I can’t find my filofax with my current record cards! I shall have to have a proper search, even tidy the house and car! In the meantime, these notes will help me when I find it.
After the stormy weather I thought I’d better make sure the hives were still upright so I went on a short tour. In the village there was no sign of any damage but as I got towards Halstock there were a few limbs off trees. At my Halstock site one nearby tree was down and branches were off an oak close to the hive but it hadn’t been touched. No bees were flying but it was still quite cool and they get only the afternoon sun if there is any.
I drove into Yeovil to refuel the car and, on the way, saw a massive ancient oak on its side next to the road. I meandered via Corscombe and Rampisham on my way back in order to see my friend who has feral bees above her kitchen ceiling. She lives in the middle of nowhere at over 700′ and is severely disabled and so I wanted to ensure that she was ok. I had to divert en route as the minor road was blocked by a couple of fallen trees and I had to reverse for a quarter of a mile. Jean was ok and we had a cuppa and a natter. One or two bees were flying from her soffit, but not many.
I went down to Frogmore Farm at Toller Porcorum where I have a couple of hives uncomfortably close to a badger sett in the corner of a paddock. One of these, that had been strong, had been very much beset by wasps, which had pinched most of their stores. This hive had a few bees flying but, thankfully, no wasps. The hive next door was flying very strongly so I have hopes that one of them will survive the winter.
A couple of days later, having noticed that the bees on my allotment were flying well, I went to Ourganics at Litton Cheney where I have a top bar hive. I couldn’t remember whether I’d treated them for varroa (which doesn’t seem to afflict them much anyway) so I took along a tea bag with a dose of thymol to chuck in.
The bees were flying as if it was midsummer! Plenty were bringing in pollen. Then I had equipment failure: I couldn’t get my sprayer with ‘liquid smoke’ to work (that reminds me, I must fix or replace it) so I just dripped a drop on the entrance and worked carefully from the rear.
The first few bars had no stores but then there was plenty. About 10 bars back from the front I found the beginning/end of the brood nest: the bottom half of the comb was solid with sealed brood with few, if any, misses. I deposited the tea bag there and closed up.
I had brought with me a little plastic pot and scooped 36 bees (I’ve just counted them) into it, putting the pot into the freezer as soon as I got home. The reason is that these bees, instead of being the usual mongrel mix, are uniformly black. I shall have to check their source when I find my records, but the queen is mother or sister to my bees at Bee Happy Plants as I split the colony earlier this year to set up a hive at Sarah’s.
Somewhen, possibly today as it looks like being a wet afternoon, I shall try to find projector and slides to check their veins to discover whether the black colour is backed up by other indications: cubital index and discoidal shift, that they may have native genes. If I can’t find the projector, I shall have to find my filofax as, in it, I have a chart of diagrams of the usual range of cubital indices and so, by comparison, I should be able to get a good idea by eye with a simple magnifying glass.
I know that there are computer programmes available from BIBBA and elsewhere that enable you to check the wing veins automatically, but they depend on having a scanner that works at fine resolution and mine is ancient and doesn’t so I shall have to use old technology. At the DARG meeting last weekend, Lea told us that the programmes aren’t always consistent ot reliable so I don’t think I will buy a new scanner just for this!