fireflies revealed themselves. Our guide whistled ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’. Did you know some fireflies are cannibals? Females of certain species will be attracted to the lights of males for a meal rather than a mating.

Junior the "wild" boar

Junior the “wild” boar

Breakfast in Abai was served in the forest, surrounded by greedy monkeys on the look out for a free meal, plus this “wild” boar named Junior. We took it in turn feeding him slices of bread, with the warning not to get our hands too close to his mouth. I was a bit slow for his liking and he was quick to nose-butt me with that gorgeous snout.
Orangutan

After Abai we took a boat to stay in the sprawling town of Sandakan. This young gentleman was at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, on the outskirts of Sandakan. We had been watching orang-utan feeding time, when the orang-utans are fed fruit. They are deliberately fed a monotonous diet of limited fruits to encourage them to find food for themselves in the surrounding 43 sq km of protected land, but some still choose to take the food. They had interesting eating techniques. Some swung from ropes with one arm whilst holding a piece of fruit in their free hand and two feet. They then ate from one foot at a time, peeling bananas like we do. Others used a method similar to bungee jumping, hanging from a rope with their feet and then bouncing up and down with arms stretched out until they managed to grab a leaf beneath them.

The young male above had not yet lost his attachment to people and caused a stir when he walked towards us visitors. We were told to back away quickly as an orang-utan is strong enough to cause serious injury such a nasty bite or a damaged limb if they chose to. In fact he only wanted a hug and managed to grab a startled man’s leg before a member of staff managed to drag him away.

proboscis monkey

Male proboscis monkey eating a long bean

This attractive specimen is a dominant male proboscis monkey. His big nose is attractive to females, creating an echoing honk. The big nostrils also release heat to cool him down. They are the heaviest monkeys (not apes) to live in trees. He lives at Labuk Bay proboscis monkey sanctuary, near Sandakan. We saw many of these monkeys along the river, but only from a distance high up in the trees, as they are shy and hide when boats come near. At feeding time in the sanctuary we were able to get much closer.

There are so many more photos I could show you, but this is a very long post already. The wildlife of Borneo is awesome :)

A wedding present from the bees

I see the last time I posted was April 21st. Since then I have become a married lady named Emily Scott and met the wildlife of Borneo. And in Beeland… the bees have been equally busy.

The day of my wedding, May 10th, had sunny spots but was often overcast and drizzly. I said to Emma, who was one of my bridesmaids, “Well, at least we haven’t missed a good day’s beekeeping.” Little did we know what our bees were plotting! You can read what their plans were in Emma’s post ‘Bees or honey?‘. Long story short, Jonesy and Thomas found queen cells in Chili and Chamomile’s hives and did splits to stop them swarming, turning three colonies into five. A wedding present from the bees!

Me and Drew running inside from the rain

Me and Drew running inside from the rain

Our photographer did attempt to take some photos of us outside at one point, but rain sent us hurrying back in! Doesn’t Drew look good in his kilt?

Hurrying in from the rain

Hurrying in from the rain

But you don’t read this blog for wedding photos, you want to read about bees. Well, I did see some bees on honeymoon in Borneo.

A mengaris tree, home to Apis dorsata bees

A mengaris tree, home to Apis dorsata bees

Please excuse the bad photo, which was taken from a canopy walkway with an iPhone. See the curve hanging from under the lowest branch on the right? It’s an Apis dorsata honeybee comb. I could just about make out the bees by their movements – they were covering the whole comb and their wings seemed to shimmer in waves.

Mengaris tree info

Information on the bees: “This tree in front of you is a 40m tall mengaris (Koompassia excelsa). For a mengaris, it is quite short. Some individuals have been measured at 86m tall, making it one of the tallest tropical tree species! Perhaps mengaris trees are best known as the home of the world’s largest honey bee, the Asian rock bee (Apis dorsata). Their hives are up to 6 feet across and may contain as many as 30,000 bees. One mengaris tree may contain more than 100 nests!”

