Queen Boadicea Has Arrived!

Thanks to the miracle of UPS, Queen Boadicea and her retinue arrived about an hour ago.

The Queen And Her Attendants

I’m letting them cool off from their trip, and will be installing them in an hour or so.

Here is a better picture of the Queen. She’s the one wearing the yellow dot.

Queen Boadicea Wearing Yellow

More later.

I Couldn’t Walk Away

Okay, I know I said I was going to do a “walk away” split, and let my Buckies create their own Queen.  But I just couldn’t walk away and leave them Queenless.

It takes at least 15 days for them to make a Queen, for her to mate, and then for her to start laying.  And that’s if everything goes perfectly!  I just can’t take that chance, especially after the demise of the Italians.

So, yesterday evening I ordered a Buckfast Queen from BeeWeaver Apiaries in Navasota, Texas, to be delivered by UPS.

Queen Bee In Shipping Box

I’m glad I didn’t dither too long, because BeeWeaver is only selling Queens until July 15, and it is one of the only suppliers of Buckies in the US.

She should be here today or tomorrow.  I’ve named her Boadicea after the 1st century British Warrior Queen.

I’ve decided to put off honey extraction until Friday morning to give the bees a chance to calm down and for my muscles to stop aching. Those boxes are heavy!

More later…

Are There Too Many Bees In London? – The Best Interest Of the Bees

There is little question that everyone in this debate sincerely wishes the best for London’s bees.  Here is Angela Woods’ response to the most recent comments on this important issue:

The diversity of opinion is most welcome. One of the problems is that the data is incomplete. The National Bee Unit has data but it does not diseminate or analyse it in a way that gives a clear idea of what might be going on in London. This is why the LBKA, uniquely placed with its 300 members, has agreed to hook up with respected research fellows in this field to survey our members annually so that we can get a clearer picture and help advise on how the welfare of all pollinating insects can be best preserved.

Angela Woods
LBKA

Are There Too Many Bees In London? – A Call For An Independent Study

More input, this time from my blogging friend and fellow beekeeper, Emily Heath:

Jude has some good points… however looking out of my back window at my neighbours’ gardens I can see a lot of paving, sheds and pebbles. Walking around my local area plenty of my neighbours have turned their front gardens into car parks – are these spaces included in the 22% of land occupied by private gardens figure?! Some private gardens may be full of bee friendly forage, but not all of them. It’s also true that we have a lot of street trees, but many of these are plane trees – no good for bees – which were chosen because they cope well with pollution.

Agree with Jude that we do need more reliable facts, research by an independent body would be good. Without a comprehensive study having been done of the forage available it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s suitable for the amount of bees here.

Are There Too Many Bees In London? – Counterpoint

Rooftop Beekeeping In London

I believe it’s only fair to give equal time to those readers who take the time and trouble to provide thoughtful commentary on this issue. Here is a comment by Jude Earl:

The arguments put forward by LBKA are flawed – and in some instances totally wrong. In particular :

– The National Bee Unit shows 466 apiaries within a 10km radius of NW5. This is 314 square km …very different from the 10 sq km stated.
– According to London Ecology Unit Data 66% of London is occupied by green spaces and water …of this 22% is private gardens, 22% parks and sports facilities and 22% other habitats inc grassland woods cemeteries canal banks and railway embankments and water
– Even if a generous 22% is discounted as having no potential use for forage –eg waterways sports fields – then there would still be 44% of Greater London’s 1583 square km as potential forage. This doesn’t take into account street trees which provide nectar pollen and honeydew. In 2009 the BBKA stated that 4 or 5 large trees can provide as much forage for bees as an acre of wild flower meadow.

– These figures date back to 2000 and although there has been a loss of green space in some areas it seems unlikely there’s been a significant overall change and in some areas …notably the establishment of the Thames Chase woodland ( where 1.6 million trees are to be planted as mixed woodland) there has been a large increase. There has also been increased awareness of bees and the necessity to plant “ bee friendly” plants in parks and gardens.

– The figures given for honey production of 31lbs per hive (this was the 2011 figure not 2010) is for surplus honey taken from the hive ( the honey left on the hive for the bees is not counted ). This was an average yield over the whole of the South East region which covers all of Sussex Kent and Surrey as well as Greater London …so it seems unlikely that lack of forage alone was to blame for low yields. The South East Regional Bee Inspector put the low yield down to the drought conditions which prevented nectar flow. In Cumbria the yield for 2011 was down to 15-25 lbs per hive and there was a similar pattern in other areas of the country.

– Whilst there may be too many bees and not enough forage in London the arguments put forward so far seem to be low on correct and reliable facts and high on emotive arguments

The Year Of The Bat

Statement by Dr. Merlin Tuttle regarding Year of the Bat Celebration

I’m delighted to serve as Honorary Ambassador for the 2011-2012 Year of the Bat campaign and wish the very best of success to all who participate. Education regarding the essential roles of bats in maintaining healthy ecosystems and human economies has never been more important. Bats are found nearly everywhere and approximately 1,200 species account for almost a quarter of all mammals. Nevertheless, in recent decades their populations have declined alarmingly. Many are now endangered, though they provide invaluable services that we cannot afford to lose.

Simply because they are active only at night and difficult to observe and understand, bats rank among our planet’s most misunderstood and intensely persecuted mammals. Those that eat insects are primary predators of the vast numbers that fly at night, including ones that cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars in losses annually. As such bats decline, demands for dangerous pesticides grow, as does the cost of growing crops like rice, corn and cotton.

