Those Obscure Wellies of Desire

It’s definitely wellie season in Ohio. Today was warm and rainy. It will rain or snow from now until June.

I have a perfectly good pair of black Hunter Wellies. The problem is I’m lusting after a pair that are not to be found on the internet or elsewhere.

They are Fortnum & Mason exclusives. Aren’t they fabu?


I can just see myself prancing about in these eau de nil beauties!

My flowers will bloom more beautifully, my bees will buzz more happily and my honey cupcakes will turn out perfectly every time. If only I had those wellies!!

If anyone knows where I can locate a pair, size 37, I will be forever in your debt.¬† ūüôā¬† Until then, I will dream about those obscure objects of desire. Thank you, Luis Bunuel.¬† ūüôā

Fall In Love

It’s a beautiful weekend in Southwestern Ohio for fall color.¬† One last explosion of glory before we slog into winter.

Photograph courtesy of Amy Marrero Doyle

Photograph courtesy of Mary Frederick Marrero

My Visit To Fortnum’s

I think they could spot me a mile away. ¬†For one thing, I was the only person wearing trousers in Fortnum’s trademark color, eau de nil.

Which, for you Yankees out there, is a lovely aquamarine color, literally translated as “water of the Nile.” ¬†(No, not the color of the Nile these days, but back when they found Moses in the bullrushes.)

Eau de Nil

Being from Ohio, I called my aquamarine trousers, “pants”, when a cute little bee landed on them. ¬†Only then was I informed that “pants” means something very different in the UK, and was something one shouldn’t be blabbing about in polite company!

Anyway, in true Midwestern fashion, I arrived unfashionably early (30 minutes!) for my 10:00 am meeting with Jonathan Miller, Fortnum’s sweet grocery buyer, to tour the rooftop bee hives. I was terrified of sleeping through my meeting, especially since my body clock said it was 5 am!!

I had plenty of time to view Fortnum’s Jubilee window decorations, including my favorite one – the honey display.

I also I had time for tea in Fortnum’s charming Fountain Restaurant. ¬†My tea was beautifully served from a silver teapot into a fine china teacup. ¬†I felt very pampered!!

When it was finally time for my meeting, Mr. Miller informed me that he had been summoned to Highgrove (!!), but that Fortnum’s charismatic Bee Master Steve Benbow was being filmed for a television show about London, and that I would be welcome to tag along.

Now tell me, what could be better than that?? ¬†(Here’s a hint…Steve Benbow took me for tea afterwards to answer my bee-related questions!!)

More on my tea with Steve later.  For now, here are some pictures!!

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!


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

First Honey Harvest

We’ve had an idyllic spring in Ohio this year. Nectar has been flowing since March. When we opened the hive today we found a whole super full of honey!

Our inspection of the hive was not without incident. My business partner Denis was there to help me lift the heavy deep supers. (I’m only using medium supers from here on out!)

Denis was determined to be a manly man and refused to wear a bee suit. He figures he got stung about ten times. He bore it well. I gave him two Benadryl and sent him home.

I realized I’d left my smoker near the hive, and, of course, it was smoking like a chimney! ¬†I hurriedly put my bee suit back on and went to retrieve it.

Of course, I didn’t zip up the hood all the way. Now I know where the expression “having a bee in your bonnet” comes from!

I only got stung once, but it was right on my lower lip. That bee must have known how vain I am about my appearance!

Once again, I got stung while doing something stupid!

All in all, a very good day. ¬†My bees are happy, healthy and very feisty! ¬†It looks like it’s going to be a good year.

Tomorrow we’ll be extracting the honey!!

Bees Love Honey Too!

Yesterday it was 62 degrees F and sunny in Ohio, and my girls were out and about. I didn’t harvest any of their honey last fall, and I was wondering whether a diet of honey versus sugar syrup would make a difference in their appearance and behavior.

It did! The girls were looking sleek and frisky. While it’s been a mild winter here, I don’t remember them ever looking this good this early in the season. ¬†There were even some baby bees toddling around on the front porch of the hive.

Kim Flottum and Michael Bush both maintain that bees fed on honey and pollen are healthier and more disease resistant than bees fed sugar syrup.  My bees are living proof of that.

One of my goals in writing this blog is to convince gardeners that they can keep bees in their gardens without having to harvest honey every year.  Or even open the hive.

They can just let their bees be bees. I guarantee the bees will be better for it.

The Hive at the Bottom of the Garden