Mengaris tree footholds

Mengaris tree footholds

Can you see the bumps up the side of the tree? Our guide Mike said these were caused by people hammering in bamboo footholds to climb up and steal the honey. They must have been brave as that tall smooth trunk is not made for climbing – it’s a long way down. Indeed, I read online that the bees choose the tree as their home because its smooth bark is tough for predators like the sun bear to climb.

During our travels we did see another of these trees which was covered with combs. It was far away, but Drew got a good photo of it:

Apis dorsata combs

Apis dorsata combs

Although the combs are easy to spot, individual bees proved hard to come across. The rainforest in Danum Valley had few flowers near the forest floor – I suspect most of the flowers must be higher up near the canopy. We saw plenty of butterflies floating around, but no bees.

So I was very happy to come across this bee whilst staying at Myne Resort, which is located along the Kinabatangan River by the village of Bilit. We went for river cruises to spot the monkeys, birds, orang-utans and monitor lizards that live along the river bank, but one of my favourite creatures spotted was this carpenter bee. Its wings shimmered with blue and green colours. I suspect this piece of wood was its territory, as every so often it would take off and do a short circuit of the surrounding flowers before returning to rest on the wood.

Carpenter bee

Carpenter bee

If anyone can identify the bee beyond it being a carpenter bee that would be much appreciated! Drew got some fantastic photos of the Bornean wildlife so a separate post showing off his animal photos may follow.

I feel like including a couple more wedding photos, as I can say they’re bee themed. Our wedding cake! Gorgeously decorated by Michelle at Maya Cakes – http://mayacakes.co.uk. I asked her if she could include little bees somehow and she made it so with marzipan and almonds for the wings. Everyone commented on how tasty it was too.

Our sponge, jam and cream wedding cake, decorated with fruit, flowers and marzipan bees. Made by Michelle at Maya Cakes - http://mayacakes.co.uk

Our sponge, jam and cream wedding cake, decorated with fruit, flowers and marzipan bees. Made by Michelle at Maya Cakes – http://mayacakes.co.uk

Close up of marzipan bees.

Close up of marzipan bees.

Easter inspections; a new queen emerges

There was a lot going on at the apiary on Saturday. Naive people might think that on a bank holiday Easter weekend the apiary would be quiet. Not so when there is tea to be drunk, hot cross buns to be eaten and even some beekeeping to do!

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

These were my first ever attempt at hot cross buns. They looked fine but the texture was more like that of a weapon than a squishy doughy bun.

I left the buns on the table and watched Jonesie inspect his hive. Here’s a chunk of drone comb he sliced off to check for varroa. He’ll put it in his freezer and then break it open to look for mites once it’s frozen. There’s something very appealing about the chunkiness of drone comb, the regular golden bumps. The workers were reluctant to leave it.

Drone comb

Drone comb

In the foreground below is a strange little bee Jonesie found in his hive. She was a honeybee, but so bedraggled and black that it was hard to recognise her as one. Her sisters seemed to be trying to clean her up – could she have fallen in some kind of oily substance? Poor wee thing.

EDIT: Thanks to commenters westernwilson and thomas73640, who have identified the black bee as probably suffering from chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV). This is a virus associated with the varroa mite, which probably helps transfer it between bees. It is also associated with crowded hives, as close contact between overcrowded bees breaks hairs from the cuticle, allowing CBPV to spread from diseased bees to healthy bees via their exposed epidermal cytoplasm.

Wet bee?

Below you can see a new hive that has landed in the apiary. It belongs to Brian, who has taken an old abandoned top-bar hive in the apiary and made it his own. I can’t wait to see what bees do with it. To the left is a bait hive he’s made, sitting on the top of the main hive. Here you can see Brian explaining the hive to Andy Pedley. Andy is always full of enthusiasm and told Brian that even if the hive is a complete disaster, at least it will be very entertaining and a great experiment.