Fruit and nectar-eating bats are equally important in maintaining whole ecosystems of plant life. In fact, their seed dispersal and pollination services are crucial to the regeneration of rain forests which are the lungs and rain makers of our planet.

Many of the plants which depend on such bats are additionally of great economic value, their products ranging from timber and tequila to fruits, spices, nuts and even natural pesticides.

Scary media stories notwithstanding, bats are remarkably safe allies. Where I live, in Austin, Texas, 1.5 million bats live in crevices beneath a single downtown bridge. When they began moving in, public health officials warned that they were diseased and dangerous–potential attackers of humans. Yet, through Bat Conservation International, we educated people to simply not handle them, and 30 years later, not a single person has been attacked or contracted a disease. Fear has been replaced by love as these bats catch 15 metric tons of insects nightly and attract 12 million tourist dollars each summer.

It is now well demonstrated that people and bats can share even our cities at great mutual benefit. As we will show through varied Year of the Bat activities, bats are much more than essential. They’re incredibly fascinating, delightfully likeable masters of our night skies.

What’s In Bloom On June 11

My dahlias are getting ready to bloom!

Stachys “Cotton Candy”

My Favorite Cottage Garden Plant – My Grandmother’s Sweet Peas

Today my sweet peas bloomed. It was a special day for me. I grew my sweet peas from seed from the garden that my grandmother and great-grandmother tended.

My Grandmother’s Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas come in both annual and perennial varieties. It’s true that the annuals are showier vis a vis color and fragrance, but the so-called “Everlasting Pea” comes back bigger and better every year.

I have the perennial variety. It is also more tolerant of the heat and humidity of a Southern Ohio summer.

And my bees love it!!

I hope someday to pass down seeds to my daughter and granddaughter. It will truly be an Everlasting Pea.

The Land Of Dormice And Hedgehogs

The posts I reblogged today by Rachel at Ecology Escapades and Robin Jean Marie at Bringing Europe Home are helping me to get into a British frame of mind!

Rachel blogged about setting tubes for dormice to nest in. Dormice are incredibly adorable!  We don’t have them in Ohio…

Adorable Dormouse

Pure Adorability!

Dormice are small rodents with soft, orange-brown fur and long tails of a similar colour which are furred all over. They are so adorable that many people would like to be able to watch them.  Unfortunately, because they are almost entirely nocturnal this presents a challenge.

The fact that the dormouse hibernates is reflected in some of the local English names. In the counties of Hampshire and Cornwall it is known as ‘dory mouse’ and ‘dozing mouse’ respectively: in many counties it is known as the ‘sleeper’, the ‘seven sleeper’, or ‘sleep mouse’. Its attractive appearance has a fairy tale charm and other delightful local names include ‘chestle crumb’ and ‘derry mouse’.

Dormouse in the Mad Hatter’s Teapot – “Alice in Wonderland”

At present it is found in England and Wales but not in Scotland and Ireland.  As noted above, they also do not favor Ohio…

There is no doubt that the dormouse is not as common as it once was. Changes in farming practices and forestry methods have been harmful to dormice. There have been changes recently and there are schemes to repopulate areas with this little beastie, of which Rachel at Ecology Escapades is a part.

Challenging the dormouse for sheer adorability is the hedgehog. Who can forget the two young hedgehogs who got lost on their way to school in The Wind in the Willows?

The non-literary hedgehogs are adorable too!

Adorable!!

In fact, hedgehogs are so adorable, they have their own Preservation Society!

Things To Do In The Cottage Garden In June

Flaming June

“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
–  Gertrude JekyllOn Gardening

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. But this extra light and warmth also means weeds will sprout up from seemingly nowhere. Keep on top of them by weeding regularly.

Herbaceous borders are reaching their early summer peak and the kitchen garden is becoming productive.

Get those warm season vegetables planted! Young starts of tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant, cucumber and squash can be planted now that all danger of frost has passed. This should be done without delay, especially if you live in a region where summer is short.

Keep newly planted trees and shrubs consistently moist. This is especially true as we head into the dry summer months. To make this task easier, use water bags around the trunks.

Check your roses for pests and diseases. Blackspot, powdery mildew and aphids usually start appearing in June. As soon as a problem is detected, treat it with an earth friendly spray such as Garden Safe’s Fungicide 3-in-1, which tackles disease, mites and insects. It may be necessary to maintain a regular spraying schedule over the course of the summer.

If your spring blooming perennials are starting to look a little worse for wear, cut them back to encourage new healthy growth. It’s safe to do this until mid-July.

Vining plants often put on lots of new growth in short periods of time. One way to tame the tangle is to use dental floss to tie vines to their supports. The floss is easy to carry around by just sticking it in your pocket, needs no scissors to cut it, and if you use the green, mint-flavored type, it almost disappears next to the vine’s stem.

Sow seeds for biennials such as hollyhock, sweet william, campanula and foxglove for blooms next year.

Cut lavender blooms in early morning before the sun burns off the aromatic oils. After the flowering stops you can lightly prune the plant to keep it in shape.

Plant dahlia tubers, asters and other plants for late summer blooms.

Fill in empty spaces in the herbaceous border with annual bedding plants. Begonias, geraniums and heliotrope are good, bee-friendly choices.

Apply compost to feed your plants!