This afternoon I drove across to Sarah’s and presented her with what she agreed was the biggest bouquet in the world, certainly bigger than the biggest she has ever had previously. The hollyhocks were, according to my tape measure, 10 foot tall! The tree onions were taller than Sarah. Shortest, but most important, were the globe thistles which came roots and all.
The reason, apart from fun, was that Sarah owns the Bee Happy Plants nursery and, as hollyhocks are a good bee plant and these were the tallest I’ve seen and an attractive dark red, I thought she could raise new stock from the seeds. The tree onions aren’t attractive to bees but are a rarity. Mine came from Roy Page who taught me beekeeping getting on for 40 years ago and so I’m trying to spread them around in his memory. They taste like wild garlic but the leaves are coarser. The globe thistles are really attractive to bees and last year I identified 6 species foraging on them simultaneously!
After bucketing the bouquet, and tea and natter, we went to the apiary and withdrew the tray from beneath the mesh floor of my special top bar hive that Sarah has been monitoring. She has been away and so this was the first time for 4 days that she has managed to check and we found 14 varroa mites, lots of wax flakes, no pupal debris, and a variety of dropped pollen loads. Usually the varroa drop is about 1 a day and so three and a half a day shows a marked increase, suggesting that I should prepare some tea bags of thymol crystals to knock them back.
Sarah had her clip board with the recording sheet with her and, as well as noting the mite drop and other debris, she has had the absolutely brilliant idea of taking one each of the differently coloured pollen loads and smearing them onto squares on the paper alongside the other information of the day!
She doesn’t yet have a microscope and pollen identification book so I suppose I’d better dig out mine and (after practice at home!) take them across to her for a session on a rainy day.