Brian and Andy

Andy (l) and Brian (r)

Tom inspected his hive, which last week he suspected was queen-less. He had put a frame of eggs and larvae from Jonesie’s hive in there last week to see if the bees made a replacement queen for themselves. There were no new queen cells made – but suddenly Tom said ‘There she is!’ and pointed at a little virgin queen walking around a frame. Mysteriously, there was no sign of any queen cell she might have emerged from – did the workers remove all evidence of it?

Virgin queen

Virgin queen

You need sharp eyes to spot a virgin. At the moment she’s about the same size as the workers, but her abdomen is more pointed at the end. Some sunshine is forecast at the end of next week, so hopefully she can get out and mate then. Most of the hives have begun to produce drones now.

“There’s always summat takes you by surprise with bees” Tom said. “I open them up expecting them to have made a queen cell and instead I find a virgin running around.” That’s the joy of bees!

As for our bees, Myrtle and Chilli are doing well, although Chilli’s workers have drawn out about three frames more than Myrtle’s. Myrtle is our favourite queen as she and her mother, grandma and great-grandma etc before her have produced the gentlest of bees. I hope her colony will be ok!

Chamomile’s colony was decidedly narky and kept going for me, which I’m not used to with our bees. It could have been the weather as it was chillier than I would have liked, so I gave up on any ideas of starting the Bailey comb change off this week. I noted more perforated cappings and exposed dead larvae in a small patch of brood.

Chamomile’s bees are on a double brood box and I’d really like to get them down onto a single to make them easier to inspect for queen cells etc. If Myrtle produces any queen cells I would feel tempted to replace Chamomile with a new princess from Myrtle. I dislike getting rid of queens, but I don’t like inspecting bees that try to sting me either.

When I got back from inspecting all the hot cross buns bar one had disappeared, so hopefully they weren’t as bad as I thought, although they did get called “hot rock buns”. Andy left me a comment on my Facebook page afterwards to say:

“They were delicious, thank you so much …. The beekeepers are just teasing … And it might be that they think by “challenging” you, you will bring more the next week. We might allow you a week or two off but bring double when you get back from honeymoon, because we will all be starving!”

Yep, I will be getting married on 10th May, so don’t expect many posts in May!

What’s flowering now – mid April; and a new allotment site for our bees

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that in the summer I like to go for a walk round my local park (Elthorne Park in Hanwell) and see what wild flowers are out. Last week I managed to continue this tradition and get out in the sunshine to find me some pretty flowers and bees.

Bumble on nettles

Bumble on nettles

I wondered if this bumble on white dead-head nettles might be a queen – she seems pretty big. That tail looks a nice clean white, do you reckon she’s a White- tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)? In ‘Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships‘ by David Aston and Sally Bucknall it says “Special mention must be made of the importance of white dead-nettle as a bumblebee forage plant for queens emerging from hibernation in spring” (p99).

Forget-me-not

Forget-me-not

Forget-me-nots I believe. They like moist habitats and these ones are growing near a river that runs through Elthorne Park.

Bluebells

Bluebells

Bluebells of various colours. The Spanish kind rather than native English bluebells I expect.

Mystery plant

Anyone know what this is?

This was one of the last flowers I spotted – not one I’ve seen in Elthorne Park before. Lots of bees were on it, but I have no idea what it is. I know some flower experts follow this blog so I’m hoping one of you can help me out!
EDIT: several nice people below have commented to say that it is comfrey, a favourite with bees.

Bumble approaching flower

 

Dandelions are so cheerful – and great for bees.

Dandelions

Dandelions

Lots of blossom out now too. Suddenly nature is exploding into life all around us. May is my birthday month and I love this time of year, full of hope and expectations for the summer ahead.

Tree blossom

On Friday Drew and I went down to Northfields allotments to meet Tom and make a start on getting our new plot ready. I am no gardener so am glad Tom knows what he’s doing. I found out about the plot as a result of helping out with the Radbourne Walk nature project behind it. I mentioned to someone I was a beekeeper – and it turned out one of the allotment managers had been hoping to find a beekeeper to take over a plot that none of the gardeners wanted.

Here’s a ‘before’ photo of Drew standing in front of the plot. There was a fair bit of rubbish to clear but most of the work involved chopping down brambles to make a flat space for our hives. Even though the allotments have a huge waiting list (85 people as of March 2014), people kept turning this plot down because it was overgrown, has stony ground and they think the apple tree makes it too shady. However it is a lovely plot for bees and we found it sunny on Friday.

Drew before work started

Drew before work started

I’m very excited about this new site for our bees. Northfields allotments is only a ten minute bike ride for me. Plus it’s so much fun to walk around looking at all the different flowers and fruit & veg being grown. One person has put a mini pond in theirs! Tom reckons the stony, poor soil in our plot would suit growing wild flowers, which thrive in soil like that. If I keep going to the Radbourne walk sessions I can get tips on doing this.

An after pic, after Tom got going with the strimmer. We have a plum tree (not pictured) as well as an apple tree  – fantastic!

Tom surveying his work

How it’s all going: two weeks after shook-swarming

The apiary entrance is getting really pretty now as the wild flowers shoot up. White dead nettle, green alkanet and bluebells decorate the floor. Buzzing can be heard as bees on a mission zoom past your ears.

Today was overcast with a breeze that proved chilly at times. Coats were needed at the apiary, so inspections were quick.

Sluggish bees

Sluggish yellow bees

When I arrived Tom and Jonesie had arrived already and were busy inspecting. Tom is worried about the hive above, which has no brood and so is probably queenless. Being queenless usually makes colonies aggressive, but these bees were moving sluggishly and didn’t seem bothered by the inspection. Tom is going to test them for nosema, in case this is causing their slow-moving behaviour. He took a frame of brood from Jonesie’s hive to see if they try and make a queen cell from it.

Tom inspecting Ken's hive

Tom inspecting Ken’s hive

Above Tom is inspecting Ken’s hive. In the middle is Freddie, on the right Jonesie. Unusually they all look really serious and solemn, this isn’t usually the case! These bees are much darker and also seem healthier, with plenty of brood and stores.

Ken's dark bees

Ken’s dark bees

Sometimes I like looking at these photos of multiple bees afterwards and taking in what they’re all up to. It’s sweet seeing their little heads peeping up from the top of the frames. Some on the fifth frame from the left have found a patch of dark honey to feed on, left behind after Tom scraped some rogue comb away.

Some of the beginner beekeepers helped Emma and I inspect our hives. Myrtle’s and Chili’s colonies both have capped brood two weeks after the shook-swarm. Chili’s are definitely busier and have managed to draw out more comb. Emma has been great at going to the apiary mid-week and topping up their sugar syrup.

We would really like to get Chamomile’s colony onto fresh comb now we know they have nosema, but are waiting for a nice sunny day to do that. Today I noticed a few uncapped larvae in the middle of a patch of capped brood in her hive. They worried me as they were in an upright position, not coiled and segmented as uncapped larvae should be. I used tweezers to take one out and it was quite watery, definitely not right. We popped it in the smoker to burn it.

Tom thought perhaps sacbrood could cause this. Looking back at my photos of sacbrood from this 2012 National Bee Unit workshop – Honeybee viruses – I think this could well be the case. The notes I took on the day say “Not a serious disease, as many hives have little patches of it. If it becomes a larger problem, it’s best to requeen or shake the colony onto clean comb.” Our battle to keep our bees healthy and happy continues! 

Oh by the way here’s some photos of the community wildlife gardening I helped out with at Radbourne Walk recently, featuring rather a lot of bottoms in the air!  http://ealingdean.co.uk/radbourne-walk-april-work-day 

Building comb and a home

Last weekend was warm, so Emma and I did a shook-swarm on our two strongest hives, Myrtle and Chilli. We worked as a team, Emma shaking the bees into a fresh brood box with new foundation, then passing me the old frames to bag up in bin bags. Pat kindly got a fire going for us, into which the old frames and brood went, hopefully along with a load of varroa mites. Emma has written a great blog post about the day and her thoughts on the shook-swarm: A tale of two colonies.

Old brown comb in Myrtle's hive

Old brown comb in Myrtle’s hive

Above you can see Emma looking at a frame in Myrtle’s hive. It is old, brown comb which could be harbouring disease.

Emma shaking the bees in

Emma shaking the bees in

Emma shaking the bees in – she was very good at this and our bees are so gentle they didn’t get at all moody with us. As you can see, it was a nice sunny day. The gap in the middle gives space to shake the bees in and then we filled up the gap with frames of foundation before putting a feeder on top of the crown board and closing the hive up.

Shook swarming

If you look closely, you can see a grey clip protruding in-between the top bars of the new hive. We hung Queen Myrtle in a cage between the frames so that she stayed safe and the workers felt comforted by her smell. They will notice very quickly if her pheromones are missing and become unsettled.

We fed the colonies with strong 2:1 sugar solution syrup, which is essential to do following a shook-swarm. Worker bees have eight wax glands on the underside of their abdomens. To produce wax, they will consume nectar (or the sugar solution we provide) and hang together in chains for warmth. The sugar and warmth causes tiny wax scales to be secreted from their wax glands, which they then chew and manipulate into comb using their mandibles and forelegs.

Emma has gone back several times in the week to top up their syrup. Colonies differ in how much syrup they take in after a shook-swarm – Chilli’s hive has consumed a lot more syrup, even though she probably has slightly less bees. Myrtle’s hive has been taking less down, so they are probably collecting nectar instead. Green alkanet (evergreen bugloss) is out now and we saw lots of sweet common carder bees working it. It’s a member of the borage family but more common than borage, so a very important wildflower for bees.

carder bee

Carder bee on green alkanet (evergreen bugloss)- photo taken last May

Yesterday we did a quick check inside Myrtle and Chilli’s hives to make sure all was well after the shook-swarm. The workers were on about five central combs in Myrtle’s hive. We saw Myrtle and – even better – rows of neatly laid eggs! The workers had been even busier in Chilli’s hive and were on about eight frames. We spotted Chilli but did not see any eggs yet, though the sky was quite overcast so we may have missed them.

Fresh new comb in Myrtle's hive

Fresh new comb in Myrtle’s hive

Look how white and clean the new comb the bees have been drawing is.

Tom did a test last week on Chamomile’s hive using a small sample of about 30 worker bees, and was able to determine that nosema is present, though his test does not tell him how badly the bees are infected. He has kindly made us up a thymol solution, which we will spray lightly on her bees next weekend.

Honey loaf

Honey loaf

Afterwards, we had some cake. Jayne had brought some fab scones with jam and this is a honey loaf I made.

Today I went down to Northfields allotment to help out with their Radbourne walk wildlife project again. We cleared another section of soil before planting it with a wildflower mix containing poppies, cornflowers and some other wild flowers. English bluebells will also be going in. Nettles and green alkanet are being left to grow along the fence as they are good food for butterflies and bees.

Another stag beetle loggery was created. The logs need to be put deep in the soil, as the stag beetle larvae prefer rotten wood. The protruding wood will be good for solitary bees to nest in.

Stag beetle loggery

Stag beetle loggery

My reasons for helping out with the project are not entirely altruistic, as a nice lady called Jasmine makes sure we are very well catered for. There was a tea break with three types of cake followed by a later lunch of delicious vegetable curry with rice and tomato chutney. In-between eating/digging I also paid for our new allotment plot so that Thomas and I can move our bees there, once we’ve got the plot ready. Everyone I met seemed very happy that bees will be coming and appreciative of the benefits of having pollinators on the allotment.